“No Power Tools”: A Charlie Krebs Original Set to Debut Next Week


David Aragon

Charlie Krebs on the set of his original play, “No Power Tools.”

Amber Walker, Staff Reporter

After 20+ years of engaged education, Muskie musicals, and powerful plays, Professor Charlie Krebs is set to retire in May 2022. This can only mean one thing—he has a lot more in store for our Lakeland community this academic year. Closely following the success of his third annual TEDxLakelandUniversity event, Charlie is preparing for the debut of his original play, “No Power Tools,” on Thursday, November 11, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. Performances will continue Friday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 14, 2021.

Before Charlie Krebs was an Associate Professor of Theatre and Communication, Director of Lakeland Theatre, and Bradley Theatre Manager, he was born and raised in western New York. Charlie earned his bachelor’s degree in scenic and lighting design from the State University of New York-Fredonia in 1977. From there, Charlie earned both a master’s degree in acting from the University of New Orleans in 1983 and his Master of Fine Arts in directing from Southern Illinois University in 2000. Throughout Charlie’s many adventures, he has worked, studied, and taught in 8 different states, including New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia, Michigan, Illinois, and, of course, Wisconsin.

When reflecting on his time at Lakeland, Charlie said, “It’s been the greatest experience in my life. I have had excellent students and colleagues, and I have had the luxury to try out as many ideas I want. Working in the theatre is like being in a sandbox; I can experiment every day.” When asked about what he is looking forward to most after retirement, he said, “Engaging full time in my motivational speaking business and moving to Pittsburgh. I look forward to being closer to my family and to a huge new adventure. I don’t feel like I’m retiring; I feel like I’m changing careers.”

Over his 20+ year career at Lakeland, he has directed over 40 Bradley Theatre performances. When reflecting on his career here, he said, “It’s going to be harder than I anticipate. This has become my home and it has grown into me as I have grown into it. I am welcome and valued here,” He added, “I’ve grown as a professor, an artist, and a person. Some of the highlights have been writing and producing two original plays: the one we are working on now and the one that celebrated Lakeland’s sesquicentennial in 2012. Another highlight of Charlie’s career has been bringing TEDx to Lakeland and having the chance to coach many incredible speakers. He said, “I am thrilled that I had the chance to recommend they paint the theatre blue to match the seats and the new curtain; it looks altogether remarkable.”

Charlie wrote this year’s play, “No Power Tools,” based on his experiences as an undergraduate theatre major. “In the mid-1970s, Jackson Browne wrote a song dedicated to his roadies who did the same thing, so we felt the song was about us. Whenever it would come on the radio, someone would yell, “no power tools” so we could hear the song and sing along. So, the play is called “No Power Tools” for that reason. It is fictitious but there are several references to life as a theatre major back then, and there is a ton of music from that time, too.”

For this play, Charlie wanted to create broad enough characters to where the Lakeland actors would have room to bring the characters to life, and to be able to make them their own. “I was afraid the lines might seem a little contrived because I’m not 20 years old anymore, but the actors have been great at helping the lines seem like young people are saying them. So, in a way, it feels like they have written it with me. I was going to retire a year ago, but I stayed partly because I wanted to bring this play to life. I’m so thankful I decided to stay so this could happen.”

Charlie spoke on his gratitude for all the students and faculty here at Lakeland. “What I’d like to say to the Lakeland Community is thank you. Thank you for having me, thank you for nurturing me and thank you for believing in me. I am a better person because of you, and I can take that with me for the rest of my life. Please forgive me if I struggle to say goodbye but it is nice knowing people that are worth missing.”

To Charlie, from all of us at Lakeland, we thank you for bringing so much joy, creativity, and brilliance to our community for over 20 years. Although it will be nearly impossible to say goodbye, we will always have the decades of memories, including the ones we will continue to make throughout the rest of this academic year.