adapted by Eric Coble
based on the Newbery Award-winning novel by Lois Lowry
director’s note by Georgia Mallory Guy
My dear friend and former Associate Artistic Director, Ryan Bernier, brought the one-act version of The Giver to my attention as we were looking for our 2019 Fall production. We ultimately ended up choosing Laura Eason’s adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days, not realizing it would be our final main stage production before the pandemic hit and our world came to a halt. Yet, the play stayed on that short list of “we have to figure out a way to produce this one!” Fast forward to Fall 2021, we figured it out.
Since the creation of ThinkTank, we’ve worked diligently to produce theatre that reflects the lives of young people and their families in our present world. We’ve sought to find material with a progressive approach to Theatre for Young Audiences, one that bridges the theatrical gap towards mature mainstream theatre, work that appeals more to where young people currently exist. The Giver hits all these marks.
Jonas starts in a world of comfort, where all his needs are met, with a mother, father, sister and friends to share in his life; but there is no choice, no color, no feeling of passion or love. The community operate with no knowledge of what truly exists beyond them or what came before them. Jonas, of course, is selected to be the next Receiver of Memory, a great honor that is bestowed upon him. And, as we all know, with great honor, comes great responsibility.
The Giver tackles tough themes: coming of age, self-recognition, personal responsibility, suicide, ageism, community awareness, and of course, the impact of choices. There’s a lot represented here that reflects the last year and a half we’ve experienced, not only as individuals, but also as a nation. So many times, we choose not to see past our own front doorstep, past our own comforts and well-being. I’m just as guilty as the next person. I believe what the story, and more so the play, challenges us to do is to see beyond ourselves, seek empathy over rash disagreements, and embrace the beauty of the divergent community of which we are ever so fortunate to be a part.
For a real treat, go read the other three books.
Georgia Mallory Guy
Ars Longa, Vita Breve