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Expanded version of Hollywood Fringe hit
‘My Sister’ gets full production at Odyssey
Ultimately chilling tale of identical twins in pre-World War II Berlin is presented with charm and humor
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 15, 2015) — An expanded version of My Sister, a smash hit at last season’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, will receive a full production at the Odyssey Theatre beginning January 16. Ron Sossi and Paul David Story co-direct identical twins Elizabeth Hinkler and Emily Hinkler in Janet Schlapkohl’s poignant tale of two sisters in pre-war Germany.
In early 1930s Berlin, the days are growing dark for freedom of expression and for those who don’t fit the Nazi ideal of physical purity. Beautiful sisters Magda, a fledgling chanteuse and comedienne at the local cabaret, and Matilde, writer of the satirical songs and comedy for Magda’s act, are identical in every way — except one. Identical genetic makeup. Identical humor. Identical dreams for the future. But cerebral palsy affects Matilde’s movement and speech, leaving her housebound. Für immer zusammen (“together forever”). For how long will that remain possible?
“Elizabeth and Emily are talented, charming and extremely charismatic,” says Sossi who was so taken at the Fringe that he wanted to mount a full production. “This new version features additional cabaret sequences, songs and humor, and delves more deeply into the characters.”
“Because we’re identical, the audience is able to see past Matilde’s disability to the core of who she is,” suggest Elizabeth and Emily, who not only look alike, but tend to finish each other’s sentences. “The issues addressed in the play are not just historical; they’re relevant today. Human rights. Disability awareness. Freedom of expression. This play gets that across in a very powerful way.”
An adjunct professor at the University of Iowa, Sclapkohl wrote the play with then-theater department students Emily (Magda) and Elizabeth (Matilde) in mind. My Sister premiered at the University of Iowa in September 2013, transferring to the Riverside Theatre Company in Iowa City a month later. In January, 2014, the production traveled to the Quad Cities Theatre Workshop, where it was so well received that it had an extended weekend of performances. Last June, Story directed the Hinklers in My Sister at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, garnering two Fringe Awards – the Duende Distinction Award for Acting for each of the sisters. “I felt humbled, and my heart took a blow that needed about seventy five minutes to land — leaving me floored,” wrote fringe blogger David MacDowell Blue. “’My Sister’ is a don’t-miss gem, one of the highlights of this year’s Hollywood Fringe,” wrote Mark Hein on his Theatre Ghost site.
“This is a play about perception,” explains the playwright. “What makes us see somebody as lesser, or other, or different? Where that shift takes place is what fascinates me. With the Nazis, that was taken to the extreme. The disabled were the first group of people selected for extermination. It was easy to persuade the public, who believed it would end their suffering. Then gays – they’re not ‘right’ either. Political dissidents. Jews. It was all connected, a slippery slope. Sometimes I wonder… what would it have taken for me to go along?”
Story adds, “This is such an important play. The audience response at the Fringe was wonderful, and I’m delighted to be working in collaboration with the Odyssey.”
Elizabeth and Emily Hinkler hail from Chicago. Their long form music video Silk Duck // “Purple” and new media film The Bags, Probably 1971 with THISISYATES are currently screening at film festivals throughout the nation. Other credits that they share include the national tour of Out of Bounds (Working Group Theatre) and Martha Clarke’s In The Night (Iowa Partnership in the Arts). Emily appeared in The Bad Seed (Iowa Summer Repertory Theatre), and Elizabeth was seen in the Moving Company’s Out of the Pan Into The Fire, where she originated the role of Clever Elsie. Like Matilde, Elizabeth is an avid writer.
Janet Schlapkohl received her M.F.A. in Playwriting from the University of Iowa. She also has an M.S. in Education from the University of Iowa and a B.S. in Biology with minors in English, Chemistry and Education from Iowa State University. Her plays have been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Colorado and across Iowa. She is the founder of Combined Efforts Theatre, Iowa’s only theater company with a mission of purposeful inclusion of individuals with disabilities. Schlapkohl was selected as a 2014 Visionary Playwright by Theater Masters and is the recipient of the Isabelle Turner Human Rights Award, the Richard Maibaum Award and the Finkbine Award for Human Rights.
Original music for My Sister is by Christopher Gene Okiishi, with lyrics by Janet Schlapkohl. Incidental music is by Barbara Rottman, who accompanies live during performances, and choreography is by Maureen Robinson. Set design is by Pete Hickok, lighting design is by Derrick McDaniel, sound design is by Christopher Moscatiello; costume design is by Audrey Eisner; and props design is by Danielle DeMasters, who also associate produces. The assistant director is Miranda Stewart, and Ron Sossi and Sally Essex Lopresti produce for Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.
Performances of My Sister take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Jan. 16 through March 6. (On Sunday, Jan. 17 only, the performance will be at 5 p.m. with no 2 p.m. matinee.) Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Feb. 3 and Feb. 24, and on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Feb. 11, Feb. 18 and March 3. Three post-performance discussions will take place on Friday, Jan. 29; Thursday, Feb. 11; and Wednesday, Feb. 24 and are included in the ticket price. Tickets are $34 on Saturdays and Sundays; $30 on Fridays; and $25 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with $20 tickets available for seniors and $15 tickets for students and members of SAG/AFTRA/AEA. There will be four “Tix for $10” performances on Friday, Jan. 22; Saturday, Jan. 23; Friday, Feb. 19; Wednesday, Feb. 24. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to www.OdysseyTheatre.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
My Sister — A smash hit at last season’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, Janet Schaphohl’s story of identical twins in pre-World War II Germany has been expanded and receives a full production at the Odyssey Theatre. In early 1930s Berlin, the days are growing dark for freedom of expression and for those who don’t fit the Nazi ideal of physical purity. Beautiful sisters Magda, a fledgling chanteuse and comedienne at the local cabaret, and Matilde, writer of the satirical songs and comedy for Magda’s act, are identical in every way — except one. Identical genetic makeup. Identical humor. Identical dreams for the future. But cerebral palsy affects Matilde’s movement and speech, leaving her housebound. Für immer zusammen (“together forever”). For how long will that remain possible? An ultimately chilling tale presented with charm and humor.
• Written by Janet Schlapkohl
• Original music by Christopher Gene Okiishi, with lyrics by Janet Schlapkohl
• Directed by Ron Sossi and Paul David Story
• Starring Elizabeth Hinkler and Emily Hinkler
• Produced by Ron Sossi and Sally Essex-Lopresti
• Presented by Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Ron Sossi, artistic director
Jan. 16 – March 6:
• Wednesdays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 3 and Feb. 24* ONLY
• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 11*, Feb. 18 and March 3 ONLY
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Jan 22, 29*; Feb. 5, 12, 19**, 26; March 4
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Jan. 16 (opening), 23, 30; Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27; March 5
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Jan. 24, 31; Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28; March 6 (no 2 p.m. matinee on Jan. 17)
• Sunday at 5 p.m.: Jan. 17 ONLY
*Post show discussions on Friday, Jan. 29; Thursday, Feb. 11; and Wednesday, Feb. 24
**The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show.
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
• $25–$34 (reserved seating)
• Four “Tix for $10” performances: Friday, Jan. 22; Saturday, Jan. 23; Friday, Feb. 19 (wine night); Wednesday, Feb. 24