Paul Donahoe (The Giver) and Bret Medley (Jonas) rehearse a scene from ACCT’s production of “The Giver,” which will be produced from Sept. 27-Oct. 13, 2019.
Photo by Howard Soroos/The Gazette
Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control and safe. There is no war or fear or pain. There are also no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. But when Jonas goes to the Ceremony of Twelves, he is chosen for special training from The Giver to receive and keep the memories of the community. The Giver is the only person who holds the memories of real pain and real joy. Now Jonas will learn the truth about life and the hypocrisy of his utopian world. Through this moving adaptation, discover what it means to grow up, to grow wise, and to take control of your own destiny. Aldersgate Church Community Theater (ACCT) will present “The Giver” from Sept. 27 – Oct. 13, 2019.
Director Jen Lyman said she likes to direct dramas that deal with important, complex issues. “’The Giver’ explores the importance of memory, individualism, connection, and strong emotion, and how barren existence is when you try to live without them. I was also intrigued by the complex sound and projection design necessary to portray the memories, shared by the Giver, which are the catalyst of change in this story,” she said.
Producer Leslie Teitel added: “As a teacher, I love bringing the stories that students read in school to life. It can give them a perspective or message that they might have missed when reading it as an assignment, hearing it spoken and seeing it in dimension on the stage.”
She continued: “So many kids in their preteen and teen years can become engulfed in the strong emotions that they are experiencing. ‘The Giver’ shows us that as challenging as these emotions can sometimes be, they help teach us and guide us to having more colorful, poignant lives overall. That with the sadness and pain comes immense joy and love.”
Producer Marg Soroos added: “It is a wonderful story with such a good message about choice and being able to give and receive love. Many preteens and young people have read the story and to see it come to life may solidify the message of the story.”
Brett Medley is playing the role of Jonas, a kid who has lived his entire life trying to be part of the group, much like everyone else in his society. “Jonas, however, has always had a bit of a strange quality about him. Where his family and friends interact at a very basic level, Jonas has always felt emotions toward these interactions, as much as he’s tried to suppress them. His journey with The Giver allows him to not only discover these emotions, as well as understand what they are; and express them in a whole new way.”
Debbie Gray plays the mother of Jonas. “The Mother truly enjoys living in this ordered society. The Mother works in the area of Law and Justice. She follows the rules and appreciates the system that has been created to keep things orderly and functioning,” she said. “The Mother has no hesitation in stifling natural feelings through medication and finds restraint in emotions to be quite natural. She takes pride in her family unit, but has no concept of what having love for her family would actually be. She recognizes the great honor of her son, Jonas, being selected as the Receiver, and feels this is a reflection of her success in raising her son in an orderly and appropriate fashion.”
Jim Pearson plays the father -- a nurturing soul, kind, empathetic to a fault, and committed to helping children grow and thrive. “He is also a very good citizen, follows the rules, and is well satisfied with his life and his place in the community,” he said.
He continued: “I hope that the audience reflects on how they see the world, its colors and textures, and then considers that others may see the world and what is normal quite differently -- different colors and textures, music, and views of the universal. Then, perhaps, think of how we may weave these different views and beliefs into a rich tapestry that supports and engages us all, sharing the delights and helping us through the traumas.”
Katherine Watters plays the role of Lily, a 6-year-old girl who is very energetic. “She thinks outside of the proverbial ‘box’ although she can’t think too far out of the box because she lives in such a reserved community,” she said.
She added: “It is a deep show, and I had to spend some time with the script to understand it. It was hard memorizing my lines, and it was challenging learning the blocking. It was hard getting to know the other character’s parts as well as my own character.”
Paul Donahoe plays the role of The Giver, an old man who is the current Receiver of The Community. “He becomes The Giver when he transmits all his memories to Jonas who is to become The Community’s new Receiver. In a world where no one feels pain and there are no emotions, The Giver is the only one who holds the memories of the whole world and is filled with emotion and pain that he passes on to Jonas. As the story is told The Giver becomes weaker and weaker as his memories leave him,” he said.
Aldersgate Church Community Theater will present “The Giver” from Sept. 27 - Oct 13, 2019. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m. (No performance on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.) Tickets are $15 and $18. The theater is located at Aldersgate Church, 1301 Collingwood Road, Alexandria, VA 22308. Visit the website at http://acctonline.org.