Quark Theatre Opens with Edgy Drama, Blackbird.

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Ray and Una (Tony Isbell,  Fiona Battersby).
  • Ray and Una (Tony Isbell, Fiona Battersby).
Quark is the new kid in theater town, with a sciencey name inspired by tiny, essential particles that build the building blocks of everything. It was conceived during an independent production of Krapp's Last Tape, and has now been carried to term. Blackbird, the company's inaugural production, is a drama is a minefield of triggers and snares relating to subject matter so delicate and unvarnished, even the creative partners had their doubts. It's a play about a man and a woman who had an abusive sexual relationship 15-years ago when he was 40 and she was 12. And it's never exactly what you think it is.

"We chose Blackbird for our inaugural production for several reasons," says actor/director Tony Isbell, who cofounded Quark with his Krapp partner Adam Remsen, and Remsen's wife, dancer/choreographer Louisa Koeppel. "First, in my opinion, it’s a great piece of writing, It’s edgy, intense and provocative. This is the kind of script that Quark was founded to produce. I don’t mean that other theaters in town don’t produce these kinds of scripts, but I personally just don’t feel there’s enough of it. It is a challenging script, in just about every way you can use the word. It’s an intense emotional journey that lays bare two souls."

Isbell, who most recently directed The 39-Steps at Theatre Memphis, is acting this go-round, taking on the role of Ray.

"The show is not 'about' pedophilia or sexual abuse," Isbell says. "It's about how these two people deal with their shared past and how they struggle to find a way forward when they finally meet again. Or at least that’s part of what it’s about. It’s also about the power dynamic between men and women; the nature of love; the slipperiness of truth and memory; and the mystery of human existence. Hope that doesn’t sound too pretentious, but it’s all in there."

If you're interested in finding out more about this company devoted to, "small, essential" work, here's the origin story.


Times, dates, ticket/production details, here.
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