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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Provocative play
about youth is
presented at nexStage

Express Staff Writer

Like, how about seeing a play thatís about disaffected, rebellious youth? Thatís like in a theater, right? Whatever. The play is, like, called "This is Our Youth," and itís being staged March 10 through 17 at nexStage Theatre in Ketchum.

íCha, dude.

Presented by Interplanetary Theater Group in association with the Sun Valley Performing Arts Center, "This Is Our Youth" is directed by Pamela Sue Martin and is being produced by Jon Kane. Kenneth Lonergan wrote the play.

Mike DiSalvo, left, and Aaron C. Truax star in "This is Our Youth," which opens tonight at the nexStage Theatre. Photo by Kirsten Shultz

Though the story takes place on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1982, it has a timeless quality due to its character driven tale. Three Manhattan based college age kids from liberal and well to do families are living on what they think is the edge, a sort of self-inflicted squalor. Theyíre bored, rich and smart. Lonergan is especially known for his authentic sounding dialogue. Like, totally and whateverónot to mention a good deal of four-letter wordsóare splattered throughout the play.

The kids spend their time talking about drugs, sex and the state of the world. Ronald Reagan has just become president, a concept that leads one character to ask rhetorically, "How embarrassing is that?"

Lonergan has described "This Is Our Youth" as an "ultranaturalistic play, which is built around small moments in life." His other work, the critically acclaimed movie which he also directed, "You Can Count On Me," won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and received Academy Award and Golden Globe Best Screenwriting nominations. He was nominated again in 2002 for his "Gangs of New York" screenplay. He also wrote the screenplay for the gangland comedy "Analyze This" in 1999.

Along with David Lindsay-Abaire and Neil LaBute, he is one of the most highly regarded young playwrights working in New York currently. Lonerganís ability with a line and creating a living space is what sets him apart.

"Itís hyper reality," Martin said. "Itís my favorite thing to do. Just living on stage, doing drugs on stage. Itís very unusual. Parents whoíre progressive should feel fine about bringing children to the play as young as 14."

The play, in fact, captures a time when all youth hovers on the brink of adulthood. Their lives seem limitless but they feel infallible.

"Itís got humor in it, all their attitude and bon vivant, like they were going to live forever," Martin said. "But he drives right into the heart of darkness."

Ultimately, however, it has very powerful anti-drug message, Kane added.

Lonergan doesnít patronize, however, he grew up in this world. The play has proved so influential that it has been staged three different times with American movie stars, like Matt Damon, in Londonís West End.

"The material is appropriate for teens," the youngest cast member Teddy Minford said. "I donít think itís too shocking."

Kane pointed out that "itís equivalent language-wise to a mild R rating in the movies."

The cast includes Minford, a student at The Community School; Aaron C. Truax and Mike DiSalvo.

DiSalvo was known to Martin previously as sheíd worked in Cincinnati where he was based while working with the Ensemble Theatre. Heís moving to New York after this production closes.

Truax was the last cast. He recently migrated to the valley, where his parents live, from Sharon, Conn., where he had done community theater.

During the audition process, Martin and Kane had been seeing prospective cast at nexStage all afternoon and had still not found the right person for the role of Warren. Truax wandered into the theatre unaware of the auditions, read for the role and was cast immediately.

"Jon thought he was a little tall," Martin reminisced. "But when God answers your questions, you donít question the package. There has been amazing synchronicity."

The show opens March 10 at 7 p.m. Performances are 7 p.m. nightly, other than Friday and Saturday shows when curtain time is 8 p.m. The show runs through March 17, except Monday night when the theater is dark. Student tickets are $7 and adult tickets are $20. Tickets can be purchased by calling 726-4tks.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.