Shows at Urbana’s cozy Station Theatre are always a treat. The intimate, theatre-in-the-round setting makes the spectator feel nearly a part of the performance. Certain shows lend themselves better to this atmosphere than others of course — and Deke Weaver’s upcoming play is one such show.
In C-U by way of Minnesota, San Francisco and New York City, Weaver is currently a professor at the University of Illinois’s School of Art + Design. He’s also an award-winning performer, playwright, media-artist and self-proclaimed “emperor/former-goaltender.” Those first and last bits were integral in the writing of his play The Crimes and Confessions of Kip Knutzen: A Hockey Way of Knowledge, starting its run at the Station Theater on Valentine’s Day.
Promos for the show describe it as “a performance with soul, truth, love, old radio-style sound-effects, fish huts, church youth groups, rabid ice arenas and frozen prairies bursting at the seams of a small northern Minnesota town.”
Weaver settled on Minnesota as the setting because it’s a land he knows well: He grew up in the North Star State.
“There’s a very particular breed of human being up there,” Weaver says. “It’s very important to be ‘normal.’ It’s very important to have things be ‘no big deal.’ I wanted to write a piece where every person in a small Minnesota town had some sort of gift or magical power — but they were so Minnesotan that they would just act like it was no big deal. Like being able to fly was normal.”
Weaver plays multiple roles in the play, and while some of the characters may be able to fly, or converse with animals, or read minds, Weaver promises that no hockey pucks will be flying at audience members’ heads. (Weaver, who played hockey from the age of six until an injury ended his career in high school, knows what he’s doing.) The magic realism elements are inspired by Carlos Castaneda and Gabriel García Márquez, while the general tone mixes humor a la Fargo and Slapshot, with a dash of Prairie Home Companion, and the ribald, tragicomic flavor of novelist John Irving.
“I really admire John Irving’s ability to turn sad into funny and back again in half a page — sort of like telling a really bad joke in tears,” Weaver says.
A Hockey Way of Knowledge features performances by University of Illinois students Issac Bloom and Zoe Schwartz, and the Poster Children’s Rose Marshack and Rick Valentin will be performing original music written specifically for the show.
Just back from a tour in Minnesota, the play runs at the Station Theatre from February 14–February 17 and February 20–February 23. All shows begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12–$15 (discounts available on Wednesdays and Sundays) and reservations are recommended.
The Station Theatre; 223 N. Broadway; 217-384-4000.