Award-winning theatre company, Son of Semele Ensemble (SOSE), needs your assistance to present the west coast premiere of Our Class, by Polish playwright Tadeusz Słobodzianek, in an English version by Ryan Craig, directed by Matthew McCray, opening Saturday April 6 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Los Angeles!
What’s Our Class about?
Inspired by the Jedwabne pogrom, a hotly contested historic event in Poland in 1941, Our Class chronicles the lives of 10 fictional classmates as they grow up in tumultuous times. From 1925 to the new millennium, 5 Polish Catholic and 5 Jewish individuals endure dramatic and unexpected circumstances as their small town is invaded first by the Soviet army, then Nazi forces, and then again by the Soviets. Violence and suspicion escalate as neighbors turn against one another in order to survive. A once-peaceful, tiny rural community is changed inextricably by unimaginable and unfortunate circumstances.
Our Class is an uncompromising examination of wartime mob mentality coupled with the driving forces of religious and national identity. This rich and layered work highlights how an entire community is rendered powerless by traumatic events and how the horrors of war influence our allegiances, our values and our survival.
Why is this project worthwhile?
Although this moment of Poland’s history is little-known in the United States, it remains controversial and divisive today as Poland continues to grapple with wartime wounds. While Our Class depicts a fictionalized version of this catastrophe, it is now widely accepted as the truth that Poles, with the urging of the occupying Nazis, massacred their Jewish neighbors. Though more than 70 years have elapsed, many Polish people are committed to bridging the divisions that still exist today. SOSE is collaborating with the Polish Consulate to identify local and international community members to discuss the production during live talkbacks during the run of the production. As this bit of history is largely unfamiliar to LA audiences, we are extremely fortunate for the opportunity to explore it in a public, artistic setting.
In addition to its thematic and political brawn, Our Class is deeply emotional, AND:
- The production will draw on what SOSE is known for: a truly ensemble-based, full-body theatrical, multidisciplinary approach to a fertile subject.
- Matthew McCray and 2009 CTG Sherwood Award-winning composer Sage Lewis are composing an original musical score which will be performed live in its entirety by the company of actors.
- Edward Hoffman of Krakusy, an LA-based Polish folk dance ensemble will also be choreographing traditional Polish dances for the show!
How will your investment be put to use?
If you favor the exploration of a controversial historical event – with an eye toward stimulating dialogue to promote healing – then this a great project to support! So that we can mount this epic project in due fashion – with a company of 10 actors doubling as live musicians doing traditional Polish dances and creating an entire town out of chairs and desks – we need a MUCH larger space than SOSE’s own intimate venue. As rehearsals began, this became readily apparent and an alternate space has been identified and booked! HOWEVER, we now need the funds to help pay for this unforeseen expenditure! The lion’s share of funds raised by this campaign will subsidize moving the production to the wonderfully expansive Atwater Village Theatre. With your generous donation, we will be on schedule to open on April 6. If we are able to exceed our Kickstarter goal, the campaign will also help pay for production expenses (sets, props and costumes) creating an even more resonant experience for our audience.
And every dollar helps. Seriously. No donation is too small. All contributions add up to a fully realized production of an intensely rich play. And our first-rate rewards listed on the right will certainly hit the spot. Please help us to ensure that we will entertain, move and inspire our audience.
Who was the son of Semele?
Dionysus – the Greek god of epiphany, revelry and theater – is the half-breed son of the mortal Semele and Zeus. As the story goes, Semele was incinerated after she demanded to take a gander at Zeus. Thankfully, her son was saved and is the inspiration for our company's name.
But leaving that mythological factoid aside, Son of Semele Ensemble (SOSE) is a collective of theater professionals committed to enlivening new and underexposed playwrights’ works through bold experimentation. We have done so in the Los Angeles area for the last 13 years. We were profiled as one of the “hippest, hottest, most innovative theatre troupes in the U.S.” by American Theatre and featured on the magazine’s cover. SOSE’s work has received 17 regional awards and nominations including the Ovation Award, the LA Weekly Theatre Award and the NAACP Theatre Award. For the past 5 years, SOSE artists have been creating company-devised plays, one of which was developed in collaboration with Center Theatre Group. SOSE has become a resource for and a presenter of progressive theater makers in Los Angeles whose work is supported during SOSE’s annual Company Creation Festival and through SOSEhost, our year-round curated guest-production program.
Our Class details
Opens Saturday April 6. Playing Fri/Sat @ 8pm, Sun @ 3pm and some Mondays @ 7pm. At the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Tickets $14-25. For reservations (online only) click www.sonofsemele.org/.
- Director: Matthew McCray
- Playwright: Tadeusz Słobodzianek (English version by Ryan Craig)
- Producers: Don Boughton and Matthew McCray
- Scenic Design: Sarah Kranin
- Lighting: Dan Weingarten
- Costumes: Jenny Foldenauer
- Asst. Director: Diana Payne
Melina Bielefelt*, Sharyn Gabriel, Matt Kirkwood*, Michael Nehring*, Gary Patent*, Gavin Peretti, Sarah Rosenberg, Kiff Scholl, Dan Via* and Alexander Wells*.
* actors appear courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.
Risks and challenges
In a word: SPACE. In two words: BIGGER SPACE. In more words: APPROPRIATELY PROPORTIONED SPACE FOR AN EPIC EXPERIENCE. We are accountable to you, dear Kickstarters! The show must and WILL go on – but the expense of being in a larger space is a real kicker. SOSE is great at making the most of our 1,000 sq. ft. black box where we have flown in scenery, rained and snowed, and dug a moat with a tiny boat! However, OUR CLASS warrants the need to expand our horizons physically! Please, please, please look into your hearts and pockets and dig up something for this gem of a play to shine in the venue it deserves! We will over-thank you (unless you email us and say “no thank you”). And if you’re so inspired, please share this link on Facebook, Twitter, etc.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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