The Luxury of Suffering

The Luxury of Suffering

TLoS poster

Preview 2/7
Opening night 2/8
Shows 2/9, 2/14, 2/15, and 2/16
All shows 8 pm at the Empress Theater, 535 2nd Avenue in downtown Fairbanks.

Cast (in order of appearance):
Stephanie Gottschalk
Jill Shipman
Brighton Brooks
Tegan White-Nesbit
Donald Crocker

When you ask people to talk about what frightens them, often the first things that come to mind are the horrors found in feature films or folk tales – haunted houses and vengeful spirits, monsters, spiders, witches, zombies. These archetypal fears were the original topics of exploration for co-directors Jill Shipman and Stephanie Gottschalk as they began to discuss creating a theatrical production around the concept and experiences of fear. As discussions progressed, the two found themselves wanting to look deeper into finding the root of such seemingly superficial fears, and the concept grew into one of searching for what it is that people fear most about themselves.

Structured around the idea that we all carry around fears and insecurities, the intention of the project came to be the creation of a theatrical experience of exploring the more intimate and personal emotions that manifest as the result of our fears about ourselves and our experiences in life. Throughout the show, the actors address uncertainty and insecurity, abandonment, self-doubt and even insanity, as well as the undeniable pain and discomfort that can happen as we challenge ourselves to confront these deep, dark places that can be found within all of us.

Through spoken word, movement, music, and dance, the ensemble cast explores the human potential for growth and happiness that becomes possible when we make an active choice to face our fears and give ourselves permission to openly experience the full spectrum of emotions that are a part of all of our lives. The variety of background and experience within the cast has given the opportunity for an original composition production, with each actor bringing forward their own artistic strengths, while exploring outside their individual comfort zones into other mediums. Dancers are exploring acting, visual artists and musicians are stepping into theatre for the first time, while actors and spoken words artists are pushing themselves to experiment with movement and dance. Shipman’s and Gottschalk’s combined backgrounds in dance, theatre, and theatrical movement provided the leadership and structure for the project, but it was through the combined collaboration of the entire cast and the production team that it became a show.

While examining the experiences surrounding their personal fears on stage, the actors aim to resonate with each other and with the audience by sharing the raw and uncensored emotions that come up along their journey, while always considering that as we look within ourselves and find what it is that we are truly afraid of, we have two choices: we can be confined by our fears, or, we can set ourselves free. When we are lucky enough to listen to ourselves, to really be authentically present with the feelings we’d rather run from, we take charge of our destiny and open ourselves to infinite possibility. As we give ourselves permission to feel our feelings free from judgment we can understand that they are an experience, they are in fact not us nor are they definitive of who we are. Which choice will you make? When we create growth and find strength from our fears, we come to see what a luxury suffering truly can be.


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