poster for The Things They CarriedAREA NATIVE TAKES STAGE IN “BIG READ” PERFORMANCE

The UAlbany Performing Arts Center, operating under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences and in conjunction with the New York State Writers Institute, is pleased to present American Place Theatre in a performance of The Things They Carried on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 7:30pm. The show is directed by Wynn Handman, the company’s Artistic Director, and performed by area native Billy Lyons.  The evening will begin at 7pm with a pre-performance discussion led by a member of American Place Theatre and will conclude with a post-performance discussion immediately following the show.

The production of The Things They Carried is a one-person theatrical adaptation of Tim O’Brien’s masterwork of contemporary literature about the Vietnam War.  Taken from book to stage by the award-winning New York City based company, this verbatim adaptation includes four of the short stories from the book including “The Rainy River” and “The Man I Killed.” With original cello music as underscoring, the audience lays witness to the complex issues of war and the universal struggle of the soldier.

This performance is a highlight of a community Big Read project led by the City School District of Albany, through the Albany Fund for Education, and the Albany Public Library with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture and to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.  Activities in the Albany area surrounding this title include a kick-off concert at the Palace Theatre, book discussions at the Albany Public Library branches and local book stores, panel discussions at UAlbany and St. Rose, relevant film screenings at various locations, art exhibits and a Books for Troops drive. More information on all the activities can be found here.

Billy Lyons is an alumnus of Shaker High School who studied theatre and received a B.F.A. in Acting from Ithaca College. Besides his work with American Place Theatre, other credits include The Laramie Project, Die Fledermaus and The Cherry Orchard at Ithaca College and The American Dream with Icarus Theatre Ensemble.  According to Lyons, “It is always a great honor to perform in the Capital Region where my roots were planted.”Inspiring Lyons in this work is not only director and mentor Wynn Handman but his father who served in the Marine Corp in Vietnam in the same area and time as Tim O'Brien.

The history of The American Place Theatre is rich and varied with a consistent commitment to nurturing the talents of American authors, playwrights and actors. Based in New York City, it is dedicated to producing high quality new work by diverse American writers and to pursuing pluralism and diversity in all its endeavors. Its Literature to Life series offers professionally staged theatrical adaptations of significant American literary works. The series has been featured at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center for several seasons with performances of Sherman Alexie’s Flight, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man, Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle,Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.  The Theatre, having received over 30 Obies and 16 Audelcos, is critically acclaimed as a birthing place for artistic endeavors at the crossroad of literature and live performance for 47 years.

Actors for whom American Place has been a launching pad include Mary Alice, Ellen Barkin, Roscoe Lee Browne, Kathleen Chalfont, Michael Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Sandy Duncan, Morgan Freeman, Richard Gere, Joel Grey, Dustin Hoffman, Frank Langella, Mary MacDonnell, Zakes Mokae, Howard Rollins, John Spencer, Ralph Waite, Sam Waterson and Sigourney Weaver.

Tickets for the performance are $15 for the general public, $12 for seniors and UAlbany faculty-staff and $10 for students.  For reservations and further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.

There will also be special morning matinee performances of The Things They Carried for high school groups on Monday, November 5 and Wednesday, November 7 at 10am. Both of these shows are currently sold out.