The Giver: Director’s Notes

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April 25, 2022 | By Jenny

The Giver: Director’s Notes

For every Mainstage Season show, we ask the director to share their thoughts, inspirations, or research about the show. We include these notes in the playbill, but why wait to read until you’re sitting in the theatre? It’s a great way to get insight about the show before you see it!

Find tickets and more info on The Giver!

Director’s Notes by Michael Jorizzo

I first read The Giver in a 7th grade English class. I remember being a little bit horrified. I think that horror came from the realization that people are capable of committing brutal acts in the name of “following the rules”. Most stories I had been exposed to up to that point were far more black and white in the way they portrayed morality. Villains were cartoonishly evil while heroes were shining beacons of virtue, and justice always prevailed. The world of The Giver is more complicated than that.

This story is nearly thirty years old, but it still resonates strongly with so many people. The main reason I connect with it is that, despite the peculiar world in which The Giver takes place, Jonas’ struggle is relatable. The play is a coming of age story. Jonas, like many of us, grows up sheltered from the extremes of the human experience. It’s only when she comes of age, that she learns that her world is not as simple or kind as it once seemed. Like Jonas, many of us come to understand our world is not always just. Affecting meaningful change is not an easy task, yet Jonas is willing to risk everything to bring about that change. That is courage we can all admire.

I believe that the theatre we produce should be timely. These stories can help us gain a different perspective on the issues we collectively face. In The Giver, their society is defined by the conflict between preserving individual liberty and reducing harm to society. Our current culture is experiencing the same struggle. In the story, the community embraces an extreme version of harm reduction with brutal results. I can’t help but think of the story as a warning against adopting extremist attitudes even with the best of intentions.

Despite the play’s heavy subject matter, this has been a wonderful project to work on. I have an incredible cast. We spent the first few rehearsals doing “Michael’s Book Club” which was basically a giant discussion on how the particulars of this world work: how the world ended up this way, what drives the people, how do they relate to each other, etc. It was such a luxury to have the time to nerd out that hard and a cast that was willing to humor me. It has also been wonderful to work with such a wide age range of actors. That range means everyone is bringing unique experience and insights to the table. Being able to draw on those insights has made this show far more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

I want to thank all of you for supporting both this show and ACT. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it!

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