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The Indiana Daily Student


New production based on post-Sept. 11 events

Playwrights Project debuts 'Afterdark' for weekend audiences

"Afterdark," a new play by Kara Manning, premieres in Bloomington tomorrow night at the Bloomington Plawrights Project. One of the first plays of its kind, "Afterdark" is set in New York City in December 2001. The play depicts everyday urban dwellers including a radio deejay, a drummer, a coffee shop owner and a teenage girl among others who are dealing with their personal lives three months after the Sept. 11 tragedy. \nManning's plays have been produced and read at the BPP and many other respected play houses in the United States and Europe. As a resident of New York, Manning examines the effects that the attacks on New York had on its citizens as well as other events that took place afterward like the death of former Beatle, George Harrison. However it was only a coincidence that the play happened to be written for the BPP. \n"She was writing a play for the BPP on commission last year and she was thinking of doing something about New York and then Sept. 11 happened and she incorporated that into the play," said Candace Decker, Director of Marketing at BPP.\nDirector Sue Kim directed the former BPP play "Sunflower Town" as well as other plays and musicals in New York. She believes that although the play is set in New York, anyone can relate to the personal interactions of the people in the production.\n"In the instance of the mother and daughter in the play, it shows how they deal with the return of their father who reenters their lives after being only in the periphery. It raises issues of how to be close and how to reconcile differences," Kim said. "It shows how people's perspectives change in the aftermath of an enormous tragedy."\nActress Maria Dahman, who plays Jessie, the mother and coffee shop owner in the play, says she is excited about acting in "Afterdark" because it's "from the horse's mouth."\n"Afterdark" was written and directed by artists who intimately know New York and New Yorkers. And when the initiators are passionate about a personal production, it can't help but contaminate the cast," Dahman said. \nThe BPP only features original plays and has become well known in theater communities throughout the country as the host of the Reva Shiner playwriting contest. This national recognition helps the BPP draw in playwrights and directors from New York and elsewhere in the country. \n"It's a retreat for them; in big cities it is harder to be a working artist. People at the theater also get to see what directors from other parts of the country are like," she said. "This also exposes Bloomington to something new. It is a great town and people are really open here," Decker said.\nThe BPP's Literary Manager Eric Pfeffinger said that he has recently read several original plays about the events of Sept. 11 but in his opinion none of them have been able to capture the effect of the event on the lives of real people like "Afterdark." \n"The others have been setting out to capture the enormity of the event … they tend to turn their characters into pale imitations of that experience and deal with the same type of stories we see in the news media," Pfeffinger said. "This play is different because these people are living their lives which are not summed up by this horrible experience. It is not aimed to be a remembrance of what happened to the city."\nSince the play focuses on real people's lives, it weaves in elements of pop culture that surround them. Manning is a senior producer and writer for MTV and has written for "MTV News" and "Rolling Stone" magazine.\n"There is a lot of humanity, a lot of comedy, and a lot of pop culture awareness in the play," Pfeffinger said. "The playwright definitely knows what is going on in the realm of popular culture."\n"Afterdark" will be showing on May 10-12, 16-19, and 23-26, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Bloomington Plawrights Project is located at 312 S. Washington Street at the intersection of 3rd and Washington, next to Boxcar Books.

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