The Shadow Box

Written by Michael Cristofer
Directed by Frederick Ponzlov

The Shadow Box debuted on Broadway in 1977, and won that year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play.  A 1980 television adaptation, directed by Paul Newman, was  nominated for three Emmy Awards – Outstanding Drama Special, Best Television Adaptation, and Best Director. In 1981, The Shadow Box won the Golden Globe for the year’s “Best Motion Picture Made for Television.”

The nine-person play uses a deceptively simple setting to tell three powerful stories. The Shadow Box takes place in three Hospice-like cottages on the grounds of a large hospital. Each cottage is occupied by a very different type of family whose only commonality is that each has one member facing the end of their life. Every member of every family, though, has to grapple with the inevitable and try to make sense of it all; some are successful, and others less so.

The term “shadow box” can be used as both a noun and a verb.  As a verb, the phrase means “to spar with an imaginary opponent.” As a noun, it describes “a display case.”  In a sense, the small cottages of The Shadow Box are the noun, and the character’s actions are the verb. The audience sees the characters “on display” in a specific setting as they “shadow box” with an irresistible opponent in a match that can have only one ending.

The Adobe’s presentation of The Shadow Box is being directed by Frederick Ponzlov, who relocated from Los Angeles to Albuquerque about a year ago. Tackling a play that won so many awards might give many potential directors pause, but Ponzlov relishes the opportunity.

“I saw the original production on Broadway in 1977,” Ponzlov says. “When the curtain fell, I could barely leave my seat. It had such an incredible impact, and thoroughly altered my viewpoint on the end of life. I believe most of the people who left the theatre that night were changed, too. That’s the power of theatre, and the kind of theatre I want to do. It provides incredibly powerful roles for actors. The performances I witnessed that night 40 years ago have lived with me as if I saw the play yesterday.”

The cast consists of Dean Squibb, Nick Pippin, Bridget Kelly, Jean Effron, Kathleen Welker, Ruben Muller, Kristin Elliot and Ben Wagner.

The Shadow Box opened on March 17th, 2017 and ran through April 9th, 2017.

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