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The Drama League’s DirectorFest Introduce Chika Ike and Rebecca Marzalek-Kelly

The Drama League’s DirectorFest Introduce Chika Ike and Rebecca Marzalek-Kelly

Chika Ike

The Drama League (Artistic Director Gabriel Stelian-Shanks, Executive Director Bevin Ross) presents the 36th annual *DirectorFest, the only festival in the United States dedicated to the art of contemporary stage directing. DirectorFest began January 10 and concludes on February 4, 2020 at various locations around NYC: The New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher Street), The Drama League Theater Center (32 Avenue of the Americas), LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (31-10 Thomson Avenue), and Joe’s Pub* (425 Lafayette Street). For festival details and tickets, visit directorfest.org or call (212) 244-9494 x102. Industry/Theatre Professionals may request tickets by emailing DirectorFest@dramaleague.org.

The 2020 festival continues with an evening of short plays probing the complexity of relationships. The evening begins with 2019 Drama League Directing Fellow Chika Ike’s staging of The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones by Marcus Gardley, whose work — including The House That Will Not Stand (NYTW) and On The Levee (LCT) has made him “the heir to Garcia Lorca, Pirandello, and Tennessee Williams” (New Yorker).

Rebecca Marzalek-Kelly

The three-member cast of The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones includes Cherrye J. Davis as Songstress/Nurse, Martin Fisher as Deadlust Jones and Eric Lockley as Icarus Jones. The Music Director is Justin Ellington. The Stage Manager is Bonnie McHeffey. Casting by Erica A. Hart.

Chika Ike is originally from Chicago, transitioning to New York. Recent productions includeKentucky, A Swell in the Ground, Franklinland, In the Blood, No Child, and Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea, as well as assisting Rachel Chavkin on the world premiere of Dave Malloy’s Moby Dick at A.R.T. She has worked with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Playmakers Rep, Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens, About Face, Chicago Inclusion Initiative, and Chicago Dramatists. Drama League New York Fellow, former SDCF Gielgud Directing Fellow, Bret C. Harte Directing Fellow, and member of Victory Garden’s Directors Initiative. She is an ensemble member of the Gift Theatre, where she serves as the director of the 4802 New Play Residency. chikavike.com

The Drowning Girls, by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson, and Daniela Vlaskalic, directed by 2019 Drama League Directing Fellow Rebecca Marzalek-Kelly, weaves fact and fantasy through London’s infamous “Brides in the Bath” murder case, where the killer’s victims — his three newlywed wives — finally get a chance to tell their side of the story.

The three-member cast of The Drowning Girls features Rachel Claire as Bessie, Jessie Datinoas Margaret and Lisa Helmi Johanson as Alice. The Stage Manager is Rachel Kaufman. Casting by Gama Valle, Harriet Bass Casting.

Rebecca Marzalek-Kelly is originally from Vermont and Brooklyn-based. In her Drama League Fellowship, she assisted Laura Kepley at the Cleveland Play House, and will be assisting Mike Donahue at Baltimore Center Stage. Her work has been seen at BAM (Fisher), The Public Theater, PS122, BRIC House, and The Bushwick Starr. Upcoming: Radium Girls at Skidmore College, where she’s also directed Who Will Carry the Word and Let the Right One In. She was a directing observer on Hadestown with Rachel Chavkin. Three-time Leadership U(niversity) Serving the Field grant recipient with TCG and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Training: Williamstown Theatre Festival, SITI Company, SDCF Observership Class, and Skidmore College. Member, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.

Performances begin Friday evening, January 24, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. for a limited three performance engagement through Saturday evening, January 25, 2020 at The New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher Street).

The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones and The Drowning Girls play on a double-bill at each performance.

Tickets are priced at $45 Premium Seating | $25 General Seating | $20 Drama League/SDC/AEA/DG Members (a post-show talkback with the director will follow the Saturday matinee performance). Tickets may be purchased ticket by visiting directorfest.org or by calling (212) 244-9494 x102.

For additional information, please visit the website at www.dramaleague.org.


For its 36th year, the festival includes 27 actors in six fully-staged productions and a concert of a new docu-play with music. Taking place over five weeks in venues across Manhattan, highlights of the festival include all-new stagings of works by Michael John LaChiusa (Hello Again) and Harold Pinter (The Lover), revivals of rarely-seen works by Tina Howe (Appearances) and Marcus Gardley (The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones), and Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalic (The Drowning Girls), a concert of songs from the new docu-play with music byMatthew Dean Marsh and Oscar Lopez (Riot Song), and the North American premiere of a new theatrical immersive experience created by Belgian director Christian Bakalov (Pure).

Chosen last spring from over 400 applicants, the directors leading the festival’s new productions this year — NJ Agwuna, Chika Ike, Rebecca Marzalek-Kelly, Lindsey Hope Pearlman, Ben Randle, Hannah Ryan, and Mr. Bakalov — recently completed their development programs as part of The Drama League Directors Project.

The festival also includes conversations with 2017 Tony Award Winner Rebecca Taichman(Indecent), 2014 Tony Award Winner and 2010 Drama League Founders Award for Excellence in Directing Kenny Leon (A Soldier’s Play), and Intimacy Director Claire Warden (HBO’s “Mrs. Fletcher”).

The creative team for DirectorFest is: Gabriel Stelian- Shanks (Artistic Director), Bevin Ross(Executive Director), Ali Skye Bennet (Artistic Line Producer), Nilan (Associate Artistic Director), Patrick Surillo (Artistic Coordinator), Kate Holland (Production Manager), Cate McCrea (Scenic Designer), Amanda Gladu (Costume Designer), Lois Gordon (Lighting Designer), DJ Potts (Sound Designer), Calvin Stara (Technical Director), Stephen DeAngelis (Casting Director, Hello Again, and Appearances), Gama Valle/Harriet Bass Casting (Casting Director, The Drowning Girls), Erica A. Hart (Casting Director, The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones and The Lover), Justin Ellington(Music Director, The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones), Jesse Kissel (Music Director, Hello Again),Melanie Aponte (Stage Manager, The Lover), Arielle Goldstein (Stage Manager, Appearances), Rachel Kaufman (Stage Manager, The Drowning Girls), Bonnie McHeffey (Stage Manager, The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones), Karen Schleifer (Production Stage Manager, Hello Again), and Evangeline Whitlock (Stage Manager, Pure).

During DirectorFest, the featured directors will join the ranks of the illustrious 350+ alumni of The Drama League Directors Project, including Tony® Award winners Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown),Christopher Ashley (Come From Away), Rebecca Taichman (Indecent), Diane Paulus (Jagged Little Pill), Michael Mayer (Little Shop of Horrors), Sam Gold (Fun Home), Pam MacKinnon (The Parisian Woman), John Rando (On The Town), Tony Award nominees Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge!), Lila Neugebauer (The Waverly Gallery), Moritz von Steulpnagel (Bernhardt/Hamlet), andMark Brokaw88 (Heisenberg), to name only a few. Many of the nation’s prominent theaters are led by Drama League alumni directors including Ms. MacKinnon at San Francisco’s A.C.T., Mr. Ashley at La Jolla Play House in San Diego, Ms. Paulus at Boston’s American Repertory Theatre, James Bundy of Yale Repertory Theatre, Kevin Moriarty of Dallas Theater Center, Laura Kepley at Cleveland Play House, and many more.

DirectorFest is made possible thanks to the generosity of our current supporters and The Howard Gilman Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Leo Shull Foundation for the Arts, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. Subsidized studio space provided by the A.R.T./New York Creative Space Grant, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Special thanks to the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for supporting the Drama League. Drama League programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The Drama League of New York, since 1916, has been at the forefront of the American Theatre community, providing talent, audiences, and prosperous support. The Drama League advances the American theater by providing a life-long artistic home for directors and a platform for dialogue with, and between, audiences. The Drama League opens doors for exceptional stage directors by providing time, resources, and space to work without restriction, while augmenting skills through personalized training, production opportunities, and professional development. The Drama League carefully selects directors whose vision and talent are unparalleled, with a clear commitment to the craft, the field, and audiences. Through our work, The Drama League celebrates the important role theatergoers have to the future of the industry, and champions the impact theater plays in civic life.The Drama League breaks the formidable barriers that impede success in the arts. These directors, nurtured and empowered by The Drama League’s support, are trained to create the most rigorous work possible, as a live exchange between artists and audiences. In doing so, we elevate the conversation, deeply impacting theaters and their communities.

Bringing people together to celebrate difference, share experiences, and discover common ground are crucial needs served by the work of Drama League directors. This necessary cultural practice is the foundation of our shared humanity.

For additional information, please visit the website at www.dramaleague.org.

New Ohio Theatre is a two-time Obie Award-winning theatre under the leadership of Robert Lyons, Artistic Director, and Marc Stuart Weitz, Producing Director. The New Ohio serves New York’s most adventurous theatre audiences by developing and presenting bold work from today’s vast independent theatre community. They believe the best of this community, the small artist-driven ensembles and the daring producing companies who operate without a permanent theatrical home, are actively expanding the boundaries of where American theatre is right now and where it’s going. From their home in the West Village’s historic Archive Building, the New Ohio provides a high-profile platform for downtown’s most mature, ridiculous, engaged, irreverent, gut-wrenching, frivolous, sophisticated, foolish and profound theatrical endeavors. The theatre is accessible from the #1 train to Christopher St. or A, B, C, D, E, F or M train to West 4th St. For info visit NewOhioTheatre.org.

Off Broadway

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 and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. Currently she has a screenplay in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She was the Broadway Informer on the all access cable TV Show “The New Yorkers,” soon to be “The Tourist Channel.” email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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