Burning Coal Theatre in Raleigh Will Host the American Premiere of Simon Stephens’ 7/7 Play “Pornography” on April 28-May 8

"Pornography" dramatizes events leading up to 7/7 -- Great Britain's 9/11
"Pornography" dramatizes events leading up to 7/7 -- Great Britain's 9/11

"Pornography" dramatizes events leading up to 7/7 -- Great Britain's 9/11
"Pornography" dramatizes events leading up to 7/7 -- Great Britain's 9/11

The Distillery Theatre Company and Burning Coal Theatre Company will stage the American premiere of Pornography, a 2007 drama by British playwright Simon Stephens, on April 28-May 1 and May 5-8 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School, near the Historic Oakwood Section of downtown Raleigh, NC.

According to Methuen Drama:

Pornography is Simon Stephens’ stark and shattering new play that powerfully captures a portrait of a fractured, insecure Britain.

“Written in reaction to London crashing from the euphoria and promise at being awarded the 2012 Olympics into the chaos and reality of the 7/7 bombings, the play is composed of seven stories that serve as a countdown to the catastrophic attack on London. Each playlet focuses on a different individual dramatising their life in the run-up to the tragedy.

“Published to coincide with the English language premiere at the Traverse Theatre in August as part of the International Edinburgh Festival before transferring to the Birmingham Rep, this is the first stage play to confront the London bombings of 7 July 2005.”

A play with mature content, Pornography is being presented in Raleigh as part of Burning Coal’s Wait ‘Til You See This!” second-stage series. Its cast includes Heather Snow Clark, Chris Muntel, Byron Jennings, Jordan Westra, Samantha Corey, Rosa Wallace, Amy Sawyer, and Allan Maule.

“[Burning Coal artistic director] Jerry Davis asked me to read the script last July,” recalls Pornography director Kevin Otos. “This is the American premiere, and I’m thrilled to be working on this show for the first time.”

He adds, “The play is daring and evocative. It is both emotionally raw and extremely intelligent — thoughtful, tender, desperate, and erotic.”

But Kevin Otos cautions Triangle theatergoers: “I think the title says it all, so don’t bring the children.”

He adds, “The playwright explores our need for titillation in this pornographic world, a world many feel alienated from — ‘Images of Hell, they are silent.’ Pornography is an episodic collage that unearths the secrets and emotional turmoil of a number of characters (retirees, mid-career professionals, obsessed youth in love, etc.). The action unfolds around the events of London winning their Olympic bid for 2012, and the terrorist attacks of 7/7.”

In addition to director Kevin Otos, the joint Distillery Theatre Company and Burning Coal Theatre Company creative team for Pornography includes assistant director Kylie McCormick, technical director Paul Kilpatrick, set designer Jon Achelpohl, lighting designer Megan Thrift, costume designer Kelly Farrow, properties manager Sylvia M. Mallory, sound designer Brandon J. Williams, and stage manager Andy Hayworth.

Director Kevin Otos says the show’s set consists of a “fractured floor, broken television screens, and rusted debris”; its lighting is “a mix of atmospheric and theatrical looks”; and its costumes are “naturalistic with expressionistic elements.”

He adds, “The story is incredibly fluid, the landscape is constantly shifting, and this momentum is critically important to the play.

“At the same time,” Otos explains, “these characters are in desperate circumstances; and the actors need the space and time to feel into these extreme situations. Finding that balance is both challenging and delightful.”

In reviewing 2008 British productions of Pornography:

·         Alan Chadwick of Metro (London) wrote: “To call Simon Stephen’s Pornography specifically a play about the July 7 bombings in London would be to do it a disservice. Though it deals with events leading up to the atrocities of that fateful day, this is unmistakably a state of the nation play in the fullest sense. One which looks at what it means to be British today and the culture of displacement we live in with soulful mourning.”

·         Lyn Gardner of The Guardian (Manchester) added: “Stephens, who has already written the best play of the year (Harper Regan, at the National) has come up with another cracker — one that searches for new forms to say new things. He observes his characters with an almost forensic detachment and yet he makes us love them, too … This is a play of grace and terror.”

·         And Steve Cramer of List said: “In Simon Stephens’ new play the build up of everyday detritus of contemporary mass culture, from coffee brands to the disposable, detached sexuality of pornography, is insidious.”

Distillery Theatre Company and Burning Coal Theatre Company present PORNOGRAPHY, the American premiere of a 2007 play by Simon Stephens, at 7:30 p.m. April 28-30, 2 p.m. May 1, 7:30 p.m. May 5-7, and 2 p.m. 2 p.m. May 8 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School, 224 Polk St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27604.


BOX OFFICE: 919/834-4001 or https://www.etix.com/, or https://www.vendini.com/.

SHOW: http://www.distillerytheatre.org/.

SERIES: http://www.burningcoal.org/third/waittil.html.


Distillery Theatre Company: http://www.distillerytheatre.org/.

Burning Coal Theatre Company: http://www.burningcoal.org/.

VENUE/DIRECTIONS: http://www.burningcoal.org/third/murphey.html.

NOTE: Lobby art will include photography by Christine R. Choi (http://christinerchoi.com/) and mixed-media graphic art by Jon “Sketch” Achepohl, and the “lobby poet” will be Richard Krawiec (http://www.rkeditor.com/).


The Play: http://www.acblack.com/drama/Pornography/Simon-Stephens/books/details/9781408110560 (Methuen Drama).

The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Stephens (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).

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