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Juniata Theatre Students Create Production Focusing on Behavioral Addictions

(Posted November 13, 2012)

Bryanna Kifolo plays Sophia the Great, a magician, in "Stop Me Because I Can't Stop Myself" at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16, and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Nov. 17 in the von Liebig Theatre in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Students from the Juniata College theatre department have created an all-encompassing artistic experience that puts the audience right in the middle of a production based on behavioral addictions such as gambling, video games, shopping and sex, which will premiere at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16, and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Nov. 17 in the von Liebig Theatre in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

"Stop Me Because I Can't Stop Myself," is a production created by Juniata students and director Ariel Fristoe as part of a residency within the college's theatre department.
Tickets can be purchased in advance online, or at the door. Student tickets are $4, and general admission tickets are $7. Tickets that are purchased online will be held at the door. If you are purchasing student or employee tickets, please be prepared to show your Juniata ID when you pick up your tickets. The show is probably not suitable for students below high school age.

The production will simulate the stimulating environment of a Las Vegas casino as theatregoers enter the theatre and walk from tempting entertainment to beguiling betting opportunities. "The audience will receive 10 poker chips with their tickets, which they can use to buy things or enter shows or place bets," says Fristoe, who worked with the Juniata cast to formulate the show. The production will be restaged in 2013 by Fristoe's theatrical company, Out of Hand Theater, based in Atlanta, Ga.

Fristoe, artistic director of Out of Hand, specializes in creating theatrical productions in collaboration with experts from all types of professions and disciplines.

"Stop Me" is based on a book on addictive behaviors, "Stop Me Because I Can't Stop Myself," by University of Minnesota psychology professor Jon Grant. Fristoe worked on the idea for the production extensively with Grant and members of her company before coming to Juniata, but the Juniata students are responsible for the content and structure of the play.

"Not only are they incredibly smart and talented, Juniata has prepared them to be actors but also generative artists."
Ariel Fristoe, director


"They are incredibly well prepared for this kind of project," says Bristoe of the cast and crew. "Not only are they incredibly smart and talented, Juniata has prepared them to be actors but also generative artists."

As audience members meander throughout the production, they can place bets on horse races, a cage fight or play roulette. They also can see such acts as a trapeze artist, an Elvis impersonator, a peep show, and a ventriloquist, among a host of other attractions.

"There are three things going on at any one time and all the acts are about 10 minutes, so the audience can see everything as they move throughout the show," explains Bristoe, who estimates that the production is about 75 minutes long. "There also are chairs and café tables set up at most of the acts so the audience can sit if they need to."

Bristoe and Out of Hand Theare has produced 12 such plays and have toured the productions throughout the United States and Europe. In the past she has adapted plays such as "Hominids" based on a book by chimpanzee scientist Frans deWaal and "Sir Fish," a production about whale sharks.

The drama and comedy within the production comes from the characters created by the Juniata students, who play the same character but portray the character's behaviors on and off stage. "The acts on our casino set illustrate addictive things, but the characters within the production also have addictions as well," Bristoe explains. "Also, the Juniata students learned how to do amazing things for the production such as ventriloquism, magic and playing in a band."

Bristoe has been artistic director of Out of Hand Theater for 12 years. She founded the theatre company when she was 25 years old. She earned a bachelor's degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. and also works as a freelance director at other colleges and universities and occasionally acts in regional theatre.
The cast of "Stop Me Because I Can't Stop Myself" is as follows: Kaetlyn Kuchta, a senior, from Shickshinny, Pa.; Ben Mahan, a senior from Havertown, Pa.; Sara Lucchini, a junior from San Diego, Calif.; Gary Shoemaker, a junior from Summerdale, Pa.; Phil Oberholzer, a junior from Shippensburg, Pa.; Lauren Hitzhusen, a junior from Houston, Texas; Emily Evey, a sophomore from Hollidaysburg, Pa.; Allie Kiernan McCauley, a sophomore from Montgomery, Pa.; Alex Zerjav, a sophomore from Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Bryanna Kifolo, a freshman from State College, Pa.

Members of the crew include: Jazmine Jade, a senior from Spring Lake, Mich.; Gus Redmond, a junior from Bethesda, Md.; Alex Heicher, a sophomore from Hummelstown, Pa.; Heidi Kleber, a sophomore from Morrisdale, Pa.; Zack Palchak, a senior from Bellefonte, Pa.; Tess Ginley, a senior from Gaithersburg, Md.; Katya Pribysh, a freshman from West Chester, Pa.; Erin Royer, a senior from Bellefonte, Pa.; Arnold Schwemmlein, a junior from Huntingdon Pa.; Dakota Bearden, a sophomore from Johnstown, Pa.; Sara Deppenbrook, a senior from Beaver Falls, Pa.; Alley Roemer, a sophomore from Kimberton, Pa.; Sara Lucchini, a junior from San Diego, Calif.; and Emily Evey, of Hollidaysburg.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.