Theatre and film have inter-twined for more than a century now.  Theater artists were some of the first people in front of and behind the camera – just after the inventors made the technology a reality.

Since the zoetrope, people have looked for real people to take the place of cut-out figurines, to trick the eye into believing movement, but also to have them believe emotion.  And now, in the modern age, from the glimpse of long-dead Gene Kelly dancing like I’m sure he never intended to whatever the hell James Cameron is trying to do with face replacement in Avatar, despite our best efforts, real people cannot be replaced.  And those people usually start on stages.  There’s a few “straight to movie stars” out there – your John Travoltas, your Kevin Costners.  But for the most part, everyone starts on the stage.  Just like rock bands start in bars.

Polarity Ensemble Theatre’s been a great home to theatre artists for many years now.  But theatre snobs they are not.  They have a rich connection with film and media that I’ve always admired.  From the stunning trailer to their original work, The White Airplane, to the uber-cool stop motion trailer for last year’s Ephemera to the projected films on the back-screen of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.  Don’t forget the documentary-style teaser for this season’s Kabulitis, or the filmed versions of scenes, such as those for Ghost Watch, and Long Day’s Journey

Jim Luning, creator of the trailer for Ephemera, is a renowned documentary filmmaker.  His Route 66: Ten Years Later is an entering extension of a previously published photo-laced coffee table book.

Recently, Sarah Grant, who was one of your android escorts in Ephemera, was cast in Under the Table, a horror film directed by Darren Callahan.

Sarah Grant

Sarah Grant

Callahan also directed Polarity’s Death & Devils, a play featured in the 2010 Dionysos Cup Festival of New Plays.  “I saw Sarah in a relatively small role in Ephemera,” says Callahan, “I just thought she played it fully.  She was really invested in it.  She didn’t bring unusual attention to herself, except in the exactness of the performance, but she stood out to me.  And, well, I just happened to be casting something right then where she would be perfect.”

Sarah Grant and Ellen Green

Sarah Grant and Ellen Green

Callahan’s horror flick originated on the stage as well – as a festival piece at Chicago’s PROP THTR.

Darren Callahan's Under the Table

Darren Callahan's Under the Table

It also features Stefin Steberl, Ashley Ann Woods, and Kristy Scheuer — all veterans of Polarity.  The film was produced by John Klein of Glass City Films who, along with partners Cole Simon, Mike Molenda, and Matt Oliva helped create the Ephemera Video Diaries, three amazing behind-the-scenes mini-docs about the Polarity production.  If you haven’t seen them, you should:




People collaborating, interesting work being done, preserved, discarded, ignored, praised – it’s all part of the marriage of film and theatre.  And Polarity is the preacher.

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