1812 Productions Presents INTIMATE EXCHANGES at Philadelphia FringeArts Festival, 8/28 - 7/21
1812 Productions is pleased to begin its 18th season with Alan Ayckbourn's epic comedy of chance, Intimate Exchanges. Presented as part of the 2014 Philadelphia FringeArts Festival, Intimate Exchanges stars celebrated Philadelphia actors Anthony Lawton and Jennifer Childs.
Like a splendidly fractured lens, Intimate Exchanges is a feat of linguistic gymnastics on two fronts. First, it moves with marvelous wit, from moment to moment, in dialogue both grand and common. Second, although scripted, the story itself doesn't actually exist until the evening of the performance. Beginning always on a quiet English estate, one of the characters is quickly faced with a choice. The character's decision dictates which scene will then be performed. Soon another moment of decision arises, the outcome of which leads the play into another set of circumstances, and so on. All told, this production has 16 scenes which, in different combinations, create eight possible plays with eight possible endings.
Mr. Lawton and Ms. Childs will play a total of seven characters and, while each performance will run for just under two hours, the actors will come to the stage with eight hours of possible dialogue prepared.
Most remarkable about this production of Intimate Exchanges is that the direction of the story is being left to the audience. This is the first time in the show's history that some combination of scenes has not been prepared in advance of each performance. Each preview performance may be different from the one the night before. What is performed on opening night may not be seen again during the run. Some combination of choices may prove to be universal in their appeal and create a master version of the story. Ultimately, each audience will decide which journey it wishes to take.
A prolific playwright, Alan Ayckbourn is a Tony and Olivier Award winner and is the author of 78 full length plays. Of Intimate Exchanges, he said, "I felt each character had a choice of destiny through it, that's all. None of them behaves inconsistently within that, but things happen to them in one story that couldn't happen in another. You can't cross over once you're set on a course.... What the play explores, I suppose, are the options open and the great element of chance-how, by meeting different people, we are affected (and affect them) in different ways."
In addition to the challenge of performing Intimate Exchanges, each member of the show's production team was tasked with creating malleable designs which could support the whole of the story, whatever its incarnation, while still framing each piece independently. Intimate Exchanges features scenic and lighting designs by 1812 veterans Lance Kniskern and James Leitner, respectively. The production also welcomes 1812 newcomers Allison Roberts, costume designer, and Michael Hahn, sound designer.
Intimate Exchanges also marks 1812 Productions' return to the FringeArts Festival. The company's last production with the festival was an acclaimed original stage adaptation of David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Of the association, 1812 Productions' Producing Artistic Director, and Intimate Exchanges performer, Jennifer Childs says, "There is an electricity that invades the city while the FringeArts Festival is going on-it feels like a time for both audiences and artists to expand their horizons and embrace experimentation. Running this particular show during the festival made sense- Alan Ayckbourn is a playwright that is always experimenting with new ways of delivering a story and 1812 has always looked for new ways of getting the audience to interact with performance."
"The thing I love about this play is that it shows the outcomes of the different choices that the characters can make. We, obviously don't have that benefit in our everyday lives," says Intimate Exchanges' director Mary Carpenter. "We use the information we have at hand, we call on our life experience, we rely on our emotions in the moment, and, ultimately, we follow our gut in the moment of the decision. And all of this is filtered through the unique lens of who we are as individuals. The challenge with our production of Intimate Exchanges is to empower the audience to make that choice in the moment; to involve them with the characters' lives and emotional realities, each character's dreams and disappointments. With the audience making these choices with the characters, they will be invested in the characters' journeys and, hopefully, recognize themselves in the characters' experiences, challenges, and triumphs. That's the great human comedy at play here."
Intimate Exchanges will be performed from August 28th thru September 21st at The Arcadia Stage at Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd Street, in Old City. Opening Night is Wednesday, September 3rd at 7pm. Tickets range from $26-$40 and are available at 215-592-9560 or at www.1812productions.org.
Intimate Exchanges Performance Details
Cast: Anthony Lawton Jennifer Childs
Written by: Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by: Mary Carpenter
The Arcadia Stage at Arden Theatre Company
40 N. 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Dates: August 28th-September 21, 2014
Ticket Prices: $26-$40
Tickets and Information Contact:
1812 Productions' Administrative Office
2329 S. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148