From left to right: Julie Excell, Kyanna Kuriyama, and Will Churchill rehearse a scene from “Glacial Genes” which premieres Oct. 30 at Oregon Stage Works. - Photo by Peter Alzado

'Glacial Genes' at Oregon Stage Works

A stressed-out sperm bank owner, a pregnant virgin, global warming and hope: all these lie at the core of "Glacial Genes," the funny, thought-provoking new play premiering at Oregon Stage Works.

Written by award-winning local author, Molly Best Tinsley, "Glacial Genes" opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, and runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays with 2 p.m. matinees on Sundays through Nov. 16.

The catalyst for "Glacial Genes," Tinsley says, was an odd fact about global warming. As earth's temperatures rise, changes to the Gulf Stream could plunge the East Coast into a new ice age. How would our changing relationship to nature affect our relationships with one another? Tinsley wondered: those between parents and children, lovers and friends, the generations to come? Would old fears keep us frozen in place? Or would we find new ways for love and community to endure?

In the end, says Tinsley, we cannot live without hope. "Glacial Genes" celebrates the messy, funny, vital existence we share and offers a glimpse of how we might preserve it, even in the face of catastrophe.

"Glacial Genes" and play writing are recent endeavors for Tinsley, who turned to drama after a successful career in fiction. Her work has been widely published, and her story collection, "Throwing Knives," won the Oregon Book Award in 2001.

Now Tinsley is finding success as a playwright as well. Her plays have been developed by several theatres, including Stage Left in Chicago. "Fission," her first full-length production, was named a runner-up for Seattle's best new play of 2005 by "The Seattle Times."

"Glacial Genes" was developed in large part through Oregon Stage Works' Playwrights' Unit, which is committed to nurturing new works and local talent. Tinsley's is the second play to receive a full production; the first, Richard Moeschl's "Arthur's Dreams," won the 2006 Oregon Book Award for Drama. Moeschl is arts and entertainment editor for the Mail Tribune and the Daily Tidings.

The cast of "Glacial Genes" includes OSW veteran Julie Excell, last seen in "Tales of Fannie Keenan," and Sam King, who returns after performances in "Holiday Memories" and "Durang/Durang." Joining them are Kyanna Kuriyama, an Ashland High School freshman who played recently in Camelot Theatre's "Seussical Jr.," and junior Jesse Sharpe, seen in Ashland High School's "Beauty and the Beast."

Also appearing is Will Churchill, whose credits include Oregon Cabaret Theatre's "Way Out There" and "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife." Eric Kresh, who appeared in OSW's "Trip to Bountiful," and Mera Summers round out the cast.

"Glacial Genes" is directed by Peter Alzado, OSW's producing artistic director. Alzado holds an MFA in directing from the University of Montana and most recently directed OSW's production of "To Kill a Mockingbird." He made his acting debut on Broadway, performed with such companies as the New York Shakespeare Festival and La Mama, and had featured roles on "As the World Turns" and "The Guiding Light." Alzado currently conducts "The Craft of the Actor" program at OSW.

Set design is by Alzado and Janet Greek, with set construction by Brian Wallace and Rowdy Yates and set painting by Charles Couraud. Lighting designer for the production is Tyler Malovoz. Donna Boehm and Sunny Anderson are in charge of props.

Tickets are $20 and $12 for students age 21 and under. Tickets are available at Grocery Outlet, Medford; the Music Coop, Ashland; and on-line at oregonstageworks.org. The theater also will offer special $15 tickets for seniors 65 and over at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2, and at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6.

Call 482-2334 or see oregonstageworks.org.

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