CSPS Legion Arts-commissioned ‘Pang!’ premieres in Cedar Rapids, exploring poverty on stage


CSPS Hall — Friday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 21 at 4 and 8 p.m.

Legion Arts was the lead commissioner on ‘Pang!,’ which opens at CSPS Hall on Friday, Oct. 20. — photo by Will O’Loughlen

Pang!, a production made up of three live radio plays about families struggling with hunger, will have its world premiere performances this weekend at CSPS Hall in the New Bohemia district of Cedar Rapids. Legion Arts, which operates CSPS, is the lead commissioner of the work. The show will be performed on Friday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. and at 4 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Pang!, which is a National Performance Network Creation Fund Project, has been in development since 2013 and focuses on three real life families in Cedar Rapids, Los Angeles and Miami. Written and directed by Dan Froot of 501 (see three) ARTS, the show grew out of oral histories of three low-income families. Those stories were selected from hours and hours of oral histories collected in each community from many families.

‘Pang!’ follows families from Cedar Rapids, Miami and Los Angeles. — photo by Will O’Loughlen

The Cedar Rapids family featured in the play escaped war in Burundi and came to Eastern Iowa as refugees. The family’s story is fictionalized, but reflects actual experiences and challenges. All of the families represented in the play consulted with the production team throughout the entirety of the process.

Though Pang! is grounded in stories of food insecurity, other related issues — including foreclosure, violence and barriers that affect immigrants — are also present in the play.

The Miami story, facilitated by co-commissioners Miami Light Project, centers on a 7-year-old boy and his fantasies of escaping a violent neighborhood. In Los Angeles, where 24th Street Theatre is presenting the piece, a family of 10 — a single mother and her nine children — face the prospect of being forced out of their home.

Pang! is presented as three live radio plays and features live music composed by Robert Een and performed by Een and Froot.

‘Pang!’ in rehearsal. — photo by Will O’Loughlen

Each performance will be followed by a discussion with the audience, bringing together economically diverse member of the audience, the artists, participating family members, activists and scholars. The format of these conversations is a work-in-progress that will develop as the show continues on from Cedar Rapids to Los Angeles (in December) and Miami (January, 2018).

Tickets for the Cedar Rapids performances are $18 in advance and $22 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Legion Arts box office at 319-364-1580.

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