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World premiere of Chiara Atik’s ‘Poor Clare’ opens
Echo Theater Company’s 25th anniversary season
LOS ANGELES (REVISED Aug. 9, 2021) — The Echo Theater Company’s world premiere production of Poor Clare will open in October, 19 months after the originally scheduled March, 2020 opening that was shuttered by the pandemic. Echo associate artistic director Alana Dietze (Dry Land, The Wolves) is back at the helm of Chiara Atik’s powerful and very funny modern spin on the medieval story of Saint Clare of Assisi. Poor Clare will open the Echo’s 25th anniversary season with a six-week run, Oct. 23 through Nov. 29, at Atwater Village Theatre. Three “pay what you want” previews take place Oct. 20, Oct. 21 and Oct. 22.
Clare (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson, last seen at the Echo in The Wolves) is just a regular teenager living in 13th century Italy, trying out hairstyles and waiting to get married… until a man named Francis (Michael Sturgis, seen at the Echo in Gloria) starts ranting in the courtyard. Clare and her sister Beatrice (Donna Zadeh, The Wolves) might just as well be living in 21st Century Calabasas or Beverly Hills. They worry about the latest styles, and gossip about boys with their live-in help (Kari Lee Cartwright and Martica De Cardenas). Together with their mother, Ortolana (Ann Noble), they do their best to be socially conscious and “give back,” donating leftover food to the poor (Tony DeCarlo) and organizing clothing drives. But what happens when your eyes are opened to the injustice of the world around you — and you can’t look away?
According to Atik, “I found I was having a lot of conversations with my friends in which we would despair about everything from income inequality to homelessness to the refugee crisis and famine in Yemen. We would get ourselves all worked up over dinner, and then I’d go back to my apartment and turn on Netflix and resume my normal life. This reminded me of the story of St. Clare who became radicalized as a teenager, at 18. She didn’t just feel bad about the state of the world, she had the conviction — and strength — to actually sacrifice for what she believed in.”
“How do we give our lives meaning in the face of the insurmountable problems we see around us every day?,” asks Dietze. “I love the way Chiara has drawn a line directly from Clare in 1211 to now, without saying it outright. She’s managed to make this person, who did something most of us would consider completely unrealistic, relatable. The system that created wealth inequality then hasn’t really changed. Listening to the characters, it feels like it could be me or any of my friends talking — which is really fun when it’s juxtaposed with period costumes and design.”
The creative team includes scenic designer Amanda Knehans; lighting designer Azra King-Abadi; sound designer Jeff Gardner; costume designer Dianne K. Graebner; wig and hair designer Klint Flowers; and graphic designer Christopher Komuro. The production stage manager is Christopher Jerabek. The associate producer is Alexa Yeames, and Chris Fields, Kelly Beech and Rachael Zambias produce for the Echo Theater Company.
Chiara Atik’s other plays include Five Times in One Night, Bump, which was recently recorded for radio by L.A. Theatre Works, and Women, a mashup of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” and HBO’s Girls. Her work has been developed at New York Theater Workshop, Clubbed Thumb/Playwrights Horizons Superlab, Williamstown, Northern Stage and Colt Coeur. Chiara’s writing has been featured in The Atlantic, Glamour magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine and at NYMag.com. Other writing credits include “Paris is Lovely/Lonely When You’re Alone” (Amazon Kindle) and “Modern Dating: A Field Guide,” (Harlequin, 2013). Her feature film script, Fairy Godmother, was on the 2016 Black List. Chiara is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theater and an alum of EST’s Youngblood.
Alana Dietze’s previous directing credits include The Wolves, The Found Dog Ribbon Dance, Dry Land and A Small Fire with the Echo Theater Company, and Ripe Frenzy for the Greenway Court Theater. The Wolves was named to both Charles McNulty’s “Highlights of 2019” list in the Los Angeles Times and KCRW’s “Best of 2019” list, and was Ovation and Stage Raw award-nominated for best production. direction and ensemble. Alana directed Dry Land for a second time when it was remounted at the Kirk Douglas Theater as part of CTG’s Block Party; together, the two productions garnered nine Ovation nominations, including for direction, and won the 2016 Ovation for “Best Production in an intimate theater.” Alana is also an Ovation-nominated actress and serves as the Echo’s associate artistic director.
Founded in 1997, the Echo Theater Company has gained a reputation for producing and developing exciting new work. Under the artistic leadership of Chris Fields, the company has championed playwrights for a quarter century, producing and commissioning numerous world premieres and introducing Los Angeles to playwrights David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp and Sarah Ruhl among others. The Echo has won countless Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly and Stage Raw awards, and is frequently cited on end-of-the-year “Best of Lists” including by the Los Angeles Times, LA Observed and NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM, among others. The company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly and was a recipient of a “Kilroy Cake Drop” to honor its efforts to produce women and trans writers. KCRW declared that “Echo Theater Company is on a fierce journey,” and Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Artistic directors of theaters of all sizes would be wise to follow the [lead] of the Echo’s Chris Fields, who [is] building audience communities eager for the challenge of path-breaking plays.”
Poor Clare opens on Saturday, Oct. 23, with performances continuing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. through Nov. 29. Three preview performances are set for Wednesday, Oct. 20; Thursday, Oct. 21; and Friday, Oct. 22, each at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; Monday night performances are $20 in advance, and Pay-What-You-Want at the door (subject to availability). Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours will be required of all patrons, and admittance is limited to ages 12+. All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance.
Details for Calendar Listings
The world premiere of Poor Clare, Chiara Atik’s powerful and very funny modern spin on the medieval story of Saint Clare of Assisi, opens the Echo Theater Company’s 25th anniversary season. Clare is just a regular noblewoman living in 13th century Italy, trying out hairstyles and waiting to get married… until a man named Francis starts ranting in the courtyard. But what happens when your eyes are opened to the injustice of the world around you — and you can’t look away?
• Written by Chiara Atik
• Directed by Alana Dietze
• Starring Kari Lee Cartwright, Martica De Cardenas, Tony DeCarlo, Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson, Ann Noble, Michael Sturgis, Donna Zadeh
• Presented by The Echo Theater Company, Chris Fields artistic director
Previews: Oct. 20, Oct. 21, Oct. 22
Performances: Oct. 23 – Nov. 29
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Oct. 20 ONLY (preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: Oct. 21 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 22 (preview), Oct. 29, Nov. 5, Nov. 12, Nov. 19, Nov. 26
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 23 (opening night), Oct. 30, Nov. 6, Nov. 13, Nov. 20, Nov. 27
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: Oct. 24, Oct. 31, Nov. 7, Nov. 14, Nov. 21, Nov. 28
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 25, Nov. 1, Nov. 8, Nov. 15, Nov. 22, Nov. 29
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
• Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays: $34
• Mondays: $20 in advance; Pay-What-You-Want at the door (subject to availability)
• Previews: Pay-What-You-Want
FREE in the Atwater Xing lot one block south of the theater
• Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours will be required of all patrons.
• Admittance is limited to ages 12+.
• All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance.