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Academy Theatre debuts edgy drama
by Noreen Cochran
April 22, 2014 11:18 AM | 2136 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye. From left, Joel Coady, Pat Young and Jacquelyn Wyer in the Academy Theatre's 'Origin Story.'
Staff / Katherine Frye. From left, Joel Coady, Pat Young and Jacquelyn Wyer in the Academy Theatre's 'Origin Story.'
The Academy Theatre, which according to its website, has been dedicated since 1956 to giving audiences “the most thought-provoking experience possible,” is continuing its avant-garde tradition with the world premiere of “Origin Story.”

Artistic Director Robert Drake said the production is “the less controversial of the two” new plays by Theroun D’arcy Patterson, an award-winning member of theatrical incubator Working Title Playwrights.

“I would love to do ‘That Uganda Play’ but it wasn’t ready,” Drake said about a work ripped from international headlines. “I wanted to do ‘Origin Story’ because it’s a great play on its own.”

Drake said he knew this because he had seen the fledgling play in its development stages

“I sat in on its readings,” Drake said about scenes directed by Larry Ruth with actors Amanda Cucher, Michael Filisky and Joel Coady, the latter of whom is in the current cast. “This show hung together so well. The script was already in great shape. Theroun has made very few changes.”

The script was also inspired by real-life events, Drake said, and examines the effect of mental illness on a brother and sister.

“The brother is schizophrenic and has been in mental hospitals. Money is running out and they’re returning patients to their homes,” he said.

The brother, Jacob, comes home after 10 years but brings with him the voice inside his head.

Abigail, the sister he hasn’t seen in a decade, is in denial about the traumatic event that separated the siblings and still resonates in their lives.

Her efforts to whitewash the past literally translate into a house-painting project, while Jacob tries to get from her the information in the play’s title.

“An origin story is how somebody becomes what they are,” Drake said.

Their tension leads to a “final, shocking act,” according to Patterson.

“If we do this right,” he said, “good luck getting up from the theatrical punch this play will deliver.”

Once Hapeville has received the dramatic equivalent of a body blow, other audiences will feel the show’s impact.

“The play is going to travel,” Drake said about a three-city tour funded by a Georgia Council for the Arts grant.

One of those stops may be Stockbridge, where the multiple-locality company has pitched its other tent.

Drake said they accepted two cities’ offers to house a potentially homeless troupe.

“When we knew we were leaving Avondale Estates, we announced it publicly and then sent letters to a number of cities,” he said.

The letters pitched the performing arts’ economic impact on surrounding communities, Drake said.

We’d like to do what Aurora did for Lawrenceville, what CEPAC did for Cumberland. We’ve created exactly what you want to have happen. We start bringing people to neighborhoods. Real estate values go up.”

The company was based in Buckhead for 20 years, stopped for a while at the 14th St. Playhouse in Midtown, was a “theater without walls” from 1991 to 2005, Drake said, then landed in DeKalb County until 2013 when it moved to Hapeville and Stockbridge.

“Fulton County was really excited it was back,” Drake said about the theater’s 13th site.

If you go:
What: “Origin Story” by Theroun D’arcy Patterson
When: opens Friday
Where: Hapeville Performing Arts Center, 599 N. Central Ave.
Cost: $15 online, $20 door
Information: (404) 474-8332, or

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