ETC … season opener tackles a tough topic

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ETC … season opener tackles a tough topic

Florida Weekly
October 12, 2017

The Naples Players’ ETC … Readers Theatre presents its first full-length reading of the season, Johnna Adams’ elegant and chilling “Gidion’s Knot,” at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, in the Tobye Studio at the Sugden Community Theatre.

Over the course of a 90-minute parent/ teacher conference, a distraught mother and an emotionally overwhelmed primary school teacher have a fraught conversation about the mother’s son/teacher’s student, Gidion. As his story is revealed, the women try to reconstruct a satisfying explanation and come to terms with the excruciating reality that their worst nightmare has come true.

Corryn (Lori Grandon) is an intelligent single mother whose son wrote a shocking school paper that depicted his peers and teachers performing disturbing acts of violence. Gidion’s school chose to suspend him, and a meeting is called between Corryn and the boy’s teacher, Heather (Dede Browlee), for the purpose of discussing the uncomfortable and inappropriate subject matter of the paper and whether it should be accepted as the creative exploration of an adolescent who lives in a world filled with hyper- violent video games or if it should be met with zero tolerance in the wake of escalating gun violence and school shootings like Newtown.

Before the meeting date, however, Gidion choses to end his life by suicide.

Heather never expects the bereaved mother to show up on the day and time of the meeting, but Corryn keeps the appointment, and together the women consider whether Gidion could have been bullied severely, or whether he could have been an abuser.

Using minimal costuming and sets, and with scripts in hand, the actresses focus directly on their tortured characters as mother and teacher grapple with the desire to point blame away from themselves at the same time each questions hers own culpability.

“Gidion’s Knot” premiered at Shepherdstown’s

Contemporary American Theater Festival in 2012 and is now making the national rounds.

“Johnna Adams has given us a play that forces us to ask a lot of questions about our contemporary society,” said TNP’s Associate Artistic Director and ETC curator Jessica Walck, who acts as director of this reading. “Have we just become blame shifters? Have bureaucratic decisions shackled us against doing what is humanly right? Considering the violent times we live in, can we afford to not react to violent ideas? What should the relationship be between parent, teacher and student to truly make a difference on today’s youth? As a society, we are culturally moving into times of social isolation, how far is too far? We know there is a problem but how do we fix it?”

A talkback with the director and two actors will take place immediately after the performance.

“If I have learned anything from this play, it’s that communication is the key to change,” Ms. Walck said. “I hope many in the audience will want to stay and discuss the issues the play brings up.”

“Gidion’s Knot” is the first full-length published play that TNP is exploring through its ETC … Readers Theatre program as a possible choice for a full production in the company’s 2018-19 season.

“The audience feedback we receive during the talkback will be a vital part of our decision process,” Ms. Walck said. ¦

‘Gideon’s Knot’

Who: ETC … Readers Theatre of The Naples Players
What: A staged reading, without costuming or props and with scripts in hand
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15
Where: The Toybe Studio at the Sudgen Community Theatre
Cost: $10
Info: 263-7990 or www.naplesplayers.org

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