Tennessee Women’s Theater Project Gets ‘Distracted’

Distracted 1What’s the matter with nine year-old Jesse? He can’t sit still, he curses, he raps and he won’t get into – or out of – his pajamas. His teacher thinks the problem is Attention Deficit Disorder. Dad says, “He’s just a boy!” Mama’s on her own quest for answers, pinballing from the Internet and her neighbors to a succession of therapists and doctors. That family crisis is at the center of the latest regional premiere from Tennessee Women’s Theater Project, Lisa Loomer’s Distracted, which runs Feb. 22-March 10 at the Z. Alexander Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.

Distracted offers a hilarious, provocative and poignant look at a modern family grappling with an epidemic dilemma: Are we so dialed in to our 24/7 info-rich world that we can’t focus on what really matters? TWTP founder and artistic director Maryanna Clarke says that Distracted treats the pitfalls of contemporary family life with a combination of insight, sharp humor, and something more.

“Empathy is the word that came to mind as I first read Distracted,” says Clarke. “The playwright lets us see the humor as the parents try to juggle their son’s problems along with all the other details of plugged-in life. But when the mother says that having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body, we feel every bit of her pain and concern – that’s exactly what it means to be a parent.”

The cast includes an entertaining combination of TWTP veterans and talented newcomers. Making her TWTP debut in the role of Mama is Rebekah Durham, a local stage veteran who has appeared with Actor’s Bridge, Chaffin’s Barn, Circle Players and others. David Chattam, who played multiple roles in 2011’s Impressionism, is Jesse’s Dad. Eight year-old Judah Todd makes his first appearance with the company in the role of Jesse. Alice Raver makes her TWTP debut as Vera, a strange and nosy neighbor.

Distracted 2Buddy Raper, remembered for his charming performance as Mr. Moir in Kingfisher Days (2008), returns in a rapid-fire portrayal of several medical experts. PattiNicole Wheeler makes her first TWTP appearance as Jesse’s teacher and a crowd of other characters. In her fourth appearance with the company, Keri Pisapia plays the dual roles of troubled teen Natalie and her mother Sherry, a woman with deep problems of her own. Fans will remember Pisapia as the daughter of an astronaut in Defying Gravity (2007), as five different residents of a snow-covered hamlet in the romantic comedy Almost, Maine (2008) and as the no-nonsense secretary to a retired judge in Trying (2011).

Distracted was written by Lisa Loomer, a prolific playwright who may be best known as one of the screenwriters of the 1999 film Girl, Interrupted, which starred Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. The company’s season concludes with the seventh annual Women’s Work celebration and showcase of performing and visual arts created by women that opens May 3.

TWTPs professional productions are funded in part by grants from the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, The National Endowment for the Arts and Village Real Estate Service’s The Village Fund as well as many individual donors.

Performance dates and times:

7:30 pm – Feb. 22, 23, 28 and March 1, 2, 7, 8 & 9

10:30 am – Feb. 26 and March 5

2:30 pm – Feb. 24 and March 3 & 10

Tickets:

Adults $15, Students/Seniors (60+): $12; All seats $10 on Thursdays; Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

Reservations or More Information:

Call (615) 681-7220 or visit www.twtp.org.

Distracted 3*Photos of Rebekah Durham as Mama and Judah Todd as Jesse courtesy Tennessee Women’s Theater Project.

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