BOUNDARY ISSUES: INFORMED CONSENT
In 1989, Arizona State University researchers entered into a research project with a group of American Indians living in the Grand Canyon area. The search for a genetic marker to Type 2 diabetes was unsuccessful. The scientists later used leftover blood samples for other studies, and that's where their troubles began with the Havasupai tribe.
Informed Consent by Deborah Zoe Laufer delves into legal and ethical issues surrounding privacy, medical records, religious beliefs and social stigmatization. The play opens Friday at American Stage.
"It really goes into meaty topics like personal space, science and religion butting up against each other," said Benjamin T. Ismail, the show's director. The casting call attracted actors from across the country.
Conflicts developed when researchers submitted DNA from their subjects into unrelated studies delving into schizophrenia, migration and inbreeding — all taboo topics for the Havasupai. The tribe sued the Arizona Board of Regents in 2004, saying that the unauthorized use of their DNA violated their civil rights and medical confidentiality.
Juliana Davis, last seen at American Stage in The 39 Steps, plays Jillian, a genetic anthropologist with a personal stake in finding genetic links to diseases. Dana Segal plays Arella, a tribe member opposed to what the researchers have done.
"What's great about this play is that it doesn't say you should do this or you should feel that," Ismail said. "I really do my best to give each character equal weight."
The play has been lauded for its thought-provoking treatment of profound differences in how each side of the dispute sees the world and the power dynamics between them. It's a dimension the American Stage production will explore in staging.
"There's some cat-and-mouse blocking," Ismail said, "a feeling of how high someone is, if someone is up a level."
The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday and runs through April 9 at the Raymond James Theatre, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $39 and up. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.
BURIED SECRETS: A SKULL IN CONNEMARA
Many regulars in the Jobsite Theater audience have already savored Martin McDonagh's crisp dialogue and dark wit, in productions of The Pillowman, The Lonesome West and others. With A Skull in Connemara opening this weekend, fans of the Irish playwright will find his edge as sharp as ever.
Once a year, a grave digger is hired to disinter bodies from a small-town cemetery in County Galway, Ireland, to make room for new bodies. This time, the crop due for excavation includes his late wife, who died under mysterious circumstances. Things could get messy if you sit up close, so keep your eyes open. Paul J. Potenza directs.
The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday and runs through April 9 at the Shimberg Playhouse at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $28. Previews at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday are $14. (813) 229-7827. jobsitetheater.org.
SOUNDTRACK SHOWS: ONCE, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER
What do streetwise Tony Manero of Brooklyn and an Irish street singer have in common? Both are the inspirations for hit shows — Broadway's Saturday Night Fever — the Musical and Once — with beloved soundtracks about the power of music and following your dreams. And both are coming to stages in the Tampa Bay area this weekend.
Once, the winner of eight Tony Awards, tells the tale of a Dublin street musician whose career skyrockets from the spark of a new romance. It includes the Oscar-winning song Falling Slowly. Shows are 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $35-$100. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
Based on the 1977 movie, the new tour for Saturday Night Fever follows dancing heartthrob Tony as he escapes his troubles by spending weekends at the local disco. With favorite Bee Gees songs from the movie such as Night Fever, Stayin' Alive and Jive Talkin', the show should have you should be dancing by the end. 8 p.m. Friday at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $49.50-$69.50. (727) 893-7832. mahaffeytheater.com.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer
MAHLER: RESURRECTION SYMPHONY
Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 is dark and searching, wistful and apocalyptic. The "Resurrection" symphony was also the composer's favorite and one his most popular works. The Florida Orchestra takes on the massive work this weekend. Soprano Alexandra Batsios and mezzo-soprano Claudia Chapa will perform with as many as 100 musicians and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. Music director Michael Francis conducts. 8 p.m. Friday at Idlewild Baptist Church, 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd., Lutz; 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.