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Renaissance Theaterworks Takes a Harsh Look at Foster Care in 'Luna Gale'

Renaissance Theaterworks

Since its inception, Renaissance Theaterworks has specialized in productions that pay particular attention to women writers, cast and crew.  Luna Gale, their newest offering opening Friday night, is no exception.

Written by Rebecca Gilman and directed by Mary McDonald-Kerr, the play explores a basic question - who decides who is best able to raise a child?

Actress Tami Workentin stars as Caroline, a veteran social worker, who removes infant Luna Gale from the custody of her struggling young parents and places her temporarily with her devoted grandmother in what seems to be the best course of action.

"The rest of the story is the aftermath of that decision," says McDonald-Kerr. "The playwright explores the issues of how they all got there to begin with...and there are a lot of twists and turns and surprises and it's not black and white...It's a fairly harsh look at the current state of the foster care system."

With such a difficult topic and crucial themes being explored, Luna Gale is one of the most challenging works Workentin has performed.

"There's a real cost to each one of us as actors and characters in this one. It's not one that you just put the shirt on and take it off and go home, but you leave a little bit of something on the stage," she says. "Every one of us has to go to a place that is incredibly uncomfortable."

The play illuminates the tough situations welfare workers must contend with daily to ensure the well-being of children and their families, but McDonald-Kerr also notes, it shows that sometimes people must step in for the welfare of others.

"Things happen, we all get to where we're going because of the journey we've taken," she explains. "So we have to on one hand be compassionate to that journey and then, on the other hand, sometimes be dispassionate to the journey because it doesn't make a difference how you got here - this is where you are."

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.