As part of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ current BIG IDEA project, The Bottomlessness of a Pond: Transcendentalism, Nature and Spirit, Company of Fools (COF) is proud to present two staged readings of “Tiny Beautiful Things,” based on the uplifting and richly funny book by best-selling author Cheryl Strayed and adapted for the stage by Academy Award nominee Nia Vardalos.
The piece, which has been praised by The New York Times as “an ideal catharsis” and “a handkerchief-soaking meditation on pain, loss, hope and forgiveness,” will be performed twice at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey: first at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, and again at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2. Directed by COF Company Artist Andrew Alburger, these rehearsed readings provide the community a chance to experience the very best of contemporary playwriting in unique format. Both performances are free, although a $10 donation is encouraged and seat reservations are recommended.
“Tiny Beautiful Things” follows the candid, sometimes brutally honest exchange between an anonymous online advice columnist named Sugar (later revealed to be author Cheryl Strayed) and the thousands of real-life followers who pour out their hearts to her in their letters. Actress Nia Vardalos adapted Strayed’s book for the stage, weaving together the real letters to explore both the unfathomable dark and glimmering light that are at the heart of being human. The result is an enrapturing play that surges with emotion and was called “a theatrical hug in turbulent times” by Variety magazine. It is about reaching when you’re stuck, recovering when you’re broken and finding the courage to ask the questions that are the hardest ones to answer. Tissues are recommended!
“Cheryl Strayed will be coming to the Wood River Valley to deliver a lecture as part of The Center’s BIG IDEA on Transcendentalism,” said Scott Palmer, Producing Artistic Director of Company of Fools. “So much of her writing, both in her books and in this beautiful adaptation of her “Dear Sugar” advice column, is focused on themes of importance to the transcendentalist philosophy. Self-reliance, forgiveness, essential human connection, and respect for the sacred are all a part of this play and make it a great companion piece to her lecture at Church of the Big Wood on Jan. 30.”
COF’s staged readings of “Tiny Beautiful Things” are directed by Andrew Alburger and feature K.O. Ogilvie (Sugar), Chris Carwithen (Letter Writer #1), Melodie Mauldin (Letter Writer #2) and Russell Wilson (Letter Writer #3). The creative team includes K.O. Ogilvie (Production Stage Manager), Chris Henderson (Production Assistant/Dramaturge) and Patrick Szczotka (Technical Director).
Cheryl Strayed (Original Book) is the author of “Tiny Beautiful Things,” “Torch,” “Brave Enough” and the No. 1 New York Times best-seller “Wild.” Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages around the world. The Academy Award–nominated film adaptation of Wild was released in 2014. Ms. Strayed’s essays and stories have appeared in The Best American Essays, Vogue, The New York Times, The Washington Post and elsewhere. She is the co-host of The New York Times’s “Dear Sugar Radio” podcast, which originated with her popular “Dear Sugar” column.
Nia Vardalos (Adaptor, Co-Conceiver) is an alumna of Chicago’s The Second City and a Joseph Jefferson Award winner whose most recent theatre credits include Sugar in “Tiny Beautiful Things” directed by Thomas Kail in two consecutive seasons (The Public Theater) and Jennie in “Company” directed by Gary Griffin (Theatre 20). Her writing/acting credits for film include “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and its sequel (Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, Independent Spirit and People’s Choice Awards), “Connie and Carla” and “I Hate Valentine’s Day.” Her film and television acting credits include “My Life in Ruins,” “For a Good Time, Call …,” “Graves” and “Jane the Virgin.” Her 2013 memoir, “Instant Mom,” was a New York Times best-seller, and all proceeds from the book are donated to adoption groups.
Andrew Alburger (Director) has been a Core Company Artist with Company of Fools for 19 years, appearing in close to 50 productions, staged readings and other performances. Some of his favorite shows include “Sideman,” “Waiting For Godot,” “August: Osage County,” “Woody Guthrie’s American Song” and “A Year With Frog & Toad.” His directing credits include readings of “Bright New Boise,” “I Hate Hamlet” and “The Heidi Chronicles.” He recently appeared in “Fiddler On The Roof” with St. Thomas Playhouse and “Outside Mullingar” with Sawtooth Productions. He teaches an Improv class on Monday nights and sings and plays guitar at several venues in town, including DiVine Wine Bar and The Mint.
Admission to the staged readings of “Tiny Beautiful Things” is free, but a $10 donation is encouraged and reservations are recommended. The reading is approximately 80 minutes long (no intermission) and is recommended for ages 18 and up, as it contains both strong language and adult content. To reserve seats and for more information about upcoming events associated with The Center’s current BIG IDEA project, visit www.sunvalleycenter.org or call 208.726.9491.