The Fifth Semester of Atlantic Acting School’s Full-Time Conservatory Program focuses on polishing skills, applying them in performance and transitioning into the professional community. The combination of classes, sophisticated full-length productions and mounting of a company show challenges actors to refine their performance skills while preparing them to begin their careers. This year’s Fifth Semester Students created theater company The Flashbulb Project, along with Twitter, Facebook and Blogger accounts to promote their events including their inaugural production A Lie of the Mind December 5 – 6 at Atlantic Stage 2, 330 West 16th Street. Tickets are $5 cash at the box office and can be reserved online.

Atlantic student and A Lie of the Mind director Kyle Leibovitch tells us how Sam Shepard’s work fulfills their company’s mission:

As a collective of global artists, our mission is to distill the light and dark of life into basic human moments. We invite the audience to share a personal and immediate experience in hopes of uncovering that which unites us. We are the Flashbulb Project. Our inaugural production is Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind. But how does the show fulfill our mission?

Sam ShepardI’ve often heard that Sam Shepard’s works revolve around myths. The Western Myth. What the hell does that even mean? Sam would say, a lie, or an ancient formula that is expressed as a means of handing down a very specific knowledge. But what are we lying about? What specific ‘knowledge’ are we handing down?

I was struck while reading an interview with Sam Shepard in American Theater Reader when asked what myths mean to him:

The thing that’s powerful about a myth is that it’s the communication of emotions, at the same time ancient and for all time…They’ll always be true. Hopefully, in writing a play, you can snare emotions that aren’t just personal emotions, not just catharsis, not just psychological emotions that you’re getting off your chest, but emotions and feelings that are connected with everybody…you start with something personal and see how it follows out and opens to something that’s much bigger.

(Rhythm and Truths, Amy Lippman, April 1984)

I love that. Emotions and feelings that are connected with everybody. Love. Hate. Sounds like our mission. But in the context of this play, my mind keeps coming back to lies.

Have you ever told a lie because the truth was too hard to bare? To others? To yourself? I know I have. Funny thing about a lie, eventually the truth comes to light. Because as hard as the truth is to bare, so is the lie. Then why tell the lie? Why admit the truth? Why don’t we just deny the world around us? Most of us do to some extent.

As we’ve worked on A Lie of the Mind I find myself constantly searching for answers. As I hear every character tell their story, I don’t know what’s the truth. I don’t know what’s a lie. I don’t know who’s come to terms with their lies. I don’t know who’s creating new lies to cope with the present. I don’t know who’s denying the world around them. But then again, I’m not interested in theater that provides the answer. I’m interested in theater that asks the question.

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