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News Story
Updated: 03/12/2014 08:00:01AM

Women’s History Month: Polk State presents Libby Skala

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PHOTO BY GRACE POLK

Libby Skala as a child with grandmother Lilia Skala.

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Polk State presents two internationally acclaimed plays by Libby Skala for Women’s History Month: “Lilia!,” about the extraordinary life of her Academy Award-nominated grandmother, actress Lilia Skala and “A Time to Dance” about her award-winning great aunt, a pioneering dancer. The persentations are admission-free at the Lake Wales Arts Center, 1099 State Road 60, Lake Wales, with limited seating.

In “Lilia!,” Libby Skala plays both herself and her indomitable grandmother Lilia Skala in the inspiring tale about the journey of a remarkable woman and the connection between two kindred spirits. Transforming from one character to another, Libby Skala tells the true story of the Viennese-born actress who became the first female architect in Austria, a stage star in Max Reinhart’s theater, and finally a Hitler refugee who worked her way out of a New York zipper factory to a career on Broadway, television and film.

Portraying their special relationship, Libby Skala also is humorously guided by her grandmother through the perilous waters of being an actress in New York and Hollywood. Lilia Skala collected an Academy Award nomination for her role as the Mother Superior in the 1963 classic Lilies of the Field opposite Sidney Poitier, a Golden Globe nomination for “Roseland” and an Emmy nomination for “Eleanor and Franklin.”

“Lilia!” will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“A Time to Dance” is the magical fusion of storytelling, music and creative dance portraying the rich life and inexhaustible spirit of Libby Skala’s great aunt Elizabeth “Lisl” Polk, who transcends poverty, artistic repression and the rise of Hitler through the power of dance to become a renowned dance pioneer. Born in 1902 Vienna, Polk survives a premature birth, withholding parents, tuberculosis, two world wars, a more famous sister (Oscar-nominated actress Lilia Skala), and unexpectedly steals the show. In 1995, at the age of 93, she was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the American Dance Therapy Association. This presentation will be given at 7 p.m. March 22.

“I’m inspired by these women who survived two world wars, became refugees in America and built successful careers with persistence, faith and determination, each leaving an indelible mark on her profession and family,” says playwright and actress Libby Skala.

Taking her gifted grandmother Lilia’s lifetime achievement and writing it into an hour and 15-minute production, Libby Skala calls it a challenge that took four years to write.

“It is fun to play these larger than life characters,” Skala said. “It is a way for me to come out of my shell. To me it is like those characters live inside of me. I get to introduce you to my grandmother taking her from my childhood to the last conversation I had with her.”

Libby Skala began performing “Lilia!” in 1999 and “A Time to Dance,” in 2006. Her next project? The story of the third sister who was a baby nurse.

Libby Skala has performed across America, Canada and Europe. Lilia!, her first show is a tribute to her grandmother Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress Lilia Skala, which ran Off-Broadway at the Arclight Theatre. A Time to Dance won “Best Solo Performer” award at the London Fringe Theatre Festival. Regional work includes playing Viola in Twelfth Night at St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival. Film work includes “Birth” with Nicole Kidman.

For the Lake Wales presentations reservations, RSVP to LWAC@polk.edu.


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