Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College Presents ‘Private Lies: Improvised Film Noir’ Nov 15-23 .. @rollinscollege #OrlandoArts

Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College Presents 'Private Lies: Improvised Film Noir' Nov 15-23

Combining improv with classic film noir, “Private Lies: Improvised Film Noir” will be presented by the Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College November 15-23, 2019.

Set in a murky crime-infused cityscape of Prohibition-era America, Private Lies is a fully improvised long-from theatre experience framed as a serialized detective series.

The original production pits Richard Lies, an unlucky Private Eye, against a nefarious underworld in film noir-inspired episodes. In each fully improvised performance, the haunted gumshoe seeks to piece together a random assemblage of clues to solve the “crime of the day” while witnesses, suspects, and criminals help and hinder his pursuit of justice.

Private Lies incorporates audience suggestions and the input of a roster of “guest authors” to shape each performance’s journey as the core characters fight to survive the crime-ravaged urban jungle they call their home.

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Schedule of Guest Authors for Private Lies:

  • Friday, November 15 at 8pm – Gabriel Preisser, Executive and Artistic Director, Opera Orlando
  • Saturday, November 16 at 8pm – Eric Jacobsen, Music Director, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Sunday, November 17 at 4pm – Robert Hill, Artistic Director, Orlando Ballet
  • Wednesday, November 20 at 8pm – Emily Fontano, SAK Comedy Lab
  • Thursday, November 21 at 8pm – Joshua Vickery, Founder and Executive Director, Central Florida Community Arts
  • Friday, November 22 at 8pm – Representative Anna Eskamani, Florida House District 47
  • Saturday, November 23 at 2pm – Will Luera, Actor, Director, and Improviser, Florida Studio Theatre
  • Saturday, November 23 at 8pm – Mary Thompson Hunt, Actor, Walt Disney World Resort

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Each will join the company to essentially play a live game of “Mad Libs” with main character Richard Lies. As the fearless detective narrates onstage action in familiar film noir style, he will gesture to our author to fill in blanks, inviting them to say whatever comes to mind to keep the company of improvisers on their toes.

While full of parody and humor, the production will also earnestly examine key tensions that were emerging during Prohibition in the United States, such as gender roles, sexuality, crime, immigration, and national identity. Multiple locations, first-person narrative, film noir serial style, and the utilization of flashbacks and crime scene reenactments all offer unique facets of this one-of-a-kind live theatre experiment.

Private Lies is created and directed by Dr. David Charles, Professor of Acting at Rollins College. Charles, who also improvises in the production as the character Richard Lies, developed the production with the assistance of students working over the summer of 2019 as a research team in residence at Rollins.

Funding for the team’s dramaturgical research and development was provided by the Rollins College Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program.

Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College Presents 'Private Lies: Improvised Film Noir' Nov 15-23
[photo: L to R, Luke Sawyer, David Charles, Allison Furlong / credit: Annabelle Cuitino]

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Tickets are $20, with discounts available for students and seniors. An ASL Interpreted Performance will take place on November 16.

An opening night ticket on November 15 includes admission to a reception immediately following the performance.

Following the closing performance on November 23rd, a post-show discussion will reveal the process and secrets that made the production possible.

For tickets and more information, visit


About Michelle Snow

Michelle is the owner and editor of CitySurfing Orlando. She also owns, is a freelance writer specializing in travel and entertainment, and has authored/co-authored four guidebooks on Orlando and Florida. She lives in Orlando near Disney, and hears Magic Kingdom fireworks every night.
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