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By Sarah Boesveld

It was a tragedy that threw together Ryerson theatre alumni Adam Paolozza and Scott Moore.

13:20: A Floridian Tragedy is a play that reconstructs the tragic last days of the life of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman whose feeding tube was removed after 15 years of living in a vegetative state.

Director Michelle MacArthur, a University of Toronto graduate student, boldly blends the elements of Greek tragedy and the frenzied media coverage to communicate how controversial and important this story really is.

George Bush and Jesse Jackson are shown as demi-gods, preaching their opposite messages on little television screens, and are worshiped by a chorus of the American public. MacArthur says that the chorus brings power to 13:20. “I think they express the diversity of opinions and also reflect how much this private matter really impacted everyday people.” Paolozza is the movement director in charge of the jarring, synchronized chorus of Americans concerned for Schiavo.

After graduating from Ryerson in 2001, Paolozza was awarded a scholarship from the famous Lecoq school in Paris to study physical theatre, where he developed his interest in choruses and facing the challenge of having his members move as one body. “One of the units is tragedy, so we do a lot of work on what it means to be a chorus, in terms of what is the phenomenon that brings a group of people together,” Paolozza says.

Moore plays the main character of Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband and guardian who makes the heartbreaking decision to let her go. Although he dropped out of Ryerson’s theatre program in 1992 to pursue other interests, Moore has never abandoned acting. Spending his days working in administration at U of T’s graduate school, Moore says acting is his true passion. “I’m very serious about acting, but I don’t make a living out of it,” he explains.

He has, however, performed on many Toronto stages in the past, including three with U of T’s drama school. “I really like doing drama (school) shows,” he says. “They’ve all been very gratifying experiences.” Paolozza has been working on a mime piece called Italian Mime Suicide. The play is based on a true story about a mime who jumped from a rooftop because he feared no one was taking his art seriously.

“I saw a clipping about him in the Toronto Star, and it inspired me,” he says, adding that he plans to present the piece at the Fringe Festival this July. Both Paolozza and Moore credit Ryerson with their formal theatre training and with helping them shake some of those bad acting habits. “I think I was too much in my head and not rooted enough in my body, which is a problem I think a lot of actors have,” Moore says. Paolozza nods in agreement.

“We always talk about taking risks as an actor, and I think a lot of that has to do with turning off your auto-critic, not being self conscious of what you do,” Paolozza says.

13:20: A Floridian Tragedy will be performed tonight at the Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College St.

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