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In the Moment: ‘Gidion’s Knot’ Moves From Forum Theatre to NextStop Theatre Company: Interviews with Artistic Directors Michael Dove and Evan Hoffman and Director Cristina Alicea

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I have been intrigued by the partnerships and reaching-out that the one-year old NextStop Theatre company has been developing. The company, performing in Herndon, Virginia and drawing audiences from the Dulles Corridor, has partnered with Forum Theatre, in Silver Spring, Maryland in a co-production of Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams. Gidion’s Knot had a recent run at Forum and soon will be playing at NextStop from August 28th though September 14th.

Caroline Stefanie Clay and Katy Carkuff. Photo by Melissa Blackall Photography.

Caroline Stefanie Clay and Katy Carkuff. Photo by Melissa Blackall Photography.

Johnna Adams’ Gidions Knot received the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Citation at the 2013 Humana Festival.  Here is John Stoltenberg’s review of Gidion’s Knot on DCMetroTheaterArts.

I have wondered  about  the audiences each suburban location draws; and if venue location make a difference to  the “real-life”  issues raised by the production. Certainly the Fairfax County Public School System is aware of issues raised in Gidion’s Knot after I took a look at its on-line information about “creating a safe and positive school environment.”

For those who attend theater in Northern Virginia, Gidion’s Knot is the second recent production focusing on “bullying” and its aftermath.  Hub Theater in Fairfax, Virginia produced Helen Pafumi’s Abominable a few weeks ago. Here is my preview article and Michael Poandl’s review on DCMetroTheaterArts.

I took advantage of the opportunity to check in with Evan Hoffman, Artistic Director of NextStop and Michael Dove, Artistic Director of Forum Theatre about their partnership. I also interviewed Gidion’s Knot director Cristina Alicea, a graduate of George Mason University and an intern with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company several years ago.  This piece is edited from phone and email conversations.

David Siegel: Why did you decide to have a partnership and produce Gidion’s Knot both in suburban MD and suburban VA?

Forum Theatre's Artistic Director Michael Dove.

Forum Theatre’s Artistic Director Michael Dove.

Michael Dove: I know I was really intrigued with two ideas: Artistically, giving a longer life to a production that contains some seriously great artists. But then also seeing how one piece can move, change, and evolve when placed in front of a different audience. While we do share a few similar audience members, we are two theatres very much rooted in our local neighborhoods. We were really curious to see if it’s received differently or what conversations result from the different communities.

NextStop Theatre Company's Artistic Director Evan Hoffman.

NextStop Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Evan Hoffman.

Evan Hoffman: I think that Forum is one of the most exciting and ambitious theatre company’s in DC right now. As NextStop continues to establish ourselves as an important theatre company in the area, I can think of no better company to associate ourselves with.

Why did you decide to produce Gidion’s Knot?  What was it about the play that drew you in and resonated?

Michael: I think it’s a story that inspires a lot of though and a lot of questioning about our society. How do we deal with those we perceive as “other?” What is the best way to educate our children and how can we be responsive to their needs when they come across as a threat to others? What levels of freedom are we willing to allow when it comes to artistic expression?

Evan: This play is important. This is boldly and unapologetically addressing a very real situation that is going on right now in our schools.

Are there any significant changes from the production performed at Forum, and the production to be performed at NextStop?

Michael: None of any real significance, really. The set will adapt, slightly, as we have different theatre spaces, but that’s about it.

The only difference – which could be significant – is what different energies the different audiences bring to the performance and the discussions that follow! It’s going to be a very exciting experience for us and the artists involved!

Evan: NextStop has a smaller venue then Forum, so the show is going to become even more in your face with the move. But there are not major changes to the work of the designers or actors.

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Cristina Alicea. Photo courtesy of Vermont Stage Company.

Cristina Alicea. Photo courtesy of Vermont Stage Company.

David Siegel: Why did you want to direct Gidion’s Knot?

Cristina Alicia: I’ve worked with Johnna Adams before and really admire her work. I think she has a distinct writing style and isn’t afraid to prompt conversations about topical issues in her plays. During the first leg of this co-production at Forum Theatre, Gidion’s Knot started powerful, thoughtful, discussions among the audience about subjects ranging from bullying to the merits of creative writing. It was great to be a fly on the wall for some of those conversations and serves as a good reminder why theatre is such a potent art form: it gets people talking to each other about issues that affect us and the community we share.

If you could invite audiences to the NextStop performances of Gidion’s Knot“what would you say?

Fasten your seat belt… this play will put you on an electrifying roller coaster ride that will keep you talking about the experience of it and the subject matter long after it’s over.

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Gidion’s Knot is a co-production with NextStop Theatre Company and will play August 28 through September 14, 2014, at NextStop’s Industrial Strength Theatre – 269 Sunset Park Drive, in Herndon, VA. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

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Gidion’s Knot played through August 3, 2014 at Forum Theatre performing at Round House Theatre Silver Spring – 8641 Colesville Road, in Silver Spring, MD.

LINKS

The Playwright’s Playground: Playwright Johnna Adams Discusses Giving Herself Permission to Write and Reveals ‘Gidion’s Knot’ Challenges and the Gordian Knot Analogy by Sydney-Chanele Dawkins.

The Playwright’s Playground: ‘Gidion’s Knot’ Playwright Johnna Adams Speaks About Her Process, Discipline, Inspiration, and Playwriting Paranoia by Sydney-Chanele Dawkins.

Read other articles and interviews in David Siegel’s column ‘In the Moment.’

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