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TWO STORIES Press Release

February 04, 2015

News Release
January 13, 2015
For Immediate Release

Salt Lake Acting Company presents World Premiere of
TWO STORIES by Elaine Jarvik

"I love my job. I am extremely grateful to have my job. Really, if the journalism gods are listening, I am extremely grateful. Because what we do is important. We give people a chance to tell their stories." – Jodi, TWO STORIES

Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC) proudly presents the World Premiere of TWO STORIES by Utah playwright Elaine Jarvik, February 4 through March 1, 2015. After a successful reading in last season's New Play Sounding Series, TWO STORIES comes to full production on SLAC's stage, bringing with it questions of cultural misunderstandings, the current state of journalism, neighborhood preservation, who really owns a story, and what is the American dream? We thank the NEA Art Works for their support of this play.

TWO STORIES reflects America's changing demographics—in all senses of the word. Jodi Wolcott is an old-school journalist trying to keep her job in a 24-hour news cycle. Her husband Kevin lost his job then quickly used up their savings on a failing artisan donut shop.

When the Masoris – a Pakistani family – move in next door, Jodi throws a party to welcome them, excited for the diversity they will bring to the neighborhood. Later, Jodi develops a friendship with Bashira, the grandmother of the family. Recently having arrived in the U.S. Bashira slowly opens up, revealing the reason she left Pakistan so suddenly, and Jodi realizes Bashira has a story that might save Jodi's job. The article that she eventually publishes about Bashira angers Amir, Bashira's son, who is mortified that his family's privacy has been breached.

The tension explodes when Amir and his wife plan to remodel their house into a giant, two-story upper-class home that will change the look of the middle-class neighborhood and cut off the Wolcotts' light and view. Kevin accuses Amir of planning a "monster home," and Jodi is caught in the middle, afraid to alienate their new neighbors, but wanting to prevent the addition.

Religious and ethnic tensions escalate. Rocks are thrown. Hate crime charges are filed. But who is to blame? And when Jodi's newspaper colleague, a young Hispanic reporter, comes to the Wolcotts' house to write a story about the incident, Jodi finds herself in Amir and Bashira's position: having her own story taken from her and told by the media. The prejudices underneath her intentions are revealed.

In TWO STORIES, it is the Pakistani family that is upwardly mobile and the "white" family that is trying desperately to hang on. The Masoris want to fit in but also want the house of their dreams. The Wolcotts want to be friends with the Masoris but also want to protect their home. "Why is my desire for space any less important than your desire for a view?" asks Amir. "Because we were here first," answers Kevin.

Among the play's many relevant themes is the battle between preserving a neighborhood's character and the freedom to make changes and additions to one's home. It's an issue that has been particularly pervasive in some Salt Lake City neighborhoods since about 2007. An article from the Salt Lake Tribune's archives quotes one resident as saying, "Adjacent property owners [are pitted] against each other in a way that is destroying the fabric of this community" (http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=6106285&itype=NGPSID) and in another article, "If people can't work within the fabric of the neighborhood, they shouldn't live there. There are plenty of other places you can go to build your McMansion."

It's a debate that continues with groups like K.E.E.P. Yalecrest, whose mission is to help preserve and protect the Yalecrest neighborhood, designated on the National Register of Historic Places, by providing advocacy, education and recognition of its community, history, landscapes and historic architecture.

Elaine Jarvik
Elaine's short play DEAD RIGHT was produced at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in 2008 and has been anthologized in the "Bedford Introduction to Literature." Her full-length play (A MAN ENTERS) was produced by the Salt Lake Acting Company in 2011, and THE COMING ICE AGE was produced by Pygmalion Theatre in 2010. Jarvik has spent most of her writing career as a journalist, first for the Deseret News and more recently freelancing, earning national awards for reporting.

Jarvik says: "Like most playwrights, I suppose, I wrote TWO STORIES so I could grapple with worries that keep me up at night. During my 40 years as a newspaper and magazine reporter, I lost many a night's sleep wondering if I had used the right tone and the right details in the articles I wrote. Journalism is often a symbiotic relationship between reporter and source, but I worried whether I was using the details of someone's life just so I could tell a good story. And, in the later years of my career, as newspapers gasped for life, I worried whether I'd even have a job. Like Jodi, my protagonist, I interviewed many immigrants and refugees, and was moved especially by the stories of older people who had been forced to leave their homes. No wonder Jodi wants to tell Bashira's story. But is she telling a story that shouldn't be told, just to save her own job? TWO STORIES asks: 'Who owns the story?' It asks: 'Who owns the view?' because this is also a play about houses and neighborhoods. It asks: 'What happens when well-meaning people defend their own self-interests against the self-interests of their well-meaning neighbors?'"

In conjunction with TWO STORIES, SLAC is proud to partner with the International Rescue Committee. The IRC is one of the leading organizations in Salt Lake City that gives "care and life-changing assistance" to empower refugees. TWO STORIES playwright Elaine Jarvik credited the IRC for helping her connect to refugee and immigrant communities in Utah and deepening her understanding of their situation as she wrote. The IRC will have a presence in SLAC's lobby through the duration of the play.

Throughout the run of TWO STORIES, SLAC's Green Room Gallery will feature the artwork of Katrina Berg, whose work focuses on architecture and the stories therein. Berg says: "An obsession and admiration for local architecture has sparked the desire to preserve buildings, homes, barns, and even furniture with a brush, canvas and tubes of oil paint. Each architectural subject has a story of its own to tell. As the light and shadows pour over a structure, some of the story is revealed; times of happiness and grief, love, and pain. Weathered by time and nature, each comes to life through the strokes of a brush."

SLAC will host a panel discussion on Sunday, February 15 at 2:30 p.m. titled "Living/Losing the American Dream" moderated by Terry Gildea and featuring panelists Safi Safiullah, Elaine Jarvik, and Tim Chambless. The discussion will focus on the definition of the 'American Dream' as seen by those who were born here and those who immigrated here.

An article on New America Media states: "There are two versions of the American Dream. The first is the Dream of the outsiders, the immigrants, that 'I will come to America and I will change my life.' For those born in the United States, there's a different notion. It's not about changing one's life. It's about acquiring more, or trying to hold on to what you have. In that sense the American Dream is failing those who live in this country but not failing those who come to this country. The American Dream is alive and well all over the world, but it is dying in the United States." (http://newamericamedia.org/2014/09/qa-what-is-the-american-dream.php)

Keven Myhre
Keven received the Mayor's Artists Award in the Performing Arts in 2009. He was awarded the 2008 City Weekly Award for directing THE CLEAN HOUSE and MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS at Salt Lake Acting Company. His other directing credits at SLAC include GRANT & TWAIN, BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, RED, ANGELS IN AMERICA: PARTS I & II, THE OVERWHELMING, RABBIT HOLE, I AM MY OWN WIFE, BAD DATES, KIMBERLY AKIMBO, GOING TO ST. IVES, WATER LILIES, THE MEMORY OF WATER, TWO-HEADED, THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE, GROSS INDECENCY: THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE, C'EST MOI in MERE MORTALS and THREE DAYS OF RAIN. Keven has designed all of SLAC's sets and many of the costumes for the last 18 years. He has also designed 16 sets for The Grand Theatre. He designed sets for ACCORDING TO COYOTE, WEST SIDE STORY, CROW AND WEASSEL, and SOUTH PACIFIC at Sundance Theatre. His designs have also been seen at Pioneer Memorial Theatre, Utah Musical Theatre, Egyptian Theatre, Kingsbury Hall and the Babcock Theatre. His work for the Utah Arts Festival includes site design for the 20th anniversary. He received a BFA from the University of Utah and a MFA in Theatre from the University of Michigan.

TWO STORIES features a terrific ensemble including SLAC favorites Alexandra Harbold (CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION, SIX YEARS, ICE GLEN), Zack Phifer (GOD OF CARNAGE), and Elena Dern (SATURDAY'S VOYEUR, THE CAT IN THE HAT, BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON) and newcomers Tito Livas and Tamara Howell.

ELENA DERN (Melinda)
Elena is very excited to return to SLAC for her fourth production! Most recently, she was seen in the Egyptian Theatre's production of A CHORUS LINE as Diana and has worked as Assistant Choreographer for SATURDAY'S VOYEUR 2013/2014 at SLAC. Other SLAC credits include Sally in THE CAT IN THE HAT, BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, and SATURDAY'S VOYEUR 2012. Favorite roles include Madelaine True in WILD PARTY and Gwen Landis in FIFTH OF JULY in Studio 115, ensemble in HAIR and THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, and Raymonde in A FLEA IN HER EAR at the Babcock Theatre. Elena is a graduate of the Actor Training Program at the University of Utah. She thanks her family and friends for their never ending support!!

Alexandra is very happy to be back at Salt Lake Acting Company. Previously, she acted in CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION, SIX YEARS, and ICE GLEN, and directed the premieres of Elaine Jarvik and Kate Jarvik Birch's (A MAN ENTERS) and Kathleen Cahill's The Persian Quarter. Recent projects include directing THE OWL GIRL (University of Utah), CLIMBING WITH TIGERS (Red Fred Project & Flying Bobcat), and LOST IN THE WOODS (Salt Lake Men's Choir & Flying Bobcat), and acting in FEAST (NOW-ID & Flying Bobcat). Upcoming projects include directing UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL (AP Productions) and serving as Dramaturg on I HATE HAMLET (Pioneer Theatre Company). Alexandra is the Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory.

Tamara has appeared recently in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (Utah Rep), MOTHERHOOD OUTLOUD, THE 12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS, SEVEN AND THE GOOD BODY (Pygmalion Theatre). Other local roles include Truvy in STEEL MAGNOLIAS and Rona Lisa Perretti in THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE (Pinnacle Acting Co.), Steffy in I OUGHTA BE IN PICTURES (Utah Theatre Artists), Noleta Netercott in SORDID LIVES, Lou in WELCOME HOME JENNY SUTTER and Zoila in LIVING OUT (Pygmalion). Tamara is also a Mom and a Jr. High Drama Teacher. She earned her BFA in theatre from the University of Utah.

Tito is proud to be making his Salt Lake City debut with SLAC! Born and raised just north of here in Caldwell, ID, Tito has just recently finished touring the world performing with Holland America and visiting six out of the seven continents. Before that he workshopped the new David Byrne musical HERE LIES LOVE which recently closed Off-Broadway, toured around the US with Theatreworks USA, worked as a performer at Walt Disney World, and performed Shakespeare in Idaho and Alaska. He loves animals, the outdoors, and pretending.

Zack had uber fun doing SLAC's well received production of GOD OF CARNAGE last fall. After graduating from the U of U in the Acting Emphasis Program, he headed to Los Angeles where he appeared in over 150 commercials, 50 television shows and many films. Some favorite projects were "Murphy Brown", "Seinfeld", "Get Shorty" and "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion". He can currently be seen in the film "Darling Companion" shot in Utah.

Salt Lake Acting Company

By Elaine Jarvik

February 4 – March 1, 2015
Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 1:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.

Additional performances:
Tuesday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 21 at 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 28 at 2:00 p.m.

Salt Lake Acting Company
168 West 500 North, Salt Lake City

Single tickets range from $15 to $42, depending on the performance.
Student, Senior and 30 & Under discounts are available.
Discounts are also available for groups of ten or more.

Box Office: 801-363-7522
Open 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mon – Fri

Elena Dern*
Alexandra Harbold*
Tamara Howell
Tito Livas*
Zack Phifer

Director – Keven Myhre
Set Design – Keven Myhre
Costume Design – KL Alberts
Lighting Design – Jesse Portillo
Sound Design – Jennifer Jackson
Dialect Coach – Sandra Shotwell
Production Stage Manager – Jennie Sant*

*Member of Actors' Equity Association

Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC)'s mission is to enrich and engage community through brave contemporary theatre. SLAC is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 professional theatre founded in 1970 and is dedicated to producing, commissioning and developing new works and to supporting a community of professional artists. SLAC has been nationally recognized by the Shubert Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Edgerton Foundation, among others. SLAC operates under a STP Actors Equity Association contract. SLAC is a Constituent Member of Theatre Communications Group, a national organization for non-profit professional regional theatres, and the National New Play Network.