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Arts and Science faculty collaborate on Actors Bridge production

Sep. 6, 2016, 11:22 AM

Diana Grisante
Diana Grisante, writer-in-residence in the College of Arts and Science, is author of The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep.

The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep, a play by Diana Grisanti, a Vanderbilt writer-in-residence in the College of Arts and Science, will be performed for two weekends starting Friday, Sept. 9, by Actors Bridge Ensemble.

The production, directed by Leah Lowe, associate professor of theatre at Vanderbilt, will be in the Actors Bridge Studio at Darkhorse Chapel, located at 4610 Charlotte Ave. Other performances are scheduled Sept. 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 and 18. All shows begin at 7 p.m.

The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep is the story of a woman named Ada, a customer service specialist who went to divinity school and has a ‘thirst’ for justice. Ada receives a call while on the job from a desperate woman who needs help. However, things go terribly wrong. With the aid of a pop psychiatrist and divine intervention, Ada must confront her regrets if she’s ever going to sleep again.

“I was inspired to write this play after taking a summer temporary job working as a customer service specialist at a large property management firm,” Grisanti says. “I was supposed to help renters calling in with complaints about their apartments, but the company seemed more interested in protecting their profits than really addressing the problems. In The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep, Ada, the main character, is trying to do good in the world but she is basically trapped in the walls of the institution for which she is working.”

Leah Lowe, Vanderbilt associate professor of theatre, directs the production. (Vanderbilt University)

Grisanti also is a playwright-in-residence with Theatre [502] in Louisville, Kentucky. She earned an M.F.A. from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin in 2012. Her other plays include The Class of ’94, Abilene, Semantics, Dorina and the Plague and River City. Last spring she was the Fred Coe Playwright-in-Residence for the Department of Theatre at Vanderbilt, where she became a colleague and friend of Lowe.

The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep strikes me as very timely,” Lowe says. “The play explores how easily compassion can go off the rails if it’s not based on meaningful understanding of others and their situations. It considers how difficult it is to ‘save the world’ — or even just your little corner of it — if you can’t hear what others are telling you.”

Lowe earned a doctorate from Florida State University and an M.F.A. in directing from the University of Minnesota. She serves on the board of Actors Bridge Ensemble, a professional theater company that has produced more than 80 plays, including 14 world premieres and 45 Nashville premieres.

Jennifer Richmond portrays Ada.
Jennifer Richmond portrays Ada, a customer service specialist who attended divinity school and has a thirst for justice.

Cast members for The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep include Jennifer Richmond, Tamiko Robinson Steele, Sejal Mehta, Madeline Marconi, Austin Olive and Jay Lovell.

The mission of Actors Bridge Ensemble, now in its 21st season, is to tell the stories that matter to Nashville as it trains theater artists, produces socially conscious plays, creates new work, expands what counts as theater in the community, and helps artists and audiences find their authentic voices. The company is led by co-founder Vali Forrister, who previously worked as director of communication and outreach for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Admission for the Nashville premiere of The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep is $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Click here for tickets.

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