By Mac Hightower
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Volunteer
On October 10, a six-person ensemble from the USAG Stuttgart community, under the direction of Dusseldorf native Martin Jelonek, performed The Whole Shebang, in competition with other Army garrisons across Europe in the 2020 US Army IMCOM-Europe, One-Act Play Festival at KMC Onstage in Kaiserslautern. Winning the “Best in Show” category comes with the opportunity to travel across the world to perform the show in the United States next year.
Jelonek, a familiar face to the community, is best known for his acting talents having previously occupied roles in various Stuttgart Theater Center productions including; Addams Family, Christmas Carol, Stage Door, OLIVER!, and more. Jelonek is well aware of what a quality production entails, despite being early in his career as a theater director.
When asked about how he felt about being on the other side of the stage in this current production, Jelonek said, “At first I feared I might become a bit overwhelmed, having to pay attention to six people as they share the stage almost the whole play, but that’s where I could profit from my previous experience.”
The production, however, was not without off stage challenges, with a set of stringent rules, including; a 60 minute run time, set up and tear down for their production within 10 minutes. The competition also required that all sets–including props and actors–fit into a 10ft x 10ft box before they were allowed to set up.
Jelonek had a tough decision even choosing which play to perform. The competition called for “a show that plays mostly, if not entirely, in only one location and, a concept that would require as few set pieces as possible,” Jelonek said.
Their product: a knee-slapping satire of a graduate student’s presentation on the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, which was awarded 3rd place in “Best Show” category.
The Stuttgart Theater Center cast received lots of accolades and recognition. Richard Roberts, won a “Special Recognition Award” for “persons whose contributions to Army theater are far reaching and special in nature.” Lt. Col. Timothy Sikorski was nominated for “Best Backstage Manager” and he along with Gabriele Anderson, and Allison Harrison, were all nominated for best supporting performers. Apryl Salomma, was nominated in the “Best Actress” category for her outstanding performance as Student.
Lastly, Jelonek won the “Best Director Award.” What Jelonek loved most about the whole process was, “the opportunity to see and hear the reactions of a live crowd to something you show them, and on top of that in the theater you’ve grown to love and appreciate over the years.”