New play ‘Wings’ takes flight at the CCPA

Young Footliters Presents: Wings

Friday-Sunday, Sept. 2-4, CCPA, $12-15

Several cast members of ‘Wings,’ a new play by Matt Falduto, opening Friday, Sept. 2 at the CCPA. — Tess DeGrazia / Young Footliters

“This play is really about gun violence,” Wings writer and director Matt Falduto told Little Village. “It was inspired by the student advocates after different school shootings that have happened.”

Wings, which opens Friday, Sept. 2 at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, is set in a world “where teenagers come of age by getting their wings to fly high,” Falduto said, though it’s also a world where those teenagers have chosen to “fight tradition and find a new way to fly.”

“The students realize that the wings — the thing they have wanted their whole lives — can hurt people,” he explained, “so that’s when they stand up and say ‘no more.’”

A Young Footliters production, the cast of this show ranges in age from 12-17 years old. This is fitting, as a significant portion of Falduto’s focus with Wings is aimed at paying respect to those growing up amid today’s modern struggles.

“What I’ve been really impressed by, in terms of their generation, is how aware they are of all of these things,” said Falduto. “Not just gun violence, but all of the different issues that are impacting their world. When I was their age I was oblivious.”

Costumes for ‘Wings’ await their actors backstage. — Matt Falduto

“I just feel humbled by that generation,” he added.

Falduto’s own children, including his youngest daughter who is one of the show’s cast members, have helped give him extra insight into how youth are dealing with these types of issues.

“We’ve talked about gun violence and many other issues at the dinner table,” he said. “They are all aware; it’s not just my children, it’s all of their peers. They know what’s going on, they are angry about things and they channel that into action.”

While active shooter drills are commonplace in schools, assembling a youth-based production to bring the subject matter to the stage is still a sensitive endeavor. This is not something Falduto has taken lightly or without deep consideration.

‘Wings,’ a new play by Matt Falduto, opens Friday, Sept. 2 at the CCPA. — Tess DeGrazia / Young Footliters

“This is a show that deals with violence,” he said, “but we have done it in a really stylistic way in order to keep the kids safe.” The production features no use or literal depiction of guns, instead opting to rely on metaphor to promote the show’s message. “It allows for the actors and anybody watching to have a bit of detachment to feel safe.”

Perhaps more important than its themes is the experience Falduto hopes Wings creates for attendees.

“Theater can be transformative for the actors and for the audience,” he said. “It allows us a way to deal with difficult emotions. We’re exercising our emotions by doing this show. And by doing so, we’re getting stronger. So when the really difficult stuff happens in our minds, we have a much better chance of dealing with it in a good and positive way. I feel like this show, certainly, has been good for the kids to provide that safe place to exercise emotions about this topic in particular, but I’m hopeful that it will give the audience a chance to exercise their emotions, as well. And hopefully make us all a little bit stronger.”

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Wings runs just three performances: 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 2-3, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4. Tickets are $12 for children, $15 for adults (plus fees).