Bestselling author, Alan Gratz, and Broadway playwright, Eric Coble, to visit Florida Rep one-night-only event
FORT MYERS, FL – Florida Repertory Theatre is proud to announce bestselling author, Alan Gratz, and Broadway playwright, Eric Coble, will be in residence on September 15 for a performance and post-show discussion of Coble’s world-premiere adaptation of Gratz’s acclaimed novel, “Refugee.”
The performance begins at 6:00 PM on September 15 in the Historic Arcade Theatre, and the discussion will follow. Tickets are only $10 and include a post-show discussion with Alan Gratz, Eric Coble, and the play’s director, Kody. C. Jones. Tickets are available online at www.floridarep.org and through the box office at 239-332-4488. Information on the event and Florida Rep’s Education Department is at www.floridarepeducation.org.
Commissioned by Florida Rep, “Refugee” tells the story of three young refugees and their families fleeing violence at home to find the promise of a better life in America. Electrifying, heartbreaking, and timely, the play follows Josef, a Jewish boy leaving Nazi Germany in 1939, Isabel, a Cuban girl escaping Castro’s regime in 1994, and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy ravaged by the ongoing civil war. Florida Rep education director, Kody C. Jones, approached Coble to adapt the bestselling book after successful collaborations between Florida Rep and Coble on “Zap” in 2006 and last year’s production of his adaptation of Lois Lowry’s Newbery-winning novel, “The Giver.”
“When Eric and I set out to find a book for him to adapt, it was all about finding just the right story that would relate with our students,” said Jones, “we knew we wanted something relevant and important and to touch on some themes many adaptations haven’t. When Alan’s novel ‘Refugee’ came along it was a serendipitous YES.”
Jones continued, “The themes and story are not only current, covering the Syrian refugee crisis, but also historically and geographically relevant as they touch on both the Holocaust and Cuban refugees fleeing through the Florida Straits. These are the socially, politically, and geographically relevant elements we want to bring to schools in the hopes of educating and inspiring our young people.”
Eric Coble said, “Most of the history of humanity has been stories of immigrants and refugees, and that’s not going to change any time soon. These very particular stories from Germany, Cuba, and Syria illuminate each other, illuminate our nation’s current conversation about refugees, and show us the very human face of a situation most of us have never lived through. I think the chance to share those stories with students and families and to start that discussion and give a frame of reference is a gift to the community.” He added, “I wish I’d read this book and seen this play when I was in school.”
Alan Gratz is the New York Times bestselling author of a number of novels for young readers. His first novel, “Samurai Shortstop,” was named one of the American Library Association’s 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. His first middle grade novel, “The Brooklyn Nine,” was one of the ALA’s Top Ten Sports Books for Youth and Top Ten Historical Books for Youth, and his middle grade Holocaust novel Prisoner B-3087 won awards for Best Fiction for Young Readers and has won eight state awards. His latest books are Refugee and Ban This Book, and Gratz will be in Fort Myers to see the adaptation of his novel for the first time.
Coble’s plays have been produced on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and on four continents, including productions at Manhattan Class Company, the Kennedy Center, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alliance Theater, Stages Repertory, and the Contemporary American Theater Festival. His awards include the AT&T Onstage Award and National Theatre Conference Playwriting Award. Coble is a member of the Cleveland Playhouse Playwrights Unit, and writes, acts, and plays with his family in Cleveland, Ohio.
Florida Repertory Theatre’s relationship with Coble began in 2006, when he was commissioned to write “ZAP!” for the Theatre for Young Audiences Series, Florida Rep’s first commission. Sponsored by the Lee County Electric Cooperative, “ZAP!” was a play about electrical safety, history, and conservation. Later, in 2016, Coble’s new play, “In Vivo” was read in the now-popular new works festival, PlayLab, and last season his adaptation of Lowis Lowry’s “The Giver” was on tour across Southwest Florida. Coble returns to Fort Myers after a similar workshop and discussion last fall with Lois Lowry.
“Refugee” by Eric Coble and based on Gratz’s novel is on tour throughout Southwest Florida through May 2019 and is now available for school bookings. The Theatre for Young Audiences Series is one of many programs that make up Florida Rep’s Education Department which reaches 33,000 students yearly.
“Refugee” stars Florida Rep’s six performance interns, Mickey Reichert, Sydney Torres, Jake Berne, Patrick Mounce, Genevieve Tankosih, and Tova Volcheck and is directed by Education Director, Kody C. Jones. The production features a set design by resident designer, Jordan Moore, a costume design by Jacqueline Loy, a sound design by Katie Lowe, properties design by Jessica Terhaar, ad original music by Joseph Brauer.
Tickets to the September 15 performance are $10 and include the post-show talkback. Limited parking is available starting one hour prior to the performance. To book a tour, contact Education Outreach Manager, Anna McCullers at 239.332.4665 x 2041.
In addition to available tour bookings, “Refugee” will have a public performance in the Theatre’s Lunchbox Theatre Series on Thursday, March 28 at 11AM. Lunchbox Theatre tickets are also $10 and available online at www.flrodarep.org or through the box office. For parties with over 100 students, Florid Rep offers a $100 discount to help with transportation costs.
“Refugee” is generously sponsored by LCEC.
Florida Repertory Theatre performs in the Historic Arcade Theatre and the ArtStage Studio Theatre on Bay St. between Jackson & Hendry with limited free parking in the Fort Myers River District. Visit Florida Rep online at FloridaRep.org, and by following the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.