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NYS Writers Institute, May 1, 2013
American Place Theatre
7:30 p.m. Performance | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center,
Uptown Campus


A new stage adaptation of Lois Lowry’s bestselling young adult novel, The Giver,will be performed at 7:30 p.m. [NOTE EARLY START TIME], Wednesday, May 1, 2013 in the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. A pre-performance discussion, open to all, will be held at 7:00 p.m. A production of American Place Theatre, a performance-based literacy program, the event is sponsored by UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center and the New York State Writers Institute. Admission is $15 general public; $12 seniors & faculty/staff; $10 students. Box Office: (518) 442-3997; [email protected].

“The Giver” is an adaptation for the stage based on Lois Lowry’s best-selling novel of the same name. Winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal, the novel was published nearly 20 years ago and is still widely read today.  In a dystopian world of “Sameness,” where all negative emotions and feelings of pain have been successfully eliminated, twelve-year-old Jonas is selected to receive the memories of humankind’s experiences from the time before. Breathing life into literature, this stunning one-person stage adaptation deftly portrays the first of a quartet of books that also includes Gathering Blue (2000), Messenger (2004) and Son (2012).

Adapted and directed by Elise Thoron, the one-woman play is a production of American Place Theatre’s “Literature to Life” series, a literacy program that presents professionally staged adaptations of American literary works. Mara Stephens plays the boy protagonist, Jonas. The play is recommended for ages 10 and older.

Playwright Elise Thoron’s original plays include “Green Violin” (2003), about painter Marc Chagall; “Prozak and the Platypus”(2004), with music written by singer-songwriter Jill Sobule; and “Charlotte: Life? or Theater?,”about German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon who was killed at Auschwitz. She has also translated and directed a number of modern Russian plays.

A graduate of the University of Vermont, actress Mara Stephens has been performing on and off Broadway for the past 15 years. Her first professional show in 1995 was “Coming Through” with American Place Theater, directed by Wynn Handman. She also performed in the original cast of the Broadway musical, “Titanic”. She originated the role of Charlotte in Elise Thoron’s “Charlotte: Life? or Theater?” Her TV credits include Law & Order, Slings & Arrows, and Cold Feet.

The New York Times reviewer called Lowry’s novel, “powerful and provocative.” At the time of publication, the novel was named a “best book of the year” by the American Library Association, School Library Journal and the National Education Association’s online teacher poll. It was also selected as a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, and a Booklist Editors’ Choice. A cultural lightning rod, the book has been adopted as required reading by many school districts nationwide, but has also been banned by numerous districts because of its apparent support of euthanasia and abortion.

Bill Cosby purchased the film rights to the novel in 1994, but the production wasn’t “green-lighted” until this past December. Jeff Bridges is slated to star.

The play is presented by UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center in conjunction with the New York State Writers Institute. This performance is part of the New York State Presenters Network Presenter-Artist Partnership Project with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Support is also provided by the UAlbany Foundation and Holiday Inn Express.

Admission is $15 general public; $12 seniors & faculty/staff; and $10 students. Contact the Performing Arts Center box office at (518) 442-3997 or [email protected] .

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620.