Last October, I saw my first play at Stage Left, the Chicago premier of After Ashley. It was very well done. On Sunday we came back for a world premier of The Day of Knowledge, and they did it again. Apparently, Stage Left is in the habit of producing groundbreaking, thoughtful, engrossing theater.
The Day of Knowledge was written in response to the 2004 school standoff in Russia which claimed the lives of over 340 people (including more than 100
children). Chechen terrorists attacked a school on the first day of school, The Day of Knowledge, a day of family, celebration, joy and anticipation of the
future. The play takes place 40 days after the attack and, as we see, it is a day of knowledge for the survivors. A husband and wife who have lost their only son claim a child who has not spoken since the crisis. Yet the mother wants to keep and nurture the child. Why is the father so resistant?
A single mother searches obsessively for her lost daughter. A woman who was shot in the back and suffers hearing loss from the explosions copes with her life. Obviously, the play is very dark. But it’s powerfully beautiful.
This could have been a dry documentary or a fairly predictable drama with flashbacks and monologues. But the director and cast collaborated to shape an overarching force of fire and light, the Seraph, the highest of angels. She is acrobatic, graceful, and empathetic. She makes all the difference.
Add to that a plot was full of surprises, tension, and revelations, ingenious use of the tiny performance space and imaginative costuming and make-up--especially of the Seraph and you have thoroughly engaging theater.
The story—the entire experience—still lives in my head.
The Playwright, David Alan Moore is a Chicago-based playwright, freelance writer, Interim Co-Artistic Director of Stage Left Theatre, and a Resident
Playwright at Chicago Dramatists. The Day Of Knowledge, was named a Semi-Finalist for the 2008 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. David’s full-length play, Safe, will be featured in Stage Left’s LeapFest 6 in May 2009.
The Director, Drew Martin, working once again with frequent collaborator, David Alan Moore, has worked for over 20 years in Chicago theatre. Among the many shows Drew has directed in Chicago, ten have been nominated by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee and have won six Jeff Awards in all.
This Sunday was Subscriber Appreciation Day and we enjoyed discussing the genesis of the play, the playwright's and director's vision for the play and had a chance to meet the actress who so magically played the Seraph, Lauren Ashley Fisher. Typically, Sunday matinees are followed immediately by a Sunday Symposium, a discussion with the artists about the issues raised in the production. Sunday Symposia are free to the public.
Look forward to attending Leapfest, an exploration of new work for coming seasons. LeapFest’s first five years have so far graduated ten plays to world
premiere productions in Chicago and beyond, with three of these receiving the Jeff Award for Best New Work. This year, at LeapFest five new politically-minded plays will “take the leap” towards production in the three week event. Each play will be presented in rotating repertory, and performances are followed by a discussion with the playwright and director. Runs: May 12 – May 30, 2009, First Night: Tuesday, May 12 at 7:30 PM.
TICKETS, DATES & INFORMATION
The Day of Knowledge runs Thursdays through March 28 on Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM . Tickets are $20 on Thursdays, $22 on Fridays and Sundays, and $25 on Saturdays. Running time is approximately two hours including one intermission. Student Rush tickets are 50% off any remaining tickets ten minutes before show (if available), and senior and group discounts are also available. $5 tickets for industry professionals are available on the first two Thursdays of the run, 2/26 & 3/5. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 773.883.8830 or online at www.stagelefttheatre.com. Theatre is
located at 3408 N. Sheffield Ave. in Chicago. Street, metered and paid lot parking is available.
Photos: Ryan Ward Thompson, www.ryanwardthompson.com