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God’s Country Venice Theatre

Venice Theatre’s Stage 2 Series is proud to present Steven Dietz’s riveting docudrama God’s Country, opening in The Pinkerton Theatre on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022 and running through Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. God’s Country includes violent and graphic images, adult language and heavy adult themes. Audience discretion is advised. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Adult tickets are $29. Tickets for college students and educators are $21. Youth tickets are $15. Seating in the black box Pinkerton Theatre is general admission. Tickets are on sale now at www.venicetheatre.org or by phone at 941-488-1115. The box office is not yet open for walk-up business.

Speaking to the challenging theme of Dietz’s script which depicts members of America’s white supremacist movement, Venice Theatre’s Artistic Director Benny Sato Ambush explains, “The mission of Venice Theatre’s Stage 2 season is to offer hard-hitting stories for those seeking challenge and deep engagement. The 2022-2023 Stage 2 Season is anchored by two powerful dramas of topical relevance: God’s Country by Steven Dietz and Lisa Loomer’s Roe.”

After the performance on Sunday, Sept. 18 Sato Ambush invites patrons to a “TalkWith” the director and some cast members. Anyone with tickets to any date of God’s Country is welcome to attend the discussion.

Dietz wrote God’s Country in 1988. The play is a riveting, highly theatrical docudrama about America’s white supremacist movement: those dedicated to revolution against the U.S. government and the expulsion from “God’s Country” of non-Aryans. This ideology is revealed with neutrality through three interwoven narrative spines partly based on actual courtroom transcripts and sermons: the 1980s Seattle, WA trial of the white nationalist paramilitary group The Order; the career of outspoken Denver, CO Jewish radio talk personality Alan Berg, “assassinated” by The Order, and the life of The Order’s founder, Robert Mathews. There is an updated section at the end of the play which addresses events in our country’s more recent history, including anti-semitic activities in Sarasota County and Orlando, FL. When it was produced at the Barrow Group in New York City, Stewart Klein of Fox Five Television called the production, “compelling theatre.”

Director Ric Goodwin, Professor of Theatre Emeritus from Ashland University says, “Non-linear in style, and incorporating a non-traditional plot, this play creates some unique challenges. Dietz has woven nonfiction with fiction, realism with surrealism; it is at times a docudrama, at others a reflection and dream play. As theatre artists, our obligation is not always to just ‘entertain,’ but also to use our artistic imaginations to share historical, emotional truths in a way no history book could. Perhaps if we keep holding up the metaphorical mirror of history, eventually; hopefully we can recognize the reflections for what they truly are, and learn from what we see. Theatre can and needs to be that mirror.”

Thought-provoking and searing, this “theatre of testimony” contextualizes today’s continuing extreme right movement – with different names but with the same intentions – and invites audiences to ask, “What are we to make of it?” Again, tickets for God’s Country and all Venice Theatre events through June 2023 are available at the box office at 941-488-1115 or online at www.venicetheatre.org. Stage 2 subscriptions are available for $108 through Sept. 9 and include God’s Country, The Cemetery Club, Roe, and Lizzie Stranton. Venice Theatre is located at 140 Tampa Ave. W. on the island in Venice.