The Echo Theater Company’s world premiere production of Poor Clare will open in October, 19 months after the originally scheduled March, 2020 opening that was shuttered by the pandemic. Echo associate artistic director Alana Dietze is back at the helm of Chiara Atik’s powerful and very funny modern spin on the medieval story of Saint Clare of Assisi. Poor Clare will open the Echo’s 25th anniversary season with a six-week run, Oct. 23 through Nov. 29, at Atwater Village Theatre. Three “pay what you want” previews take place Oct. 20, Oct. 21 and Oct. 22.
Clare is just a regular noblewoman living in 13th century Italy, trying out hairstyles and waiting to get married… until a man named Francis starts ranting in the courtyard. Clare and her sister Beatrice might just as well be living in 21st Century Calabasas or Beverly Hills. They worry about the latest styles, gossip about boys with their live-in help, and do their best to be socially conscious. But what happens when your eyes are opened to the injustice of the world around you — and you can’t look away?
According to Atik, “I found I was having a lot of conversations with my friends in which we would despair about everything from income inequality to homelessness to the refugee crisis and famine in Yemen. We would get ourselves all worked up over dinner, and then I’d go back to my apartment and turn on Netflix and resume my normal life. This reminded me of the story of St. Clare who became radicalized as a teenager, at 18. She didn’t just feel bad about the state of the world, she had the conviction — and strength — to actually sacrifice for what she believed in.”
“How do we give our lives meaning in the face of the insurmountable problems we see around us every day?,” asks Dietze. “I love the way Chiara has drawn a line directly from Clare in 1211 to now, without saying it outright. She’s managed to make this person, who did something most of us would consider completely unrealistic, relatable. The system that created wealth inequality then hasn’t really changed. Listening to the characters, it feels like it could be me or any of my friends talking — which is really fun when it’s juxtaposed with period costumes and design.”
Poor Clare opens on Saturday, Oct. 23, with performances continuing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. through Nov. 29. Three preview performances are set for Wednesday, Oct. 20; Thursday, Oct. 21; and Friday, Oct. 22, each at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; Monday night performances are $20 in advance, and Pay-What-You-Want at the door (subject to availability). Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours will be required of all patrons, and admittance is limited to ages 12+. All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance.