Gather round, boys and girls, I’ll tell you an eerie tale — of a dead boy reincarnated as a bird, a prize-winning teacher who murders her competition and a girl with magic lips.
These and other rumors, whispers and innuendo comprise Christina Apathy/Chastity Piranha Creation Co. and Perseverance Theatre’s enigmatic one-person drama, “The K of D: An Urban Legend,” by Laura Schellhardt.
For two weekends, May 10-19, Apathy turns the Phoenix Second Stage at Perseverance Theatre into small-town Ohio one hot, sticky summer. Re-creating the playground fun and campfire spookiness of childhood, “K of D” revolves around a local boy’s death and a mysterious gift he may (or may not) have imparted to his twin sister with a dying kiss.
“The play is all about transformations, both for the characters and for me as an actor, transforming from one to another,” says Apathy, who portrays 17 different characters in the play, ranging from bubble gum cigarette-smoking tweens to tobacco juice-spitting good-ole-boys.
Despite its complicated structure, at times featuring stories-within-stories — “I’m essentially talking to myself without talking to myself while also listening to myself” — Apathy characterizes “K of D” as a “small play” with minimalist appeal, “stripped down to its basics.” Indeed, employing simple sets and the occasional sound effect (courtesy of live Foley artist Austin Osterhut), she and director Kristin Garot rely on story and acting for scene and color.
“It’s definitely a workout—mentally, physically and emotionally,” says Apathy. The show is her first stab at full-length solo performance, as well as her first stab at producing; she founded production company Chastity Piranha -- an anagram of “Christina Apathy”— specifically for this show.
But stepping outside her comfort zone is the whole point, she explains. In fact, it’s one reason she’s producing “K of D” in the first place, as well as why she chose director Garot — an English and drama teacher at Thunder Mountain High School. If that wasn’t enough, Apathy enlisted her mother as a first-time poster artist, and had initially intended to have her father build the sets —“but my parents live in Florida; it just wasn’t feasible.”
“I like challenging myself to do things that are impossible,” says Apathy, who also seems to enjoy challenging her family and friends. “Other people climb mountains—well, I do that, too! — but performing this play is the dramatic equivalent of running an ultra-marathon.”
Another prime reason behind “K of D”: in 2009, Apathy received a Theatre Communications Group Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship Award for “Extraordinary Potential,” in partnership with her host theater (i.e. Perseverance). “K of D” is the culmination of nearly four years of travel and research funded by that award, classes, festivals and performances in India, Romania, Portugal and England.
“Now I get to bring all those remarkable theater experiences back to Juneau,” says Apathy, a veteran of 10 Perseverance Theatre performances, most recently as Laurey in “Oklahoma!”
“K of D is kind of like my final exam.”
Originally from Florida’s Gulf Coast, Apathy studied at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program under Arena Stage founder Zelda Fichandler and is a member of Actors Equity Association. After living and acting in New York City for nine years, she decamped for Southeast Alaska in 2006, eventually becoming a Perseverance company member.
Schellhardt’s play, which premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC, came to Apathy by way of Perseverance Artistic Associate and Education Director — as well as fellow actor — Shona Strauser.
“The great part about the TCG grant is that it can evolve over time,” explains Apathy, whose work also included dance, martial arts and puppetry. “Originally, I was going to do workshops, maybe bring in outside speakers. But then I thought, as long as we’re bringing people together to learn something, let’s create something, too. The script just clicked.”
Know and go
What: “The K of D: an Urban Legend,” by Laura Schellhardt. Presented by Christina Apathy, Chastity Piranha Creation Co. and Perseverance Theatre. Directed by Kristin Garot.
When: May 10-19, Thursday-Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sunday Matinees at 4 pm
Where: Phoenix Second Stage at Perseverance Theatre.
Details: Tickets are $15 at the JACC, Hearthside Books or online at perseverancetheatre.org or by calling 907-463-TIXS (8497).