‘Polaroid Stories’ to feature themes of identity and homelessness


The music and theater department will perform Polaroid Stories by Naomi Iizuka starting Thursday night. Courtesy of Tiffany Johnson.

The music and theater department will be opening its doors for the community to come in and enjoy a reiteration of a Latin poem about transformation. “Polaroid Stories” is set in the present day and features a cast of students portraying classic Greek figures as modern-day citizens.

The play, written by Naomi Iizuka, used Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” poem as inspiration. It addresses the issues homeless youth encounter and issues encountered by people who are facing the consequences of bad life decisions.

“Polaroid Stories” is set to debut at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Fisher Theater. Tickets are $20 for adults or free for Iowa State students and youth.

“I’m hoping that what students learn from this play is empathy,” said Tiffany Johnson, director of the play and a professor for the department of music and theater. “We need to learn that there are lots of things happening in the world that may not be our particular circumstances.”

For the actors and Johnson, the biggest challenge they face is grasping the full concept of the story without being affected by it emotionally. Students involved with the play have found it difficult to deal with some of the subject matter, especially those who have gone through issues similar to those addressed in the performance.

“I hope [the student actors are] empowered as artists to tackle stuff about the tough subject matter, and to be able to do that as an artist without allowing it to damage themselves, to see humanity allowing them to work with some tougher work that has subject matter invested in it,” Johnson said.

Johnson hopes the play will teach students how to transpose the lives of homeless students into their own lives and realize there are more people in the world outside of the subcultures they are part of.

“We don’t undoubtedly know people in our own lives that may be up against the same type of challenges others face,” Johnson said. “But the actors have kept an incredible disposition outside of the world of the play.”

The student actors in the cast have shown a sense of community in the rehearsal space, supporting each other with challenges they face outside of the play.

“If there was a specific focus I want everyone to see, it’s the opportunity to look at a lot of these issues and have them grow and develop into the human beings that are going to be on this earth,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, they can take some of these matters into account when it comes to how we see people in our society and become more empathetic with them.”

Additional information for Polaroid Stories can be found on the department of music and theater website.