Columbus actress in new Indy stage drama

Staff Reports

INDIANAPOLIS — One of Indianapolis’ new theater companies has cast the spotlight on a new play that explores the realities of parenting a chronically ill child.

Summit Performance Indianapolis opened its run of Amy Herzog’s play “Mary Jane” recently at the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Center. The production, which includes veteran Columbus actress Jan Lucas, continues Friday through Sunday.

The script follows the title character as she builds a community of strong women while caring for a toddler with cerebral palsy. Summit’s set design for Mary Jane includes art from artist TJILI (pronounced “chili”), who has cerebral palsy.

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Lucas portrays a building superintendent — “a tough cookie with a thick Queens accent,” as she put it — in one part of the show.

“And in the last act, I play a Buddhist nun who sits with the mom at the hospital and the outcome is very uncertain,” she said. “It is a beautiful play.”

Summit Performance is a member of the Phoenix Theatre Collective; the company produces top-quality theater that explores the lives and experiences of women. The play runs through Sunday.

“Mary Jane” won several awards last year, including an Obie Award for playwriting and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. The author, who was a 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist, is also mother to a daughter with a chronic muscular disorder.

The play’s recent opening date was on the 29th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush’s signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To commemorate the special occasion, Summit teamed up with Easterseals Crossroads and United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Indiana to celebrate both the opening and the anniversary.

Easterseals Crossroads serves more than 7,000 individuals with disabilities in the Indianapolis community each year, with programs like children’s therapy, adult day supports for adults with disabilities, veterans’ services, employment assistance, deaf community services and more.

UCPAIndy works to meet the needs of children and adults with cerebral palsy so they can enjoy an increased quality of life, and strives to increase the awareness of cerebral palsy through education and advocacy efforts.

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What: The drama "Mary Jane," exploring the realities of parenting a chronically ill child.

When: Various times Friday through Sunday.

Where: Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre, 705 N. Illinois St., Indianapolis.

Tickets: $20 and $25.