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New York Stage and Film Announces Their Summer Season



New York Stage and Film, considered “one of the preeminent incubators for theater in the country,” returns July 9-August 7 for five weeks of in-person programming in Poughkeepsie for their 2022 Summer Season. For 38 years, NYSAF has operated as a vital incubator for artists and their work, a catalyst for stories that continue across the country and around the world. All tickets are $25 and go on sale June 1.

This summer’s artists include May Adrales, Shariffa Chelimo Ali, César Alvarez, Sarah Benson, Elisa Bocanegra, Steve H. Broadnax III, Marc Bruni, Diana Burbano, Deborah Cowell, Julia Doolittle, Keelay Gipson, Lily Houghton, Sheryl Kaller, Eric Lockley, Katie Madison, Tre Matthews, Marya Mazor, Don Nguyen, Steph Paul, Josh Radnor, Keenan Scott II, Leigh Silverman, and Anna Deavere Smith.

With artist-driven flexibility, NYSAF offers resources and opportunities to meet projects at every step of their development. Its summer season supports the nation’s leading generative artists and boldest creators of innovative and groundbreaking stories for the stage and the screen. In partnership with Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater and Marist College, NYSAF serves the needs of theater and film artists today, bringing them safely together in community to generate new stories and reconnect with one another and audiences.

“New York Stage and Film is thrilled to be expanding our relationships and scope of work this summer,” said Artistic Director Chris Burney (He/They). “Our long-term relationship with Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater and our growing relationship with Marist College provide more opportunity for artists to develop and share their stories.”

New York Stage and Film’s 2022 Summer Season:

New Play Workshops:

The World Is Silent Written by Don Nguyen, Directed by Marya Mazor, Presentations July 15, July 16, and July 17 at Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater

Don, an astrophotographer, returns home to reconnect with his estranged Vietnamese father only to discover that the communication gap between them has grown even wider in the wake of his father’s recent deafness. Hoping that sign language will provide a bridge to overcome that distance, Don begins taking lessons. But the closer he gets to being able to communicate with his father, the further he seems to get from actually understanding the man, leaving Don to realize that mastering a language means very little if you’re not willing to speak from the heart. Performed in English, Vietnamese and Sign Language, The World is Not Silent is a multilingual play that explores how language simultaneously divides and unites us.

Don Nguyen (He/Him) was born in Vietnam, grew up in Nebraska and currently lives in NYC. Full-length plays include The Supreme Leader (Dallas Theater Center), Hello, from the Children of Planet Earth (The Playwrights Realm), Red Flamboyant(Firebone Theatre), Sound (Azeotrope/ACT), The Commencement of William Tan (Yale Cabaret), The Man From Saigon (A.C.T New Strands Festival), and The World is Not Silent. Recipient of the 2015 GAP Prize from the Aurora Theatre and a NYSAF Founder’s award. Finalist for The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, The Princess Grace Award, and The Woodward International Playwriting Prize. Nominations include: the Laurents/Hatcher award and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award. Don was a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group, The Civilians inaugural R&D Group, and a frequent volunteer at the 52nd Street Project.

Marya Mazor (She/Her) is an award-winning and critically acclaimed director based in Los Angeles. Marya’s February 2020 production of Fun Home won the Los Angeles Ovation Award for Best Production of a Musical. Her numerous stage productions have received multiple LA Times Critic’s Pick designations, Ovation Award Nominations, and Stage Raw Award Nominations. She has directed for The Geffen Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Long Wharf Theater, and many other venues in New York, Los Angeles and regionally. Marya was a National Endowment for the Arts TCG Fellow and an AFI DWW fellow. She directed the digital series, “Sophie in Hollywood,” now airing on Asian American Movies. Her AFI Directing Workshop for Women short film “The Winged Man” was lauded at festivals worldwide including ComiCon. She directed the Broadway scale Disney’s Aladdin for Disney Cruise Lines. Marya was co-founding Artistic Director of Voice & Vision theater in NYC, developing the voices of women and girls. She holds an MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama and has taught at Chapman University, the University of Southern California, Fordham University, Saddleback College, and others.

Sweet Chariot Developed with The Movement Theatre Company Presentations July 22, July 23, and July 24 at Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater: Written by Eric Lockley, Directed by Shariffa Chelimo Ali

When the prospect of a far off place called Home seems more appealing than the terrors of Earth, Marcus, a down and out teacher, launches himself on a journey across planets and centuries. Marcus risks everything, and a dysfunctional space crew will stop at nothing to discover Home. But as they encounter mysterious alien figures, Afro-Bots, and a very uncertain future, Home may not be all that they expected. SWEET CHARIOT is an Afrofuturistic exploration of the sorted line between escape and resilience, posing the question: is true liberation only possible for Black people beyond Earth?

Eric Lockley (He/Him) is an OBIE award-winning actor, writer, comedian, filmmaker, producer and podcast host. Stage: #DateMe, Choir Boy, How We Got On Screen: First Reformed, Luke Cage, The Inheritance Eric’s comedic web series Blacker is featured on “Best Web Series” lists and his short film, The Jump is available on Amazon. Eric’s plays including Blacken the Bubble and Without Trace and his solo shows, Last Laugh and Asking For More have been on stages in Chicago, DC, Texas and New York. Lockley was Head Writer for the inaugural awards ceremony, The Antonyos, celebrating Black Theater in 2020. His inspirational podcast, The 180, features guests of many industries discussing a moment when they turned their lives around, and is available on all streaming platforms. Lockley is also a founder of and produces with Harlem-based orgs, The Movement Theatre Company & Harlem9 creating opportunities for artists of color. EnGarde Arts commissioned Eric to create a walking tour that will mix fact and fiction to create a unique experience of Downtown Manhattan. The tour premieres in June 2022.

Shariffa Chelimo Ali (Director) is an international creative leader committed to advancing radical change through the power of art and activism. Originally from Kenya and raised South Africa, Shariffa has been a New York resident since 2013, working primarily as a director, community organizer and academic. As a filmmaker, Shariffa’s works have been featured at acclaimed film/VR festivals & institutions worldwide including Sundance Film Festival (USA); Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (South Africa); Brooklyn Film Festival (USA); Pan African Film Festival (USA); Electric Africa VR festival (South Africa) and DOK Neuland (Germany). As a theatre artist and academic Shariffa has directed taught at NYU, Brooklyn College, Yale University and Princeton University where she currently is a faculty member in the Theatre Program. Past theatre productions include Eclipsed, Detroit ’67, Intimate Apparel, We Are Proud to Present…and an original new musical called We Were Everywhere. Shariffa’s Off-Broadway and Regional Theatre credits include Mies Julie (Classic Stage Company), School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Pittsburgh Public Theatre), The Copper Children, (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and Mlima’s Tale (St Louis Rep). Shariffa served as Assistant Director to her mentor Cynthia Nixon for plays Rasheeda Speaking, Steve (The New Group) and Motherstruck! (Culture Project). Shariffa was the executive consultant to Ms. Nixon during her TV directorial debut in episode 106 of HBO Max’s And Just Like That, the sequel to the hit series Sex and the City. In 2022 Shariffa was named Elizabeth M. Swayzee Artist in Residence at Miami University where she will be curating the inaugural Black Roots Festival in the spring of 2022.

Tell Them I’m Still Young Written by Julia Doolittle Directed by May Adrales Presentations July 28, July 29, and July 30 at Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater

Allen and Kay are approaching 65 when their only daughter is killed in a car crash. Now parents without children, the two struggle to renegotiate their identities and their marriage, as the entrance of two young people revives a painful longing for what’s been lost: their family and their futures.

Julia Doolittle (She/Her) is a playwright and screenwriter raised in Los Angeles. Her plays include The Absentee (Know Theatre, Semi-finalist Relentless), Tell Them I’m Still Young (NYSAF, American Theatre Group starring Andre Braugher and Michele Pawk), and Love and Contracts (Writers Theatre, South Coast Rep dir Moritz Von Steulpnagel). Her work has also been seen at Victory Gardens Theatre, Portland Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Sam French Off-Off Broadway Festival, Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre, The Tank, Tiny Rhino, Urban Stages, and Rogue Machine Theatre. She’s a proud recipient of the Elizabeth George Commission from South Coast Rep, a finalist for the Neukom Award, a semi-finalist for the O’Neill Summer Conference, and a finalist for the Heidemann Award at the Humana Festival. She is a member of the Obie-Award winning playwrights’ group, Youngblood.

May Adrales (She/Her) is a director, artistic leader, teacher and mother; she has directed over 25 world premieres nationally, most recently at Second Stage (Rajiv Joseph’s Letters of Suresh) and MTC (Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone). Awards include: Ammerman Award at Arena Stage; TCG’s Alan Schneider award for freelance directors; Denham fellowship; New Generations Grantee. Fellowships: Drama League Directing, Van Lier, WP Lab Director, SoHo Rep Writers/Directors Lab, and New York Theater Workshop directing. She served in artist leadership positions at Milwaukee Rep; The Playwrights Center; The Public Theater; and The Lark. She is currently the Director of the Theatre Program at Fordham University. MFA, Yale School of Drama.

New Musical Workshops:

The Return Of Youngblood Book By Keenan Scott II Music and Lyrics by Keenan Scott II & Tre Matthews Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III Presentations: July 23 and July 24 at Marist College

After a five-year trek to become the next Supreme Ruler upon the death of his grandfather, Prophet, Young Boy finds himself in an unfamiliar home as he’s soon reunited with his best friend and first love only to find out that his grandfather wasn’t the man he once thought him to be.

Keenan Scott II (He/Him) is a playwright, poet, actor, director, and producer of original work from Queens, New York. His work has been workshopped and produced at notable theaters such as National Black Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Arena Stage and Woolly Mammoth. His critically acclaimed piece ‘Thoughts of a Colored Man’ world premiered at Syracuse Stage for their 2019-2020 season and transferred to Baltimore Center Stage to finish its regional run, before settling at the Golden Theater during the 2021-2022 Broadway Season, where he made his writing and unconventional acting debut. Scott was chosen to be a part of the 2021 TED Fellow cohort to be among a global community of artists, inventors and scientists. His latest work The Migration LP and new original musical The Return of Young Boy is currently being developed at New York Stage and Film, while his other stage plays are in various stages of development. He is a part of the creative team of the miniseries A Luv Tale by Sidra Smith, now on BET+. He is also developing an array of projects for television and film, currently developing a pilot with UCP of NBCUniversal and adapting a novel by JJ Bola called The Selfless Act of Breathing with BRON Studios.

For Tre Matthews (He/Him), art serves as a vehicle through which he uses to stimulate people’s feelings through a cohesive blend of thought-provoking lyrics, topics and visuals that tug on the heart strings of the human heart. Michigan native, Tre Matthews is a creative swiss-army knife as it relates to the world of audio-visual production. A seasoned multimedia visionary, Tre manifests his artistry to audiences as a hip-hop artist, songwriter, music producer, audio engineer and video director and editor. After graduating from American University in 2009, Tre began working at a local recording studio where he wrote and produced songs for some of Washington DC’s top unsigned artists as well as filmed and edited television and video productions for national campaigns for the US State Department, BET, Voice of America and other DC based companies. With an eclectic appreciation that spans the vast spectrum of artistic expression and innovation, Tre founded “Be.Leave.”, an inter-media brand focused on delivering the highest quality content in music, film, fashion, tech and musical theater. His current work, a musical entitled: The Return of Young Boy, a collaborative effort with Broadway Playwright Keenan Scott II is currently being developed at New York Stage and Film.

Steve H. Broadnax III (Director). Thoughts of a Colored Man (Broadway); Katori Hall’s 2021 Pulitzer Prize premiere The Hot Wing King at The Signature Theatre; Lee Edward Colston’s The First Deep Breath at Chicago’s Victory Garden Theatre (Premiere and Winner of Jeff Awards Best New Work); Dominique Morisseau’s Blood at the Root at the National Black Theatre (Winner of Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Theater Creator Award) and William Jackson Harper’s premiere Travisville at NYC Ensemble Studio. Ensemble Studio Theatre member and serves as the Associate Artistic Director at People’s Light Theatre and a Professor of Theatre at Penn State University; Co-Head of MFA Directing.page4image12785472

Additional Credits include:

Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Hattiloo Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Chautauqua Theatre Company, People’s Light Theatre, Apollo Theatre NYC, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Atlantic Theatre NYC, Detroit Public Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, The Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix, AZ, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Moore Theatre in Seattle, Market Theatre Johannesburg SA, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, National Arts Festival in South Africa, and The Adelaide Arts Festival Australia.

The Potluck By César Alvarez Directed by Sarah Benson Presentations July 29, July 30, and July 31 at Marist College

On November 3, 1979 five communist labor organizers were murdered in broad daylight in the streets of Greensboro, NC by a group of KKK and Nazis. All five of the victims had committed their lives to fighting the rule of the capitalist class. The murders had been planned and supported by paid informants of the Greensboro Police and agencies within the U.S. government. One year later in Greensboro, César James Alvarez was born into the survivor community and named after two of the victims, César Cauce and James Waller. Thirty-six years after that an “entertainment” company paid César to write a musical about the Greensboro Massacre, but it turned into a seance full of ghosts and queerness and feelings and some stuff about how to recuperate from trauma that happened to you before you were born, and also capitalism.

César Alvarez (They/Them) is a composer, lyricist, playwright, and performance maker. They create large experimental musicals as non-normative possibility spaces for embodiment, inter-dimensionality, socio-political transformation, kinship and coexistence. With a background as a jazz saxophonist, band leader and sound artist, César’s work inhabits a space between the worlds of theater, music, performance art and social practice. César has written five full-length musicals, Futurity (2016 Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical); The Elementary Spacetime Show; The Universe is a Small Hat; Noise (a commission of The Public Theater); and The Potluck. César also composed the music for Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon (Soho Rep, TFANA. Drama Desk Nomination), and The Foundry Theater’s Good Person of Szechwan (LaMaMa, The Public Theater. Drama Desk Nomination). In 2015 César co-founded Polyphone, a festival of new and emerging musicals at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and served as Artistic Director for five seasons. César was a 2018-20 Princeton Arts Fellow, 2020-22 Hermitage Fellow, a recipient of The Jonathan Larson Award in 2016, the Kleban Prize for lyrics in 2022 and is currently under commission at Playwright’s Horizons and Denver Theater Center. César is an Assistant Professor of Music at Dartmouth College.

Sarah Benson (She/Her) is a theater director based in New York City and one of the three Directors of Soho Rep. Recent credits include: Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Fairview (Soho Rep, TFANA, Berkeley Rep, play awarded Pulitzer Prize for Drama); Suzan-Lori Parks’ In The Blood (Signature Theater) for Soho Rep: Richard Maxwell’s Samara with music by Steve Earle; César Alvarez and The Lisps’ Futurity (ART, Walker Arts Center and in New York with Ars Nova, Lucille Lortel Outstanding Musical, Callaway Award for Direction); Branden Jacobs- Jenkins An Octoroon (Soho Rep, TFANA; OBIE Best Play); Lucas Hnath’s A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney; Sarah Kane’s Blasted (OBIE award for direction, Drama Desk nomination); and David Adjmi’s Elective Affinities with Zoe Caldwell (site-specific). She is a Vilcek Foundation awardee and moved to New York from London on a Fulbright. She also directed the award-winning 2019 Skittles Superbowl commercial Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical (Town Hall).

Sun Songs Presentations: August 5, August 6, and August 7 at Marist College Music & Lyrics by Katie Madison Book by Deborah Cowell

Revolve…evolve…to solve the question. Depart and start to chart a new answer. Only for you, the answer isn’t just what you do, the answer is who you are! So who are we? SUN SONGS is an existential musical from the universe reminding us that we are all, ultimately, stardust. Seamlessly bringing musicians into the narrative, SUN SONGS by Deborah Cowell (book) and Katie Madison (music & lyrics) is an ensemble piece that follows two entities of light trying to find their place in time. Guided by their ancestors and a “narrator” of sorts, their relationship to the natural world inspires memories they thought they had lost. From the past through the present, inspiring endless possibilities of the future, we re[turn] to learn who we are is never far from who we were and who we’ll be. who we’ll be. You, like me…see.

Katie Madison (She/Her) is a composer, writer, director, producer, and vocalist based in the Canarsie and Munsee Lenape land known as Brooklyn. She is a 2021 Jonathan Larson Award finalist, and was recently seen in conversation with New York Times best selling author Ibi Zoboi debuting a digital commission she produced with Kweli Journal. Katie is part of the inaugural cohort of the Hi-ARTS Artspace Exchange Program in collaboration with the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts. She is a 2021 New York Stage and Film Founders Award finalist, and was one of three featured emerging artists in the 2021 Crossroads Theatre Genesis Festival. In August of 2021, Katie used her New York City Artist Corps Grant to produce, direct and perform in a concert of her work at the historic Weeksville Heritage Center. She was chosen by The Downtown Alliance in collaboration with En Garde Arts and The Tank to re-open New York City in their first live performance post pandemic. Katie was a Critical Breaks Resident with Hi-Arts in April 2021 developing her show Sun Songs. Her

show [ taking ] space was a 2019 Sundance Theatre Lab finalist.

Deborah Cowell (She/Her) is an editor, writer, and digital artist. Working primarily with black and white photography, video, and film, Deborah has had recent work commissioned by Kweli Journal (March 2022), the University of Michigan School of Musical Theater and Dance (November 2020), Hi-Arts (May 2021), The American Opera Project (June 2021). Her work has been featured by The Weeksville Heritage Center (August 2021), Judson Memorial Church (June 2020), The Downtown Alliance in collaboration with En Garde Arts and The Tank. She is currently building a portfolio of black and white candid portraits and still life in and around local Black, Queer musical theater artists developing new works and New York City at large. Debbie has documented the development of shows such as Bye Bye Self-Love Hello Pop-Tarts by Daniel James Belnavis, Spirit in the Vine(words by Jay St. Flono & music by James Dargan), Homecoming (music by Jarrett Murray, book & lyrics by Katie Madison), [ taking ] space (book, music & lyrics by Katie Madison), Sun Songs S (music & lyrics by Katie Madison) and other untitled works in development. Cowell is a product of the public school system, first grade

through graduate school.

Play Reading Weekends: July:

Nuestro Planeta: A Colombia Project Written by Diana Burbano Devised and Directed by Elisa Bocanegra Commissioned by Hero Theatre Presentation: July 9 at Marist College

Diana Burbano (She/Her) a Colombian immigrant, is a playwright, an Equity actor, and Literary Manager of Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble. Diana’s play Ghosts of Bogota, won the Nu Voices festival at Actors Theatre of Charlotte in 2019. Ghosts was commissioned and debuted at Alter Theater in the Bay Area in Feb 2020. Sapience was a Playground-SF 2020 Winner and was featured at Latinx Theatre Festival, San Diego Rep 2020. Fabulous Monsters, a Kilroys selection will premiere at The Public Theatre of San Antonio, featuring the music of FEA in 2023. She was in Center Theatre Group’s 2018-19 Writers Workshop cohort and is in the Geffen’s Writers Lab in 20-21. She has worked on projects with South Coast Repertory, Artists Repertory Theatre, Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble and Center Theatre Group and Livermore Shakespeare Festival. Diana recently played Amalia in Jose Cruz Gonzales’ American Mariachi at South Coast Repertory and Arizona Theatre Company, and Marisela in La Ruta at Artists Repertory. See her as Viv the Punk in the cult musical Isle of Lesbos. She is the current Dramatists Guild Rep for Southern California.

A young Colombian American scientist, Alondra travels back to her family’s homeland of Colombia after her mother’s passing. Her goal is to study the country’s rich biodiversity. Through her informative and often comedic travels, she discovers the healing power of nature and the deeper meaning of returning “home.” This play is the first commission of NUESTRO PLANETA, a ten-year-long new works initiative based on environmental justice and stories of climate change in Latin America.

Elisa Bocanegra (She/Her) is the founder of HERO Theatre, which she started with the help of her mentor, Olympia Dukakis. She is a Fulbright Scholar and the current Pfaelzer Award winner at NYSAF, where she was also part of the NEXUS program. Elisa won the TCG Leadership U Grant, the nation’s largest grant of its kind. This allowed her to be part of the Leadership Team at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for two seasons. Her stage directing credits include Troy, a modern retelling of The Trojan Women about women and homelessness. She directed Troy and worked alongside Kilroy List playwright Amina Henry in the development. Bocanegra and Henry are recent recipients of an NEA Award. Other directing credits include Festival Irene: A Tribute to Playwright Maria Irene Fornés, The Floating Island Plays by Eduardo Machado, and a new screen and stage project called Nuestro Planeta, which focuses on educating Latinx audiences about environmental justice within the Americas. As an actor, she can be seen on season two of Apple TV’s Physical, starring Rose Byrne, and will be returning for season three. Her first film, Girlfight, won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film at The Sundance

Film Festival.

My Brother Is Better At Love Than Me Written by Lily Houghton Directed by Leigh Silverman Presentation: July 9 at Marist College

Lily Houghton (She/Her) is a twenty-six-year-old playwright born and raised in Manhattan. Her plays have been produced/developed at MCC Theater Company, Atlantic Theater Company, EST/Youngblood, NYU, Seattle Repertory Theater, Normal Ave, The Flea Theater, Yale, Contemporary American Theater Festival and Jermyn Street Theatre in London. She has won two Sloan Foundation Science Grants, the Elizabeth George Grant and was awarded the Launch Commission from the Atlantic Theater Company. She is a proud member of the Obie winning Youngblood at EST. Lily currently has television projects in development at Amazon with Blake Lively’s B for Effort, Sister, Rebelle Media, Dakota and Elle Fanning’s Lewellen, Belletrist and Temple Hill. She loves her brother, Henry.

Leigh Silverman (Director). Her A New Play By Josh Radnor Directed by Sheryl Kaller Presentation: July 9 at Marist College Josh Radnor (Playwright). He can currently be seen in the acclaimed Amazon series Hunters co-starring alongside Al Pacino with Jordan Peele executive producing. On television, Radnor is best known for his leading

At a neuro-diverse summer camp tucked in the woods of the Catskills, teenage camper Hank gets swept up in his first summer love– immediately transfixed by fellow camper and dog lover Ella. The only problem– his bossy yet rebellious younger sister Ruth has decided to join the camp as a counselor this year, really hindering Hank’s studliness and getting herself into all sorts of trouble with toxic lifeguard Roger, who is unfortunately afraid of the water and fish of all kinds. Based on her brother’s real life first summer love, My Brother Is Better At Love Than Me highlights a new kind of romantic lead, ultimately revealing which sibling is actually teaching the other the most important lesson of all– how to love.

Lily Houghton (She/Her) is a twenty-six-year-old playwright born and raised in Manhattan. Her plays have been produced/developed at MCC Theater Company, Atlantic Theater Company, EST/Youngblood, NYU, Seattle Repertory Theater, Normal Ave, The Flea Theater, Yale, Contemporary American Theater Festival and Jermyn Street Theatre in London. She has won two Sloan Foundation Science Grants, the Elizabeth George Grant and was awarded the Launch Commission from the Atlantic Theater Company. She is a proud member of the Obie winning Youngblood at EST. Lily currently has television projects in development at Amazon with Blake Lively’s B for Effort, Sister, Rebelle Media, Dakota and Elle Fanning’s Lewellen, Belletrist and Temple Hill. She loves her brother, Henry.

Leigh Silverman (Director). Her Broadway credits includeGrand Horizons(2ST; Williamstown Theater Festival); The Lifespan of a Fact (Studio 54); Violet (Roundabout Theater Company; Tony nomination);Chinglish(Goodman Theatre; Longacre);Well(Public Theater; ACT; Longacre). Recent Off- Broadway: SUFFS (Public Theater); The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (Shed); Soft Power (Public Theater; Ahmanson Theater/ Curran Theater; Drama Desk nom); Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb); Hurricane Diane (New York Theatre Workshop; Two River Theater); Harry Clarke (Vineyard Theatre/Audible, Minetta Lane; Lortel nom); Wild Goose Dreams (Public Theater; La Jolla Playhouse); Sweet Charity (New Group); On The Exhale (Roundabout); The Outer Space (Public Theater). Encores: Bring Me to Light; Violet; The Wild Party; Really Rosie. 2011 Obie Award and 2019 Obie for Sustained Excellence.

A New Play By Josh Radnor Directed by Sheryl Kaller Presentation: July 9 at Marist College

How do we learn to forgive? When two people are brought together after the death of a creative genius, they must confront the myth of their idol and the limits of their own ability to forgive. In this new play by Josh Radnor, the lies we tell ourselves can be more painful than the lies we tell each other.

Josh Radnor (Playwright). He can currently be seen in the acclaimed Amazon series Hunters co-starring alongside Al Pacino with Jordan Peele executive producing. On television, Radnor is best known for his leading role as ‘Ted Mosby’ on CBS’ groundbreaking Emmy nominated series, “How I Met Your Mother.” Additional television credits include Lou Mazzuchelli on “Rise” (NBC), and Jedediah Foster on “Mercy Street.” (PBS). Film: Joey Soloway’s Afternoon Delight alongside Kathryn Hahn and Juno Temple, Theresa Bennett’s Social Animals (Paramount). Upcoming Film & TV: Fleishman is in Trouble (F/X/Hulu), 3 Birthdays (dir: Jane Weinstock), All Happy Families (dir. Haroula Rose). Radnor has also made his mark as a director and writer. His film, Liberal Arts, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was later released by IFC. His directorial debut, HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE, debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Favorite U.S. Drama. Radnor has appeared on stage in a number of theatrical productions, including Little Shop of Horrors at The Kennedy Center; the world premiere of Richard Greenberg’s The Babylon Line at Lincoln Center; the Broadway production of Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Disgraced; Roundabout Theatre Company’s special one-night-only gala reading of She Loves Me; the Ovation Award-winning world premiere production of Jon Robin Baitz’s The Paris Letter; and his leading role as the title character in Terry Johnson’s Broadway stage adaptation of the 1967 film The Graduate. In addition, Radnor debuted as a playwright with Sacred Valley, which premiered at the Mainstage of Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater. He also makes music with Aussie musician Ben Lee as Radnor & Lee. They released their second album, “Golden State,” on Flower Moon Records in 2020. His solo EP “One More Then I’ll Let You Go” was released in the spring of 2021. And he recently recorded a double album in Nashville (EULOGY: VOLUMES 1 & 2) which will be released later this year.

Sheryl Kaller (Director). Some recent productions include A Walk on the Moon at George Street Playhouse, Bliss by Tyler Beattie and Emma Lively at Seattle 5th Avenue Theater and The White Chip Sean Daniels at 59 E. 59. She directed Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-nominated play on Broadway, Mothers and Sons with Tyne Daly. Sheryl received a Tony Award nomination for Best Director for the Broadway production ofNext Fallby GeoffreyNauffts. Other projects include Frozen for Disney Cruise Lines, Our Town with Deaf West Theater and Pasadena Playhouse and Sacred Valley by Josh Radnor at NYSAF. The world premieres of Billy Porter’s playWhile I Yet Live Alive (Barrington Stage and Kansas City Rep), Roundabout Theater Company’s Underground production of Too at Primary Stages, Nick Blaemire’s A Little More Much Too Much Too Many, by Meghan Kennedy, and the LCT3 production ofMr. Joy, by Daniel Beaty. She’s is currently in collaboration with playwrights Marilyn Ness, and Josh Radnor, among others.


Demons Written by Keelay Gipson Directed by Steph Paul Presentation: August 6 at Marist College

When the death of their patriarch draws family members home, they must reckon with grief and the haunting realities that death often brings to the surface. A surreal dark comedy, demons is a meditation on the reality of growing older, of losing a parent, and that ever-elusive quest to exorcise the trauma a family can pass down through the generations.

Keelay Gipson (He/Him) is an Afro Surrealist writer and teaching artist whose plays include demons. (JAGFest @ Dartmouth), The Red and the Black (O’Neill Finalist), #NEWSLAVES (Princess Grace Finalist), imagine sisyphus happy (P73 Summer Residency @ Yale), Mary/Stuart, a dramatic queering of friederich schiller’s classic play (BAM Next Wave Festival), The Lost Or, How to Just B (Kernodle New Play Award). AWARDS: NYSAF Founders’ Award, Barrington Stage Spark Grant. FELLOWSHIPS: Victory Gardens Playwrights’ Ensemble, Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists, Lambda Literary New Voices, Playwrights Realm, Dramatist Guild Foundation. RESIDENCIES: MacDowell, City of New York Public Artist in Residence (PAIR), The Hermitage Artist Retreat. His work has been developed/supported by Roundabout, The Old Globe, Artist Repertory Theater, Bushwick Starr, New York Stage and Film, Ars Nova, National Black Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights’ Theater, Classical Theater of Harlem, and New York Theatre Workshop.

Steph Paul (She/Her) is a director/choreographer who clears space for uninhibited physical truth. What comes up must come out. She weaves together her lived experience as a first-generation Haitian-American, body percussionist, dancer, athlete and is passionate about art as a means to build a team. Most recently, she directed and choreographed The Royale by Marco Ramirez at Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Up next, she will choreograph the world premiere musical Shook by Alexis Scheer and Zoe Sarnak, directed by Maggie Burrows, at Northern Stage and co-direct How to Defend Yourself by Liliana Padilla with Rachel Chavkin and Liliana Padilla at New York Theatre Workshop. Recent theater credits include The Last Match (Writers Theatre), America v2.1 (Definition Theatre), Where the Mountain Meets the Sea (Humana Festival), Richard III (Shakespeare Theatre Company), The Wolves (Studio Theatre – Helen Hayes Award Winner, Outstanding Choreography in a Play), Learning Curve (Albany Park Theater Project, Third Rail Projects). International credits include Royal Opera House Muscat and National Theatre of Scotland. Steph is an Artistic Associate of Chicago Dance Crash, a proud member of SDC and a 2021 Princess Grace Award-winner. She is also a lover of acai bowls and improbable comebacks.


Modern Gentleman Written by Preston Max Allen Presentation: August 6 at Marist College

After his partner of five years abruptly ends their relationship, 28-year-old Adam must navigate the world of dating for the first time since coming out as a trans man. But Adam’s hopes for a fresh start are quickly derailed when a chaotic new girlfriend, the return of his ex, and long-ignored personal demons force him to finally confront his complicated relationship to his own identity.

Preston Max Allen (He/Him) is a playwright, composer, and lyricist whose work has been featured at the New Amsterdam Theatre, Lincoln Center, Signature Theatre, Musical Theatre Factory, Chautauqua Institution, Feinstein’s/54 Below, and Joe’s Pub. Preston conceived and wrote book, music, and lyrics for the 2019 Off- Broadway musical We are the Tigers (album now streaming); Agent 335 (dramaturgy/co-book Jessica Kahkoska); and The Rage: Carrie 2, An Unathorized Musical Parody (Jeff Nominee, Best New Musical). Additional musical collaborations include A Very Netfl*x Christmas Musical: Now Streaming Live! and Amy Adams Wins an Oscar(books by Edward Precht). Plays:Modern Gentleman(2020 Pride Plays Festival) and Caroline (2021 Ars Nova Out Loud). Preston is a member of the Writers Guild of America East, the Ars Nova Play Group (2019-21), and an alum of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop. He is currently developing a TV series with Freeform and recently staffed on an upcoming series for FX. @prestonmaxallen

Love All Written by Anna Deavere Smith Directed by Marc Bruni Presentation: August 7 at Marist College

Love All tells the story of the rise of tennis icon Billie Jean King against a backdrop of the social upheaval and countercultural revolutions of the 1960s. A tale of tough competition on the court and gritty teamwork in the world, it asks what it takes to be a champion and what more it takes to change the course of history.

Anna Deavere Smith (She/Her) is a playwright and actress. She’s credited with having created a new form of theater. Her works for the theater are composed of excerpts of hundreds of interviews. They tell stories about contemporary issues from multiple perspectives. Plays and subsequent films include Fires in the Mirror and Twilight Los Angeles, Let Me Down Easy, and Notes From the Field about the school to prison pipeline. Movies include Philadelphia, The American President, Rachel Getting Married and Billy Crystal’s new movie Here Today. Television: “Inventing Anna,” “The West Wing,” “Nurse Jackie” and “Black-ish.” President Obama awarded Smith the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She’s the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, several Obie awards, and the George Polk Career Award in Journalism. She was a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize and nominated for two Tony Awards. She’s a professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has several honorary doctorate degrees including those from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Spelman College and Juilliard. She received an honorary doctorate from Oxford last fall.

Marc Bruni (He/Him) directed the Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award winning Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway, in the West End, US/UK Tours, and in Australia, winning the Helpmann and Green Room Awards for Best Direction of a Musical. Bruni’s other directing credits include: Trevor the Musical (Off Bway- Stage 42, Writers Theatre), The Explorers Club (Manhattan Theater Club), The Tale of Despereaux (With PigPen Theatre Co.- Old Globe Theatre, Berkeley Rep), Old Jews Telling Jokes (Westside Theatre and Royal George in Chicago- Jeff Award nom for Direction), Hey, Look Me Over!, Paint Your Wagon, Pipe Dream and Fanny for NY City Center Encores!, The Music Man, How to Succeed.., and 50 Years of Broadway (Kennedy Center), Roman Holiday: The Cole Porter Musical (Golden Gate), The Sound of Music (Chicago Lyric Opera), Other People’s Money (Long Wharf-CCC Nom for Direction), I Hate Hamlet (Bucks County Playhouse), Presto Change-o (Barrington Stage), Ordinary Days (Roundabout Underground), and seven shows for the St. Louis MUNY including Singin’ in the Rain, My Fair Lady, The Music Man and The Sound of Music (Two Kevin Kline Nominations). He also directed the eight episode streaming musical A Killer Party. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and member of SDC.

Founded in 1861, Vassar College (Elizabeth H. Bradley, President; Ed Cheetham, Powerhouse Theater Program Producing Director) is a highly selective, residential, coeducational liberal arts college. Consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country, Vassar is renowned for pioneering achievements in education, for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the beauty of its campus. The College makes possible an education that promotes analytical, informed, and independent thinking and sound judgment; encourages articulate expression; and nurtures intellectual curiosity, creativity, respectful debate and engaged citizenship. Vassar supports a high standard of engagement in teaching and learning, scholarship and artistic endeavor; a broad and deep curriculum, and a residential campus that fosters a learning community. Vassar strives to pursue diversity, inclusion, and equity as essential components of a rich intellectual and cultural environment in which all members, including those from underrepresented and marginalized groups, are valued and empowered to thrive.

Located on the banks of the historic Hudson River and at its Florence, Italy campus, Marist College is a comprehensive, independent institution grounded in the liberal arts. Its mission is to “help students develop the intellect, character, and skills required for enlightened, ethical, and productive lives in the global community of the 21st century.” Marist is consistently ranked among the best colleges and universities in America by The Princeton Review (Colleges That Create Futures and The Best 386 Colleges), U.S. News & World Report (3rd Most Innovative School/North), Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (“Best College Values”), and others. The College is top-ranked for long-term study abroad (#3 in the U.S.) by the U.S. State Department’s Open Doors report. Along with the College’s prestigious reputation as a whole, it also boasts a robust Arts and Music scene for its students and the community. Marist offers more than 15 academic programs in music and arts including Art History, Digital Media, Studio Art, Music, Theatre, and its world-renowned Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising programs, ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Colleges That Are Shaping The Future of Fashion.” Marist also provides a wide range of non-academic opportunities in the arts, such as over 15 College- and student-run music ensemble groups and the Marist Theatre program and performances. The College also operates the Institute for Data Center Professionals, which provides individuals and corporate teams with skills- based education and credentialing to support the data center and enterprise computing environments of the future. Marist educates more than 5,000 traditional-age undergraduate students and 1,400 adult and graduate students in 47 undergraduate majors and numerous graduate programs, including fully online MBA, MPA, MS, and MA degrees, and also Doctor of Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant programs.

New York Stage and Film is a not-for-profit company dedicated to artists developing new stories for theater, film and beyond by supporting responsive processes and by providing a home for artists free from critical and commercial pressures. Since 1985, New York Stage and Film has been a vital incubator for emerging and established artists and their work, a catalyst for stories that start with us and continue across the country and around the world. Through this work, NYSAF has established itself as a vital cultural institution for residents of theHudsonValleyandtheNewYorkmetropolitanregion. TheNewYorkTimescallsthecompanya“formidable breeding ground for new work,” and dozens of notable works trace their developmental roots to NYSAF, including the Tony Award winners Hamilton, Hadestown, Side Man and The Humans; Broadway productions such as American Idiot, Head Over Heels, Junk, Bright Star and Diana; and Pulitzer winners and finalists such as Doubt, The Wolves and Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.

The 2022 Summer Season is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts; by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathleen Hochul and the New York State Legislature; by funding from Dutchess Tourism and administered by Arts Mid-Hudson; and by leadership support from the Shubert Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and the Board of Directors of New York Stage and Film.

All tickets are $25 and go on sale Wednesday, June 1. Complete casting and Artists-in-Residence to be announced at a later date. For more NYSAF summer season information, visit

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:

Out of Town

A Dancing Dolly 



Hello, Dolly! is a 1964 musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, which Wilder revised and retitled The Matchmaker in 1955. The musical follows the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi, a strong-willed matchmaker, as she travels to Yonkers, New York, to find a match for the miserly “well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. The show, directed and choreographed by Gower Champion and produced by David Merrick, moved to Broadway in 1964, winning 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. These awards set a record which the play held for 37 years. The show album Hello, Dolly! An Original Cast Recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. There is no denying that Jerry Herman never wrote a bad song and that you will go home singing at least one if not several of these wonderfully tuneful songs.

In this neck of the woods, Stephen Casey is well-known for his high- stepping choreography and in the Act II production of Hello, Dolly!, he does not disappoint. Everyone in this show dances. The dance numbers are many and lengthy. And The Waiters Gallop number at the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant is especially applause worthy.  The pared down chorus is just as proficient at singing as they are at dancing. And the small stage at Act II is ingeniously used to give an appearance of a much bigger space. Jenny Eisehower is a very lively and likeable Dolly Levi, in contrast to Scott Langdon’s delightfully cantankerous Mr. Vandergelder. Ms. Eisenhower’s statuesque height plays well off the shorter Mr. Langdon.We know she is a woman who is always in control. Elyse Langley displays a mature soprano rendering of “Ribbons Down my Back” as Irene Malloy. Lee Slobotkin is quite endearing as Barnaby Tucker and Jeremy Konopka is a young Tommy Tune with his longer than you can believe it legs.

The costumes by Millie Hiibel were bright and playful and worked in tandem with the simple set design by Dirk Durossette. The score is fully orchestrated though, unfortunately it’s in the “can” which for me takes away from the excitement you get from a live musical.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the show as much as I would have had the minor characters not been instructed or simply encouraged to mug to the audience. Every time this happened it brought me right out of the show. In 1812’s producton of The Play That Goes Wrong many of the actors were mugging their pants off and playing it over the top — but they were forgiven because they were supposed to be a terrible community theatre company.

And yet, if you like Jerry Herman and a lot of dancing you will enjoy this show and understand why it’s been revived so many times.

Tickets are available online at, by calling the Act II Box Office at 215-654-0200, or in-person at the Box Office at 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, PA. The Box Office is open Mon-Sat, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Student tickets are $15 and group discounts are available.

Hello, Dolly! Directed and Choreographed by Stephen Casey. Running now through June 18, 2023 at Act II Playhouse                                                                     56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, PA 19002

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Out of Town

The Sound Of Music Celebrates Opening Night at The John W. Engeman Theater



The John W. Engeman Theater’s production of The Sound Of Music opened last night, Saturday, May 20th. The final collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein was destined to become the world’s most beloved musical. Featuring a trove of cherished songs, including “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do Re Mi,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” and the title number, “The Sound of Music” has won the hearts of audiences worldwide.

The cast of The Sound of Music

The children of The cast of The Sound of Music

Caitlin Burke

Caitlin Burke

The cast features Caitlin Burke as Mother Abbess(National Tour: The Sound of Music; Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse, McCarter Theater Center, North Shore Music Theatre, Meadow Brook Theatre, New York City Center)

Matthew Bryan Feld

Matthew Bryan Feld

Matthew Bryan Feld as Max Detweiler (Engeman: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; National Tours: Vocalosity; Regional: DCPA, Portland Center Stage, West VA Public Theatre, Derby Dinner Playhouse; TV/Film: “Manifest,” “Power,” “Fashionista”);

Angel Reda

Angel Reda

Angel Reda and Matthew Bryan Feld

Angel Reda as Elsa Schraeder (Broadway: The Cher Show, War Paint, Chicago; National Tours: Chicago, Sweet Charity; Regional: Oriental Theatre/, Goodman Theatre, Goodspeed, Pasadena Playhouse; TV/Film: “Ghost,” “The Undoing,” “Sami,” “Isn’t It Romantic”, “Stepford Wives”)

Tim Rogan

Tim Rogan

Tim Rogan as Captain Von Trapp (Engeman: Thoroughly Modern Millie; National Tours: Camelot, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; Regional: Alliance Theatre, The Muny, Arena Stage, Cape Playhouse; TV/Film: “Physical”, “Blue Bloods”, “The Other Two”, “The Flight Attendant”)

Kayleen Seidl

Tim Rogan, Kayleen Seidl

Kayleen Seidl as Maria Rainer (Off-Broadway: Harmony: A New Musical, Fiddler on the Roof; National Tour: Guys and Dolls; Regional: Westchester Broadway Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, Actors’ Playhouse at Miracle Theatre, Heartland Opera Theatre).

Tyler Hechtis 

The Sound Of Music is directed and choreographed by Drew Humphrey (Engeman Theater: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Oklahoma, Mary Poppins, A Chorus Line, Singin’ in The Rain, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Guys and Dolls, 42nd Street, and Gypsy)

Mandy Modic and Drew Humphrey

and choreographed by Mandy Modic (Engeman Theater: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; National Tours: 42nd Street; Regional: The Marriott Theater, Drury Lane Theater, Chicago Shakespeare, Paramount Theater, The Wick, Mill Mountain Theater).

Music Director Tom Vendafreddo joins with the band that includes Ben Kiley, Joe Boardman, Jill Boardman, Joel Levy, Bob Dalpiaz, Russell Brown and Jim Waddell

Tom Vendafreddo (Musical Director)

Tyler Hecht and Laura Park

Harrison Drake

Dane Agostinis

Kayla Kennedy

Liam Polani

Gina Naomi Baez

Christopher Morrissey

Finn Brown

Claire Daly

Micaela Maio

Oliver Cirelli

Evelyn Engelmann

Sadie Mathers

Cassidy Gill

Paige Mathers

Layla Turnier

Quinn Oliver Lessing

Quinn Oliver Lessing, Paige Mathers, Liam Polani, Finn Brown, Cassidy Gill, Kayla Kennedy, Laura Park, Layla Turnier, Evelyn Engelmann, Sadie Mathers, Micaela Maio, Claire Daly and Oliver Cirelli

Laura Park

Christopher Isolano

Max Desantis

Iann Allred

Tiffany Furicchia

Nicole Weitzman

Lauren Gobes

Amanda Hunter-Finch

Kayleen Seidl with Evelyn Engelmann, Sadie Mathers, Layla Turnier, Oliver Cirelli, Paige Mathers, Quinn Oliver Lessing, Laura Park and Kayleen Seidl

Finn Brown, Liam Polani, Micaela Maio, Claire Daly, Kayla Kennedy, Cassidy Gill, Laura Park, Kayleen Seidl and Tim Rogan

Mandy Modic (Choreographer/Associate Director), Tim Rogan, Kayleen Seidl, Drew Humphrey (Director) and Tom Vendafreddo (Music Director)

The Cast and Creative Team of The Sound of Music

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Out of Town

The Rage of Narcissus Rages On at Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto




The music pulls us into the looking glass, just like Narcissus was drawn to the reflective image of himself that would end up being his downfall. It’s a compelling and robust formulation, layering in Greek mythology around a sex-fueled obsession, gifted into a hotel room, not by the goddess of revenge, Nemesis, an aspect of Aphrodite, but by the app called Grindr. In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter, known for his beauty, and somewhere, in The Rage of Narcissus, a one-person show written by Sergio Blanco (Darwin’s Leap; Slaughter), the hunter becomes the hunted, or at least that is what we are supposed to initially find ourselves believing.

I is an other,” we are reminded in neon, as the one-man show starts off casually, with Matthew Romantini (Ghostlight’s The Boys in the Band) entering and speaking directly to us. He’s going to tell us a tale, a narrative, that mixes reality and fiction. He isn’t the person standing before us, at least not for the majority of the monologue that isn’t one. He, the actor, is about to transform himself into Sergio, the playwright who is going to, inside his compelling and sometimes difficult text, weave an autofiction around one particular terrifying and disturbing week in Toronto. Sergio, the character who may (or most likely is not) be the same who wrote the script, has arrived at his hotel so that he can give a lecture later that week at the University, all around the idea of Narcissus and the artist. He’s quite a proud creature, rattling off his intellectual successes, well, like a narcissist treating us to a long list of his grand accomplishments. It’s somewhat distancing, yet it is a blurring of self and the other, and once Romantini finally unzips himself and slips into the reflective pool of Sergio, he digs in and meanders around a formulation that is part autobiography and some pretty forceful and harrowing fiction. It’s Greek mythology with blood stains, and a whole lot of graphic sex tales to either engage or distract. Depending on your tolerance.

Matthew Romantini in The Rage of Narcissus. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

It’s a somewhat compelling dynamic, and Romantini delivers an appealing and engaging presence, even when the tale falls victim to far too many banal exchanges, grand gesturing, and circular twisted reflections. Unfolding on a set designed by Renato Baldin (Caminos Festival’s Rocking Futures), alongside art director Marcelo Moura Leite with strong, sometimes overwhelming lighting choices by Brandon Gonçalves (Nightjan’s Back and Forth The Musical) and a clear sound design by Julián Henao, the textual thriller inches forward through a sex-fueled obsession, splattered with mystery and abstractionisms, cut with intellectual curiosities and fabrications.

Looking into the mythology of its namesake, the structuring starts to engage and layer in on its paralleling, just like the myth’s ideas around falling in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, staring at it until one dies. Yet in Blanco’s rendering the central figure and the other start to seem less real and more hypnotically wrapped up in one another, fantasy, and form. There’s a blending and a blurring of lines and boundaries, playing with the idea of reality and fantasy, and sometimes extreme delirious nightmares. The character of Sergio is enamored, fixated on the utterly handsome and sexy Grindr hookup that takes place that first afternoon, and even though he tries to reject the sexual advances, he can’t seem to shake the hypersexual images and urges that surround and envelop him as the week runs forward. But the blurring compromises the situation, and we are left rolling around in the eroticism and wondering if is it really just a mirroring of a need, foreseeing the obvious outcome, that starts to form like blood stains on the carpet and walls? Or is it a death sentence waiting to be delivered by oneself fulfilling prophecy.

Playing out with a teasing sense of urgency by director Marcio Beauclair (Producer, Director/Adaptation), The Rage of Narcissus finds shared terror in its dismemberment, hinting at darkness while playing with the disorder that sliced with horrific, highly sexualized poetry. It’s super smart and entangling, this formulation, playing with truth and fiction in a way that we get tricked into not seeing the autofiction as it is being played out. It’s disturbing in its rawness and overt narcissism, yet we get caught up in the unraveling and the hypertension of the moment. It digs into the mystery and makes us forget our sense of place and time. He tricks us with his vision of his own sexual sense of self, the character, and the story. It pushes us away, at points, lulling us into not caring, but then forces us back in, playing with the tale within another, and wrapping itself in shifts of light and dark that make us see the distortion rather than the true reflection. It reflects back a vision, one we might not fully enjoy seeing, but it delivers the goods dramatically, almost traumatically, sending you out into the streets wondering and thinking about Greek mythology and the narcissistic world we live in. Take that as a cautionary tale, a story dismembered of truth and packed up in a duffle bag ready to teach by counter-example.

Matthew Romantini in The Rage of Narcissus at Theatre Passe Muraille‘s Backspace May 17-28, 2023. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

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The Sound Inside Captivates at Toronto’s Coal Mine Theatre




Bella slips in quietly, tasking us to keep up and give in. She paints a solid visual standing center stage and speaking directly to us, revealing layers of dynamics that are just “so good, it enrages me“ We can’t help staying tuned in, thinking and listening to The Sound Inside, as Moya O’Connell (Shaw’s Middletown) digs into her portrayal of Bella, the writer and teacher at the center of Coal Mine Theatre‘s impressively deep and profound production. Spinning the chair hypnotically, she expands our vantage point outward and inward all at the same time. Freeing up the velocity of thought inside the inevitable, this is what is on hold and delivered out within Adam Rapp’s (Nocturne, Noble Gases) delicious play, and as directed with sure-footed wisdom and expertise by Leora Morris (Coal Mine’s Knives in Hens), the piece expertly floats forward in segments, delicately ushering in the ideas of encapsulated loneliness and the acceptance of praise that resides within, ever so quietly. O’Connell gives us an intense complication that grabs hold brilliantly, even as she exists alone scribbling words of inspired wisdom when they overtake her. It makes us wonder, is this a tale manufactured under the trees late at night, or a reckoning of deep desperation, tasking us to weigh in and lay down with her in the snowy drifts.

The dynamic elegance of the ever-shifting piece, designed with an impeccable eye for distant focus by the dynamic Wes Babcock (Matchstick’s The Woodcutter), with detailed costuming by Laura Delchiaro (Shaw’s Gem of the Ocean), incredibly subtle, yet intense lighting also by Babcock, and engaging music and sound design by Chris Ross-Ewart (Stratford’s Hamlet-911), draws us in without pushing or prodding. “You can ask me something else“, states the defended and uncomfortable, as the performative nature of an intimate conversation told in a narrative structure keeps us guessing where we truly are standing and where we are going. It never gives anything away, nor holds our outreached hand as we move forward into the unknown, and it is all done with such strange intimate power by an expert cast that breathes it all in poetically.

Moya O’Connell and Aidan Correia in Coal Mine Theatre’s The Sound Inside. Photo by Tim Leyes.

It’s truly captivating in its desperate loneliness, and you can’t take your eyes or ears off her for a moment, that is until the diabolically designed Christopher, beautifully embodied by the devilishly talented Aidan Correia (Touchstone’s’s Yaga) makes his appearance, without an appointment. He’s blown in wildly, as if from a cold snowy field to shift the life of a professor who didn’t know she needed the jolt. They both leans in, giving us more illumination in their stance than most can give in a soliloquy. Correia dynamically rises to her unspoken challenge, giving us a character of undeniable boyishly handsome complications that unsettles and intrigues. His ‘Old Yeller’ reduction and his storytelling of a young man’s train ride journey into internal discovery stop us in our tracks, just as it does to the unexpected complicated Bella. We can’t help but want to look deeper into that painting, or sneak a quick peek at the next paragraph, desperately wanting to understand, while enjoying the unknown and the unexplained.

Basking in the hallowed spotlight, the perfect formulations slowly fill in the tense details of what lies in The Sound Inside. Is she writing her new novel, speaking it out loud to the tree gods for approval, or is she telling us her tale so we may understand or maybe even collude with her? Or is it something more obscure? It’s hard to tell. In some ways, you don’t want to know is the only possible response that one can truly give. That’s the quandary where we find ourselves. Balancing on one of the most beautiful wrought entanglements, we navigate a thin line of understanding hidden in the layers that exist most definitively in and upon more layers. Is it all just creation, or a story of truth and confession? Are there footprints in the snow leading us somewhere? Suffice to say that there is nothing clumsy about The Sound Inside, as the two come together in a way that will haunt your imagination as you try to make sense of the imagined and what’s written. “Count to 30“, and tell me. I do have my own conclusion, but it doesn’t have to be the right or only one. Which is just so much more perfect than an obvious idea told loudly or energetically…

Moya O’Connell and Aidan Correia in Coal Mine Theatre‘s The Sound Inside. Photo by Tim Leyes.
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The Chinese Lady on Dynamic Display at Crow’s Theatre, Toronto




She sits, silent and still, full of hope, staring out as we file in to music that doesn’t quite fit the frame. We take in the visual like a crowd observing a caged peacock, delighted and intrigued, as a man sweeps the ground around her. She is newly arrived, this Chinese young woman tells us, sold for service to be displayed like a rare creature in a gilded cage. She performs with precision for the entitled colonial crowds who gasp and gaze at the exotically crafted foreigner so unusual that they gladly pay for this kind of overt exhibition. She is Afong Moy, perfectly and dynamically portrayed by Rosie Simon (Factory Theatre/ fu-GeN’s acquiesce), playing a role within a frame, presenting an ethnicity for the sole sake of cultural curiosity, hoping it will make a difference. But the air doesn’t feel right within the square, as it becomes more disturbing with each timely rotation. The years tick by as we watch with a growing sense of discomfort The Chinese Lady diving deeper and deeper into the muck of America at its worst.

Written with an expert force by Lloyd Suh (The Far Country), The Chinese Lady, now playing at Crow’s Theatre in Toronto by Studio 180 Theatre and fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company, finds power and force in the unraveling of this distinct form of scientific racism over years of confinement. It engulfs it most delicately inside a sideshow format that emphasizes the barbaric structure that has basically imprisoned the first Chinese woman to set foot on U.S. soil. And if that doesn’t bring forth discomfort, I’m not quite sure what would. Afong Moy is just 14 years old when we first are introduced to her with the help of her irrelevant manservant and guard, Atung, played with a deep sense of purpose by John Ng 伍健琪 (fu-GEN Theatre’s CHING CHONG CHINAMAN). She is alone and basically enslaved within this artifice, delivered from her now-faraway family in Guangzhou Province in 1834, and indebted to her ’employers’, although she is never paid nor is her debt ever fulfilled. She has been put on display within these four impenetrable, yet barless walls so that crowds of European Americans (a fine and brilliant distinction from Indigenous Americans) as “The Chinese Lady” to be gawked at and exploited for twenty-five cents per adult, ten cents per child.

Rosie Simon in Studio 180’s The Chinese Lady at Crow’s Theatre, Toronto. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Next, I will eat and you will watch me“, she tells us, at first with a smile in an attempt to please, but as she winds her way through the country over decades, her celebrated sideshow experience dampens that put-upon smile, and the darkness of what is being done to her starts to envelop the stage. The framework is startling, making the applause prompted by Atung most uncomfortable and disconcerting, as if we are in on the gawking and part of the problem. And maybe we are. We are being pushed forward, into examining our role in the voyeuristic imprisonment of this woman, and with each passing year, the sentence of her servitude deepens our distress and expands our understanding of this horrific type of racism and exploitation. The “cultural importance” of her presentation, all smiles and bows, shreds its luster as we follow The Chinese Lady down an alarming dive deep into the cultural acceptability of this enslaved exploitation as we begin to witness the darkening of her mind.

The play is a compellingly disturbing unpacking, and as directed with a simple sharp grace by Marjorie Chan 陳以珏 (Gateway Theatre’s China Doll), The Chinese Ladynever lets us off the hook, pushing forth the horrors of what this country has down to women of color, whether Black, Asian, Indigenous, or otherwise. We can’t look away, not from the formulation beautifully crafted by set designer Echo Zhou 周芷會 (Studio 180’s My Sister’s Rage), with delicately determined lighting from designer Kimberly Purtell (Studio 180’s Oslo), perfectly executed costuming by Jung-Hye Kim (Factory’s Praire Nurse), and solid sound and compositions by Gloria Mok 莫嘉詠 (fu-GeN’s Walk the Walk), nor can we not see the cultural importance of how “the story goes…

Rosie Simon and John Ng in Studio 180’s The Chinese Lady at Crow’s Theatre, Toronto. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

They speak of a story that is better and more beautiful than the truth, living made up inside a deep desperate dream of China. We watch the pair live in too much hope, with little reality, and no literal hold on the truth, executing a vision that is less Chinese than the reality that they struggle to remember. Inside the director’s notes, Chan compares “Afong Moy’s relatively more ‘humane’ exhibition to the horror of ‘human zoos’ where individuals were enslaved in harrowing circumstances and put on display in often hostile surroundings.” This is an idea that horrifies beyond anything that my mind is able to comprehend. I couldn’t stop thinking of my own personal discomfort as a child when taken to the Zoo, watching imprisoned animals living out their existence in a pseudo-reality that was formed to mimic something that it was most definitely not, freedom and a true space to roam. And to fully understand the actual truth of her situation (from reading the articles made available on Studio 180’s webpage for The Chinese Lady, like this one: Afong Moy: Uncovering the History Behind The Chinese Lady), the immense weight of the abusive imprisonment of Afong Moy just gets heavier and heavier.

We are set up, in the most profound and wise manner by a playwright who has captured history and executed its design perfectly, implanting us unbeknownst as ‘cultural connoisseurs’ and ‘voyeurs’ of an uncomfortable sort, and forcing us to bear witness to the caging of The Chinese Lady. The result is upsetting, disheartening, and completely outstanding, as we sit playing out our roles seating in front of her subjugation. It’s all for the sake of some brutal inhumane cultural curiosity by a privileged colonial class who we know will eventually tire of her, and toss her away when something more exotic is presented for their amusement. Yet, this play holds us tight and never lets us look away from the barbaric curated exhibition of systematic racism and the exploitation of The Chinese Lady, the first of her kind in America. I did not know anything about Afong May and her zoo-like treatment before seeing this play, and it’s true what my theatre companion said of the play that “it’s a sobering reminder of some of the atrocities of the past against Asians in North America.” A telling that I will never forget. Worth its weight in gold and coin.

It is a beautiful thing to look at something long enough to really understand it. But it is so much more beautiful to be looked at long enough to be understood“. – The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh.

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