Theatre Without Walls, a new theatre company in Grand Forks, will present the premiere performance of a play about homelessness, “In Search of Persephone,” on Saturday, June 12, at University Park, as part of the Art on the Red event.
Performances are set for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the southwest area of the park. Due to the nature of the performance, only 20 tickets per show will be sold. All proceeds will be donated to Homeless Helpers in Grand Forks.
The play is the culmination of five months of interviews with people who were or are “shelter insecure” and the professionals who work with them, said Kathleen Coudle-King, playwright.
Theatre Without Walls is an independent theater company that will produce original work in nontraditional spaces, she said.
A member of the UND English Department faculty, Coudle-King served for eight years as executive director of the Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre, based at the Fire Hall Theatre. She stepped down from that position in 2019 “to pursue some of my own theater projects that had been kicking around in my head for years,” she said. “ ‘In Search of Persephone’ is one such project.”
“As I met with people in the community and they generously shared their stories, the play took me in directions I had not anticipated. This made me think of the myth of Demeter, the goddess of spring in Greek mythology, and her search for her runaway daughter.”
In her play, Coudle-King said the mother meets various people who might be considered “shelter insecure.”
“They either live on the street or, like in most cases in Grand Forks, they live with other families, or ‘couch surf,’ sleeping on the couch of different friends on different nights.”
The play, which Coudle-King directed, is unique to this area in that it is “site-specific,” meaning it takes place where the story takes place, in this case, University Park, she said.
The performance runs about an hour and audience members may choose to stand or bring a folding chair, “as they search with Demeter for Persephone in the park,” Coudle-King said. If it’s raining Saturday afternoon, performances will be rescheduled for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, June 13.
A troupe of actors who will be performing include: Amanda Johnson Barton, Tina Wilkening, Peter McSparron, Coudle-King, Walter Criswell, Josh Widmer, Veronica Folkedahl and Rob Howard. Marcus Woodard is stage manager.
Tickets, $10 each plus tax and transaction fee, may be purchased on Eventbrite. Go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/in-search-of-persephone-tickets-155674026203 .
On Saturday, tickets may be purchased, with cash or check only, at the corner of University Avenue and North 25th Street 30 minutes before the 2 and 4 p.m. shows, if tickets are still available.
The play is not suitable for youth under the age of 15, Coudle-King said. And, as a trigger warning, content includes addiction issues.
The performances are sponsored by the Public Arts Commission and UND.