Tribune-Review – Playwright Paul Kruse thinks chickens don’t get the respect they deserve.
“They are helpless and a bit dumb, but (together) they make up a ‘flock mind,’ ” Kruse says.
That’s why he included a flock of four fowl along with six human characters in his drama “Chickens in the Yard,” which Quantum Theatre is producing in collaboration with the Hatch Arts Collective, a Pittsburgh-based multi-disciplinary theatrical organization.
Set in a Pittsburgh neighborhood much like Lawrenceville, “Chickens in the Yard” introduces audiences to six individuals who are struggling with life and relationships.
Their journeys are mirrored by the behaviors of the four chickens who live in the yard behind a three-story house inhabited by 67-year-old Joyce; her adult son, Tom; and his partner, John.
“The play is about what makes people come together in a particular place,” Kruse says. “The chickens become an almost-magical device. They speak to the process of leaving family, making a new family and reconnecting.”
A cast of four — Laurie Klatscher, Siovhan Christensen, Joseph McGranaghan and Alec Silberblatt — will play the six humans, as well as the four chickens.
Performing in multiple roles with believability is a testament to the actors’ abilities, says Adil Mansoor, the production’s director.
“The power of the actor can convince us that she is a man who died three years ago, a mom and a chicken in three minutes as Laurie Klatscher does,” Mansoor says.
Musicians Morgan Erina and Ginger Brooks Takahashi will perform original music that underscores the drama.
“Chickens in the Yard” is the inaugural production of the Geri Kay New Voices Program, a new initiative for Quantum Theatre to encourage the development of new theater artists with an annual work that furthers their development while introducing them to Quantum’s aesthetic principles and audiences.
Quantum Theatre Artistic Director Karla Boos discovered “Chickens in the Yard” while reading plays for a project on grant-making.
“When I read Paul’s words, I felt he had a voice that had not been heard before,” Boos said.
The production will be performed in the Javo Studios building, a multistory structure in Lawrenceville that originally was a hall for a German singing group and, later, a neighborhood bar.
Kruse and Mansoor discovered the space while looking for a location to stage the premiere of “Chickens in the Yard” in 2013, but the rental was then out of their price range. Eventually, the play’s debut took place at Fe Gallery on nearby Butler Street.
“The neighborhood is our home,” Mansoor says, noting that five members of the Hatch Arts Collective live in Lawrenceville. “This neighborhood feels like the place where Joyce would make her home and get to hang out with chickens.”