Dramashop welcomes original play


This year, the Erie Fringe Festival enters its fifth year. With eight productions on campus and six more associate productions, the cool February air is crisp with the arts.

Dramashop – a local theater company founded by Gannon alumnus Zach Flock in 2011 – is one of the companies participating in the Erie Fringe Festival as an associate production.

Like last year, Dramashop chose to let playwrights submit original works for selection. This year the production “God Help Us,” written by Jeremy Kehoe, was selected.

According to Dramashop’s website, “God Help Us” received a two-performance workshop production at Fierce Backbone Theater as well as a staged reading at the Eclectic Company Theatre as a winner of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights’ New Works Lab.

In his own words, Kehoe hears voices. Dramashop describes the author, “Jeremy Kehoe hears voices. These voices call him to create characters and place them on a quest. These characters then mock and torture him, bantering and bickering and thrusting and parrying until their voices muffle from roars to murmurs at the words ‘end play.’”

Flock, the artistic director of Dramashop, describes the show as a comedy that poses these questions: What happens if God is actually a middle-manager in the cosmic scheme of things? What if the last 2,000 years have been without miracles because  God’s been in a meeting?

“Kehoe blends absurd, dark humor with heart and compassion,” Flock said. “He definitely paints God, St. Peter and Jesus in a different light than we’re used to, but it’s not offensive or mean-spirited.

“It’s the kind of satirical play that we’re lucky enough to have the freedom to produce in this country. Might it offend? I guess it could, but our mission is to present provocative, challenging works and we’re not shying away from that. And it’s free!”

With a cast containing Daniel Sypolt, Morgan Gore, JR Fabin, Rebecca Weinheimer and Patrick McGuire, and directed by Matthew Fuchs, new faces are making their Dramashop debut while still retaining some of the company’s recurring actors.

Flock said “God Help Us” stood out from the other submissions for a couple of reasons. It’s original, doesn’t feel like something audiences have already seen or read, and it’s ridiculously funny.

Erika Krenn, a senior psychology major, has been actively involved with Dramashop for several years and regarding the choice to include original works said it’s brilliant.

“They have made a lot of good choices over the years that lead them to become one of the best Erie theatre companies so fast,” Krenn said.

“They always hold the ‘art’ at highest importance in all of their productions, so naturally I think they are straying true to their virtue by allowing locally written art to be performed on their stage.”

“God Help Us” is a staged reading, meaning that there will be limited blocking and costuming, and actors will read from a script – part of Dramashop’s Erie Reader Staged Reading Series.

The show will run Tuesdays and Wednesdays for two weeks – Feb. 3-4, as well as Feb.  10-11. Admission is free and Flock guarantees that audiences will come away with at least a few laughs and insights.



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