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World Premiere Of Chiara Atik's POOR CLARE Opens Echo Theater Company's 25th Anniversary Season

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Echo associate artistic director Alana Dietze is back at the helm of Chiara Atik's powerful and very funny new play.

World Premiere Of Chiara Atik's POOR CLARE Opens Echo Theater Company's 25th Anniversary Season

The Echo Theater Company's world premiere production of Poor Clare will open in September, 18 months after the originally scheduled March, 2020 opening that was shuttered by the pandemic.

Echo associate artistic director Alana Dietze (Dry Land, The Wolves) is back at the helm of Chiara Atik's powerful and very funny modern spin on the medieval story of Saint Clare of Assisi. Poor Clare will open the Echo's 25th anniversary season with a six-week run, Sept. 11 through Oct. 18, at Atwater Village Theatre. Three "pay what you want" previews take place Sept. 8, Sept. 9 and Sept. 10.

Clare (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson, last seen at the Echo in The Wolves) is just a regular teenager living in 13th century Italy, trying out hairstyles and waiting to get married... until a man named Francis (Michael Sturgis, seen at the Echo in Gloria) starts ranting in the courtyard. Clare and her sister Beatrice (Donna Zadeh, The Wolves) might just as well be living in 21st Century Calabasas or Beverly Hills. They worry about the latest styles, and gossip about boys with their live-in help (Kari Lee Cartwright and Martica De Cardenas). Together with their mother, Ortolana (Ann Noble), they do their best to be socially conscious and "give back," donating leftover food to the poor (Tony DeCarlo) and organizing clothing drives. But what happens when your eyes are opened to the injustice of the world around you - and you can't look away?

According to Atik, "I found I was having a lot of conversations with my friends in which we would despair about everything from income inequality to homelessness to the refugee crisis and famine in Yemen. We would get ourselves all worked up over dinner, and then I'd go back to my apartment and turn on Netflix and resume my normal life. This reminded me of the story of St. Clare who became radicalized as a teenager, at 18. She didn't just feel bad about the state of the world, she had the conviction - and strength - to actually sacrifice for what she believed in."

"How do we give our lives meaning in the face of the insurmountable problems we see around us every day?," asks Dietze. "I love the way Chiara has drawn a line directly from Clare in 1211 to now, without saying it outright. She's managed to make this person, who did something most of us would consider completely unrealistic, relatable. The system that created wealth inequality then hasn't really changed. Listening to the characters, it feels like it could be me or any of my friends talking - which is really fun when it's juxtaposed with period costumes and design."

The creative team includes scenic designer Amanda Knehans; lighting designer Azra King-Abadi; sound designer Jeff Gardner; costume designer Dianne K. Graebner; wig and hair designer Klint Flowers; and graphic designer Christopher Komuro. The production stage manager is Christopher Jerabek. The associate producer is Alexa Yeames, and Chris Fields, Kelly Beech and Rachael Zambias produce for the Echo Theater Company.

Chiara Atik's other plays include Five Times in One Night, Bump, which was recently recorded for radio by L.A. Theatre Works, and Women, a mashup of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" and HBO's Girls. Her work has been developed at New York Theater Workshop, Clubbed Thumb/Playwrights Horizons Superlab, Williamstown, Northern Stage and Colt Coeur. Chiara's writing has been featured in The Atlantic, Glamour Magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine and at NYMag.com. Other writing credits include "Paris is Lovely/Lonely When You're Alone" (Amazon Kindle) and "Modern Dating: A Field Guide," (Harlequin, 2013). Her feature film script, Fairy Godmother, was on the 2016 Black List. Chiara is a member of The Ensemble Studio Theater and an alum of EST's Youngblood.

Alana Dietze's previous directing credits include The Wolves, The Found Dog Ribbon Dance, Dry Land and A Small Fire with the Echo Theater Company, and Ripe Frenzy for the Greenway Court Theater. The Wolves was named to both Charles McNulty's "Highlights of 2019" list in the Los Angeles Times and KCRW's "Best of 2019" list, and was Ovation and Stage Raw award-nominated for best production. direction and ensemble. Alana directed Dry Land for a second time when it was remounted at the Kirk Douglas Theater as part of CTG's Block Party; together, the two productions garnered nine Ovation nominations, including for direction, and won the 2016 Ovation for "Best Production in an intimate theater." Alana is also an Ovation-nominated actress and serves as the Echo's associate artistic director.

Poor Clare opens on Saturday, Sept. 11, with performances continuing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. through Oct. 18. Three preview performances are set for Wednesday, Sept. 8; Thursday, Sept. 9; and Friday, Sept. 10, each at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; Monday night performances are $20 in advance, and Pay-What-You-Want at the door (subject to availability). Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours will be required of all patrons, and admittance is limited to ages 12+. All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance.


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