Steve Martin Uses Urban Legend to Make Us Laugh

meteor pic astro blogWe’ve all heard the saying “there must be a full moon” or, at least, some version of it. Whether there’s any scientific truth to it or not, most of us seem content to continue this prevalent idea that astronomical events cause ‘strange’ things to happen. Sure, a full moon can cause more extreme tides making storm flooding more severe. Solar flares hurdling at Earth have the potential in extreme cases to mess with satellite communications and the power grid (and, of course, there’s that whole theory about a giant asteroid impact causing the extinction of the dinosaurs). But none of these have anything to do with altering human behavior, which is really the common effect this urban legend has taught us to connect to stellar phenomenon. Think about it for a second. From stories of medical professionals who claim individuals with mental illness tend to be more unstable during full moons to police forces that schedule more officers on duty during full moons because they predict a higher likelihood for crime, this unproven idea of our behavior mysteriously being connected to celestial happenings is often reinforced to us.

This idea has become a great device for writers. How about the character of the werewolf? That’s probably one of the most enduring examples of it. Modern horror and sci-fi novelist and screenwriters obviously employ it regularly, but even Shakespeare liked to make references to the idea (“It is the very error of the moon. She comes more near the earth than she was wont. And makes men mad.” – Othello) It’s really nothing new. Usually in these instances this device is used to propel the story into suspenseful, mysterious, horrific, or even tragic territory. However, some clever writers have seen the humorous potential in this supernatural idea. After all when most of us make those connections between strange occurrences and astronomical events it’s usually laced with a laugh and an undertone of playfulness.

In that vein did Steve Martin write his newest comedy Meteor Shower. Of course, Martin has his own unique brand of humor. He doesn’t just make a playful nod to a meteor shower possibly causing people to act oddly; he delivers an all-out absurdist night for a very unsuspecting couple (and audience, for that matter). But then what else would you expect from the guy who asked what would happen if Picasso and Einstein met in a bar, and then threw in an appearance by Elvis at the end. (Sorry to have spoiled it for any of you unlucky few who didn’t see our 2014 production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile.) Steve Martin uses this classic writing device to create a play so hilariously brand new it could only have come from his genius mind. We invite you to this world premiere comedy to kick off our 52nd season. And if you’re looking for the most absurd performance to tickle your funny bone, might we suggest attending Meteor Shower during a full moon?

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DRAMA NOTES: Steve Martin, Playwright

1. Steve Martin

Steve Martin, photo courtesy of The Broad

Steve Martin is one of the most acclaimed and beloved talents in entertainment. His work has earned numerous honors including an Academy Award, five Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, and the Kennedy Center Honor. Many of Martin’s films are considered modern classics including: The JerkPlanes, Trains & Automobiles, Roxanne, Parenthood, L.A. Story, and Father of the Bride.

Martin is also a well-known screenwriter, essayist, fiction writer, art collector, Grammy-award winning banjo player and songwriter and playwright. Martin wrote his first play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile—an exuberant take on Picasso and Einstein meeting at a bar on the brink of marvelous discovery—in 1993. It went on to have successful runs in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, appearing in Long Wharf’s 2014-2015 season in a production directed by Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein. Martin also wrote The Underpants, a satirical adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s 1911 play Die Hose, about a conservative couple, Louise and Theo, whose existence is ruined when Louise’s underpants fall down in public. The play premiered at Classic Stage Company in 2000, and was produced at Long Wharf in 2013 in a critically-lauded production also helmed by Mr. Edelstein. Most recently, Martin penned Bright Star, an original musical written in collaboration with singer-songwriter Edie Brickell, which ran on Broadway this past year and earned five Tony nominations.

3. Picasso at lapin Agile LWT 11-14 161

Robbie Tann, Grayson DeJesus, Dina Shihabi in LWT’s 2014 production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Photos by T. Charles Erickson.

Meteor Shower, Steve’s newest play, features the kind of plays on logic, absurdism, and anti-humor that Martin has built his career on. In a sense, the play’s humor originates from the sensibility Martin developed when first discovering comedy: Indeed, part of what makes Steve Martin’s humor so distinctive is not just that it incorporates a sublime mix of the intellectual and the wacky, the high and low brow—but also that he lets his audience choose when to laugh.

Steve Martin, Carmen Cusack, and Edie Brickell on the set of Bright Star at the Cort Theatre. Photo by Mark Schafer.

Steve Martin, Carmen Cusack, and Edie Brickell on the set of Bright Star at the Cort Theatre. Photo by Mark Schafer.

Steve Routman, Jeff McCarthy, Jenny Leona, and Burke Moses in LWT’s 2013 production of The Underpants. Photos by T. Charles Erickson.

Steve Routman, Jeff McCarthy, Jenny Leona, and Burke Moses in LWT’s 2013 production of The Underpants. Photos by T. Charles Erickson.

- Christine Scarfuto

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Non-Equity Auditions for the 2016-17 Season

Quiz_headerLocal Non-Equity actors, ages 16+, with access to local housing are invited to audition for the 2016/2017 Season at the Tony Award-winning Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT.

Actors will be seen at the theatre on Tuesday, August 30 from 10 am to 5 pm. Actors should prepare a brief modern or contemporary monologue not to exceed three minutes in length. All actors should bring a current resume and headshot. While walk-ins will be accommodated where possible, appointments are strongly recommended and may be made beginning today by calling the Long Wharf Theatre box office (203-787-4282) between 10:00am and 5:00pm.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Because Long Wharf holds auditions in NYC for each production, we are especially seeking actors with access to local housing at this call.

2. Actors will be seen by Drew Gray, Associate Producer.

3. Long Wharf will be casting for all available roles for the 2016/2017 season at these auditions (see attached list).

4. Directions:
a. Train: Metro North to Union Station, New Haven, CT, and take a cab to the theatre.
b. Car: Take Exit 46 off I-95 and follow the signs.
Long Wharf Theatre is casting the following roles for our 2016-2017 Season:

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METEOR SHOWER

Written by: Steve Martin
Director: Gordon Edelstein
***Co-production with The Old Globe

First Rehearsal: September 6th, 2016
Runs September 28th, 2016 – October 23rd, 2016

SEEKING:

CORKY- Female, mid-thirties to mid-forties
NORM- Male, mid-thirties to mid-forties*
GERALD- Male, mid-thirties to mid-forties*
LAURA- Female, mid-thirties to mid-forties*

*Cast

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OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY
Written by Jerry Sterner
Directed by Marc Bruni

First Rehearsal: October 25, 2016
Runs November 25, 2016 – December 18, 2016

BILL COLES- Male, mid-thirties to mid-fifties
ANDREW JORGENSON- Male, mid-sixties to mid-seventies
LAWRENCE GARFINKLE- Male, mid-forties to mid-sixties*
BEA SULLIVAN- Female, mid-forties to mid-sixties
KATE SULLIVAN- Female, mid-twenties to mid-thirties

*Cast

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ENDGAME
Written by Samuel Beckett
Directed by Gordon Edelstein

First Rehearsal: November 29, 2016
Runs January 4th, 2016 – February 5th, 2016

CLOV- Male
HAMM- Male*
NELL- Female, Hamm’s mother
NAGG- Male, Hamm’s father*

*Cast

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NAPOLI, BROOKLYN
Written by Meghan Kennedy
Directed by Gordon Edelstein
**Co-production with Roundabout Theatre Company

First Rehearsal: January 10th, 2017
Runs February 15th, 2017 – March 12th, 2017

SEEKING:

FRANCESCA- Female. 16. Italian American
JEAN- Female. 24. Italian American
NINA- Female. 20. Italian American
ANNA- Female. 40s. Italian. Strong Italian accent.
PAUL- Male. 40s. Italian. Strong Italian accent.
CONNIE- Female. 16. Italian American
ALBERT- Male. 40s or 50s. Italian. Connie’s father.
CELIA- Female. 24. African American

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SMART PEOPLE
Written by Lydia Diamond
Directed by Desdemona Chiang

First Rehearsal: February 14th, 2017
Runs March 15th, 2017 – April 9th, 2017

SEEKING:

VALERIE JOHNSTON- 24. African American. Recent graduated A.R.T. Acting MFA
JACKSON MOORE- 28. African American. Harvard Med School. Surgical Intern on Rotation.
BRIAN WHITE- 36. White. Tenured professor at Harvard. Neuro-psychiatrist. Studies patterns of racial identity and perceptions.
GINNY YANG- 34. Chinese-Japanese American. No accent. Only speaks English. Respected tenured professor of psychology at Harvard. Studies race and identity among Asian American women.

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TABLE
Book & Lyrics by Adam Gopnik
Music by David Shire
Directed by Gordon Edelstein

First Rehearsal: March 21st, 2017
Runs May 3rd 2017 – May 28, 2017

SEEKING:

DAVID- Male. Mid-thirties to mid-fifties. Chef
CLAIRE- Female. Mid-thirties to mid-fifties. David’s wife. Former dancer who runs their restaurant.
BIX- Male, David & Claire’s 17 year old son.
KATE- Female. David & Claire’s 10 year old daughter.
SERGIO- Male. Mid-thirties to mid-fifties. The world’s most famous chef. David’s nemesis
CARLO- Male. Mid-thirties to mid-fifties. Anarchist pizza maker.
ANNA- Female. Carlo’s 17 year old daughter
PHOEBE- Female. The market manager, goat cheese maker. Married to Gloria
GLORIA- Female. More elegant goat cheese maker. Married to Phoebe
IRWIN- TV producer
NATASHA- Female. Sergio’s assistant.
GEO- Farmer
FRANCA- Farmer

 

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Fall Means Back to (Studio) School

fall 16 ss blog image

Last season, during one of our post-show discussions, a patron raised their hand and commented, jokingly, “Those guys looked like they were having so much fun that I wanted to be up there with them!” This gave the Education department an idea – what if we could connect the acting classes in our Studio School program to the Long Wharf season?

The result is a new class for actors 18+ called Scene Study: The Comedy of Steve Martin. Over the last few years, Steve Martin has become one of Long Wharf’s favorite playwrights. You may have seen the theatre’s previous productions of The Underpants or Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Over the course of five sessions, actors will work on scenes from some of Martin’s most famous works.  Topics will include mastering comedy and fully embodying a character.

“I am excited to work on Steve Martin’s plays because his comedy tends toward the absurd,” says actress and resident teaching artist Barbara Hentschel. “We find ourselves laughing, sometimes mysteriously, because of the human behavior of the situation – not just a punch-line (although there are plenty of genius punch-lines!) We’re going to have a lot of fun!”

And the most exciting part? Class participants will receive a ticket to a performance of Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower this fall at LWT. Seeing the show as a class will help students get a deeper sense of Martin’s work and invite discussion about making choices as actors.

Besides this opportunity for adults, the department is also thrilled to announce a class for young actors ages 8 – 13 called An Actor’s Showcase. This class is ideal for young actors or for those in search of a creative outlet. Through games and exercises, students will learn the tools that actors need to be successful onstage and create their own theater pieces. The class culminates in a final performance for friends and family! An Actor’s Showcase will be taught by a member of the Education Department staff.

If you’d like to register, check out longwharf.org/studio-school. If you have questions, please contact Eliza Orleans at eliza.orleans@longwharf.org

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Playwright Jeff Augustin and ‘The Last Tiger in Haiti’

Jeff Augustin

Jeff Augustin’s The Last Tiger in Haiti takes place on the final night of Kanaval. A group of restaveks (abandoned children living in servitude) dream of freedom, trading spellbinding tales blurring fiction and reality. When two of them reunite 15 years later, their truths are more haunting than they could have imagined.

LWT: What was the inspiration for The Last Tiger in Haiti?

Augustin: I am Haitian-American and I am the youngest of seven. Me and my sister, the youngest, were the only ones born here. The rest of my family were born in Haiti. For various reasons as a kid I felt I had to grow up very early. I became interested in how kids who were abused cope. How they heal themselves. I felt like when I was a kid a lot of that was my imagination, how I told stories and how I created worlds around me with the stories I created. I had read a story in The New York Times about the restavek children, and the inspiration for the play came from that and the tradition of oral storytelling, krik-krak.
When I was finishing the play, I was having my New York debut and one of the things that terrified me more than the critics, was other Haitians seeing the play. I wanted to make sure I got the story right. I grew up in a Haitian household and very much in the Haitian culture but what right do I have to these kinds of stories? So when the second act begins to unfold, it is about who has what right to what narrative and how do we shape our own narrative.

LWT: Are these themes you revisit in other parts of your work? What gets you going as a writer?

Augustin: I write a lot about Haitian, and Haitian-American culture and experiences. I do think a lot of my work has characters trying to deal with change and recreating themselves. I am always interested in the magic of the every day. I gravitate a lot towards myths. So much of the stories in Haitian culture take on an other-worldliness. There is a mysticism I am fascinated by. I think ultimately for me a play is so rooted in character and in a deep exploration of some anxiety or some kind of need to find something inside themselves that they have been afraid of or repressing.
My family, especially my mom, is an inspiration for me. As a kid, family time was her lighting candles and telling stories. I love Jose Rivera – I love magical realism. Lately the kind of structural things that always fascinate me – I always find something that is impossible to stage.

LWT: It had to have been powerful as a kid listening to these stories told by candlelight … that had to have been completely formative for The Last Tiger in Haiti.

Augustin: There is something about night and candle light where everything seems possible. As a kid, there were scary things out there, but the possibility was so much can come out of there. It felt like we were entering a different space. It prompted my interest in this piece, but it is also why I like the theatre. The lights come down in this dark space, together waiting for something.

LWT: Last Tiger will have some productions this year, is that correct?

Augustin: We just closed at La Jolla Playhouse a week ago and we are headed to Berkeley Rep in the Fall. It went really well at La Jolla. We learned a lot about that play. It was extraordinary. We actually had a restavek survivor come and see the show. She was quite moved  that we captured a lot of what it was like, at least what her experience was like. It was a really good run and we are already talking about the changes we are going to make at Berkeley. It’s really exciting.

LWT: What’s next for you?
Augustin: I am working on an immersive theatre food project with four playwrights and a chef, Carla Hall. It should be really fascinating. I am currently working on a couple of commissions for the Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. I have a kind of a packed plate.

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Playwright Boo Killebrew and ‘Miller, Mississippi’

Killebrew blog picSet in volatile Civil Rights-era Mississippi, Boo Killebrew’s Miller, Mississippi is a Southern Gothic tale of one family’s heartfelt and devastating descent into ruin. As the country attempts to lurch towards a future of racial equality, the Miller family is poisoned by their own legacy.

LWT: Could you talk about the inspiration for Miller, Mississippi?

Killebrew: I began writing it on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer in Mississippi. I am from Mississippi, I was born in Jackson, and my family all lives in Mississippi. Being raised here you are very aware of the history of the state. I was really fascinated with it. I was down here and I was just learning more and more about that summer. As the Freedom Summer anniversary was happening I was cleaning out my grandparents’ house – they had passed away so I was helping my mom try to sell it – and we unearthed a lot of things from Mississippi’s past and my family’s past. Stories and things like that. It all came together.

I was also interested in the play spanning a long period of time just to see how far we’ve come and how far we haven’t come. There is this saying that we are in a post-racial America, and I think over the past couple of years, because we have access to video cameras and that kind of stuff, we are realizing that is not the case. We’ve definitely come a long way, but we still have a lot to do. So, I am really interested in race in this country as it becomes more and more exposed through modern technology. I am interested in how we actually make progress.

LWT: Why did you choose Southern Gothic as the mode for the story?

Killebrew: I feel that for us and audience members,  if something is Southern Gothic or a ghost story, we can really invest in it in a way that we feel we are not being preached to. You can get into the juiciness and the dark corners of a Southern Gothic tale. My hope is that it gets ripped away – ‘oh, this is not really a ghost story.’ But to invest in that, it can’t be preachy, it can’t be obtuse, it can’t be ‘this is a play about race in our society.’ You have to invest in a family that is really conflicted, to say the least and has these unapologetically complicated characters. If you have enough distance to really invest in the story, then by the time the end comes they are closer than you would like them to be.

LWT: What other writers or other subject matter inspires you?

Killebrew: I love Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, Cormac McCarthy, Beth Henley, Lillian Hellman, Truman Capote. I really dig Southern writers, especially the ones that lean towards the grotesque. All that stuff that is really visceral. I feel that Southern writers are visceral, and they don’t make excuses for or apologize for their really bold characters. People who aren’t saints.

LWT: Do these writers reflect the South you know?

Killebrew: Yes. I think also the South I know is because of these writers.

LWT: Has the relationship with your NYC theatre company CollaborationTown, which seems to be a long and fruitful one, informed your writing?

Killebrew: We never take the easy road when we are creating plays. We have questions and we are always trying to explore those questions in a really creative experimental type of place. It feels like this engine of curiosity that keeps me really awake to new forms that are happening in theatre. It keeps me awake to collaboration. It keeps me awake to what a rehearsal room can look like for a particular process.

It really keeps me on my toes as far as playwriting is concerned. It keeps pushing me to take real risks, to ask new questions. Because we’ve worked together for so long we call each other out – ‘you are doing that thing you’ve always done. Keep digging.’

LWT: Does your acting inform your writing?

Killebrew: Oh yes, for me I mainly come from character, rather than an idea, or a structure, or a plot. I ask, who is this person? What are this person’s relationships? How does this person navigate this situation? That definitely comes from acting. Dialogue is one of the things that comes most naturally to me, and I think that’s 100 percent from being an actor. I think that not judging the characters comes from being an actor – no one is ever bad and no one is ever good. The lines are blurry. And that comes from being an actor too.

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Second Annual Contemporary American Voices Festival

cav blog image

Long Wharf Theatre’s Contemporary American Voices Festival, an annual celebration of adventurous, innovative new plays, will kick off the 2016-17 season. Currently in its second year, CAV is part of a new initiative to support new work and give theatergoers a first look at some of the most exciting theatrical voices in the country.

The festival will take place September 9 and 10. There is a suggested donation of $5 and reservations can be made by calling 203-787-4282 or visiting longwharf.org. A cash bar featuring beer from Thimble Islands Brewery and food by Katalina’s Bakery and Stellato’s will be available for purchase.

Funding for the festival is provided by the Lord/Kubler Fund for New Work, with lead support from the Seedlings Foundation. “I am convinced that receptivity to new writing represents the very best of remedies for spiritual, emotional, and intellectual stagnation. And what better form than the theatre: live, immediate and visceral,” said Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein.

This year’s festival will include plays by Boo Killebrew, Jeff Augustin, and Clare Barron. Miller, Mississippi by Boo Killebrew will be presented on Friday, September 9. Jeff Augustin’s Last Tiger in Haiti and Clare Barron’s Dance Nation will be performed on Saturday, September 10. “Boo Killebrew, Jeff Augustin, and Clare Barron are three of the most distinctive, audacious new voices writing for the theatre today. I couldn’t be happier to bring them to Long Wharf, and for our audience to experience the singular vision and talent of each of these writers,” said Literary Manager Christine Scarfuto.

Jeff Augustin’s play The Last Tiger in Haiti will receive multiple productions in 2016. Jeff’s plays have also been produced at the Roundabout Underground (Little Children Dream of God) and Actors Theatre of Louisville (Cry Old Kingdom, Humana 2013; That High Lonesome Sound, Humana Apprentice Anthology 2015). His work has been developed at the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference, The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, American Conservatory Theater, and Seattle Rep. Jeff is the Shank Playwright-in-Residence at Playwrights Horizons and a member of the Rita Goldberg Playwright’s Workshop at the Lark. He is an alumnus of the New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellowship; The Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm and was the inaugural Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Roundabout.  Jeff is currently under commission from Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. BA: Boston College, MFA: UCSD.

Clare Barron’s Dance Nation recently co-won the inaugural Relentless Award established in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman. She is a playwright and actor from Wenatchee, Washington. Her plays include You Got Older, which received its world premiere with Page 73, directed by Anne Kauffman (Obie Award for Playwriting, Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Play, Kilroys List, and Susan Smith Blackburn finalist); I’ll Never Love Again (The Bushwick Starr, NYTimes & Time Out Critics’ Picks); Baby Screams Miracle (Clubbed Thumb Summerworks); and Dirty Crusty (Youngblood’s Unfiltered). She is the recipient of the 2014 Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship and the Paula Vogel Award at the Vineyard. She is also a member of New Dramatists and Youngblood at EST, an Affiliated Artist with Target Margin, an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, and is currently pursuing her MFA at Brooklyn College. As an actor, Clare appeared in the world premiere of Heidi Schreck’s The Consultant (Long Wharf Theatre) and traveled to Beirut to play Mae in an Arabic-English production of Maria Irene Fornes’ Mud.

Boo Killebrew’s play Miller, Mississippi won the 2015 Leah Ryan Prize. Killebrew is a playwright, actress, teaching artist, and co-founder of CollaborationTown Theatre Company.  Boo is a Lila Acheson Playwriting Fellow at The Juilliard School and the recipient of The Paula Vogel Award at The Vineyard Theater. She is a resident of The SPACE Working Farm, an alumni of the Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, a recipient of a NYFA Fellowship, an alumni of TerraNova’s Groundbreakers, an Affiliated Artist and Kitchen Cabinet Member with New Georges, a teaching artist for The Roundabout Theatre Company, and a Usual Suspect with New Theater Workshop.  Her plays include Romance Novels for Dummies, Days Like Diamonds, The Play About My Dad, The d Life, Caveat Emptor and The Momentum (NYC Fringe Festival Excellence Award for Overall Production of a Play; GLAAD Media Award Nominee).  Her work has been presented at The Roundabout Theatre, The Public Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival, The Atlantic, New York Theater Workshop, New York Stage and Film, Perry Mansfield, Portland Center Stage, New Georges, Clubbed Thumb, The Huntington Theatre Co., 59e59 Theatres, The New Ohio, The Labyrinth, The Alley Theatre, and Boston Playwright’s Theatre. Boo was an Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellow, an Artist in Residence at NYFA, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, The New York Theater Workshop, The MacDowell Colony, Williamstown Theater Festival, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.  Boo has received two New York Innovative Theater Awards, two Fringe Excellence Awards, and The Bette Davis Foundation Award. She is currently commissioned by Victory Gardens and The Dallas Theatre Center. Boo is a writer for “Longmire” on Netflix and created the television pilot “Aim High”, which is currently in development at AMC.

CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN VOICES FESTIVAL

September 9 – 7 pm

MILLER, MISSISSIPPI

By Boo Killebrew

Directed by Lee Sunday Evans

Set in volatile Civil Rights-era Mississippi, Miller, Mississippi is a Southern Gothic tale of one family’s heartfelt and devastating descent into ruin. As the country lurches towards a future of racial equality, the Miller family is poisoned by their own legacy.

 

September 10 – 5 pm

THE LAST TIGER IN HAITI

By Jeff Augustin

Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz

It’s the final night of Kanaval in Haiti, and a group of restaveks, abandoned children living in servitude, trade spellbinding tales blurring fiction and reality, and dreaming of freedom. When two of them reunite 15 years later, reality reveals itself to be more haunting than they could have imagined.

 

September 10 – 8:30 pm

DANCE NATION

By Clare Barron

Directed by Lee Sunday Evans

An army of pre-teen competitive dancers plots to take over the world.   A play about ambition, competition, and growing up—and how we find our souls in the heat of it all.

 

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Find the Perfect Show!

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Meet the Cast of WHEN SHE HAD WINGS: Trevor Williams and Jhulenty Delossantos

Trevor:
What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Trevor Williams and I am originally from Kent, Ohio.

What character are you playing?
I’m playing the Sound Op. The Sound Op, along with the Wingman, is sort of representative of the environment surrounding B and the expression of her perception of the environment. It’s great because we get to be in these roles where we are omnipresent but only kind of halfway on the stage which is a really interesting thing to play with.

Is this your first time performing in a show for young audiences?
No. The second show that I did after moving to New Haven a few years ago was with New Haven Theatre Company. It was Shipwrecked! which actually has a lot of similarities in tone and delivery to When She Had Wings. I played a part somewhat similar to the Sound Op but I was part of the larger chorus of the show that surrounded the main character and kind of created the environment. It had the same sort of playful, sort of child-like imaginative kind of nature to it which was great. I’m really glad to be back inside that sphere.

Is there a difference between performing Theatre for Young Audiences and theatre for adults?
Absolutely. I think that you can expect a lot more from a young audience. I feel like adult audiences come in with more expectations and pre-conceived notions of what a show should be. Children are much more willing to play. They’re much more willing to take what they’re handed and work with it. I feel like children more readily access the portions of their imaginations that can really bring a show to life.

What has been your favorite part of the rehearsal process?
The exercises that Nick has brought to us to sort of break down the barriers with one another as a cast and also the barriers within ourselves. He’s done a lot of really great things that I was not expecting or not familiar with and I think I probably would have benefitted having gotten them earlier in my acting career. But I’m really glad to have them now. He’s definitely used exercises that I think were geared specifically towards this play but I feel like the application of them is very wide ranging and I’m planning to hang on to them for a long time.

What would you say to a kid coming to see the show?
Go ahead and come in attached to the ground but don’t expect to stay that way.

Jhulenty:

Can you tell me your name and where you’re from?
My name is Jhulenty and I’m from Yonkers, New York. I live in Bridgeport right now.

Can you tell me about your character in the show?
Yes, of course. My character goes by the name of Wingman. He and the Sound Op are basically the embodied imagination of B. So whatever B thinks or feels in the moment, we kind of have to represent her inner life. And how she reacts inside… all of her emotions… we demonstrate that through movement and sound.

What’s your favorite thing about the show?
What I love about the show is actually the role I’ve been given, honestly. Being able to represent somebody’s imagination and being able to represent somebody’s emotions without words is a very challenging and interesting experience. For us to be able to find ways to express how somebody else is feeling…it’s really important.

Have you ever performed for young audiences before?
No I haven’t, this is the first time!

Do you think there is something different about doing a show for young audiences?
Yeah there definitely is. It’s not like a regular straight play. We have to find different ways to deliver the message in a more comprehensive way. It’s usually not with words that we deliver our ideas, it’s more expressions and movement. The whole play is more about what you do and how that helps deliver the message.

What has been your favorite part of rehearsal process?
My favorite part is working with Nick, he’s a great director. His openness, his willingness to collaborate is just really fascinating. I really like the way he’s just so open to ideas and always willing to adjust. He’s just very adaptable, which is really awesome and I really think that it’s gonna really help the play.

Is there anything you want to say to kids who are coming to see the show?
Yes! You’ll love it! You’ll enjoy it! Come see the show! You will not regret it!

Is there anything else you want to add?
I would like to thank Nick for the opportunity and chance to do theatre for young audiences. This will really help me and allow me to become a better actor and find new ways and different techniques of working.

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Meet the Cast of WHEN SHE HAD WINGS: Johnson Flucker

Can you tell me your name and where you’re from?
My name is Johnson Flucker. My wife and I are empty nesters living in Trumbull, Connecticut. I’m from Pittsburgh originally.

Can you tell me a little bit about the characters that you’re playing in the show?
I play three characters, all of whom interact with the young girl B. The first character I play is her father. He’s a fellow trying to figure out how he can help his daughter transition from age nine to age ten. The second character I play is called “Attendant.”He is a fellow who shows up in the middle of the play looking for a runaway from a facility that takes care of people who have “wandered” inbody and mind.And the last character I play is called “Man.”He is an otherworldly type, perhaps not human, but more of a presence, that acts as a moral force and helps people reflect on realizing their true nature.

What do you like about this show?
Well, I like it on two levels. The easy one to answer is that it’s extremely rewarding to play three contrasting characters. The reason I enjoy being involved in the play generally is because the playwright is exploring a very strong and important storyline with a lot of significance for the principal- my friend Olivia who’s playing the part of B. She’s playing the part of the young girl who’s trying to figure out what’s going on in life. You know many people say that around age nine, they kind of woke up and realized that everything was not just popcorn and Saturday morning cartoons, but relationships are important. And one’s first relationship is with one’s self. I think it’s a very important message for everyone, not just young people. Theatre’s job is to alert the audience with an eye for possible self-examination and transformation.

Is this your first time performing for young audiences?
Yes. I’ve done a lot of plays, most of them have been dramas, musicals, and a solo showfor adults. I do have a long music career that I was involved in before I acted and a lot of that actually involved young singers. I was a choir master for choirs of grades four through eight. So I’ve had a lot of experience training young voices. I did that for over 20 years.

What has been your favorite part of the rehearsal process so far?
Getting it on its feet- that old theatre expression- after everyone has discussed various things with the director and the other actors- getting it on its feet and beginning to see how it’s shaping up physically. The process of theatre is fascinating.There is the intellectual process that you go through to make decisions about what could make your character convincing and then you try it out. And sometimes what you thought doesn’t work. Sometimes it works better than you think. And sometimes something that never occurred to you emerges in the process and you can incorporate that into the work. And that makes it very much a living organism.

Is there anything you want to say to kids coming to see the show?
Well first of all, enjoy the show! Know that live theater is a very differentexperience than watching television or film or interacting with games. We are literally going to move our bodies and air in and out of our lungs. This is what makes theater such a wonderful, powerful, and transformative art form.  Have a great time! Enjoy the show.

 

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