Annie Russell Theatre To Present Improvised Film Noir Show, PRIVATE LIES

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Annie Russell Theatre To Present Improvised Film Noir Show, PRIVATE LIES

Set in a murky crime-infused cityscape of Prohibition-era America, Private Lies is a fully improvised long-from theatre experience framed as a serialized detective series. The original production pits Richard Lies, an unlucky Private Eye, against a nefarious underworld in film noir-inspired episodes. In each fully improvised performance, our haunted gumshoe seeks to piece together a random assemblage of clues to solve the "crime of the day" while witnesses, suspects, and criminals help and hinder his pursuit of justice.

Private Lies incorporates audience suggestions and the input of a roster of "guest authors" to shape each performance's journey as the core characters fight to survive the crime-ravaged urban jungle they call their home. Guest authors are invited leaders from the community, including Florida House Representative Anna Eskamani, and partners from the arts community such as Robert Hill, Artistic Director of Orlando Ballet, and Joshua Vickery, Founder and Executive Director of Central Florida Community Arts. Each will join the company to essentially play a live game of "Mad Libs" with main character Richard Lies. As our fearless detective narrates onstage action in familiar film noir style, he will gesture to our author to fill in blanks, inviting them to say whatever comes to mind to keep the company of improvisers on their toes.

As each crime unfolds, spirits of the past re-emerge, and the besieged detective must also wrestle with his own personal demons and dilemmas. And as the production evolves over the course of eight performances, the detective will becomes closer to solving the unknown fate of his parents and the identity of the unseen crime boss, The Cleaner.

While full of parody and humor, the production will also earnestly examine key tensions that were emerging during Prohibition in the United States, such as gender roles, sexuality, crime, immigration, and national identity. Multiple locations, first-person narrative, film noir serial style, and the utilization of flashbacks and crime scene reenactments all offer unique facets of this one-of-a-kind live theatre experiment.

Private Lies is created and directed by Dr. David Charles, Professor of Acting at Rollins College. Charles, who also improvises in the production as the character Richard Lies, developed the production with the assistance of students working over the summer of 2019 as a research team in residence at Rollins. Funding for the team's dramaturgical research and development was provided by the Rollins College Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program.

Private Lies opens on Friday, November 15th with a run of eight performances through Saturday, November 23rd. Tickets are $20, with discounts available for students and seniors. An opening night ticket includes admission to a reception immediately following the performance. Following the closing performance on November 23rd, a post-show discussion will reveal the process and secrets that made the production possible. Tickets are available online at or by phone at (407) 646-2145.

Photo Credit: Annabelle Cuitino

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