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Parenting, gender issues at fore in IAMA season
opener, West Coast premiere of ‘A Kid Like Jake’
LOS ANGELES (Sept. 3, 2019) — IAMA Theatre Company opens its 2019-20 12th anniversary season with an award-winning play about a mother and father trying to do right by their son. Jennifer Chambers directs Sarah Utterback (Grey’s Anatomy), Tim Peper (Amazon’s Jean Claude Van Johnson), Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue, Shameless, The Ranch and much more) and Olivia Liang (One Day at a Time) in the West Coast premiere of A Kid Like Jake by Daniel Pearle. Newly revised by the playwright for this production, A Kid Like Jake opens Oct. 3 in a Pasadena Playhouse guest production at The Carrie Hamilton Theatre, where performances will continue through Nov. 3; low-priced previews begin Sept. 28.
Pearle’s acclaimed play is a study of intimacy and parenthood, and the fantasies that accompany both. On the eve of the admissions cycle for New York City kindergartens, Alex and Greg have high hopes for their son Jake — a precocious four-year-old who happens to prefer Cinderella to G.I. Joe. But as the process continues, Jake’s behavior becomes erratic and perplexing, and other adults in his life start to wonder whether his fondness for dress-up might be cause for concern.
A Kid Like Jake premiered in a sold-out run at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater, where it was a New York Times “Critic’s Pick”. The play was the winner of the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award and was also awarded the prestigious Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation’s Theatre Visions Grant. Pearle’s feature film adaptation, directed by Silas Howard and starring Claire Danes, Jim Parsons and Octavia Spencer, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently distributed by IFC Films. After adapting his play for film in 2017, Pearle decided to revisit the 2013 stage version as well. He is currently in residence with IAMA for this production, with a new version of the play published by Dramatists Play Service.
“When the play was first written, it was before Transparent, before Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, before ‘gender expansiveness’ was part of our cultural lexicon,” Pearle explains. “But although the language surrounding gender identity and the details of the conversation may have changed, the core of the story remains the same. It’s still about the anxiety of being a parent, of trying to do the right thing for your child, of how hard it is to let kids be who they are without projecting onto them. And I’m very excited that this production is being directed by someone who’s lived that experience firsthand.”
Chambers’ kids are now seven and nine. “So I really get that beautiful, heartbreaking pain that comes with your kid growing up and getting away from that little bubble you live in together when they’re babies,” she says. “What can you do as a mom to protect them, to keep them safe when they go off to school and into the world? I remember that wonderful, magical innocence — but then they differentiate, which is their job, and yet can be very tough.”
The creative team for A Kid Like Jake includes set designer DeAnne Millais, lighting designer Ginevra Lombardo, composer and sound designer Peter Bayne, costume designer Melissa Trn, properties designer Heath Harper, dramaturg is Kimberly Calburn and casting director Jordan Bass. The stage manager is Lucy Houlihan, associate producer is Che Landon, and Lexi Sloan produces for IAMA Theatre Company.
“This is one of the best plays I’ve ever had to pleasure to experience in person,” says Stefanie Black, co-artistic director of IAMA with Katie Lowes. “I’ve spent the last six years chasing this beautiful story and am so proud and excited for Los Angeles to finally get a chance to see it.”
Pearle’s other plays include Freefall (finalist, 2017 O’Neill Playwrights Conference), Remote Viewing (semi-finalist, 2015 O’Neill Playwrights Conference), The Prodigies (semi-finalist, 2013 O’Neill Playwrights Conference), Plunder (winner, 2008 Loeb Drama Center’s Phyllis Anderson Prize) and The Truth About Christmas (winner of the 2011 Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival). He is currently writing an original feature film for Warner Bros. He was a recipient of the 2018 Humanitas New Voices Grant for emerging writers in television and is currently a staff writer on FX’s Impeachment: American Crime Story. Daniel is an alum of Ars Nova’s Play Group and a MacDowell Fellow. He earned his BA from Harvard University and his MFA from The New School for Drama.
Chambers directed the world premiere of The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter at Echo Theater Company, as well as subsequent productions at the Geffen Playhouse and Barrington Stage Company; If I Forget by Steven Levenson (Barrington Stage Company); Sheila Callaghan’s Bed and Jessica Goldberg’s Better (Echo); Daryl Watson’s Unbound (IAMA); the world premiere of Stephen Belber’s The Muscles in Our Toes (El Portal); The Pain and The Itch by Bruce Norris (Zephyr); Playdates by Sam Wolfson (Theatre Asylum, Elephant Theatre); and the world premiere of Complete by Andrea Kuchlewska (Matrix Theatre). Her love of new work and passion for playwrights and their process has allowed her to work with acclaimed playwrights such as Paula Vogel and Bess Wohl, and to direct workshops and readings for Antaeus, South Coast Rep, the Old Globe, Center Theater Group and the McCarter Theatre. She was associate artistic director at the Echo Theater Company and ran the Echo Playwrights Lab for four years. She is a proud member of the new class of The Kilroys, an LA/NY based collective of playwrights, directors and producers who fight to achieve equal representation on our American stages and gender balance in the American Theater.
Designated by Playbill as “one of 20 regional houses every theater lover must know,” IAMA Theatre Company is a Los Angeles-based ensemble of artists committed to invigorating live performance for a streaming generation. Through cutting-edge, cool and hyper-modern stories, IAMA is invested in the immediacy of production and strives to bring audiences out of their personal space and into a shared experience. Since its founding in 2007, the Ovation Award winning company has seen many plays generated at IAMA travel to off-Broadway, Second Stage and the Roundabout Underground, then go on to be performed regionally and internationally. IAMA members have been featured in numerous critically acclaimed TV shows and films as well as in a vast array of theater and live performances all over the country; last fall, IAMA co-artistic director Katie Lowes and her husband, founding IAMA company member Adam Shapiro, made their Broadway debuts in Waitress. In 2017, TV producer and creator Shonda Rhimes announced that she would become IAMA’s first-ever “Patron of the Arts” with a generous endowment from the Rhimes Family Foundation. On September 9, IAMA will co-host the fifth annual Stage Raw Awards ceremony.
A Kid Like Jake opens on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m., with performances thereafter on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. through Nov. 3. Three preview performances take place on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.; and Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 8 p.m. All tickets are $35, except Oct. 3 (opening night) for which tickets are $40 and include a post performance reception, and previews, which are $20. The Carrie Hamilton Theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena CA 91101. For reservations and information, call 323-380-8843 or go to www.iamatheatre.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘A Kid Like Jake’
West Coast premiere of A Kid Like Jake — Daniel Pearle’s acclaimed play about a mother and father trying to do right by their son is a study of intimacy and parenthood, and the fantasies that accompany both. On the eve of the admissions cycle for New York City kindergartens, Alex and Greg have high hopes for their son Jake, a precocious four-year-old who happens to prefer Cinderella to G.I. Joe. But as the process continues, Jake’s behavior becomes erratic and perplexing, and other adults in his life start to wonder whether his fondness for dress-up might be cause for concern.
• Written by Daniel Pearle
• Directed by Jennifer Chambers
• Starring Sharon Lawrence, Olivia Liang, Tim Peper, Sarah Utterback
• Presented by IAMA Theatre Company
• A Pasadena Playhouse guest production
Previews: Sept. 28 – Oct. 2
Performances: Oct. 3 – Nov. 3
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Oct. 2 ONLY (Preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: Oct. 3 ONLY (Opening Night)\
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Oct 4, Oct. 11, Oct. 18, Oct. 25, Nov. 1
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 28 (Preview), Oct. 5, Oct. 12, Oct. 19, Oct. 26, Nov. 2
• Sundays at 7 p.m.: Sept. 29 (Preview), Oct. 6, Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Oct. 27, Nov. 3
A Guest Production at
Carrie Hamilton Theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Ave.
Pasadena CA 91101
• General Admission (except previews and opening night): $35
• Oct. 3 (opening night): $40 (includes post-performance reception)
• Previews: $20