Press release from the N.C. Stage Company:
Since 2008, North Carolina Stage Company has partnered with Immediate Theatre Project to present one of the plays of their Main Stage season, including such plays as The Glass Menagerie (2011), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2017), and last season’s audience favorite Silent Sky. This year, Immediate Theatre Project and NC Stage are proud to present Well, by Lisa Kron, Wednesday, March 18 through Sunday, April 12th.
Lisa Kron is probably best known for her collaboration with Jeanine Tesori adapting Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home, which was honored with five Tony awards in 2015 including Best Musical and Best Book. Kron and Tesori were the first all-female playwrighting team to win for Best Original Score.
Before she became so well known, however, Kron made her mark as a young queer artist by writing and performing largely autobiographical solo shows that often turned Kron’s own experiences upside down in service of a larger story. Well marked an important step in her evolution as a writer, as she decided to create a “solo show” with six characters. “That’s what first caught my eye,” says ITP Artistic Director Willie Repoley, “Here was someone who knew the rules, knew what was expected, and decided that what she was interested in was a little bit outside of those rules. She is able to break them so effectively because she understands them so deeply. She’s a master of taking something conventional and using it to jolt you out of your expectations, to find something surprising – some real, open human connection.”
In the play, Kron’s protagonist – called Lisa, like herself – sets out to explore issues of wellness and integration, using her and her mother’s histories as the jumping-off point. She has hired four actors, two white and two black, to re-create scenes from their lives. She has also brought her mother, Ann, onstage, by placing Ann’s house (or at least a part of it) literally on the stage. Ann doesn’t really want to be in a play, but she dutifully makes the best of the situation for her daughter’s sake. It doesn’t take long, however, for Lisa to realize that including her mother might have been a mistake.
There are two major ideas of Lisa’s play. The first is her time at an allergy clinic, being treated for the debilitating weariness that she inherited from Ann and that they refer to as “allergies.” Ann is a strong believer in the toxicity of modern living and the allergies it induces, and Lisa was as well – until she got better. The second story deals with her mother’s desire that her kids would grow up in an integrated neighborhood, and the organizing Ann did to preserve theirs, in the face of rapidly changing demographics and cultural attitudes. Ann, however, remembers these times differently than Lisa, sometimes radically so, and she is not shy about interrupting the performance to set her daughter straight.
Soon, Lisa is losing control of her own story, as the actors begin to realize that her mother is really the “star” of the show, much to Lisa’s surprise. The ways she tries to regain control, grappling with the short-comings of her own narrative, are funny, poignant, and ask all of us to take a second look at the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and where we come from.
Lisa and Ann will be played by Jennifer Gatti and Patricia Snoyer Black, respectively. The ensemble will be played by Natasha Charles, Carin Metzger, Allen Law, and Christopher Long. The play is directed by Willie Repoley, and Lauren Kriel is the stage manager.
Well runs from Wednesday, March 18 to Sunday, April 12, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays, with additional matinee shows on Saturday, April 4 and Saturday, April 11. Prices vary depending on seating section, and special $10 tickets are available for students under 25 with a valid student ID. Tickets can be purchased online at ncstage.org or by calling 828-239-0263.