Elissa Goetschius first visited Charlotte exactly one year before I talked to her recently. The Baltimore-based director of Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte’s latest production, “The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep” by Diana Grisanti, feels more like an old friend than an out-of-towner.

“What I love about Charlotte is what I love about Baltimore: It’s the tight knit, family-like quality to the community here,” she said. “There’s so much love and lack of pretension that I really appreciate.”

With “Patron Saint” — which opens tonight — Goetschius and Grisanti are broaching the subjects of patriarchy and capitalism — no easy task. It can be especially difficult when approaching those ideas in “a topsy-turvy comedy.”

“When you start seeing things you realize just how much it influences every little interaction in life,” Goetschius said. “And how can you not look at it? Nothing’s happened except everything has happened. So many little things that are not that big of a deal, but when you add them up the sheer number is overwhelming.”

The play’s description from the Actor’s Theatre website:

“Ada, a call center representative, can’t sleep. When she receives a call at her job from a woman in need, she takes a trip to try and help her. Unfortunately, things go wrong… terribly wrong. Desperate to cure her insomnia, Ada must confront her regrets, past and present, if she’s ever going to sleep again.”

The play offers a new perspective on the issues surrounding gender equality and violence against women, and emphasizes the systematic nature of these problems. The main character’s (Ada) journey to discover how best to be an advocate plays out alongside her struggles to fight against institutional interests that often sacrifice the individual for the corporate good.

“It’s really important to know that (Patron Saint) is in no way a play about how all men are evil,” Goetschius said. “It’s a play about systems and how systems trap all of us.”

What does Goetschius want you to know about “The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep”? It’s funny.

Goetschius first began working with Patron Saint in January of 2015 when she took on the role of dramaturg for Actor’s Theatre’s annual NuVoices Festival for new plays.

Goetschius and Grisanti began collaborating about rewrites, structure and asking the hard questions. “(Grisanti) wants to take a sophisticated look at this intricate web between patriarchy and capitalism,” Goetschius said.

Patron Saint is one of five productions in Actor’s Theatre’s 27th season that boasts female playwrights, and more than half of the directors for the season are women. “Patron Saint” represents a rise in exposure for female playwrights and offers a woman’s perspective on women’s issues.

It tempers domestic violence and institutional patriarchy with a disarming wit and an effortless candor.

“Yes, it’s about serious issues, but it’s really funny,” Goetschius said.

Details:

“The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep”
– Sept. 9-26.
– Actors Theatre of Charlotte, 650 E Stonewall St., Charlotte.
Tickets: $29-$33.
– On opening night, $5 from each ticket sold will go to benefit the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, an organization that works to bring the most effective and innovative domestic violence prevention programs to the public.
– Weekly Thursday “talkbacks” after the performance offer audiences a chance to connect with Jamie Kimble Foundation and Safe Alliance, as well as artists involved in the production process.


brieBrianna Susan Smith is a multidisciplinary artist working in Charlotte. She works locally as a director, producer, designer and performer. Smith is a member of the League of Independent Theatres of Charlotte, one of the core curatorial artists for Que-OS and one of the Artistic Directors of TAPROOT.

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