AT THE TABLE' Opens At Actors' Theatre Grand Rapids

AT THE TABLE' Opens At Actors' Theatre Grand RapidsA 'diverse' group of friends on a weekend getaway with no phones allowed, and alcohol and pot in abundance, could easily sound like a setup for a Chekhovian theatrical farce. Playwright Michael Perlman's At the Table, however, is anything but that. It is a powerful and nuanced theatrical feat. It asks what happens when a marginalized minority finally speaks up forcing those with privilege to challenge their own realities for the first time. Actors' Theatre Grand Rapids, known for its high-quality, thought-provoking productions, is thrilled to be bringing this story and conversation to West Michigan as a part of its 38th season.

Mr. Perlman thoughtfully explores these weighty issues of privilege and identity through an intelligent group of 30-somethings; friends from college who have become chosen family. "This context is essential to the play's success", says Kyle Los, Actors' Theatre's Executive Director. "It offers an ability to consider issues within relationships which is far more theatrical and impactful than inconsequential or esoteric philosophical debates. There are real consequences, and there's a unique pressure within such a group of friends to not disturb the waters - to do what is necessary to maintain the family. The question is: at what cost."

Indeed, the characters in At the Table leap into arguments concerning issues such as abortion, slavery, marriage equality, and women's rights. "It's part of their fun - this intellectual roughhousing," says Los. "There are moments with beautiful laugh-out-loud humor in the way they conduct themselves." At some point, however, the game shifts, the humor subsides, and stakes become higher. Director, and Actors' Theatre founder, Fred Sebulske points out that "Life has a way of exerting strains on friendships as we inevitably change and grow to develop new, and often unshared, values. The play is about love and what it can and cannot bridge...what must be overlooked in the interests of maintaining connection and what cannot be overlooked in the interests of one's own integrity."

Actors' Theatre is partnering with One World Diversity (creators of equity and inclusion initiatives) to provide opportunities for audience members to continue conversations. Following the two Friday performances (November 9 and 16) the theatre will be hosting talkbacks with panels consisting of community leaders. "We're (One World Diversity) honored to be in partnership with Actors' Theatre for these important panel discussions. We can no longer afford to silence our marginalized communities for even one second. We must listen to each other's stories with open hearts and minds, so we can grow together as a community. Thank you to Actors' Theatre for highlighting powerful, honest stories. We at One World Diversity strive to create unique initiatives with our brand of diversity and equity training, and look forward to the Actors' Theatre production of 'At the Table'."

Actors' Theatre's At the Table performances are at Spectrum Theater (160 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503)
November 8-10, 15-17 at 8pm and Sunday, November 11 at 3pm
$10 student-rush tickets are available at the door 1-hour prior to each performance
For tickets: atgr.org or 616.234.3946

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