Metro Theater Company and the Edison at Washington University will present the St. Louis premiere of The Giver, Eric Coble’s stage adaptation of Lois Lowry’s celebrated novel, Jan. 7-23. Pictured are Nicholas Kryah (left) as The Giver and Mitchell List as Jonas. Photo by Suzy Gorman. Download hi-res image.
Twelve-year old Jonas lives in a perfect world — no pain, no poverty, no prejudice, no choices. Everyone has an assigned role. Very, very rarely, someone special is selected to hold the memories of all that once was. Jonas is that one. Does he have the strength to face it?
Readers of all ages have embraced Lois Lowry’s The Giver, a classic of contemporary science fiction and winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal. To date, the book has sold more than 5 million copies.
Beginning Friday, Jan. 7, Metro Theater Company and Edison Theatre at Washington University in St. Louis will join forces to produce the St. Louis premiere of this powerful stage adaptation by playwright Eric Coble.
Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 7, in Edison Theatre and continue each weekend through Jan. 23. Each performance will be immediately followed by a discussion exploring provocative questions raised by the story. The play is recommended for adults and young people 10 and over. For a complete schedule, visit metrotheatercompany.org.
Tickets are $12 to $16 and are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office or metrotix.com. Edison Theatre is located in the university’s Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call (314) 935-6543 or Metro Theater at (314) 997-6777.
The Giver centers on young Jonas, who has been selected by the elders of his community to become the new Receiver of Memory. The old man known as The Giver has held the memory of all that has been stripped away – poverty, pain, war, strife – and now he must pass on that burden. Little by little, Jonas discovers the community has systematically given up much of what gives life its meaning: Color, music, truth and love. At the end of the story, Jonas faces a decision that will define him and set a path toward hope.
“The Giver is a modern classic that should be read and discussed by any thinking person, regardless of age,” says Tim Wadham, assistant director for Youth and Community Services for the St. Louis County Library, which will co-sponsor a talk by Lowry April 15. “This is a book that brings generations together.”
Carol North, artistic director of Metro Theater Company — who directs the cast of 11 — says, “I am approaching this transformative play with all the respect and humility it deserves. Each of us at Metro and at Edison want the profound message of The Giver to reach all who see it.”
Charlie Robin, executive director of Edison, concurs. “While this story was new to me, I was thrilled to discover the excitement and impact it has had on the younger generations over the past 17 years. This engaging tale asks all the right questions and provides a forum for discussion that will keep us all talking for years to come.”
The cast is led by Nicholas Kryah, resident artist and technical director at Metro Theater Company, in the title role; and by Mitchell List and Christian Probst, who share the role of Jonas. (On Jan. 22, during the run of The Giver, Kryah will celebrate the 5,000th stage performance of his remarkable 34-year career.)
Completing the cast are Stephanie Strohman, David Wassilak, Elijah Brown, Sydney Dorton, Berklea Going, Stephanie Koo, Ian Miller and Anna Nielsen.
Music is by composer and percussionist Lance Garger, a guest artist with Metro Theatre. Choreographer is Beckah Reed. The design team includes Lou Bird, Dunsi Dai, Stephanie Strohman, John Wylie and Rusty Wandall. Sarah Rugo is production manager.
In conjunction with the performances, Metro Theater and Edison will present a number of attendant events organized with a series of community partners.
Five cultural institutions — the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Missouri History Museum, the Saint Louis Science Center, the Saint Louis Zoo and Washington University’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum — will organize post-show field trips for students. Each trip will extend key themes explored in the play. The trips are free, but pre-registration is required. For details, call (314) 997-6777.
In addition, leading up to opening night, HEC-TV will air a four-part series on The Giver. For dates and times, visit hectv.org.
During the run of performances, Metro Theater will honor eight St. Louis individuals and one local organization for their service to the community. Honorees will be: Sister Cathy Doherty (Jan. 7), Scott Emanuel (Jan. 8), Rick Sems (Jan. 9), Lisa Orden Zarin (Jan, 14), Elinor Nelson (Jan, 15), Maria Teresa Maldonado (Jan. 16), Susan Uchitelle (Jan. 21) and the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and its volunteers (Jan. 23). For information about each, visit metrotheatercompany.org.
On April 15, Lowry will deliver the Arbuthnot Honor Lecture for the St. Louis County Library. For details, visit slcl.org.
Metro Theater Company is nationally recognized as one of America’s finest professional theaters for young people and families. Founded in 1973, the company has produced more than 29 original works for audiences totaling nearly two million people. Metro Theater Company has toured to 41 states and appeared in international festivals in Canada, Italy, Japan and Taiwan. Thousands of school students benefit each year from touring performances and workshops conducted by Metro’s teaching artists. Metro Theater Company makes theater arts alive and accessible to young people and adults, and assists educators in making learning more effective and engaging for their students.
The Edison serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by providing the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater, performing new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis. Focusing on presentations that are interdisciplinary, multicultural and/or experimental, Edison presents work intended to challenge, educate and inspire. Edison programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; the Mid-America Arts Alliance; the National Endowment for the Arts; and private contributors.
Editor’s note: To arrange interviews, contact Stacy Austerman at (314) 566-8919.
WHO: Edison and Metro Theater Company
WHAT: The Giver by playwright Eric Coble, based on the book by Lois Lowry.
WHEN: Jan. 7-23
WHERE: Edison Theatre, Washington University, Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.
COST: $16; $12 for children, students and seniors. Available through the Edison Theatre box office, (314) 935-6543; through all MetroTix outlets; and online at metrotix.com