By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Amy Wheeler, a native Oklahoman and nationally produced playwright, will attend the state premiere of her play “Two Birds and a Stone” at Oklahoma City University in March.
Directed by OCU Theatre Professor Sarah d’Angelo, there will be four performances at the Black Box Theatre, located in the Bass Music Center at N.W. 25 St. & Blackwelder Ave.
Show times are Thursday – Saturday, March 5 – 7 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets will be available for $5 at the door 30 minutes before curtain. Seating is limited.
The play is based on Wheeler’s experiences in 1997 when she traveled throughout Italy, Bulgaria and Bosnia. She saw first-hand the human impact of war, not only on the soldiers but how it affected civilians particularly women and children.
“I’m thrilled to return to my hometown for the production of one of my plays at OCU, my parents Jim and Jo Wheeler’s alma mater,” said Wheeler.
“I envision it as the yin and yang of existence. There’s the harsh reality of war, and there’s the tenacity of the human spirit. In my play, an orphaned boy is the central character. His desire to find home and create family, and experience love, is the driving force of the play.”
Wheeler added, “My passion for theatre began at Northwest Classen High School, under the tutelage of the extraordinary drama teacher at the time, Diane Perkins. So this is a happy homecoming!”
Two Birds and a Stone premiered in 2004 at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Arts Center. It was developed in the Portland Center Stage JAW West Festival and Seattle’s FringeACT Festival.
d’Angelo said, “TheatreOCU’s Stage 2 series chose to produce ‘Two Birds and a Stone’ because we wanted our student actors, designers and audience members to experience a performance style that is contemporary and cutting edge.”
Wheeler is the executive director of Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers. She will be giving a master class for OCU students where she will discuss her creative process and will introduce participants to some writing exercises.
“The opportunity to interact with a working theatre artist and the master class held by the playwright, Amy Wheeler is an added bonus to the experience for our students,” d’Angelo said.
Located on Whidbey Island just northwest of Seattle, Hedgebrook’s global community includes emerging and mid-career writers as well as celebrated writers such as Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, Dorothy Allison, Alice Sebold and Ruth Ozeki.
Wheeler said, “Sarah d’Angelo is the perfect director for this piece–she has such a deep understanding of magic realism and how to use movement, sound, light and gesture–along with the dialogue–to tell a theatrical story.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how she and the students bring Two Birds and a Stone to life, and to working with students in a master class on playwriting I’ll lead there during the run.”
Lead characters will feature Jonathan Mays as the BOY, Michelle Roselle as the WOMAN, and Ian McGee as the INTERROGATOR.
Wheeler’s work has been produced in New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Her play, “Intersection,” was also produced as a short film.
Her recognitions include a New York Foundation for the Arts grant and an Artist Trust fellowship in Ireland.
She has taught playwriting at the University of Iowa, Cornish College for the Arts, Freehold Studio Theatre Lab, the Richard Hugo House and in ACT Theatre’s Young Playwrights Program
“My parents and lifelong Oklahomans, Jim and Jo Wheeler, instilled in me the passion to tell stories,” Wheeler said. “From their backgrounds in theology and theatre, they’ve encouraged me to delve into the deeper meanings of what’s happening in the world, to excavate the story underneath the story, the emotional truth, until I find the moral center.”
A proud Jo Wheeler said, “We are thrilled that our friends will finally get to see one of the major works of this accomplished playwright.”
For more information, email Sarah d’Angelo, at [email protected]