FOR THE NEW CITY'S DREAM UP FESTIVAL PRESENTS THE NEW YORK PREMIERE
OF "SWORD OF THE UNICORN"
NEW YORK, August 7 – "Sword of the Unicorn" is an original play written and directed by Harrison Stengle. Unlike the vast majority of fantasy and sci-fi stories, which exclude or ignore LGBTQ narratives, it takes on a surrealistic sci-fi interpretation of what it is like for the play's hero, Sebastian, to come out to his father. Sebastian travels across the cosmos to obtain the mythical Sword of the Unicorn while overcoming his fears and doubts about his sexuality. The show offers a chance for young LGBTQ people to see their stories reflected in a fun and fantastical way onstage, using dramatic symbolism to convey complex emotions that otherwise cannot be seen, like a robot T-Rex becoming the embodiment of hatred. Every place, every character, every prop -- from the Hall of Lasers to Judy Garland -- has symbolic significance. That being said, the piece adheres to a clear narrative that anyone can follow and in a way that is as complicated or simple as you want to make it. The soundtrack by Brendan Stengle, a contributor to the bands Hiding Scarlet and Spearhead Ghoul, is played by an onstage prog rock band.
"Sword of the Unicorn" was first performed at the Drake Theater in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2016. This is its New York premiere.
Harrison Stengle is a producer, playwright and director who lives in Philadelphia. Stengle made his directorial debut with his original work "Cult Classic" in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he received considerable media attention as part of the city’s 2015 Fringe Festival. The following year, Stengle staged "Wolfhead Hamlet" at the Society Hill Playhouse in Philadelphia. Stengle’s adaptation of "Hamlet" quickly garnered him a reputation for edgy and sometimes controversial work. For 2017’s Dream Up Festival, Stengle presents "Sword of the Unicorn," his 2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival production, which deconstructs false narratives about the coming out experience for the LGTBQ community, through a sci-fi fantasy twist of the Hero’s Journey. After Dream Up, Stengle will be staging an update of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, "The Great Gatsby," with his post-apocalyptic, vaporwave-infused, multi-racial adaptation, entitled "Gatz."
The cast includes Ian Lasage Johnson, Todd Hilsee, Mike Ford, Same Fineman, Theo Wampler and Topher Layton. The crew includes Harrison Stengle and Lennny Ruebeck. The band features Brendan Stengle, Eric Dietar, Tonna Dieter, Mark Marifiatti and Clayton Stief.
The eighth annual Dream Up Festival (www.dreamupfestival.org) is being presented by Theater for the New City from August 27 to September 17. An ultimate new work festival, it is dedicated to the joy of discovering new authors and edgy, innovative performances. Audiences savor the excitement, awe, passion, challenge and intrigue of new plays from around the country and around the world.
The festival does not seek out traditional scripts that are presented in a traditional way. It selects works that push new ideas to the forefront, challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of how art illuminates the world around us.
A unique and varied selection of productions will again be offered that draw upon a variety of performance specialties including singing, clowning, poetry, street music, magic and movement. The Festival's founders, Crystal Field and Michael Scott-Price, feel this is especially needed in our present time of declining donations to the arts, grants not being awarded due to market conditions, and arts funding cuts on almost every level across the country and abroad.
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