Ira Brind School of Theater Arts Presents Iizuka's Cult Favorite 'Polaroid Stories'

Mythology is 'remixed' in a gritty urban setting in Philly Fringe production

August 17, 2010

Classic mythology and an urban-based story meet head-on in Naomi Iizuka's "Polaroid Stories," which will be performed by students from the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at the University of the Arts as part of the Philly Fringe, an unfiltered festival where new and established artists present their work free of a selection process.

Directed by Amy Feinberg, head of the Brind School program in Directing, Playwriting and Production (DPP) and producing artistic director of New York City's Hypothetical Theatre Company, "Polaroid Stories" runs September 1 - 5 at the University's Caplan Studio Theater (211 S. Broad St.). Tickets for evening and matinee performances are available online. Because of its extensive use of profanity, simulated sex and drug use, "Polaroid Stories" is not suggested for children under 14.

Inspired in part by Ovid's "Metamorphoses," "Polaroid Stories" is a story slam at the fringe of a heartless city, home to a crew of punks, freaks and runaways. Caught in an urban labyrinth, nine jive-talking desperadoes battle and bare their shattered souls in the diamond-hard poetry of the street. A blend of slam poetry and interviews the playwright held with youths living on the street, the play creates a searing, honest and touching portrayal of what love and home mean to those who eternally wander. It journeys into a dangerous world where myth-making fulfills a fierce need for transcendence and where storytelling has the power to transform a reality in which characters' lives are continually threatened, devalued and effaced.

"'Polaroid Stories' is an electrifying play by a contemporary playwright with a distinctive original voice," said Brind School Director Charles Gilbert. "From the moment I read it, I knew it would inspire the young artists and theater-makers of the Brind School to outdo themselves."

The "Polaroid Stories" cast includes Acting seniors Eric Goetschel (Mercer Island, Wash. / Idyllwild Arts) and Matteo Scammell (Flemington, N.J. / Mercersburg Academy); Acting juniors Cuba Hatheway (Kenner, La. / East Jefferson High School) and Annie Such (Dallas / Booker T. Washington High School); Acting sophomores Maddie Kolker (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./ Hendrick Hudson High School) and Kirschen Wolford (Dallas / Booker T. Washington High School); DPP junior Adriana Lopez (El Paso, Texas / Loretto Academy High School); and Musical Theater senior Ali Wetzel (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Ellis School) and junior Joseph Lynch (North Brunswick, N.J. / North Brunswick Township High School).

Theater Design and Technology (TDT) senior Jillian Keys (Severn, Md. / Old Mill Senior High School) is designing the costumes. Brind School alum Jacob Riley '09 (Theater Design and Technology) is handling the scenic design and TDT junior Nathan Schlegel (West Lawn, Pa. / Wilson High School) will design the lighting. The student cast and production team is augmented by two Philadelphia professional guest artists: sound designer and composer Nick Rye and actor Russ Widdall.

"Polaroid Stories" was originally commissioned by En Garde Arts in New York, produced in the 1997 Humana Festival of New Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville and received the 1998 PEN Center West Award for Drama. Iizuka's other plays include "Skin," "Scheherazade," "Marlowe's Eye," "Tattoo Girl" and "Carthage." Her play "36 Views" was developed at the award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theater and her newest work, "3 Truths," premiered this summer by Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles.

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at the University of the Arts has been training students for professional careers in the theater for over 25 years. The Brind School takes full advantage of its location on Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts by immersing students in the city's thriving professional theater scene. The school offers conservatory training programs in musical theater, acting, theater design and technology, and directing, playwriting and production, and features a distinguished faculty of working professionals whose credits include Broadway, Hollywood and the West End.

Above: Acting majors Matteo Scammell '11 (left) as "Orpheus" and Cuba Hatheway '12 as "Eurydice." Photo by Amy Feinberg.

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