An innocent meeting between mentor and student soon evolves into something quite adversarial. As time goes on (six years to be exact), two women go from teacher to student to friends to equals and finally rivals, as the unthinkable happens and a huge betrayal occurs.
Written by Donald Margulies and produced by Isis Productions, Collected Stories
is about the shifting relationship between two writers, Ruth Steiner, an established and renowned short story writer and professor, and Lisa Morrison, a naive acolyte who worships Ruth and wants to be a writer herself.
"I think it will appeal greatly to teachers, students and anyone in the field of academia in general and in the field of writing more specifically," Kirsten Quinn, one of the actresses in the forthcoming play, said. "It is an intimate, two person play as well, which has a totally different feel from other Isis Productions like the raucous, farcical Accomplice."
Quinn, a professor at the Community College of Philadelphia, got into acting when she attended college at La Salle University. One of her teachers, Helena White, urged her to audition for A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Once she did the show, she was hooked. Quinn then went on to get her M.F.A. in acting at the University of Pittsburgh in 1999, and has been acting professionally ever since, while branching out into teaching as well.
"The dialogue is spectacular and rich, and because there are only two characters, the arcs and characters are far more nuanced and developed," Quinn said. "This is a realistic drama which has many strong themes....accountability, hero-worship, professional integrity, friendship, "mother/ daughter" relationships, arrested development, inability to move away from the past, establishing and destroying boundaries, and of course, artistic freedom."
Quinn's character is Lisa Morrison, the graduate creative writing student who worships her mentor, Ruth Steiner. Lisa is a troubled but incredibly earnest woman, who wants nothing more than approval and validation. She has the talent and ambition to become a famous author herself, but there are many times when she goes too far, blurring the lines between what is permissible and what isn't.
Insecure, needy and even ditsy at first, Lisa transforms as the play goes on.
"She is a very interesting character because she does nothing to hurt Ruth intentionally, yet she does hurt her very deeply anyway," Quinn said. "She is not a devious or manipulative person but at the same time, she should know what is right and what isn't. She just doesn't have understanding of boundaries that would be required to do that. Being a part of Ruth Steiner's life is a huge uphill battle for Lisa, since it seems that no matter what she does, Lisa is unable to win Ruth over completely."
As a theater goer herself, Quinn enjoys feeling like a fly on the wall when watching a production. Collected Stories is that type of play for an audience, she added.
"This is a play about relationship, but it is also about the shared language of these two strong and very different female protagonists," Quinn said. "It is a great and rare opportunity to see a two woman show with really astute observations about the human condition and what it means to be an artist/ writer."
Performance will take place at the Walnut Street Theater Studio 5. Shows will run from March 5th through March 29th. Thursday through Saturday at 8p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.isisperforms.com or www.isis.ticketleap.com