You may not have heard of Johnna Adams, but her play Gidion's Knot has emerged as a favorite in a lot of quarters. Adams and Gidion's Knot were nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg New Play Award as well as the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and the whole play was published in the pages of American Theatre magazine.
The idea behind the play is certainly topical, something that catches you immediately. A 5th grade boy was suspended, with tragic consequences. His mother, desperate to understand, arrives to talk to his teacher. But there are no easy answers. Was he a bully or being bullied? Where can fault and blame be fixed?
New Route Theatre and Artistic Director Don Shandrow are now bringing Gidion's Knot and its tangled issues of parenting and society, of where violence begins, of how to spot and how to handle troubled children, to Bloomington-Normal in an unusual production staged inside a classroom at what used to be Bloomington High School and is now Mt. Moriah Christian Church, at 510 East Washington Street. "Since the action of the play takes place in a school classroom during a parent/teacher conference, we felt that the location would make for a more exciting theatre experience," Shandrow notes on New Route's Facebook page.
The New Route production is directed by Shandrow and stars Kathleen Kirk and Gabrielle Lott-Rogers. Performances begin March 28, followed by performances on March 29 and 30 and April 4, 5 and 6. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 pm, with Sunday performances at 2:30 pm. Tickets are priced at $10 or $8 for seniors and students, and reservations can be made by calling 309-827-7330 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
And because the idea of supporting female playwrights is close to my heart, I'd like to note that 2014 is shaping up as an extraordinary year for Bloomington-Normal when it comes to plays written by women, with Gidion's Knot at New Route later this month, just after The Exonerated, directed by Cyndee Brown for ISU, which was a collaboration between Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen. That will be followed by Rona Munro's Iron at Heartland and Emily Mann's Mrs. Packard at ISU, both in April, and then Sarah Ruhl's Vibrator Play, Lynn Nottage's Meet Vera Stark and Quiara Alegría Hudes's Water by the Spoonful, all at ISU in the fall. Illinois State University just completed a production of Diana Son's Stop Kiss, directed by Leah Cassella, as well. And there will almost certainly be additions to that list when we hear about Heartland's 10-minute plays and New Plays from the Heartland, as well as Heartland's and Illinois Wesleyan's fall choices. Wouldn't it be nice if this were just business as usual, instead of extraordinary?