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Pure Theater Closes AWOL: A Soldier's Journey 10/15

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AWOL: A Soldier's Journey, world premiere of a new play written and directed by Joanna Crowell, is a moving portrait of the real-life experiences of three American soldiers faced with the harsh realities of the Iraq War. Based on a series of interviews, AWOL: A Soldier's Journey is an inspiring, thought-provoking, and at times gut-wrenching new piece that examines the dramatic events and changes of heart that recently took place in the theater of war. The play opens October 1st and runs through the 15th.

The cast includes PURE Core member David Mandel (Low Country Boil, The Seafarer, Thom Pain: based on nothing), and PURE veterans Katie Huard (Low Country Boil, Yankee Tavern) and Paul Whitty (Circle Mirror Transformation, Sheep's Clothing, Hogs).

"Becoming a soldier, even if it requires surrendering the body, is attractive until battlefield realities become apparent-then the individual is in trouble. A lifetime of cultural definitions of heroism slam into the truth of combat and the internal world tilts at the impact." ~Tim Blackmon War X: Human Extensions in Battlespace (2005)

AWOL: A Soldier's Journey was initially conceived within the context of a qualitative research course at King's University College at the University of Western Ontario. Crowell conducted a series of personal interviews with three U.S. Iraq War resisters and veterans who have sought refuge in Canada throughout the Winter and Spring of 2010, and completed the writing process this summer. One of the interview subjects, and characters in AWOL, is Kimberly Rivera, the first female U.S. Iraq war resister and veteran to seek asylum in Canada. AWOL was staged as a dramatic reading in London, Ontario at Kings College University the weekend of July 2010 under the name AWOL: A Soldier's Journey to War Resistance.

"AWOL embodies why I returned to school at age 34 with a 9-month-old baby at home. My goal was to heighten my performance art by expanding my knowledge about the world. My goal was to incorporate more effectively women and gender issues, and issues of social justice and peace into my art, my life's work, and passion," says Crowell, playwright & director. "I am profoundly grateful to the war resisters who have trusted me with their stories. I am moved and awakened by their acts of resistance in the face of tremendous pressure and conditioning. They are my heroes; they are my friends."

PURE Theatre has garnered a reputation for artistic excellence, risk taking, and thinking outside of the box. The company's intrepid approach to the art and craft of theatre has garnered them numerous critics and audience awards, as well as a loyal following of patrons. PURE has been the recipient of Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Play, Best One-Person Play, Most Diverse Theatre Company critic and audience awards, and Winners of the 2010 South Carolina Arts Commission's Fellowships in the Playwrighting & Acting.

PURE Introduces New Ticket Pricing
For the opening of PURE's World Premiere production of AWOL: A Soldier's Journey, PURE Theatre is introducing a Pay What You Can, sliding ticket scale between $15 and $30 for all tickets.

"We are experimenting with a flexible pricing strategy to determine whether or not we see a significant increase in single ticket buyers, as well as to create a means of capturing data regarding mean ticket price," says Sharon Graci, PURE Theatre's Artistic Director.

Part of what makes the experiment possible is the company's recent move to Charleston Ballet Theatre where they have almost tripled their seating capacity. "In a smaller venue, it just wasn't possible to adjust the cost of our tickets, it wasn't prudent," continues Graci, "We were consistently at or close to capacity, so there was no room to determine just how broad our audience could be if we removed a potential barrier to participation, in the form of ticket prices that don't fit in everyone's budget."

Graci is also quick to point out that PURE Theatre supports a strong base of loyal patrons who make the pricing experiment possible. "We're incredibly grateful to our strong base of regular supporters, our PURE ORG members, contributors, and benefactors, who stay with us through our growing pains. They are our strongest champions, and our loudest advocates. PURE's continued success and growth is important to them. They want to see us thrive."

With the new ticket strategy, ticket buyers can go online, or show up at the door, and name any whole dollar price between $15 and $30 for their tickets. According to Graci, "It's just the right thing to do in the name of advocacy, which is one of PURE Theatre's core values. As a company of artists in service to our community, we are committed to diversifying our audience and reaching as may people as we can through our art from. Offering pricing structures that enable greater numbers of patrons to be served is a crucial step in ensuring that the professional performing arts remain relevant to the totality of the communities they serve. This is just one, small, beginning step, but we think it's an important one. The message we're working to promote is that all are welcome, and that PURE Theatre is for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic condition."

AWOL: A Soldier's Journey Creatives

Joanna Crowell (Writer & Director) Playwright, poet, and actress. She holds a B.A. in Social Justice and Peace Studies and Women's Studies and Feminist Research from the University of Western Ontario. She has been the member of numerous theatre companies, including Living the Dream Theatre in Ohio, the Actors' Theatre of South Carolina, The New American Stage Company and the African American Performance Troupe. In 1997 she founded Ascension Theatre in Charleston, South Carolina, where she facilitated writing workshops for women and created a platform for them to perform their stories. She has since performed her own poetry throughout the U.S. and Canada. In 2002 she produced, wrote, and starred in her first multi-media one woman show, Double Dutch: What are you so afraid of? Jump in!

Katie Huard (Kat) is excited to be working with PURE Theatre for the third time. She recently performed at PURE as Liz in Lowcountry Boil and as Janet in Yankee Tavern. She is a College of Charleston alumnus with an MFA in acting from the American Conservatory Theater. She has recently returned to Charleston to teach acting at the College of Charleston. Theater credits include: Mauritius at the Village Playhouse, Mother Courage at Berkely Repertory Theater, Christmas Carol at American Conservatory Theatre, Farmtrucks at the New York City Fringe Festival.

David Mandel (Todd) has acted with PURE in Low Country Boil, Killer Joe, The Last Five Years, Thom Pain (based on nothing), This Is How It Goes, A Number, American Buffalo, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Seafarer, True West, and Jesus Hopped the "A" Train, among others. He directed PURE's production of Grace, co-directed Speech & Debate, and has written short works for the PURE Lab. He worked three seasons with The New Jersey Shakespeare Festival (Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth), a year in residence at George Street Playhouse, and nine years in Los Angeles at venues including The MET Theatre, HBO Workspace, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, LATC, and the Egyptian Arena Theatre. Voted Best Actor in Charleston in 2006 by Charleston City Paper readers, he is PURE's associate artistic director.

Paul Whitty (Jeff) is excited to be back in Charleston working with PURE. Paul just returned from New York City where he played Sir Toby in Sonnet Repertory's critically acclaimed Twelfth Night. A founding member of Charleston's Crescent Stage, Paul most recently appeared as Greg in their Piccolo Spoleto Festival production of Neil LaBute's Reasons to be Pretty. Other credits include: Broadway: The Full Monty (Dave) TV/Film: Guiding Light, National Lampoon's Beach Party New York: Shakesbare: The Seven Deadly Sins, Rats (Jebbie), Roadside, Maryland (NYC Fringe), Fallout (Saturn) Regional: Art (Yvan), Sheep's Clothing (Luggs), Hogs (Peter), Doubt (Father Flynn), Faith, Hope, and Charity, War of the Worlds (Orson Welles), Measure for Measure (Angelo), Victoria & Frederick (Ulysses S. Grant), Defiance (Chaplain) Directing: Love's Fire (Shakespeare Project), Mauritius (Village Playhouse), Discretion (Create Carolina). Paul has a BFA in Acting from UNCSA.

AWOL: A Soldier's Journey

by Joanna Crowell

WHERE: PURE Theatre

Charleston Ballet Theatre

477 King Street

Charleston, S.C. 29403
WHEN: October 1st through the 15th

Opening Night October 1st with additional performances on 2, 8, 9, 10*, 14, 15
7:30 Performances

*2:00 Matinee

HOW MUCH: Sliding Scale Ticket Pricing
Pay What You Can between $15 - $30
GROUP SALES For groups of 12 or more, call 843.723.4444

TICKETS:
Phone: PURE Box Office: 866.811.4111
On Line: www.puretheatre.org
In Person: PURE Theatre Box Office - opens 30 Minutes before Showtime
Charleston Ballet Company
477 King Street
Charleston, S.C. 29403


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