Citizen Welles: a centennial celebration

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Staff | May 1, 2015

WOODSTOCK, ILINOIS — If Wisconsin native Orson Welles, the legendary actor and filmmaker, were still alive, he'd be celebrating his 100th birthday May 6. Festivities marking his life and work will be held around the world, from England and France to Brazil and Spain as well as coast to coast across the United States—including Wisconsin and Illinois.

Welles was born May 6, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin to an inventor father and concert pianist mother, and grew up in a two-story house on the east side of Library Park.

He came to Woodstock when he was 11, enrolling at the Todd School for Boys. He graduated in 1931 at the age of 16 but continued to live in Woodstock between his travels until 1934.

Welles quickly became a national sensation. Just four years after leaving Woodstock, Welles performed the radio program “War of the Worlds.” Three years after that, he created “Citizen Kane,” still considered by many as one of the greatest films ever made.

Welles actually spent few of his 70 years in Kenosha, but he city is marking his centenary with events that salute his artistry and heritage. The Citizen Welles Society of Kenosha will hold events throughout May, including highlights from Welles' films, a taste of a Welles-themed beer, a multi-media presentation on his life, a reenactment of some of the speeches Welles gave in support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and even a cemetery tour highlighting his ancestors. Here's the schedule:

May 6, 7 p.m., Carthage College:
Kick-off event with Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman. Alderman Jan Michalski and members of the Citizen Welles Society of Kenosha will show highlights from Welles' films. Patrick McGilligan, author of the upcoming Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane, will speak, with a special emphasis on Welles' early days in Kenosha.

May 7, 7 p.m., Kenosha Public Museum:
“Orson Welles & FDR: On the Campaign Trail.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt re-enactor Gary Stamm and Michalski, portraying Orson Welles, will perform this short play written by Nita Hunter. The play is comprised of the 1944 speeches Welles gave in support of FDR.

May 8, 3:30 p.m., Public Craft Brewing:
Taste an Orson Welles-themed brew

May 9, 1 p.m., Kenosha Public Museum:
The War of the Worlds performance presented by RG Productions. A. Brad Schwartz, author of Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles' War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News, will introduce the show and host a talkback afterward.

May 9, 6 p.m. Fusion:
The Puppet Underground taps into Orson's passion for puppetry

May 13, 5:30 p.m., Northside Library:
Me and Orson Welles, a book and film discussion.This program focuses on the novel Me and Orson Welles by Robert Kaplow and the 2008 film based on the novel. Both will be discussed.

May 14, 7 p.m., Fusion:
Voices & Verses, a music and multi-media performance ensemble.

May 15, 7 p.m., UW-Parkside Cinema Theatre:
Citizen Kane with Jay McRoy

May 21, 7 p.m., Fusion:
Vincent Longo shares images of Orson Welles's drawings

May 24, 2 pm., Woman's Club of Kenosha:
The Magnificent Ambersons with Joseph McBride

May 30-31, 1 to 4 p.m., Green Ridge Cemetery:
Meet Orson's ancestors through the performances of talented reenactors

For more info, visit citizenwelles.org or email Nita Hunter at [email protected] or see the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/citizenwellessociety
Welles will also come to life on the very stage where he began his career, at the Woodstock Opera House. Actor Eric Van Beuzekom will portray Welles on Saturday, May 16, in a one-man show as part of a three-week centennial festival.

Included in the festival lineup is a live stage rendition of the radio show “War of the Worlds,” in which Welles shocked the world into thinking Martians had landed.

The Orson Welles Centennial, running May 6-23, will include a special presentation of Welles' unfinished film, “The Other Side of the Wind.”

For updated festival information and essential information about visiting Woodstock, go online to welleswoodstock.com or Woodstock Celebrates Inc.'s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/woodstockcelebrates/.

For ticket information to shows at the Woodstock Opera House, call 815-338-5300 or visit woodstockoperahouse.com.
The celebration includes live stage performances and screenings of Welles' films, plus panel discussions and presentations by Welles biographers, scholars and filmmakers. Here's the schedule:
Wednesday, May 6:
"Citizen Kane" screening at 7 p.m. in Woodstock Classic Cinemas Movie Theater. $

Friday, May 8:
• Meet & Greet with Academy Award winning filmmaker Chuck Workman at 6 p.m. in the Woodstock Opera House Community Room. $
• "The Magician: The Astonishing Life of Orson Welles", a new documentary film by Chuck Workman, at 7 p.m. in the Woodstock Opera House. $
• Opening Night Gala Party at 9 p.m. in Old Courthouse Arts Center. $
  Saturday, May 9:
• A discussion of "The Stranger", Welles' Hollywood-directed film noir, starring Welles, Edward G. Robinson and Loretta Young, led by Welles scholar James Naremore, at 1:30 p.m. in Rosebud Theater (Woodstock VFW). $
• Screening of "The Stranger" at 3 p.m. in Rosebud Theater (Woodstock VFW). Adults $5, students free.
• "An Evening with Oja Kodar". Croatian-born Kodar, Welles' collaborator and partner, will talk with film critic and author Jonathan Rosenbaum at 7:30 p.m. in Rosebud Theater (Woodstock VFW). $

Friday, May 15:
• A discussion of the book "Broadcast Hysteria" with author Brad Schwarts and Jeff Wilson, founder of www.wellesnet.com at 7 p.m. in the Woodstock Opera House Community Room. $
• Live presentation of "War of the Worlds" radio play staged by RG Productions, 8 p.m. at Woodstock Opera House. Adults $23, students $13 at www.woodstockoperahouse.com or 815-338-5300.  (Combine with "Rosebud" on Saturday: adults $35, students $18.)

Saturday, May 16:
• "The Todd School for Boys: Orson Welles' Alma Mater", an alumni-hosted panel discussion of the Todd School and its educational philosophy, featuring Todd Tarbox, Leonard Rubin and Caryl Lemanski and others, at 10 a.m. in the Woodstock Opera House Community Room. $
• "Welles' Early Childhood" a discussion of two books, with the authors. "Orson Welles & Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts" based on audio recordings of conversations between Welles and Hill, by Todd Tarbox. "Orson Welles Early Childhood" by Patrick McGilligan at 1 p.m. in Woodstock Opera House Community Room. $
•"Welles & Restoration". Welles' scholar Michael Dawson discusses restoring Welles' films and his work in progress, "Citizen Welles Vol. One: Cradle to Kane" at 3 p.m. in Woodstock Opera House Community Room. $
• "Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles" a one-man play with Erik Van Beuzekom, at 7:30 p.m. at Woodstock Opera House. Adults $23, students $13 at www.woodstockoperahouse.com or 815-338-5300.  (Combine with "War of the Worlds" on Friday: adults $35, students $18.)

Friday, May 22:
• "The Magnificent Ambersons: Mutilated Masterpiece" a discussion of Welles' original ending, taken from his notes, with Joseph McBride, followed by a presentation of a video with the re-constructed ending with Roger Ryan. 7 p.m. $
• Screening of "The Magnificent Ambersons," 9 p.m. $

Saturday, May 23:
• "Orson Welles as Artist & Illustrator" with images and a newly-presented paper on Welles' lifelong skills as an illustrator and artist, at 10 a.m. in Rosebud Theater (Woodstock VFW). $
• "The Other Side of the Wind" panel discussion of Welles' unfinished film, with Welles scholars Josh Karp and Joseph McBride at 1 p.m. in Rosebud Theater (Woodstock VFW). $
• "The Other Side of the Wind" reconstructed screening, pending availability, at 3 p.m. in Rosebud Theater (Woodstock VFW). $
 Festival Wrap Party & Dance at 7:30 p.m. in Rosebud Theater (Woodstock VFW). $

For more information about Woodstock's Orson Welles Centennial Festival, go to www.WellesWoodstock.com.
Woodstock is in McHenry County, just a 60-minute drive northwest of Chicago, bordered on the north by Wisconsin, and on the south by I-90. Train service from Chicago is available via Metra, and the depot is just a short walk from the festival venues. For information about lodging, dining and other activities, phone toll-free 888-366-6177 or go to  www.VisitMcHenryCounty.com.


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