Release date: Updated Oct. 11, 2001
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Assistant Director, 404-727-0644, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Atlanta Theater Community Launches Festival of Works By Playwright Naomi Wallace
Seldom has an entire theater community come together around the work of a lesser-known playwright, but 12 theater companies in Atlanta are joining forces to celebrate the work of American playwright Naomi Wallace. Spearheaded by Theater Emory Artistic Producing Director Vincent Murphy, the festival will be anchored by full productions from Theater Emory, Synchronicity Performance Group and PushPush Theater from early October through mid-November.
"I think Naomi Wallace is potentially the most important emerging writer, who happens to also be from the South, yet no one knows who she is," says Murphy. "She is one of the very few writers in this country who will even admit that class is an issue."
The fact that Wallace is a woman is significant, given the difficult history of women playwrights. "I feel like all of us in professional theater should do what we can to support women writers. This is an amazing thing to have 12 companies come together to share with our audiences her special voice. Shes a writer not only for our time, but for all time," says Murphy.
Recipient of a 1999 "genius" grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wallace has found great acclaim in England while remaining relatively unknown in her homeland. A native of Kentucky who now divides her time between that state and North Yorkshire, England, Wallace writes work that has been praised for its lyricism, sensuality and willingness to tackle difficult subjects. She has received several commissions from the Royal Shakespeare Company, including the acclaimed "Slaughter City" and her work-in-progress, "The Inland Sea" (previously titled "Fugitive Cant").
In America Wallace has received critically-acclaimed productions by significant companies, including the Humana Festival of Actors Theater Louisville, the American Repertory Theater, Long Wharf, and New York Theater Workshop at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre. "In the Heart of America" was published in American Theatre magazine after winning the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Despite such critical recognition, Wallaces name is not widely recognized among theater-going audiences.
Critics repeatedly use words such as mysterious, political, sexual, sensual, poetic, muscular and hypnotic to describe Wallaces storytelling. She freely admits that history excites her and is inextricable from politics in her mind. "Politics is history, and history is what sparks my imagination Once you see that politics affects our daily livesour loves, our desires, our needsthats terribly exciting," said Wallace in a New York Times Magazine profile.
In addition to the theater events, Emorys Creative Writing Program hosts a discussion between Wallace and Theater Emorys Vincent Murphy at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22 in the Jones Room of the Robert W. Woodruff Library, 540 Asbury Circle, Emory. Theatrical Outfits Tom Key and members of Rogue Planet will read from Wallaces monologues and poetry. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 404-727-4683. Also, a screening of Wallaces film "Lawn Dogs" will be 4 p.m. Oct. 23 in 205 White Hall, 480 Kilgo Circle, Emory. The film was well received on the festival circuit, but has not been released in the United States.
Three full productions anchor the Naomi Wallace Festival:
Synchronicity Performance Group will present "One Flea Spare" Oct. 26-Nov. 19. At the height of the Plague of 1665, "One Flea Spare" introduces us to the Snelgraves, an upper-middle class couple resigned to waiting out their period of quarantine in a few rooms of their elegant home. As the two anxiously await the end of their confinement, their plans are upended by the appearance of a precocious 12-year-old girl and a desperate sailor who invade their private "prison." This thrillingly original work takes a raw, poetic look at what happens when a highly structured society is forced to cope with catastrophic circumstances. $12-15, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 7 p.m. Sundays. 7 Stages Back Stage Theater, 1105 Euclid Avenue, Little 5 Points, Atlanta. 404-284-1151
PushPush Theater will produce "The Girl Who Fell Through a Hole in Her Jumper" by Naomi Wallace and Bruce McLeod and Wallaces "In the Heart of America" and "The Bone Gardens." Saturdays, Oct. 19-Nov. 18. In "The Girl Who Fell," a play for both adults and young people, a young girl falls through a hole in her jumper in a fantastical world where nothing is quite what it seems. By confronting tyrants, solving riddles and befriending the downtrodden, she finally gets back home. "In the Heart of America" is an indictment of U.S. military operations in which the confused ghost of a Vietnamese woman searches for the murderer of her three-year-old daughter in a world where, after U.S. action in Panama, Grenada and Operation Desert Storm, parallel post-mortems were taking place. $12-15. 2 p.m. PushPush Theater, 1123 Zonolite Rd., Atlanta. 404-892-7876
Participating companies and their projects are as follows. (For updated
information on individual events, go to www.naomiwallacefestival.com
or contact the companies directly.)
The Naomi Wallace Festival, anchored by full productions at Theater Emory, Synchronicity Performance Group and PushPush Theater, celebrates the work of an emerging playwright with an important, political voice. American writer Naomi Wallace has found success in England for her stunning writing that blends politics and sexuality yet remains largely unknown in her homeland. She is one of the few playwrights today who is able to go back into history and shine her own particular light on it, allowing contemporary audiences to understand the stakes for people then. We want Atlanta audiences to experience Wallaces voicea voice that isnt afraid to tackle difficult issues, such as class and sexualityby enjoying her mesmerizing stories woven with language steeped in gripping images, humor and lyricism.
Note to editors and reporters: Photos of Wallace are available by contacting Deb Hammacher. For updated information on individual events, go to www.naomiwallacefestival.com, or contact the companies directly at the numbers above.
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