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December 06, 2015

Scared of Sarah; Carnegie is the next Lawrenceville

Saturday night I went to see a play in Carnegie - and left thinking that Carnegie is poised to be the next Lawrencevile.

My wife Karen and I went to see Scared of Sarah at the Carnegie Stage's Off the Wall Theater (website).

The three-actor plot begins with: Lily is putting husband Sam through college. They might be upwardly mobile and successful but it's tenuous; financially they're on the edge. Lily's older sister, Sarah, has a high-functioning autism that sometimes people don't recognize.

When Lily and Sarah's father dies, Lily steps into a semi-guardian role for Sarah. When Lily has an unexpected pregnancy, she fears that the child may be autistic (since her sister is) and struggles with the potential challenge.

Family differences, lost and found journals, past history and uncertain futures, security and dreams, all come into play in a deft, tightly woven narrative. This was an excellent play, in a great theater, with wonderful performances by the three actors: Erika Cuenca, Shaun Cameron Hall, Sara Silk.

One of the three characters has autism, but she's not "the autistic" as much as she's a character with autism along with her other dimensions. I have to say that Sara Silk's performance as Sarah was the best of the evening; a lot of physical work and an excellent portrayal without falling into caricature. All three actors turned in excellent performances. The play just shot forward and never let go.

The theater is a smaller house, very comfortable and accessible. I was really impressed that this was going on in Carnegie; this set, music, lighting, and performance would have easily stood among the downtown performances. (In fact, Ted Pappas was seated in the row behind us.)

The Off The Wall Theater has it's own key points: at least half of the plays are written by women, at least half of their plays are directed by women, they pay union wages starting at $15 to give their people a living wage. Twice a week they offer women a Gender Equity discount of 28% to reflect the disparity in incomes by gender.

"Scared of Sarah" was written by Laura Brienza, directed by Ingrid Sonnichsen, an Associate Professor at CMU.

Lots of folks talk about: What's the next Lawrenceville? and I think it's going to be Carnegie. First: it's located on the I376 Aerotropolis Artery, and I79. The other pleasant surprises I've had in Carnegie recently were brunch at Bakn and dinner at 131 East Main. Looks like an excellent coffee shop on the East Main Street plaza. Just saying.

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