Camilo Almonacid's "The Assignment" was inspired by conversations between the playwright and perpetrators and victims of violence. The show has a limited run at Luna Stage through Dec. 9.
But there is no violence in this production. Instead of looking at the violent act, this play is about what happens long after.
“We’re committed to staging works dealing with the most pressing issues of our time and gun violence,” Luna Artistic Director Ari Laura Kreith said. “The aftermath of gun violence feels very much front and center right now.”
This is the second show in Luna’s 2018-19 Main Stage season, Kreith’s first season at the helm. The first show, “Pirira,” was set in both Manhattan and Malawi and aimed to show how similar people are no matter where they live.
“The entire season is about coming together across seemingly unbridgeable divides,” Kreith said.
“The Assignment” has two characters. Rafael Poueriet plays Julian Torres, a 37-year-old man recently paroled after 20 years behind bars. He receives a scholarship to study at a fictional New York university where he meets Antu Yacob‘s English professor, Helen Payne. Because of their backgrounds and life experiences, a bond between the pair seems unlikely. Instead, a relationship grows over a love of classic works of literature.
“It’s very easy to think that wouldn’t happen, that that couldn’t happen, but the fact is it’s inspired by real people,” Kreith said. “That gives it another level of depth.”
The two actors have parallels to their characters. Poueriet is a firefighter, someone who has seen how violence can change lives. Yacob is a professor and a mother, giving her different wells to tap here.
“(Poueriet’s) warmth and heart and (Yacob’s) intellect and power make for wonderful chemistry and storytelling onstage,” Kreith said. “Their connection is part of what makes this play so beautiful.”
Luna is offering related pre- and post-performance enrichment opportunities, including screenings of “The One That Got Away,” a documentary about a promising student from Montclair whose gets lost along the way. Also planned is a post-show conversation with Dan Gill, the teacher featured in the documentary, and journalist Kyle Spencer.
“The play can stand alone as a beautiful and powerful story but we’re also offering more, ” Kreith said. We’re giving people access to what’s happening in the real world and information on how we can all make a difference.”
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Tickets: $35-39, available online at http://lunastage.com/. Through Dec. 9.
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