Ivy Tech takes on controversial, award-winning novel ‘The Giver’


By Joel Pierson H-T ColumnistApril 14, 2013

Ivy Tech’s theater students take to the stage this week in “The Giver,” a stage adaptation of Lois Lowry’s popular but controversial Newberry Award-winning novel.

The apparent utopian society of the story soon turns out to be anything but, as it is revealed that the culture has eliminated not only pain and struggle, but also any meaningful emotion at all.

As the Newberry Medal suggests, this is a children’s story — appropriate for middle school audiences and above. The story of 12-year-old Jonas is an emotional one. He is chosen to be the keeper of all the society’s memories from the time before the “Sameness” rounded the edges off of everyone’s feelings. He meets the previous keeper of these memories — the Giver of the play’s title — and makes some startling discoveries. He learns just how much the people of his culture are missing by denying themselves the ability to feel. He must then decide whether to choose a life of safety, devoid of feelings, or run away to a life of danger and great emotions.

“The Giver” has a very sophisticated and complex plot, and it is not often staged. If Eric Coble’s adaptation captures the spirit of the novel and the performers can bring it to life, it should be an evening of theater that gives families plenty to talk about.

“Clybourne Park”

At the Phoenix Theater in Indianapolis, they’re in the middle of their run of Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 and a Tony Award for Best Play in 2012. Drawing from the powerful 1959 play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” this play focuses on the house that the family from “Raisin” wanted to purchase — looking at events before and after the action of that play.

Act I of “Clybourne Park” takes place in 1959, as a couple in a white, middle-class Chicago neighborhood is planning to sell their home. A neighbor informs them that a black family wants to buy the house, and the sellers are pressured not to go through with the deal. A heated discussion follows about racial harmony and fairness for all.

Act II jumps ahead 50 years, to the same house. The cast from Act I returns as different characters. Clybourne Park is now an all-black neighborhood, and a white couple wants to buy the house. In a twist of events, it is the white couple who now have to petition for their right to move in, facing opposition from the local neighborhood committee.

Drawing from such a respected piece of literature as “A Raisin in the Sun” — itself drawn from an actual historical court battle — “Clybourne Park” tackles some difficult questions and issues and humanizes the struggles the characters face. It’s important to note that audience members do not need to have read or seen “Raisin” to appreciate this play.

“Every one of us grew up in a neighborhood of some kind. Urban or country or suburban — we all grew up surrounded by the personalities, textures and influences of the community around us,” said director Bryan Fonseca. “For good or for bad, home is where the heart — and history — is.”

Contact Joel by sending an email to features@heraldt.com with “Pierson” in the subject line.

If you go

WHO: Ivy Tech Theater Department

WHAT: “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, adapted by Eric Coble

WHERE: Rose Firebay, Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. April 19-20, 26; 2 p.m. April 27

TICKETS: $5-$15, available at www.bctboxoffice.com.


WHO: Phoenix Theater

WHAT: “Clybourne Park” by Bruce Norris

WHERE: 749 N. Park Avenue, Indianapolis

WHEN: 2 p.m. April 14, 21, 28, May 5; 7 p.m. April 18, 25, May 2; 8 p.m. April 19-20, 26-27, May 3-4

TICKETS: $18-$28. Available by phone at 317-635-7529 or online at phoenixtheatre.org.
Courtesy photo From left, Lisa Ermel, Eric J. Olson and Constance Macy rehearse a scene from “Clybourne Park,” the latest production from the Phoenix Theater in Indianapolis.

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2013


About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.