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Lantern Theater Company Presents The U.S. Premiere Of THE PLAGUE

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The Plague premieres today and streams on demand through November 7, 2021.

Lantern Theater Company is thrilled to continue its Fall 2021 Digital Season with an American premiere digital production of The Plague, furthering the company's mission to engage audiences with plays that investigate and illuminate what is essential in the human spirit and the spirit of the times. Infection, quarantine, panic, and closed borders are invoked in Neil Bartlett's sharp adaptation of Albert Camus' masterful 1947 novel La Peste, originally written following World War II to serve as a political warning to future generations about fascism. Directed by Lantern Artistic Director Charles McMahon and featuring Philadelphia actors Kirk Wendell Brown, Peter DeLaurier, J Hernandez, Anthony Lawton, and Amanda Schoonover, The Plague premieres today and streams on demand through November 7, 2021. Tickets and information are available online at www.lanterntheater.org.

Using only text from Camus' classic novel, Bartlett's adaptation premiered in 2017 at London's Arcola Theatre and was hailed by The Guardian theater critic Michael Billington as "an ingenious update of Camus' chilling fable... Neil Bartlett reminds us that anything is possible in the theatre." Writing for the Evening Standard, Fiona Mountford called Bartlett's adaptation "Camus made chilling and contemporary... haunting and powerful."

The story of The Plague follows five characters - a local doctor, an investigative journalist, an activist, a local government employee, and a black marketeer - as they detail their experiences before an investigative committee, from the first discovery of a dead rat in the city to the closing of the city gates to quarantine. After nine months, the painstaking development, trial, and distribution of "the serum" that can help the infected recover leads to the reopening of the gates and the end of the plague. However, the eradication of the plague is not an untainted victory. The doctor concludes the play by saying, "Joy is always under threat... the plague bacillus never actually dies. I think the best way of getting to know a town is to say how people work there, how they love each other, and how they die." The Plague asks how a society holds together in extreme conditions - whether caused by politics, health crises, or social change - and shows us how it requires a million individual choices and acts of conscience, often known only to ourselves.

"I was moved by the insight, stylistic originality, and timeliness of Neil Bartlett's adaptation, and producing The Plague during a worldwide pandemic when the Lantern is closed to in-person audiences could not be timelier," said Lantern Artistic Director Charles McMahon, who also helms the Lantern's filmed production. "Camus' La Peste has often been interpreted as an allegory for the wave of fascism that swept over Europe in the lead-up to World War II. While it certainly works in that context, the novel's direct story - that of an outbreak of plague in the Algerian city of Oran - stands on its own as a work of great insight into how a catastrophe affects the psyche of a people. Written in an austere style, Camus' novel seeks to create a feel of objective reporting. We watch as a city in quarantine slowly comes unglued under the social and psychological pressures of the outbreak and the lockdown. Before long, the situation begins to reveal the character of the city. At first it is weak, vain, materialistic, and unprepared."

"The outbreak is an unimaginable event for such a society," McMahon continued, "and despite the evidence, it takes weeks before people are able to accept what is happening. Institutions are slow to respond. Experts disagree about exactly what is going on, and authorities are paralyzed precisely when they need to be decisive. The various ways in which people respond to the plague in the story - both immediately and over time - have become heartbreakingly familiar and recognizable over the past year and a half in the real world. For those of us who tell stories for a living, the most urgent question is: 'How can we make those stories as meaningful as we can for the people in our communities?' I hope that in our own way we are bearing a faithful witness to the experience of our own times."

Lantern Theater Company will further explore the themes of The Plague on its Lantern Searchlight blog, available online at lanterntheater.org/searchlight. Published articles will delve into plague as a metaphor for political movements, parallels in historical plagues, Camus and the plague of fascism, and post-World War II Paris, plus behind the scenes interviews with the artists and much more. New content will be added throughout The Plague's streaming run.

Tickets for The Plague are $20 per household/device and are available online at www.lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at (215) 829-0395. Closed captioning is available. Ticket buyers will receive an email confirmation with a private ticket access link, which will provide on-demand access to The Plague for one viewing during the October 7 - November 7, 2021 streaming period. The production can be viewed on most internet-connected devices with email/web browser access, including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and select smart TVs. The Lantern Box Office will be accessible by phone and email for extended hours throughout the streaming period to provide assistance. A Digital Fall Pass is also available for $35, which includes one ticket for The Plague and Me and the Devil (streaming now through October 17, 2021).


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