KSU Theatre and Performance Studies to present “Polaroid Stories”

 image of kids under a bridge
"Polaroid Stories" is a visceral mash-up of Greek mythology and urban, street-savvy kids. 

Greek mythology meets urban, modern street kids in magical virtual production

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 16, 2021) — Kennesaw State University Department of Theatre and Performance Studies (TPS) will present Polaroid Stories free of charge via ArtsKSU Virtual, Feb. 16-21. Written by Naomi Iizuka and directed by adjunct professor Pam Joyce, Polaroid Stories is the story of young street kids who find camaraderie, refuge and escape on the edge of a city.

The mythical characters from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, coupled with kids fighting for survival in their urban jungle, create a visceral mash-up and the opportunity for a poignant, yet magical story. 

Described as irreverent, wonderfully crazy, poignant, and unpredictable, Polaroid Stories was inspired by playwright Iizuka studying the lives of “street kids” in Minneapolis in the 90’s, and taking Polaroid pictures of them, explains Katie Nelson, lead assistant dramaturg. Iizuka “explores and exposes the lives of these homeless young people—some addicts, some drug dealers, some prostitutes—all committed to surviving on the streets through any means necessary,” says Nelson.

But there is more to this play than just survival as Greek gods mingle with these street-savvy, hip kids. “When the ancient and very modern intersect, you have all of the magic and supernatural of the myth, and things that are seemingly impossible are suddenly possible,” says Joyce. 

Dionysus (known as “D” in the play), the god of theatre and a master storyteller, starts the story by leading patrons through the magical world that exists under the hard, cold underpass of a random bridge. The director and actors embraced the enchantment aspect of the production, enhanced through the virtual modality. Joyce says, “We really leaned into the magic, the magical realism, not only with tech, set, and lighting, but also with the costume design. It has become a place where our aural experience and our visual experience, including 3D light, push through.” 

Professor Amanda Wansa Morgan and student JT Butler designed and composed the music, which includes classic hip hop from the 90’s to embody the kids’ contemporary personas. Assistant professor Brandon Bagwell designed the lighting, treating light as a 3D element, and using it to build a throne made of light fixtures that one might find on the street. Working with Bagwell, costume designer Pamela Rodriguez-Montero created costumes that are sure to delight the audience and brighten the realistic set, designed by students Jacob Satterfield and Riley Tagliatela.

Joyce hopes that the play will encourage patrons to further explore Greek mythology and perhaps see the intersections with their own lives, as “it makes the myths more accessible and relevant to modern life.”

The ambitious show will be live streamed each night from the Onyx Theater, and a simple reservation is all that is required to watch for free. This is a Year of Greece event, as designated by KSU. Learn more about the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies and the College of the Arts.

--Kathie Beckett