Provocative black-box production interweaves
mythology with real stories of homeless youth
Allentown, Pa. (Sept. 15, 2010) – The Muhlenberg College Department opens its 2010-11 mainstage season with Naomi Iizuka’s “Polaroid Stories,” a visceral blend of classical mythology and real-life stories told by street kids. The production will be directed by Zach Trebino, a senior theater major at the college. The play runs Oct. 6-10 in the college’s 100-seat Studio Theatre.
“Every season we choose at least one student to direct on the mainstage,” said Jim Peck, chair for of the department. “It’s an important and longstanding value of the program — that directing students who have shown exceptional promise get the opportunity to lead a project with the full support of the department. Zach’s outstanding record as a director, playwright, and actor made him a great choice for this opportunity.”
“Polaroid Stories” will mark Trebino’s second mainstage directing opportunity. Last fall, he helmed a one-act play, “Ouroboros, which he also wrote, as part of the “New Voices” one-act festival.
“It is wonderful that Muhlenberg affords students the ability to develop what they learn in the classroom,” Trebino said. “This is an opportunity that most undergraduates do not receive.”
Inspired in part by Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” “Polaroid Stories” takes place on an abandoned pier on the outermost edge of a city, a way-stop for dreamers, dealers and desperadoes. The play is their story — heartbreaking and celebratory, all at once. Trebino was attracted to “Polaroid Stories” because of the play’s language.
“The play mixes poetic lyricism with gritty, real, human speech,” he said.
“Polaroid Stories,” journeys into a dangerous world where myth-making fulfills a fierce need for transcendence, where storytelling has the power to transform a reality in which characters’ lives are continually threatened and devalued. Not all the stories they tell are true; some are lies, wild yarns, clever deceits, baroque fabrications. But whether or not a homeless youth invents an incredible history for himself isn’t the point, explains one character: “All these stories and lies add up to something like the truth.”
“The play shows that there is a godliness within everyone, even the most disenfranchised people,” Trebino said. “Everyone has a story worth remembering.”
Muhlenberg’s production of “Polaroid Stories” will be more minimalist than other productions of the play. It will take place in a smaller space than usual and will have fewer set pieces.
“I see the production as occurring in a black box magical fantasy theater,” Trebino said, “where things wonderful and fantastical can occur, and there is magic around every corner.”
Trebino said he takes his vision for the play in part from Jerzy Grotowski’s idea of “poor theatre,” in which the actor is the main arbitrator of the theatrical experience. He is also interested in theater that stems from Greek and Roman mythology. He was particularly interested in “Polaroid Stories,” he said, because the focus is on the female characters.
“‘Polaroid Stories’ turns mythology on its head because it makes female characters the focus,” he said.
Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of 2,221 students in Allentown, Pa. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. Princeton ranks Muhlenberg’s theater program sixth in the nation, and the Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance.
“Polaroid Stories” plays Oct. 6-10 in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. The production is recommended for mature audiences.
Performances are Wednesday through Friday, Oct. 6-8, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 9, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 10, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission, $8 for youth 17 and under. Group rates and season subscriptions are available.
Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre