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CLC Performing Arts Center Presents “August: Osage County”

The Central Lakes College (CLC) Performing Arts Center is thrilled to announce its upcoming production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “August: Osage County” by Tracy Letts. This powerful family drama, known for its dark humor and intense subject matter, will run from June 12-16 in the Chalberg Theatre.
About the Play
“August: Osage County” follows the Weston family as they unexpectedly converge on their Oklahoman family homestead after their patriarch goes missing. A maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets explode in a play that unflinchingly – and uproariously – explores the dark side of this Midwestern American family.
Director’s Insight on the Production
Cory Johnson, the director of this challenging play, shares her enthusiasm and insights:
What drew you to this particular play?
“When producer Joey Yow suggested ‘August: Osage County’ to me over a year ago, I was thrilled and a little bit scared. This incredible Pulitzer Prize-winning script, which I have frequently used in my dramatic literature classes, is filled with richly written and complicated characters who are flawed… and then some! This dark comedy is compelling and very challenging, requiring tone and honest portrayals critical to effective storytelling.”
What is it about this play that you feel will resonate with our community?
“I think that this play resonates with just about any community. While hopefully, your family is not as extreme as the Westons, everyone can remember that one ‘horribly awkward family dinner,’ that ‘ridiculous date that your little sister introduced to the family at a gathering,’ or the long-held tensions between now-adult siblings.”
What’s been one of the biggest challenges of mounting this show?
“One of the biggest challenges in staging this show is finding the tone and pacing which allow the humor to land without diminishing the tragedies and struggles that each of the characters are facing. This play digs deep into subjects that can be triggering to viewers. Tracy Letts takes no prisoners in this raucous and crackling play, and he chooses language that is as raw as his subject matter.”
What’s been one of the most rewarding or inspiring moments of the process?
“I love good literature, and ‘August: Osage County’ is arguably one of the best American scripts of the early 21st century! Seeing these fine CLC/BCT actors grow their characters, find dramatic beats, and bring complex and fiery storytelling to the script is hugely rewarding.”
What are you hoping folks will talk about afterwards?
“I hope that audience members leave talking about family dynamics, coping skills, nature vs. nurture, and that this play is a cautionary tale that needs to be heard and heeded… and how funny we can all be… even at our very worst.”
About the Cast
This production features a talented ensemble of actors from the local community and beyond. Liz Davies, last seen in 2023’s 9 To 5 and Kinky Boots, stars as Violet Weston, the family matriarch. The Weston daughters are played by Shawna Sylvester (Barbara), Kryston Wisely (Karen), and Karla Shepherd-Johnson (Ivy). Barbara’s husband, Bill, is played by Kevin Yeager, and their daughter, Jean, is played by recent CLC graduate Olivia Armstrong, who was recently seen in Silent Sky, also directed by Cory Johnson. Mary Aalgaard and Marc Oliphant play Violet’s sister and brother-in-law, Mattie Fae and Uncle Charles, with Brian Rhett playing their son, Little Charles. Blake Lubinus plays Steve, Karen Weston’s boyfriend, and Baird Brutscher plays Sheriff Gilbeau. Patrick Spradlin, former director of the CLC Performing Arts Center and now co-founder of Actors Repertory Theatre, plays Beverly Weston, the family patriarch. Joining the cast for her first stage performance is CLC student Meghan Merrill, who plays Johnna, an Indigenous caretaker hired by Beverly at the start of the play to care for Violet and their aging house, only to be caught in the wake of the family’s disintegration as the story unfolds.
Set design by Tim Leagjeld. Lighting design by CLC graduate and Theatre Coordinator Matt Hill. Costumes designed by Cory Johnson. Props designed by Arsen Engels. Stage management by Joey Haasken.
This production is supported by Dunmire’s On The Lakes.
A Must-See Production
The New York Times’ 2007 review described “August: Osage County” as “a fraught, densely plotted saga of an Oklahoma clan in a state of near-apocalyptic meltdown.” The review continued, “It is, flat-out, no asterisks and without qualifications, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years. Fiercely funny and bitingly sad…”
Performance Details
“August: Osage County” will be performed at the Chalberg Theatre at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, MN, from June 12-16. Tickets are available at www.clcperformingarts.com or by calling the Box Office at 218-855-8199.
Good to know: This play contains strong language and intense subject matter, including drug use, suicide, addiction, sexual references, and inter-generational trauma. It is intended for mature audiences only, recommended for ages 18 and older. Viewer discretion is advised.

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