The official start of the 2017-2018 theater season kicks off with one of its most anticipated productions: “Eminent Domain”, by local playwright Laura Leininger-Campbell. A staged reading of the script received a standing ovation from a packed house for Shelterbelt Theatre’s “Before the Boards” series. It went on to become a 2016 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference finalist.
An accomplished actress, this is Campbell’s first script. A Grand Island native who logged countless hours on her Grandparents’ ranch, she has always wanted to write a family play based on her memories of farm and family. One day she read an interview with a farmer outside of her father’s home town of Fullerton, NE and his experience dealing with the Keystone XL Pipeline and its land agent. It became the starting point for a Nebraska drama in which the pipeline quite literally divides both farm and family.
Campbell says the play explores the MacLeod family and its connection to the land. “Family members with very different political and social perspectives must work together through the challenge the pipeline presents. We don’t see a lot of that now.” Watching her characters reach across the gulf and come together gives her optimism in a politically turbulent time.
Campbell credits the play’s development to the entire theater community, and particularly to local playwright Ellen Struve. “She encouraged me to write, and she was the first person I showed the script to.” Yet Campbell bears no resemblance to a novice. She is well steeped in Shakespeare and Irish drama, and it shows. Her dialogue is sharp, her characters are familiar to anyone with farm roots, and her drama is gripping.
Having performed at the Playhouse, her experience as a writer has given her an entirely new perspective on the process. “The actors are working really hard to get off book and immerse in their characters while I am in the process of letting this go. My job is to give a little guidance, confirm the direction they want to take and be mindful that it is theirs now.”
She has every reason to trust her actors. A stellar cast includes Bill Hutson, Erika Hall Sieff, Jeremy Estill, Christina Rohling, Cork Ramer, Judy Radcliff, Eric Salonis, Chris Shonka, and Thomas Becker. Amy Lane directs. This will not be your last chance to see this script produced. But you will want to be able to say you saw it first.
The Omaha Community Playhouse’s world premiere production of Laura Leininger-Campbell’s “Eminent Domain” will run from August 25 through September 17 in the Howard Drew Theatre. Shows are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30, with Sunday matinees at 2:00. There will be a special opening night celebration with pre-show appetizers, drinks and a chat with playwright Laura Leininger-Campbell starting at 6:15 on Friday, August 25. Celebration & show tickets are $50, and tickets for the celebration only are $26. Tickets are $36 and $22 for students. Half price “Twilight” tickets may also be available in person at the box office window starting at noon on the day of the show. Cash and check are the only accepted forms of payment for “Twilight” tickets, phone reservations are not accepted for this special offer, and seats are limited and subject to availability. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha. Tickets are available by calling the Omaha Community Playhouse box office at (402) 553-0800 or toll free at 1-888-782-4338 or online at http://www.omahaplayhouse.com/tickets/view/eminent/. Box office hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from: 10 am to 6:30 pm and Sundays from noon to 4 pm. Questions? Contact the OCP box office or e-mail them at: email@example.com.