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Reflection on Spark in Omaha

University of Nebraska-Omaha

November 8, 2012

Directed by Liz Nye

                                 By Ellen Struve

After attending University of Nebraska-Omaha’s reading of Caridad Svich’s SPARK, I could not shake the notion of cost.  Unfathomable numbers swirled around the media during the election, and the monetary figures attached to our current wars are both obscene and abstract.  The sums the sisters struggle with during the play are easier to grasp, but equally uncomfortable.   When the sisters discuss “expensive” stuff, their wages, or money wasted on a car ride home, the personal cost of the war is keenly felt.   There is a transformational moment towards the end of the play.  One character blesses another with incredible generosity of spirit.  I found it very moving and am still considering the differences between paying and giving.  The play left me hopeful that moments of extraordinary humanity might ultimately triumph over figures both mean and monstrous.

Ellen Struve is a 2011 Nebraska Arts Council Fellow for Performing Arts.  Her play Recommended Reading for Girls, an O'Neill National Playwriting Conference semi-finalist, received the Stagewrite  award at 2011 Great Plains Theatre Conference and will be part of Omaha Community Playhouse's 2012/13 season.  Struve has a B.A. from the University of Iowa, where she participated in the Undergraduate Nonfiction Workshop.  Her one-act play, Mrs. Jennings’ Sitter, was a MainStage selection for the 2008 Great Plains Theatre Conference and was produced by Shelterbelt Theatre in Omaha, NE and Kokopelli Theatre in New York City.    Her monologue collection Nobody Gets Paid had its premiere at Shelterbelt Theatre and  was performed at Studio Roanoke in Virginia in 2012.  She has a master's degree in arts administration from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently Interim Artistic Director of Shelterbelt Theatre.