Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easily ‘Distracted’

Company of Fools tackles A.D.D. and a world of disturbances

Express Staff Writer

Some of the cast of “Distracted” are (1st row) Beth Hilles (Mama) and Andrew Alburger (Dad). (2nd row) Traci Otto (Natalie), Jana Arnold (Dr. Waller) and Christine Leslie (Dr. Avala) (3rd row) Jennifer Jacoby Rush (Vera), Claudia McCain (Sherry) and Joel Vilinsky (Dr. Karnes). (Missing: Max Albright, Jesse). The play raises questions about the over stimulated world. Courtesy photo by Kirsten Schultz

    At a roundtable discussion last week, a handful of local child-rearing experts reminded desperate parents to keep a sense of humor through it all.
    For good company in the tragicomedy that is bringing up baby, make plans to catch a night of theater with the Company of Fools, which brings Lisa Loomer’s “Distracted” to the Liberty Theatre in Hailey starting tonight, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. The production will run through March 1.
    Loomer’s “smart, hysterical, poignant piece does a terrific job for a parent’s journey for treatment of a child’s learning difficulties which, in this case, is attention-deficit disorder, but really is the story about how we cope with all of our differences and how we self-medicate and navigate the distraction-filled world around us,” said Denise Simone, core company artist.
    Simone said audiences will likely recognize their friends and neighbors, if not their own children or selves. The play ran Off-Broadway at the Laura Pels Theater in New York.
    “Distracted” begins with Mama, played by Cynthia Nixon, trying to meditate, only to be interrupted by the screeching voice of her demanding child.
    The stars include Beth Hilles and Andrew Alburger as parents, and the rest of the cast of children, teachers, doctors and busybodies are played by Joel Vilinsky, Claudia McCain, Jennifer Jacoby Rush, Jana Arnold, Christine Leslie, Max Albright and Traci Otto.
    The set will be live throughout the 75 minutes of the show, with five flat-screen televisions installed by Cox Communications to provide intermittent video.
    “They are truly embedded in the story,” Simone said. “They are part of the message, but they won’t be jarring. We want to tell the story well, we want to be heard.”
     The actors leaned on the Lee Pesky Learning Center for help researching their roles. There will be a special-educator night on Feb. 17, after the show with a discussion.
    Girls Night Out on Feb. 16 offers discount tickets, wine, a pre-play trunk show at the Wildflower boutique adjacent to the theater and a chance to win a goody bag.
    Loomer told The New York Times back in 2009 that she wrote the play after her first child enrolled in school and she noticed the huge numbers of children with a diagnosis such as A.D.D. or depression, conditions that in an earlier world would have been dismissed as delinquent or immature behavior, not an illness.
    “The play is basically the mother’s journey,” she said. “She’s the one who does the changing in this play, not the child. She goes from someone who believes that if you ask the right questions, if you go to the right experts you can fix things. That position is eventually challenged in the play … What she learns is to think less in terms of the problem child and be more present with the child, who he is.”

See ‘Distracted’
When: Feb. 13 and 14, at 7 p.m.; Feb. 15 and 16, at 8 p.m., Feb. 17, at 3 p.m.; Feb. 20 and 21, at 7 p.m.; Feb. 22 and 23, at 8 p.m.; Feb. 27 and 28, at 7 p.m. and March 1, at 8 p.m.
Where: Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
Tickets: Many options for reduced-price tickets, but in general, $10-30.

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