IF YOU GO
What: Inspired by Ovid's "Metamorphoses," a young husband deals with his failed marriage by growing prized pumpkins - and attracts a neighbor's attention.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday - Sunday; doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., downtown Fort Myers
Information: 239-333-1933 or sbdac.com
Something Else: Contains adult language and themes
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2301 First Street, Fort Myers, FL
FORT MYERS — Brittney Brady named her new theater company "Ghostbird" after the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a cypress swamp denizen thought to be extinct despite tantalizing sightings over the past decade. The recent FGCU graduate hopes to capture that same "elusive" quality in her work.
She wants Ghostbird, which opens its first season with original play "The Pumpkin" in downtown Fort Myers this week, to be inspired by "the legend of this totemic bird."
"With [you] the audience, we seek those deeper spiritual woods," Brady said of her potential viewers, "where there may be beauty, loss, communion, reconciliation, and hope, all in a flash of wing and feather, or rooted in the dark and fecund earth.
The Cape Coral native has had two of her original plays, "Paler than Grass" and "Monty and the Bat Shaman," produced at FGCU. She also directed last season's "Mud" at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.
Ghostbird joins three other theater companies in downtown Fort Myers. Florida Repertory Theatre sits across the street, while the Laboratory Theater of Florida and City Scenes share space at the Kiwanis Hall about six blocks away. Just four miles north, Theatre Conspiracy and Broadway Palm sit at the edge of Colonial Boulevard just before the Midpoint Bridge.
"You can never have too much theatre," Brady said. "The companies that are producing work in Southwest Florida have all made very important contributions to the community and I look forward to joining in the conversation."
For Ghostbird's first show, Brady nabbed an attention-getter.
Drawn from Ovid's "Metamorphoses," "The Pumpkin Grower" tackles the story of siblings Caunus and Byblis. If you're unfamiliar with your mythology, Byblis fell in love with her brother and pursued him across Greece before dying of a broken heart.
"It is a tragic love story," Brady said of the work. "Audiences will be confronted with the tensions created by beauty and taboo."
In this update, written by FGCU professor James Brock, Caunus (Jake Scott-Hodes) is a young husband who deals with his failed marriage by growing prized pumpkins in his suburban backyard. Byblis (Rachel Bennett) is a helpful neighbor. Mythological nymphs become friends, roommates and other characters.
"There are moments that feel contemporary and moments that are timeless," Brady said. "One last thing: look for the shadows, look for the reflections, look for the dreams."
The play also features dance, poetry and unique soundscapes created especially for the performance by Philip Huebeck.
"It is important to define a world both visually and aurally," Brady said, "… it is a great added dimension."
Brady also wrapped the story in dance, working with Dana Lynn Frantz and Dayanira Lopez to create sections of movement, grace and beauty.
"Dana and Daynira play … the same nymphs in the story of Caunus and Byblis that comfort Byblis in her sorrow," Brady said. "The story resonates in their movements."
"The Pumpkin Grower" plays at 8 p.m. Sept. 26-30 at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in Fort Myers. Tickets are $10, and doors open at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 239-333-1933 or sbdac.com.