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Deaf West dials up intensity of intimate, powerful ‘The
Solid Life of Sugar Water’ in American premiere
LOS ANGELES (Aug. 13, 2019) — Candid, uninhibited and visceral. A Deaf couple’s relationship is revealed through their lovemaking in a startlingly intimate portrait of a marriage — made even more intense by Deaf West Theatre’s signature performance style combining American Sign Language with spoken English. Deaf West Theatre presents the American premiere of The Solid Life of Sugar Water by Tony Award-winning playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). Randee Trabitz directs for a Sept. 12 opening at Inner-City Arts in downtown L.A., where performances will continue through Oct 13. Previews take place Sept. 5 through Sept. 8.
Sandra Mae Frank, who starred as Wendla in all three Deaf West productions of Spring Awakening — at Inner-City Arts, at the Wallis and on Broadway — plays Alice, alongside Tad Cooley’s Phil. Natalie Camunas and Nick Apostolina voice their most private thoughts.
“This play has been with me ever since I read it,” says Deaf West artistic director David J. Kurs. “It was written to be performed by two speaking actors, even though one of the characters is written as Deaf. But it will be even more powerful performed by two Deaf actors. This is that rare play that will be made better by the addition of sign language: the ‘bedroom speak’ will be intensely visual, a quality that will also bring greater clarity to critical events as they unfold. It’s an extraordinary look behind the curtain. The subject of intimacy in a Deaf couple is rarely addressed.”
According to Trabitz, “This is the perfect company for this show. In the (literal) hands of these actors, the play becomes a visual dance that echoes the trajectory of the story.”
The Solid Life of Sugar Water premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival prior to an acclaimed run at England’s National Theatre. In her five-star review, UK Guardian/Observer theater critic Susannah Clapp called it “unflinching… I can’t remember when I last saw a play that was at once so forthright and so delicate.”
Jack Thorne is an English screenwriter and playwright. He began his TV career writing on Shameless and Skins, before writing Cast Offs in 2009. He has since created the shows Glue, The Last Panthers and Kiri. He has won five BAFTA awards, including Best Mini-Series for This is England ’88, Best Drama Series for The Fades, Best Single Drama for Don’t Take My Baby, Best Serial for This is England ’90 and Best Original Series for National Treasure, starring Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters and Andrea Riseborough. Thorne’s feature film credits include The Scouting Book for Boys, War Book, A Long Way Down, and Wonder starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. Thorne is also a prolific playwright; his other plays include Hope and adaptations of Let The Right One In, Woyzeck and A Christmas Carol starring Rhys Ifans. He wrote the stage play for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child based on an original story by him J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany, which won the 2017 Olivier Award for Best New Play and the 2018 Tony Award for Best Play. The world premiere of Thorne’s newest play, Sunday, will open Atlantic Theater Company’s 2019-20 season in September.
Founded in Los Angeles in 1991, Deaf West Theatre engages artists and audiences in unparalleled theater experiences inspired by Deaf culture and the expressive power of sign language, weaving ASL with spoken English to create a seamless ballet of movement and voice. Committed to innovation, collaboration and training, DWT is the artistic bridge between the deaf and hearing worlds. Past productions include Our Town, in a co-production with the Pasadena Playhouse; Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo, in a co-production with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts; Spring Awakening, which transferred from Inner-City Arts to the Wallis and then to Broadway (three Tony Award nominations including Best Revival); American Buffalo (Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Choice”); Cyrano, a co-production with the Fountain Theatre (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Production); Big River (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and Backstage Garland awards for Best Musical in its L.A. premiere, Tony nomination and four Drama Desk Awards on Broadway); Pippin, produced at the Mark Taper Forum in a co-production with Center Theatre Group; Sleeping Beauty Wakes, also a co-production with CTG, presented at the Kirk Douglas Theatre; Oliver! (Ovation Award for Best Musical); and A Streetcar Named Desire (Ovation Award for Best Play). In 2005, DWT was selected to receive the Highest Recognition Award by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for its “distinguished contributions to improve and enrich the culture lives of deaf and hard of hearing actors and theater patrons.”
The Deaf West creative team includes ASL Master Linda Bove, rehearsal interpreter Elli Streifer, scenic designer Sean Fanning, lighting designer Derrick McDaniel, sound designer Noelle Hoffman; projection designer Heather Fipps and costume designer Adriana Lambarri. The production stage manager is Julie Ouellette, the business manager is Deborah Reed, and David J. Kurs produces for Deaf West Theatre.
The Solid Life of Sugar Water runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. from Sept. 12 through Oct. 13. Four preview performances take place Sept. 5 through Sept. 8 on the same schedule. There will be two ASL Nights: arrive one-half hour prior to the performance on Thursday, Sept. 19 or on Thursday, Sept. 26 for a 15-minute ASL workshop that teaches signs used in the play. Ticket prices range from $38.50 to $75.00, with discounts available for preview performances and throughout the run for students with valid ID; check website for details. Performances take place in the Rosenthal Theater at Inner-City Arts, located at 720 Kohler Street in downtown L.A. (just south of the Arts District). For reservations and information, call (818) 762-2998 (voice) or go to www.deafwest.org.
The Solid Life of Sugar Water deals with adult themes and contains sexually graphic language — recommended for mature audiences only.
Details for Calendar Listings
“The Solid Life of Sugar Water”
American premiere of The Solid Life of Sugar Water — A Deaf couple’s relationship is revealed through their lovemaking in this startlingly intimate portrait of a marriage — made even more intense by Deaf West Theatre’s signature performance style combining American Sign Language with spoken English. Candid, uninhibited and visceral, this new play by award-winning playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival prior to an acclaimed run at England’s National Theatre. “Unflinching… I can’t remember when I last saw a play that was at once so forthright and so delicate.” — UK Guardian.
• Written by Jack Thorne
• Directed by Randee Trabitz
• Starring Tad Cooley, Sandra Mae Frank, Nick Apostolina, Natalie Camunas
• Presented by Deaf West Theatre, David J. Kurs artistic director
Previews Sept. 5 – Sept. 8
Performances: Sept.12 – Oct. 13
• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 5 (preview), 12 (opening), 19*, 26*; Oct. 3, 10
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 6 (preview), 13, 20, 27; Oct. 4, 11
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 7 (preview), 14, 21, 28; Oct. 5, 12
• Sundays at 3 p.m: Sept. 8 (preview), 15, 22, 29; Oct. 6, 13
*ASL Nights on Thursday, Sept. 19 and Thursday, Sept. 26: arrive at 7:30 p.m. for a 15-minute ASL workshop that teaches signs used in the play.
720 Kohler Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021
• $38.50 – $75.00
• Discounts available for preview performances and for students with valid ID: check website for details.
Recommended for mature audiences only: adult themes, sexually graphic language