Theatre Project patrons will realize they're in for something different as soon as they see the physical set-up for Double Edge Theatre's "Song of Absence in the Fall of the Ashen Reign," which opens Wednesday. Instead of the usual bank of seats at one end of the room, the audience sits on elevatedbenches on either side of an elongated playing area.
Doing things differently is practically a way of life for Double Edge founder and artistic director Stacy Klein, a native Baltimorean whose work is being seen in her hometown for the first time.
Klein, 35, grew up in the northwest suburbs and studied at Center Stage's Young People's Theater. She recalls coming to the Theatre Project as a teen-ager: "When you're growing up, you don't know about alternative kinds of theater -- this was wild."
And though the Theatre Project may not have changed the direction of her life, there's no question that it is the ideal venue for Double Edge, a Boston-based experimental company that has worked extensively in Europe. "It's a form that is almost impossible to create in America today -- actors who've been together for almost a decade and created a theatrical vocabulary with a director of extraordinary insight," explains Theatre Project director Philip Arnoult.
Like most Double Edge productions, "Song of Absence" went through years of development before reaching its final form, which premiered in Poland in 1988. "The piece relates to the pre-World War II Eastern European Jewish community and the death of Hassidism. . . . [It] deals with the possibilities for cultural development now" -- a theme underlying much of Double Edge's work, explains Klein, whose roots are Polish-Jewish and who is married to a Polish-Jewish immigrant, Gwido Zlatkes, also a company member.
The author of two books about theater with a doctorate from Tufts University in Massachusetts, Klein not only devotes her professional life to Double Edge, she and her husband and 5-month-old daughter live in an apartment in the same Cambridge, Mass., building as several company members.
The three-week run of "Song of Absence" at the Theatre Project will be the longest time Klein has spent in Baltimore in 18 years. "It feels really nice," she says. And, in a statement she admits reflects part of Double Edge's philosophy, she adds, "For people who travel a lot, it's important to come home."
'Song of Absence'
When: Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; matinees Sundays at 3 p.m. Through Feb. 2.
Where: Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St.
% Call: (410) 752-8558.