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Not your Run of the Mill evening

Run of the Mill Theater Productions host its fourth fundraising variety show on Friday.

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Not your Run of the Mill evening

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Austin J. Yerington, Arts Reporter

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When speaking to team that is Iowa City’s Run of Mill Theater Productions, it is easy to make comparisons to the Shakespearean theater troupe Midsummer Night’s Dream. With a team of five individuals of vastly different backgrounds and walks of life, sense of community, diversity, and collaboration is almost palpable.

On Friday, Run of the Mill will host its fourth fundraising Variety Show at 7 p.m. at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., with hopes to raise enough money to fund its future theatrical endeavors. The troupe is in its second year.

Creators Rich LeMay and Luke Brown both worked at Mill when they came up with idea of a nonprofit theater troupe, but with small goal of putting on Brown’s favorite play, Last days of Judas Iscariot, by Stephen Adly Guirgis.

“We started out wanting to do a specific play,” Brown said. “We shopped around to see who we can get to put on this play in Iowa City, then we decided we would do it ourselves.”

LeMay, who directed first show, was thrilled that the Mill would let them host their production.

“Marty Christensen, one of their co-owners there, loves theater,” LeMay said. “He has always wanted theater to be performed on Mill’s Stage. He has bent over backwards to help us in all sorts of ways.”

Since that first production, Run of the Mill has produced three full-length plays, three one-act showcases, and four fundraisers. With fundraiser helping to create future shows for the troupe, the team found it very important to include both local talent and diverse artists. The lineup for this event includes musicians, jugglers, comedians, and burlesque dancers. The variety show was crafted by Run of the Mill’s productions manager, Jill White.

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“I know a lot of diverse people in a lot of different categories,” White said. “I have a theater background, dance background, also I joined circus. Because there is such a huge variety that we bring in, there’s a variety of audience members.”

The night is one that the organizers hope to be light, engaging, energetic, and most importantly, fun.

“It always ends up being like a party,” Brown said. “We got people who want to show off their own talents, people who are appreciative to kind of talent we are bringing to stage.”

Run of the Mill’s desire to be as accessable to theater as possible is something that the members put into their fundraiser; the evening will begin family-friendly and then lead into a 18-plus-only show.

“The main thing is we want to make it accessible to a wide audience,” said Natalie Black, Run of the Mill’s social media & marketing manager. “So first part of evening is family-friendly, and we loaded it front-wise that way, so later on in evening, it will become an adult-only event. So people can bring their families and not worry.”

As a graduate student studying anthropology, Black said, she has found the acting company as a new creative outlet.

“I get bogged down by school and my degree all time, so this is a nice break for that,” Black said. “After first time I acted, I put so much effort into it and time that I felt this hole inside myself, like what do I do with my life after this? I needed to find something else to fill that with, so that was Run of the Mill.”

This sense of community, pride, and collaboration is something that is intrinsic to the troupe and its productions. The community is always growing, with newcomers being welcomed with little to no theater background.

“It has always been that dream come true,” Brown said. “I get to do shows I want to do, I get to help out in ways I can, and I get to do it with my favorite people in world. Why do I do it? What else should I be doing? It’s become more than a company, it’s a part of who we are at this point.”

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About the Writer
Austin J. Yerington, Opinions Columnist and Arts Reporter

Austin J. Yerington is an Arts Reporter and Opinions Columnist at The Daily Iowan. He studies English and Creative Writing with a minor in Theater. He...

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