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From a bickering married couple to serious dialogue about racism, hope shines through eight selected works for the last production of the Ixion Ensemble’s 2019 season.
Rose Cooper, previously an assistant director on “Fight Girl Battle World,” will direct for the first time. Cooper spent the majority of her two years in theater as a stage manager.
“Jeff Croff is our artistic director and every year he spotlights on something. Last year was 'Fears and Phobias,’” Cooper said. “When he asked me if I wanted to direct this, I turned around looking for someone behind me.”
She’s spent the past few months vetting 200 scripts to be in the festival from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. Ixion initially wanted to select six plays, but Cooper fought for these specific eight, she said.
“Hope doesn’t mean everyone is going to get a happy ending. Hope is buried in some of these plots, but they all speak of the desire we have to have a good life and make a difference in life,” she added.
Allie Costa, an LA-based playwright, will debut “Low Light” in Ixion’s upcoming production. She wrote the play in December 2017 as part of an exclusive competition where some of the best LA dramatists were tasked with creating a 10-minute play within four days.
Costa saw the call asking for plays dealing with hope and submitted her works.
“Hope is one of my favorite words and concepts. I’m really excited this story reached people and had resonance with them,” Costa said.
“Low Light” chronicles a conversation had between two veterans on military service, racism and immigration.
“I write a lot of things like five minutes in the future and the adjacent possible like a Twilight Zone type of thing,” Costa said.
The work came starkly more relevant within weeks of Trump’s announcement to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Dreamers programs in September 2017.
“It was crazy because I didn't want this to be fact with immigrants and dreamers and veterans. So, I dedicated this piece to dreamers and veterans.”
Cooper sees herself in a lot of the productions, she said.
“I relate especially to ‘Be More 282.’ It involves a young white woman and a young black man and how they are seen differently in the world. It is obvious I identify with a black man as an African-American, but I am also a woman so I saw her struggles as well,” Cooper said.
“I told the actors, ‘Nobody is more important than the other. Don’t take it like someone is going to be upfront and behind,’’ she said.
Performing will be actors Sadonna Croff, Jacquelyn Marks, Leo Poroshin, Paul J. Schmidt, Ellen Weise, Lekeathon Wilson and Muthu Jayatissa.
The complete list of plays in order are “Hijab” by Andrea Clardy, “Low Light” by Allie Costa, “Be More 282” by Rich Espey, “Winter in the House” by Lauren Ferebee, “Scripted” by Mark Harvey Levine, “172 Push-Ups” by Scott Mullen, “Classics for Kids” by Ellen Sullivan and “One, Three, Two” by Michael Weems.
Cooper pointed to the diversity of the eight plays lends itself to represent the community.
“Hope is an interesting thing. Somebody asked me once what age I think I am and when I think of myself, I think about when I was 16,” Cooper said. “When I was 16, I didn't have any hope for myself at all. I lived in Detroit, didn’t see a future and was a miserable, suicidal young girl with a lot of negativity.”
“For that 16-year-old girl to come from that and be directing a play, mentioned in the newspapers and to be known around town for something positive is the epitome of hope. To have that opportunity is a tremendous thing.”
"Hope: A Collection of Short Plays"
The Robin Theatre
Saturday, May 18 - 19
Saturday, May 25 - 26
Alternating showtimes at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing, MI
For tickets and information on 2019-20 auditions, visit www.ixiontheatre.com/