Starting Gate Presents OUR COUNTRY'S GOOD Through 5/16

Starting Gate productions Proudly presents Our final production before closing the gate

Our Country's Good
By: Timberlake Wertenbaker
Directed by: Richard Jackson

This dramedy about the first play produced in Britain's Austrailian penal colony is a brilliantly theatrical tribute to the transformative power of the theater. Winner of the 1988 Olivier Award for Best Play.

Featuring the Talents of:

Matt Anderson, Stephen Frethem, Jane Davich Steiner, Gary DuBreuil, Tina Frederickson, Tara Elizabeth Lucchino, Charles Numrich, Bill Studer, Ben Tallen, Noe Tallen, Danielle Kiminski, and Joel Raney

Set and Sound Design - Richard Jackson,

Lighting design - Mark Webb, Properties - RoBert Smith, Costumer - Kat Pepmiller

April 23 - May 16, 2010

Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sunday Matinees at 2:00pm

Pay What You Can Performance on Monday, May 3 at 7:30 PM

All Performances are at The Mounds Theatre

1029 Hudson Road, in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood just east of downtown St. Paul

Tickets are $18 general, $16 students and seniors and $10 for high school students.

Wheelchair accessible! For reservations and information call (651) 645-3503 or purchase tickets online at


About the show
Artistic Director Richard Jackson contacted previous board members and artists to gather for one last hurrah before Starting Gate closes its doors. Many have heeded the call including the original founders of the company. All actors, producers, and designers have agreed to do this show pro bono in order to help the organization wind down its debt.

A labor of love, this show is a culmination of all of the time, work, and creativity that has driven Starting Gate Productions over the last eight years.

On why he chose this production, Richard Jackson says:
We have chosen "Our Country's Good" as our final show for 2 primary reasons. First, it's message regarding the redemptive power of theater provides us with the opportunity to reaffirm the artist's firm belief in this medium's potential to transform lives. Secondly, the innate theatricality of the show provides challenges that hearken back to some of our finest work. Wertenbaker's writing requires most of the actors to play more than one role. Women are asked to play men's roles. The play is sprawling and episodic and provides design and directorial challenges above and beyond the usual. In many ways, our reputation was established with such ambitious programming selections.

Accomplishments of Starting Gate Productions
After 8 years of producing ambitious modern classics in Saint Paul, Starting Gate is closing its doors. Here are a few accomplishments from the last eight years:

37 shows were produced under the Starting Gate banner, many of which made it into annual "best pick" lists in the local papers.

Starting Gate carved out a Saint Paul audience for small theater when many thought it couldn't be done (no one will go to that side of the river). We managed to attract top small theater talent who drew audiences across the river and developed a base of attendees from St Paul and the eastern suburbs. This paved the way for success with other companies such as Gremlin, Theater Pro Rata, and others who are currently producing in Saint Paul.

Several actors who graced our stage joined Equity (the Union for stage actors) shortly after working for SGP including Steve Sweere, Carolyn Pool, and Christiana Clark.

Several directors moved on to higher paying projects after working for us including Matt Sciple, David Coral, and Richard Jackson

Starting Gate proved resilient after moving from the Loading Dock Theater and found a new home at The Mounds Theater, producing 5 seasons there.

Starting Gate moved 5 productions up to Pioneer Place on Fifth in St. Cloud.

A Short History
Starting Gate Productions was founded in 2001 when Stephen Frethem approached Don Eitel with funds wanting to start a theater company. After six months, Don Eitel relented and agreed to do it as long as it "was done 100%. I don't want to be just another small theater company."

That year, a team of board members was assembled, including Richard Jackson, Ben Chadwick, John Raabe and Aamera Siddiqui. During the initial year of planning, Starting Gate hosted acting workshops with the likes of Doug Sholz-Carlson and Kurt Schwieckhardt. In the spring of 2001, Starting Gate announced it's first season, which was to be hosted at the not-as-yet built Loading Dock Theater. A season brochure was mailed and over 70 season tickets were sold.

Our first show, "A Lie of the Mind" by Sam Shepard, directed by Matt Sciple and featuring Carolyn Pool, Steve Sweere, David Coral and Linda Sue Anderson, received rave reviews and was voted as Graydon Royce's best play of 2001. This was only the first of many ambitious projects some of which include: Death of a Salesman, Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, The Grapes of Wrath, Richard III, King Lear, Amadeus and A Raisin in the Sun (which featured a stellar Shawn Hamilton and Ivey Award recipient Christiana Clark).

In 2004, Starting Gate unexpectedly lost its performance space at the Loading Dock weeks before announcing their fourth season. In a scramble, they relocated to The Mounds Theater in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood of St. Paul.

In 2007 after SGPs fifth season, Artistic Director Don Eitel accepted the position of Managing Director for Mu Performing Arts. Richard Jackson, then Associate Artistic Director took the helm.

In it's final 2 seasons, Starting Gate chose to program comedies as a tonic to combat the economic hard times. Our productions of "Barefoot in the Park" and "The Nerd" were particularly well received by both the critics and our audiences. However, the economy also affected our ability to draw audiences with shrinking entertainment budgets and lessened giving capabilities.

After much deliberation, Starting Gate's current board decided to close the shop. The economy and a chronic shortage of administrators willing to work for free had dictated a sad but necessary ending. However, Richard proposed that we "go out with a bang - not with a whimper". Hence, "Our Country's Good".

Where are they now?
Don Eitel - Founder and original artistic director - is now Managing Director at Mu Performing Arts.
Stephen Frethem - Founder and Managing Director - was a co-creator of a web chat site for the Twin Cities community
Richard Jackson - Founder and original Associate Artistic Director/Artistic Director since Fall 2007 - plans to continue freelance directing and take on more acting opportunities.
Ammera Siddiqui - Founder and helped gain 501c3 status has been a prolific actor and writer in the Twin Cities and has performed all over the world.
Ben Chadwick - Founder and original Technical Director - currently works at Theater in the Round as the Technical Director and is acting around the Twin Cities.
John Raabe - Founder and original Treasurer - quietly went back to business life but remained a Starting Gate supporter to the end.


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