A holiday gift

Story focuses on multi-ethnic family

Posted 12/16/13

The Edge Theatre is putting on perhaps its daring production yet — by being about as un-edgy as possible — for the holidays.

The theater’s latest production, “Gifted,” is family comedy that is suitable for all ages, a first for the …

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A holiday gift

Story focuses on multi-ethnic family

Posted

The Edge Theatre is putting on perhaps its daring production yet — by being about as un-edgy as possible — for the holidays.

The theater’s latest production, “Gifted,” is family comedy that is suitable for all ages, a first for the theater.

“During the holidays we thought people would want to see something maybe no too edgy,” said Rick Yaconis, executive producer and artistic director of The Edge. “This isn’t really a holiday show, but we thought it was appropriate for the time.”

The show runs through Dec. 29 at the theater, 1560 Teller St. Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Long time patrons of The Edge might recognize “Gifted” and its playwright, Carrie Printz, from the 2012 holiday show, when it was one of four plays put on as part of the first On the Edge festival of new plays.

Printz’s play won the festival and received a full production.

“This play has gone through a series of workshops and it’s something I’ve worked on for several years,” Printz said.

The story of “Gifted” centers on Aseem Ganeshe (Yasser Elmkhouri), the 15-year-old son of a Caucasian mother and Indian father. Aseem’s father has recently died, and his Indian grandmother is coming to visit.

At the same time, Aseem is trying to get on a reality television program called “Stump the Brainiac,” and the producer is visiting to interview Aseem.

“The show is really about Aseem’s search for identity in this multi-ethnic family,” Printz said. “I’ve been interested in writing about a family like this for a while because it is becoming more and more common.”

Printz said the play started out as a monologue about a gifted child, and grew from there. She did research on the Indian culture and sent the play to an Indian playwright to make sure she had the details and dynamics correct.

Tapping into a gifted student is the same thing producers did for the lead role. Elmkhouri is a senior at Lakewood High School, and played the character during the staged reading of “Gifted” last year.

“He was one of my interns from last year, and this is a great role for him,” Yaconis said.

Printz said that all the feedback from Elmkhouri’s performance was extremely positive, and that she has found him to be a very natural actor who just fits into the character.

While the play isn’t a holiday one per se, the ideas that it expresses go along with the message of the season.

“The play is about family, and everyone can relate to that,” Printz said. “I hope people walk away from the show with more appreciation for people’s differences, and maybe have a little more understanding for people we love that we might have differences with.”

This is not the first full play that Printz has written, but it is the first to receive a full production, and she said the process has been a fascinating one to be a part of.

“I was more involved during the stage reading last year, and though I’ve still been going to some of the rehearsals it’s been interesting to turn the play over to someone else,” she said.

Yaconis said the theater will be doing another festival in 2014, and the winning play will be produced in 2015.

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