We believe that art comes from a place. And we believe, unapologetically, that our place is one of the very best. We exist not only to create our own theater, but to facilitate and promote a vision of the Twin Cities as a major exporter of performing arts. We do beautiful, brave work here. This is an artistic community of revelation, innovation and pride. We have big dreams for Freshwater Theatre Company, and that includes this entire community of artists, individually and collectively.
Founded by the husband and wife team of Ben Layne and Ruth Virkus, with the help of fantastic colleagues and friends, Freshwater Theatre Company’s motto is simple: we love good stories, told simply and told well. We believe that theatre can be transformative, revelatory, and educational, but we love it best when it’s a good time, too. We like to entertain, and we promise a helluva ride.
We refuse to apologize or compromise. It’s time to get serious, Twin Cities. This isn’t flyover country. We’re a coast, too. In fact, we have more coastline in Minnesota than anywhere else in the United States. The water is just fresher here.
Freshwater Theatre. We’re in it for all of us.
Freshwater Theatre is fiscally sponsored by Springboard for the Arts. If you like what we’re about and are moved to support that with a tax-deductible financial contribution, you may do so via the link below to send your donation to us via GiveMN.org!
A National Merit Scholarship recipient who graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota Morris with degrees in history and theatre, Ruth Virkus is also a company member with 20% Theatre Company, Twin Cities. Previously, she worked for several years with The Flower Shop Project, a theatre company founded with other graduates of the UMM theatre department.
During her time with FSP, Ruth acted in and co-wrote Drowning in Velvet, Dawn’s Inferno, Ladies A.I.D., Auld Acquaintance, Attack of the Atomic Trash Monster’s Bride, and The Fish, The Fruit and the Pet Coffin Maker. Ruth also served as FSP’s head producer for Almost Got it Made and In the Weeds. Her first solo writing endeavor, Preferred by Discreet Women Everywhere, eventually begat a companion piece entitled 10:00 Bistro Caprice, which was featured in The Fresh Five with 20% Theatre Company in January of 2010.
Ruth recently produced and curated Freshwater’s Dirty Girls Come Clean: The Return, also directing a couple of the pieces in the fest, which raised over $2000 for Dress for Success Twin Cities, was recently onstage in Walking Shadow Theatre Company‘s production of An Ideal Husband and wrote and produced going Down on the Queen of Minneapolis for the 2012 MN Fringe. During the day, Ruth happily works as a Property Manager for MSP Commercial, a real estate development firm based in Eagan, MN. In what spare time she has, she cooks a lot, makes bread and feeds it to people. Forcibly, if necessary.
Working primarily as an actor in the Twin Cities, Ben Layne has appeared onstage for various companies including Swandive Theatre, Theatre Pro Rata, The Directors Studios, Tedious Brief Productions, Starting Gate Productions, Theatre Limina and Commedia Beauregard, among others.
Ben also served as assistant director under Damon Runnals for Swandive Theatre’s production of The Baltimore Waltz, directed for both installments of Box Wine Theatre’s “Raucous Caucus” political play festival and helmed a pair of scenes in Freshwater’s Festival of Awkward Moments. Onstage, Ben was recently part of a workshop of The King is Dead with Jon Ferguson Theater, a collaboration between director Jon Ferguson, playwright (and Walking Shadow Co-Artistic Director) John Heimbuch, and a host of performers from Minneapolis and the UK, played Reverend Tollhouse in Freshwater’s production of The Book of Liz, and was recently seen in An Ideal Husband with Walking Shadow. Ben will be directing two shows in Freshwater’s upcoming season: Going Down on the Queen of Minneapolis for the 2012 Fringe, and this spring’s The Gifted Program by Ruben Carbajal.
Originally from San Francisco, CA, Lacey Zeiler has been performing all over the Cities for the past three years with numerous companies, including Theatre Arlo, Theatre Unbound, 20% Theatre Company, Ministry of Cultural Warfare, Workhouse Theatre Company, Savage Umbrella, 3AM Productions, National Theatre for Children, and the occasional singing telegram. Previously, Lacey served as a member of The Flower Shop Project, where she was their Director of Outreach. Her first play, In the Weeds, depicting her humorous experiences working in the restaurant industry, was produced by FSP to great acclaim at the Bryant Lake Bowl in October of 2009.
While working with FSP, Lacey was fortunate enough to have been cast in the same show with the handsome John Zeiler, who she recently married. As first time producers, John and Lacey were fortunate enough to squirrel their way into the 2010 Minnesota Fringe Festival with An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein (and yes, Mr. Silverstein DID in fact write this series of short vignettes). With the help of 6 different directors, an amazing tech rock star, and a goddess of a stage manager, they sold out the entire run, including the much coveted encore performance. In her hypothetical free time, Lacey enjoys painting, yoga, watching Dexter, drinking boxed wine, and listening to guilty pleasure pop music. Lacey was recenty seen in Agatha Christie’s The Hollow at Theatre in the Round this May/June, and Going Down on the Queen of Minneapolis with Freshwater this summer. She is currently in Does This Look Gay On Me as part of Freshwater Theatre’s Better (or) Worse.
John T. Zeiler graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a BA, with Majors in Dance and English. A true workaholic, you will most definitely find him singing, dancing, or acting all over the Twin Cities (on stage or camera) at any given time of the year, even if he hasn’t been cast in anything (please, send money). After stumbling upon the professional acting circuit in 2007, John has had the pleasure of working with Off-Leash Area, Yellow Tree Theatre, 20% Theatre Company, and Actors’ Theater of MN, just to name a few. John is honored and ridiculously excited to call Freshwater Theatre home and family. John was recently seen in Swandive Theatre’s production of Crumble: Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake, Freshwater’s Desperation Panties, Falsettos with Joey Clark Productions, Where We’re Born with 20% Theatre, To Mars with Tesla with English Scrimshaw Theatrical Novelties and Boogieography in the 2012 Fringe. John directed Scars, a short play about breast cancer, as part of Freshwater’s Better (or) Worse.
For more updates on John’s life check out his MNPlaylist profile page at: http://minnesotaplaylist.com/talent/john-t-zeiler or just drop by the apartment and have a drink with him. Love you Mooma and Daddoo, with all my heart.
When Rachel Flynn first arrived at the University of Minnesota, Morris she was going to do a double major in Psychology and Communications – that seemed the mature and responsible thing to do. But by the second quarter of her freshman year, she came to her senses and realized that being mature and responsible is not nearly as much fun as playing with the theatre kids, so she promptly changed her major to Theatre Arts – with a Management minor so as to at least keep up appearances of ”maturity and responsibility.”
After earning her B.A., Rachel served as Public Relations Associate at The Children’s Theatre Company for about 6 years, is currently the Marketing Director of the History Theatre and has earned her Masters degree in Arts & Cultural Management from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. She has worked in various capacities with numerous theater companies including Swandive Theatre, Lake Harriet Players, La Vie Theatre, STL Productions, and Bloomington Civic Theatre. Ever the over-achiever, Rachel was in two shows in last summer’s Fringe Festival: Knit One, Purl the Other, with Unfold the Sky Productions, and Rambler Family Ramblers Final Christmas Reunion Spectacular, with OAFTrax Productions. Rachel has been seen onstage with Freshwater in Table 12 and Dirty Girls Come Clean – A Festival, and recently hit the stage with Theatre in the Round for their production of Independence this January, Freshwater’s Going Down on the Queen of Minneapolis. Rachel also wrote for and is performing in Better (or) Worse this September. Rachel’s favorite roles include The Music Man (Marian), BLISS: Three One-Acts (various roles), Postcards from the Corn Palace (various roles), Tartuffe (Elmire), and Savage in Limbo (Denise Savage).
Over the past 16 years, Scot Moore has worked with numerous theatre companies and in many disciplines, but he’s found a true home with Freshwater. They let him drink beer and do theatre, and that’s been a lifelong ambition according to his online dating profile. The music in “The Gifted Program” and “Freshwater Goes Back to High School” is culled straight from the playlist of his soul. On top of being a sound designer, Scot is also an actor, author, and gender rights activist – all of which he will be combining in his 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival show, “Men Will Be Boys.” He says he’ll see you there. For more about Scot, and for samples of his writing, please visit: www.scotmoore.com
J. Merrill Motz, or Jeremy Motz, or just Motz (rhymes with boats) recently earned a graduate degree in Ohio University’s Professional Playwriting Program, after having spent four years in Minneapolis, where he moved after graduating from Central Michigan University with a BFA in acting. While in the Twin Cities, he acted for Chameleon Theatre Circle, Workhouse, took classes at the Playwright’s Center and The Loft, and appeared as Saul in the original production of Table 12 in the 2010 Minnesota Fringe.
At CMU, his plays Ain’t That A Kick in the Head, Just One, Nobody Flinched Down By The Arcade, and The Roommate were produced by the Alpha Psi Omega one-act festival, with Ain’t That A Kick in the Head and The Roommate selected to be performed at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in 2006 and 2007. The Roommate was commissioned by the University of Wisconsin Fon du Lac to be developed into a full-length production for their 2008 main stage season. His last full-length script, All Gonna Go, received a reading from Swandive Theatre in Minneapolis in 2010. This Spring, his latest (in-progress) script, Reinforce Sincerity, received a reading at the Seabury Quinn, Jr. Playwright’s Festival in Athens, OH. Motz was published in the online crime fiction magazine Plots With Guns in March 2010, and hopes to dabble some more in crime fiction if he can ever find the time. Motz was seen onstage recently in performances of his piece, Sky Fleeting, as part of both runs of our Dirty Girls Come Clean festival. Motz was also seen onstage in our 2012 Fringe show, playing Captain Brandy in Going Down on the Queen of Minneapolis. Next, Motz is writing a play about his home state of Michigan for Freshwater Theatre tentatively titled The Beacon of Belle Island. It will run at the Nimbus theater in November 2013.
Mame Pelletier is an actor/improviser/writer/comedian, graduating from the University of Oregon with the ever-coveted and highly sought-after degree in theatre.
Mame is still somewhat new to the Twin Cities, moving here in 2008, and since arriving has had the privilege of acting for companies such as Theatre in the Round, Theatre Unbound, The Flower Shop Project, The Playwrights’ Center, Commedia Beauregard, Maximum Verbosity and, of course, Freshwater Theatre Company.
Mame recently played the title role in Freshwater Theatre’s production of The Book of Liz by David and Amy Sedaris this September, and was in Dirty Girls Come Clean: The Return this January. Mame was seen in both runs of The Naked I: Wide Open with 20% Theatre this year, and is playing Bren in Going Down on the Queen of Minneapolis with Freshwater this August. Mame can next be seen in Les Liasons Dangereuses with Urban Samurai. As always, Mame would like to thank her husband Eric and her son David for all their love and support.
A company member 20% Theatre Company, Footprints Collective and Freshwater Theatre, Ariel Leaf divvies up her theatre into Lighting Design, Performing, Directing, Producing and occasionally Playwriting.
Recently she has worked with: Evil Temptress Productions, Nimbus Theatre, Bedlam Theatre, Cromulent Shakespeare Co., Theatre in the Round, Theatre Unbound, Prufrock Theater and Upright Egg, as well as several successful Fringe shows including a completely sold-out rendition of Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter in the summer of 2009 with Killing Joke Productions. Speaking of the Fringe, Ariel returned to the Fringe this summer with Yarrrh! The Lusty, Busty Pirate Musical, which was recently remounted at Open Eye Figure Theatre this September. Ariel appeared in and designed lights for Dirty Girls Come Clean: The Return, performed in an all-female production of Julius Caesar with Theatre Unbound, and appeared in 20% Theatre’s remount of The Naked I: Wide Open. Ariel made a rare appearance in a comedy, joining the cast of Going Down on the Queen of Minneapolis with Freshwater this summer in the 2012 Fringe. Ariel is currently very busy working on Better or Worse – not only does she have a piece she wrote in the festival, but she’ll be performing in that piece and is serving as lighting designer for the whole show. She is also currently working on a community-created performance, The Vet Project with Footprints Collective, slated for fall of 2013.
Neil Schneider has lived and worked in the Twin Cities for nearly four years now and was honored to make his Freshwater debut in the original production of Table 12 this summer! Neil is originally from Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin – Parkside (and, yes, he does love beer and cheese). After working regionally here and there for a few years, he decided to make Minneapolis his new home. Selected credits include the Emcee in Cabaret, Drake in Annie, Peter Thorkelson in I Remember Mama, Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, Dale Wilson-Shears in Smile the Musical, Scouja/timHom in Klingon Christmas Carol, and Malvolio in Twelfth Night.
Neil worked for several years at CLIMB Theatre, serving as the company manager while also coordinating the annual Twin Cities Unified Theatre Auditions. This October, Neil was seen in Theater Mu’s production of Four Destinies, 20% Theatre’s The Naked I: Wide Open and is back in the Fringe this summer with Going Down on the Queen of Minneapolis. Neil is also working behind the scenes as one of the lead producers on Better or Worse. He would like to thank all his friends and family for their constant support and love!
Katie Starks has been an avid viewer and participant of twin cities theatre for over 7 years now and has fallen head over heels in love. As a scared 21-year-old girl from Iowa, Katie moved here not knowing a soul (Mary Tyler Moore style – of course) but has made it after all! Katie graduated from Metropolitan State University with a BA in theatre in 2007, where she was blessed to have worked with the amazing Camille D’Ambrose, including her final production, Macbeth.
Katie has worked with several Twin Cities theatre companies, including Theatre Unbound, Urban Samurai, Commedia Beauregard, Nimbus, The Flower Shop Project and The Directors Studios. This summer, Katie was seen in The Trunk with Siege Perilous Films at the MN Fringe Festival, and she recently finished a turn as Cassie in Rumors this September with Urban Samurai and in Freshwater’s Dirty Girls Come Clean festival this January. Katie is also an incredibly proud and excited member of 20% Theatre Company, for whom she directed a piece in The Naked I: Wide Open.
New to the Twin Cities, Michael Sung-Ho has spent his more recent years working as an actor and full-time model in Los Angeles, CA. After relocating to Minnesota, he’s been warmly received, taking study and shelter at The Brave New Institute and meeting Table 12 director Crystal G. Schneider during the run of M. Butterfly on the Guthrie’s Wurtele Thrust Stage in 2010, a working relationship which lead him to audition for Table 12 and thus to Freshwater Theatre Company!
Michael recently worked with Savage Umbrella Theater on The Ravagers, a new work with simultaneous workshops in Seoul, South Korea and Minneapolis, MN (in partnership with Seoul Players), was also seen in Theatre Mu’s production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Ritz Theater and Come Hell and High Water, a production with Dominique Serrand and Steve Epp’s The Moving Company at the Southern Theatre. Michael was seen this fall as Brother Brightbee in Freshwater’s production of The Book of Liz by David and Amy Sedaris, Theatre Mu’s recent production of Into the Woods and Going Down on the Queen of Minneapolis with Freshwater during the 2012 Fringe. Michael’s other professional acting credits include a slew of independent films you’ve never seen before, but should, and several commercial advertisements exercising his Asian-hipster expertise in video game peripherals and cellular phone technology.