Ixion Ensemble Theatre is bringing a new anthology production to Sharp Park’s amphitheater. The performance, titled “Dreams,” was crafted from six different handpicked plays.
“We put out a call for ten-minute plays — previously performed or not — that explored aspirations, fantasies or nightmares,” Ixion artistic director Jeff Croff said. “Whatever the word ‘dreams’ meant to the authors.”
The call for scripts went out last spring. By September, Ixion received over 400 entries with a “dreams” theme. “We had submissions from all over Canada, the U.S. and even some from Australia and the U.K.,” Croff said.
The plays are “Goodmare,” by Ron Burch, “Lifelines,” by Donna Hoke, “The Monster Inside,” by Adam Carlson, “Christmastown,” by Kayla Hambek, “Scream,” by George Sapio and “Possibility of Lightening,” by Scott Mullen. Only Carlson is a Lansing native.
Heath Sartorius appreciates working on new and original scripts. He acts in “Goodmare,” “Christamstown” and “The Monster Inside.”
“I think Ixion’s yearly topics for original plays get many people to see their work put up when they often wouldn’t,” Sartorius said.
Motivating people to write is even more important to him. “I think community art should inspire the community to be artists,” Sartorius said.
He recently returned to Lansing after a year and a half in New York City to pursue his acting dream. The familiar local community seemed a better place to be during a pandemic.
Lansing also provided more dreamy acting opportunities. Sartorius was in “Pass the Ducks,” where he appeared on YouTube in January with author Doak Bloss.
In “Goodmare,” he plays a man with recurring nightmares.
“I play the cliché Hallmark, perfect dreamboat guy,” Sartorius said about his role in “Christmastown.”
In “The Monster Inside,” he plays a monster having a bad dream. “Think Elmo,” he said.
Sadonna Croff directs “The Monster Inside.” On opening night, she and Jeff will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary.
“Working with and being married to Jeff is never boring. I love it,” Sadonna said. “Like our life together, it’s always a crazy, fun adventure ride. We have a lot of trust and respect for each other so everything just flows together smoothly.”
Sadonna has been involved with Ixion since its inception in 2014. “I’ve done pretty much everything. Act, direct, assistant direct, costumes, make-up, sound, lights and props,” she said. Sadonna was last seen on an Ixion stage in 2019’s “Hope.”
Like other “Dreams” plays, preparations for “The Monster Inside” were done virtually. “Our rehearsals have been done over Goggle Meets,” she said.
“I miss the spontaneous energy that ignites while rehearsing in person,” Sadonna said. “It’s harder for that to happen sitting at your computer on a video conference call.”
What she remembers most about “Dreams” is the chance to make puppets. “This is the first time I have actually jumped into the puppet making process,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to try and now I finally get to do it.”
For Tim Lewis, the “Dreams” collection fulfilled his longtime wish, too. Lewis is directing “Christmastown.”
“I didn’t want to be an actor,” he said. “I wanted to try my hand at directing and this gave me the perfect opportunity to do that.”
Lewis was an assistant director for Ixion’s “She Kills Monsters” in 2016. For Ixion’s “Turn, Turn, Turn” last August, Lewis performed a monologue.
Being a first-time director was a bit scary at first, but he got through auditions. “That was the part that worried me the most,” Lewis said. “Could I cast? I had no idea.”
With “terrific” and “fun” actors to work with, everything fell into place for him. “I have a truly great cast that is making this directing experience a breeze and a joy,” he said.
The hardest part for him was being separated from his girlfriend. “Trying to get to see her and also trying to juggle my rehearsal schedule has been a very difficult challenge,” Lewis said.
For Lewis, “Dreams” is a dream come true.
“I love being a director,” he said. “It’s seeing a script come alive with my vision for it.”