Left of Left Center is a Madison, Wisconsin Theatre Group originally created for participation in Chicago’s 26th Annual Rhinofest with the production Beta Blockers, although it will continue on with future project. As they are initiated, you will see up-to-date information on the website.
Many of the productions since have been spearheaded by founder Ned O’Reilly with his writing and directing, with consistent help from Benjamin Barlow, Jason Compton and Sara Beth Hahner. All are Madison Theatre veterans with many performances, venues, hours under their belt.
One of the main characteristics of a Left of Left Center production is its choice of location for performances. You can find Left of Left Center performing at coffee shops, libraries, community buildings, etc. This means that staging is simple, lights are improvised, acting is intimate, and the stories told without traditional theatre fluff. Not to say theatre fluff is a bad thing, but this is not Left of Left Center’s identity.
About the original production of Beta Blockers
Featuring veteran Madison actors in a new guise, Beta Blockers is five short pieces, written by Ned O’Reilly, centered around modern relationship stress. Each piece comically examines the games we play, medications we take, and nonsense we endure in order to feel wanted. The stories careen from clothes shopping to board games to non-24 disorder to not mentioning that thing we’re not going to mention. How long have you know each other? Are you using the right syntax? Do you know “Firefly”? What’s a husband to do? What’s your status? What’s your excuse? See if you can find it in Beta Blockers.
Ned O’Reilly (Playwright, Producer) has been active in the Madison theatre community for four years after enjoying acting and directing in Portage for the previous four. Born and raised in Crystal Lake, Illinois, he performed in many productions around that area before relocating to Wisconsin. He’s been writing off and on for many years and in many formats (short stories, songs, plays, a novel) before a recent surge of playwriting that has included Flamingo Beach Follies, produced by Primus Theatre in Chicago, Identity Cruxes through Broom Street Theatre and at Chicago’s Rhinoceros Festival, and Widescreen, staged at the Bartell Theatre and produced by Mercury Players. His list of complete, as yet unproduced work gets longer all the time.
Ned comes from a large performing family, having sung with them on a number of concert occasions, and acted with various siblings and next generation dwellers. He has directed and peformed alongside each of his four young adult children and has sung in a rock band with his brother and sister. His directing has ranged from full-fledged musicals to concerts to dramas and comedies, shorts, and church and concert pieces.
Bri Baltes (Director, Cortisol Rush) is honored to be directing Cortisol Rush, her first directing gig since she move to Madison a year ago. Back in Iowa, she acted in many productions at Iowa State University. After graduating, she directed her own adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing and Cyrano de Bergerac. This past fall she designed the set for Ned O’Reilly’s Widescreen. Thanks for coming, and enjoy Beta Blockers!
Benjamin Barlow (Director, Arrhythmia) jumped at the opportunity to get back into directing. Having won a 2009 Pioneer Players’ Outstanding Acheivement Award for his direction of Christopher Durang’s short Niomi in the Living Room, he is excited to be back in front of the stage instead of on it. You may have seen him as recently as last fall in Ned O’Reilly’s Widescreen playing the boy-toy Troy. His other directing credits include Dubuque Fine Arts Theatre’s Passion, Peril, and Certified Public Accountancy and assistant directing Pioneer Players’ The Importance of Being Earnest.
Jason Compton (Director, Bechdel Test) makes his directorial debut in Beta Blockers. In keeping with the titular spirit of the scene, it is best not to discuss his involvement. Previous collaborations with writer/producer Ned O’Reilly include The Mathematical Equation from Queer Shorts 7, and the dueling monologues scene from The Opiate of the Missus.
Sara Beth Hahner (Director, Catnip) is an actor/director/producer based in Sun Prairie. She is excited to return to Rhinofest as part of another Ned O’Reilly production. Sara Beth played Cynthia in Identity Cruxes, Ned’s entry in Rhinofest 2013. As if she couldn’t get enough of Ned, both are currently performing together in Mercury Players’ The Beautiful Dark, opening January 23rd. Sara Beth is currently producing Sun Prairie Civic Theatre’s entry in WACTfest, The Coal Diamond, and is Program Director for SPCT’s Penguin Project, a theatre program for young artists with special needs. Watch for it in 2016.
Francisco Torres (Director, Advantage) has been in the media and theater industry for over 20 years. From video, theater, television and film, he has had the opportunity to work in both the East and West Coast before setting his current residence in the Midwest. His specialties are in producing, acting, writing, and directing. He is currently the Vice President of Madison Shakespeare Company. He is one of the founders of the theater production company Know Better Productions and the the independent film production company Frozen Stage Films. In his free time he would also do freelance photography for newspapers in New Jersey and Philadelphia.