Meeting the Marc: Intrepid Announces New Managing Director

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Marc Stubblefield, Intrepid’s new Managing Director

Starting today, the artistic leadership of Intrepid Theatre Company expands by one: veteran industry producer Marc Stubblefield has accepted the role of Managing Director, effective immediately.

“As Intrepid enters the next phase of growth, we knew it was necessary to expand our management staff with persons well-versed in navigating the success of a dynamic theatre company,” said Christy Yael-Cox, Intrepid’s Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director. “Marc’s record proves that he is capable of both supporting our progress as well as contributing to our creative output.”

Cutting his theatre management teeth in Chicago, Marc was the Director of Production and Operations at the Court Theatre for 11 years, overseeing epic projects such as The Illiad and the commission of a new adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son. He recently spent two years as Associate Production Manager at La Jolla Playhouse, helming the beloved Without Walls festival which received a Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Special Event.

“I’m thrilled to come to Intrepid at this transition point in the theater’s evolution,” says Marc. “Clearly, Christy and Sean’s artistic leadership and vision have built a strong foundation for the theatre since its inception. As Intrepid takes its next steps forward, there’s such an opportunity to support the artistic vision by finding a permanent home for the theater and building the infrastructure that will allow it to flourish in the years to come.”

As Intrepid continues its work with the City of Encinitas to establish a permanent theatre home, Marc’s input and experience will be important building blocks in helping Intrepid’s expansion unfold smartly and seamlessly. He is also eager to support the theatre’s roots as well – both in Shakespeare and in San Diego.

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The Stubblefield Family: Shannon, Emily and Marc

“Working with Intrepid will continue my long relationship with writers like Shakespeare, Shaw, and Moliere, as well as modern classics like Albee, Kushner and Wilson,” says Marc. “My tenure at The La Jolla Playhouse provided a wonderful introduction to the vibrant San Diego theater community, and I’m excited to continue that dialog as we move Intrepid into its next phase.”

Intrepid Theatre Company welcomes Marc Stubblefield and looks forward to introducing him to our family of supporters, artists and friends.

Breaking Down “Crumble”: A Conversation with Staged Reading Director Brian Rickel

crumble page“I was drawn to the kind of poignant insanity of the fantasies we create through tragedy.”

On Monday evening, Staged Reading Series Committee Member Brian Rickel brings a fresh new look at holiday dysfunction with a reading of Sheila Callaghan’s Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake), a play that Backstage has called a “post-Ionesco narrative [carrying] a wacky charm that masks roiling pain.” Performed by a cast of San Diego superstars, the reading will be held at the Encinitas Library at 6:30 pm.

Brian Rickel, Staged Reading Series Committee

Brian Rickel, Staged Reading Series Committee

Brian, who will also direct, first met this play in Chicago, as the managing director of the Dog & Pony Theatre Company, who produced that city’s premiere of the play and ultimately invited playwright Sheila Callaghan to become an artistic associate.

“It is really just a fantasy about coming to terms with death and I was very intrigued by how Sheila wrote it,” says Brian. “Once I met her, and shared a rehearsal space with her for a while, I basically fell in love with everything she’s written since.”

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Linda Libby as Mother

The story follows a mother and daughter who are still muddling through the aftermath of the father’s death a year earlier. Each are coping (or not coping) in deeply personal and often quirky ways. Lending additional voice to the insanity that anyone would be navigating in this type of a situation are Justin Timberlake, Harrison Ford and the actual Apartment where they reside, all of whom make appearances in the play.

“I very much enjoy the poetic structure of some of Sheila’s writing,” says Brian. “She seems to be able to whimsically delve into some very deep and dark parts of humanity.”

Carrie Heath as Barbara

Carrie Heath as Barbara

Bringing this whimsy to life will be Linda Libby as Mother, Adi Mullen as the daughter, Janice, Carrie Heath as Mother’s sister, Barbara, Bryan Barbarin as The Apartment and Marco Rios as Justin Timberlake and Harrison Ford.

Casting the show was a “no-brainer,” admits Brian.

Bryan Barbarin as The Apartment

Bryan Barbarin as The Apartment

“Linda Libby is one of the finest actors working in this city and Bryan has this amazing ability to float back and forth between comedy and the reality of tragic things,” he says. “Carrie has this incredible impersonation of her Mom, who is from the Chicago area, and when I hear her do this, it very much reminds me of Barbara. Marco is not afraid to make choices in the room and he brings a lot of academic prowess to his work.”

Adi Mullen as Janice

Adi Mullen as Janice

The one challenge lay in casting Janice, who is written as an 11-year-old, yet – much like Juliet – requires the emotional maturity of someone much older. Brian considered briefly casting a young adult and then remembered 15-year-old Adi Mullen from Cygnet’s production of Spring Awakening.

Marco Rios as Father/Justin Timberlake/Harrison Ford

Marco Rios as Father/Justin Timberlake/Harrison Ford

“Adi’s immensely talented and I’m excited to see what she does with the role,” says Brian.

Overall, this play brings a dark and quirky humor to the journey of these characters as they try to find their way back to their lives and each other. Sheila Callaghan’s play reminds us that that the extremities to which we “crumble” may be just as important as how we again rebuild ourselves, our relationships and our broken hearts.

Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake), a staged reading. By Sheila Callaghan. Featuring Linda Libby, Adi Mullen, Carrie Heath, Bryan Barbarin and Marco Rios. Directed by Brian Rickel. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive. Monday, August 24: 6:30 pm complimentary wine/appetizer reception. 7:00 pm reading. $15. Rsvp to boxoffice@intrepidtheatre.org and pay with cash/check at the door.

Encinitas Library

‘Full Gallop’ Runs ‘Vree’

Diana Vreeland 1979 Photo: Horst P. Horst

Diana Vreeland 1979
Photo: Horst P. Horst

“There’s only one thing in life, and that’s the continual renewal of inspiration.” – Diana Vreeland

Fashion and theatre just might have a lot in common. They both tell stories. They both reflect culture. And they are both just as influential and impactful as they are fleeting and transient. Yet, even as these two worlds continually evolve and reinvent, the creative artists who drive them endure with longevity. Fashion editor Diana Vreeland is no exception.

Full Gallop, the one-woman play based on her life, will receive a staged reading on Monday evening at the Encinitas Library, and will feature the indomitable Amanda Naughton, most recently seen in Bethany and A Doll’s House at The Old Globe,  as the iconic fashion doyenne. And, according to Intrepid Staged Reading Series Committee Member Phil Johnson, exploring Vreeland’s legacy is all about re-creation.

“The most challenging part of doing this play is that Diana is so singular and individual that capturing her spirit is difficult,” explains Phil, who will also be directing the reading. “But that’s also the inspiration. She is such an entertainer, as well as such an icon, leader and groundbreaker in both the worlds of fashion and of women in business.”

Amanda Naughton helms the one-woman show Photo: Daniel Reichert

Amanda Naughton helms the one-woman show
Photo: Daniel Reichert

Diana Vreeland began her editorial career at Harper’s Bazaar, where she started as a columnist and then became fashion editor only six months into her tenure with the magazine. She is known for giving fashion advice to Jackie Kennedy, discovering Lauren Bacall, hosting social soirees for royalty in Europe and penning regular advice in her Harper’s column “Why Don’t You?” She would stay with Harper’s for almost 30 years before accepting a position as fashion editor at Vogue, a career which would end only a decade later with her termination.

Full Gallop explores this moment in Vreeland’s life when Vogue has left her, and does so in a capacity few were ever able to experience during her lifetime, according to an interview with playwright Mary Louise Wilson for Playbill.com. Known for her intimidating manner and sharp sensibility, the play exposes a more vulnerable moment in the life of this incredibly strong and influential woman.

“Everyone was so terrified, thinking of her as some sort of gorgon,” said Wilson in this interview. “What pained her more than anything was the loss of beauty.”

Co-written with friend Mark Hampton, the two writers had always been fascinated with Vreeland and decided to take up her story soon after her death in 1989. Wilson portrayed Vreeland in the Off-Broadway incarnation in 1996. The play will receive a full production at The Old Globe this fall.

Phil attributes the longevity of this play to the ability of the writers to fully capture Vreeland in all of her eccentric glory without making her a caricature.

“I think it’s one of the best written one person plays I know of,” says Phil. “Diana Vreeland, is a fascinating artist at a real turning point in her life, and because of her strength of character she refuses to be defeated.”

Full Gallop, a staged reading. By Mary Louise Wilson and Mark Hampton. Featuring Amanda Naughton. Directed by Phil Johnson. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive. Monday, July 27: 6:30 pm complimentary wine/appetizer reception. 7:00 pm reading. $15. Rsvp to boxoffice@intrepidtheatre.org and pay with cash/check at the door or purchase tickets online.

Encinitas Library

Winter is Here: Final Week of Shakespeare Unplugged

carlsbad village night“This production just uses the words and little tiny props and the talent of those who are on the stage.”

Jacque Wilke, who plays Paulina (among other roles), in Intrepid Theatre Company’s upcoming production of The Winter’s Tale, talks about how intimacy and Shakespeare really do go hand in hand.

“It’s Shakespeare told in its most simple form,” she says. “The words are the main character here.”

Part of the ensemble of only seven actors playing over 20 roles, Jacque and her fellow performers will invoke the imaginative spirit of the audience as they bring this beloved yet complex story to life at the Carlsbad Village Theatre through August 2. The show, also the inaugural production of Intrepid’s “Shakespeare Unplugged” series, is running in repertory with Intrepid’s critically-acclaimed production of The Quality of Life.

(L-R) Jo Anne Glover, Marco Rios, Sean Yael-Cox  Photo: Daren Scott

(L-R) Jo Anne Glover, Marco Rios, Sean Yael-Cox
(Photo: Daren Scott)

“We started off as a Shakespeare company, so it’s really important to honor our roots,” says Intrepid Artistic Director and co-director of The Winter’s Tale, Sean Yael- Cox, who also plays Leontes (among other roles). “We wanted it to be very theatrical and have only a small ensemble of actors playing all of the roles with minimal props and costume changes. That way the focus is on the characters and the words.”

This “minimalizing” of the production elements actually serves to enhance the magic of Shakespeare’s storytelling, says Sean, by allowing the audience and the actors to focus solely on the beauty of the words to shape the narrative.

“This is what we wanted to do in the very beginning,” says Sean, “fill the text with our imaginations and our passion and use those tools to tell the story.”

Jacque Wilke (Photo: Daren Scott)

Jacque Wilke (Photo: Daren Scott)

The tale itself is seemingly simple, yet unfolds with the intricacy that only Shakespeare can master.

“To me, it’s a fairy tale,” says Sean. “It’s got everything in it. It’s incredibly tragic and then it makes a sharp turn and becomes fun and colorful and then, at the end, it is ultimately about forgiveness and second chances.”

Brian Rickel (L) and Danny Campbell (Photo: Daren Scott)

Brian Rickel (L) and Danny Campbell
(Photo: Daren Scott)

Knowing each actor would be responsible for three or four or five roles to make the staging of such an intricate tale successful, it is no surprise that Intrepid veteran actor Brian Rickel, last seen as Frank Lubey, part of the award-winning ensemble of All My Sons, and also a member of Intrepid’s Staged Reading Series Committee, was tapped to co-direct. Many may be familiar with Brian’s recent solo performance of Judevine – both as a special event for Intrepid and as part of the 2014 San Diego Fringe Festival – where he portrayed over 20 different characters within the one-hour narrative. Brian is no stranger to switching hats quickly and convincingly.

“I think the audience really loves seeing actors transform through small costume changes and physical shifts and vocal shifts,” says Brian, who also plays Polixenes (among other roles). “I hope the audience sees the magic in that as it pertains to the magic of the play.”

Marco Rios (L) and Erin Petersen (Photo: Daren Scott)

Marco Rios (L) and Erin Petersen
(Photo: Daren Scott)

Completing the cast of seven are Jo Anne Glover, Danny Campbell, Erin Petersen and Marco Rios.

At its heart, The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing plays, mostly because it is so many things at once. The narrative is complex yet simple, full of darkness, and yet also containing the brightest, most hopeful storytelling arcs of the canon. It’s not a tragedy, yet it carries enough weight in the opening scenes necessary to create the emotional slingshot that propel us into the final scenes.

“You’ll feel sadness, you’ll feel joy, you’ll feel love,” says Jacque. “It’s got everything in it. It’s Shakespeare.”

THE WINTER’S TALE is running in repertory with THE QUALITY OF LIFE at the Carlsbad Village Theatre (2822 State Street) through August 2. Featuring Danny Campbell, Jo Anne Glover, Erin Petersen, Brian Rickel, Marco Rios, Jacque Wilke and Sean Yael-Cox. Directed by Brian Rickel and Sean Yael-Cox. Showtimes are Tuesdays at 7:30 pm, Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and Sundays at 7 pm. Purchase tickets here. 

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‘The Quality of Life’ Rakes in the Reviews!

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CRITIC’S CHOICE!

“One stunner of a production –
a piece that’s as deeply affecting as it is exquisitely acted..”
James Hebert, San Diego Union Tribune
Read full review here.

CRITIC’S PICK!

“I urge lovers of theatre to see this amazing production.”
– Jeff Smith, San Diego Reader

BEST BET!

“A knockout production.
Thrilling…this is a production you absolutely must not miss.”
– Pat Launer, Times of San Diego

 

“A contemplative and gripping production!”

– David L. Coddon, CityBeat
 
Read full review here.

 

“Being witness to Intrepid‘s production with Yael-Cox’s direction and all-inclusive cast is nourishment for the soul…” 

– Carol Davis, Examiner.com
Read full review here.

Intrepid has proved, yet again, that they know how to deliver drama…This production will be talked about long after it closes.” 

– Jenni Prisk, Scene

Read full review here.

Tom Stephenson (far left); DeAnna Driscoll (left); Jeffrey Jones (right); Maggie Carney (far right) Photo by Daren Scott

Tom Stephenson (far left); DeAnna Driscoll (left); Jeffrey Jones (right); Maggie Carney (far right) Photo by Daren Scott

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Don’t miss our post-show panel discussions!
“The Quality of Life” Post-Show Talkback Schedule

Thursday, July 9:
Dori Salois Salerno, R.N. – Certified Geriatric Nurse Case Manager with Innovative Health Care Consultants

Friday, July 10:
San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care featuring Dr. Margaret Elizondo (Sharp Hospice Physician), Barbara Bailey (Hospice Nurse Educator), Lydia Lombardi (Vitas Hospice social worker manager) and Chaplain Caroline Flanders

Saturday, July 11th:
San Diego County Medical Society Bioethics Commission featuring Paula Goodman-Crews, LCSW, Arnie Gass, M.D., Zoe Blaylock, M.Div. and Loren Lopata, M. Div.

Sunday, July 12:
Hospice of the North Coast, featuring Colleen O’Hara (Attorney / Professional Fiduciary), Rev. Doran Stambaugh, SSC (Clergy), Charles Hergesheimer, MD (Hospice Medical Director), Jim Reiser (Bereavement Coordinator), Sharon Lutz (RN, BSN, CHPN)

Thursday, July 16:
Rev. Doran Stambaugh, SSC, St. Michael’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church

Thursday, July 23:
San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care featuring Faye Girsh, president of the Hemlock Society of San Diego, Teressa Vaughn, MPT, MHA, Sharp Healthcare and Liz Sumner, RN, BSN, MA, Elizabeth Hospice

Friday, July 24:
Jeff Zlotnik, Co-Founder of The Dharma Bum Temple and Buddhist meditation teacher

“The Quality of Life” by Jane Anderson, through August 2 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre, 2822 State Street. Tickets available here. Talkbacks will begin a few minutes after the performance. All audience members welcome. 

Continued Conversations: The Post-Show Talkback Schedule for “The Quality of Life”

“The Quality of Life” opens at the Carlsbad Village Theatre

Intrepid Theatre Company opened its first production of Season Six, “The Quality of Life,” on July 5 to a standing ovation and immediate rave reviews by audiences and critics alike. While the production – featuring the unforgettable Maggie Carney, DeAnna Driscoll, Jeffrey Jones and Tom Stephenson –  was praised for its “tour-de-force ensemble” (Bill Eadie) who ‘hold nothing back” (Jeff Smith), director Christy Yael-Cox is equally pleased by what is happening on State Street outside the theatre after the show: immediate conversation.

“This play deals with hard-hitting and contemporary issues in such a beautiful and graceful way,” says Christy. “It’s our goal to present all sides and perspectives without engaging one more than the other. We learn from experiencing each others’ reactions to the play as much as we learn from experiencing the characters’ viewpoints.”

Tom Stephenson (L); Maggie Carney (R )  (Photo by Daren Scott)

Tom Stephenson (L); Maggie Carney (R )
(Photo by Daren Scott)

In order to encourage this conversation even further, Intrepid is organizing a series of formal post-show talkbacks with experts in the fields touched upon in the play, most prominently the issue of end of life care and options. The first one will take place Thursday, July 9.

The roster of panelists include Certified Geriatric Nurse Case Manager Dori Salois Salerno, R.N., a hospice team from The San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care, representatives from the San Diego County Medical Society Bioethics Commission, Hospice of North Coast, Father Doran from St. Michael’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and a Buddhist teacher from the Dharma Bums Temple in downtown San Diego. See below for the complete talkback schedule.

DeAnna Driscoll (L); Jeffrey Jones (R ) (Photo by Daren Scott)

DeAnna Driscoll (L); Jeffrey Jones (R )
(Photo by Daren Scott)

“We are hoping that a diverse range of perspectives on this issue can help us see even further into the mindset of each of the characters in the play and engage their viewpoints on a level that is relevant to us in our everyday lives,” says Christy.

“From a relaxed, picnic-like beginning, The Quality of Life builds to an inexorable shedding of stereotypes…” Jeff Smith wrote this week in the San Diego Reader, and judging from the flock of patrons who lingered on the sidewalk to discuss the show after opening night, he was not the only one taken by the surprises this play has to offer. We hope you will join us for what we hope will be enlightening and educational post-show conversations.

“The Quality of Life” Post-Show Talkback Schedule

Thursday, July 9:
Dori Salois Salerno, R.N. – Certified Geriatric Nurse Case Manager with Innovative Health Care Consultants

Friday, July 10:
San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care featuring Dr. Margaret Elizondo (Sharp Hospice Physician), Barbara Bailey (Hospice Nurse Educator), Lydia Lombardi (Vitas Hospice social worker manager) and Chaplain Caroline Flanders

Saturday, July 11th:
San Diego County Medical Society Bioethics Commission featuring Paula Goodman-Crews, LCSW, Arnie Gass, M.D., Zoe Blaylock, M.Div. and Loren Lopata, M. Div.

Sunday, July 12:
Hospice of the North Coast, featuring Colleen O’Hara (Attorney / Professional Fiduciary), Rev. Doran Stambaugh, SSC (Clergy), Charles Hergesheimer, MD (Hospice Medical Director), Jim Reiser (Bereavement Coordinator), Sharon Lutz (RN, BSN, CHPN)

Thursday, July 16:
Rev. Doran Stambaugh, SSC, St. Michael’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church

Thursday, July 23:
San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care featuring Faye Girsh, president of the Hemlock Society of San Diego, Teressa Vaughn, MPT, MHA, Sharp Healthcare and Liz Sumner, RN, BSN, MA, Elizabeth Hospice

Friday, July 24:
Jeff Zlotnik, Co-Founder of The Dharma Bum Temple and Buddhist meditation teacher

“The Quality of Life” by Jane Anderson, through August 2 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre, 2822 State Street. Tickets available here. Talkbacks will begin a few minutes after the performance. All audience members welcome. 

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Layers of Life: “The Quality of Life” Controversies

quality script“…here’s to the magic of the stage and the beautiful impermanence of it all.” – Jane Anderson

Playwright Jane Anderson has lived many lives with her award-winning work, “The Quality of Life,” Intrepid Theatre Company’s Season Six opener which runs July 3 – Aug 2 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre. In addition to directing the play at the American Conservatory Theatre and the Geffen, she also helped mount a production at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, where she continued to “tear the second act apart and put it back together,” as she told Dramaturg Janine Sobeck. Why so much drama with this drama?

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Anderson’s writing digs deep into issues that most playwrights wouldn’t touch, while striking the perfect balance between the humanity and humor of it all. This is not an easy task to undertake, especially while navigating the specific tightropes that connect the characters in this play.

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“The Vision Fire” (Photo by Richard Blair)

“The Quality of Life” was written in 2007 and inspired by Anderson’s friends who were dealing with a potentially terminal illness in their relationship. Also influential in the telling of this story is the 1995 Mount Vision Fire in Northern California that burned over 12,000 acres. Intertwined in this narrative are these themes of loss and grief, but also of the necessity of survival.

The story follows Ohio couple Dinah and Bill who travel to Northern California to visit Dinah’s cousin, Jeannette, and her husband, Neil. Dinah and Bill are still grieving the tragic loss of their daughter and hope to provide comfort to Jeannette and Neil who have recently lost their home to fire. Additionally, Neil has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. No sooner do Dinah and Bill land on the doorstep of the yurt that Neil and Jeannette have constructed on the property of their burnt out home, that they all begin to realize how vastly different their perspectives are on a variety of issues, including religion, the afterlife and medical marijuana.

cross“In times of darkness, as humans, we tend to gravitate towards hope and towards humor,” says Christy Yael-Cox, Producing Artistic Director of Intrepid and director of this production. “Watching the characters manage those extremes are what makes this play so captivating, as well as completely relatable.”

Bringing these characters to life is a master class cast of actors: Tom Stephenson and Maggie Carney will portray Bill and Dinah and DeAnna Driscoll and Jeffrey Jones will portray Jeannette and Neil.

Medical-Cannabis1While the emotional landscape of the writing is captivating enough for audiences, also interesting is that the range of topical issues addressed in the story are still as relevant today as they were when the play was written eight years ago:

End of Life Options. In dealing with his terminal cancer, Neil shares that he plans to end his own life before the cancer becomes too painful. This is understandably uncomfortable for Bill and Dinah to grasp, and audiences might be familiar with the recent events around Brittany Maynard, a brain cancer victim and Californian who moved to Oregon in order to take the same action. Before her death, Brittany worked to bring legal change to our state, so that patients with aggressive cancers may choose to end their lives with dignity. SB 128, the End of Life Option Act, has recently been passed in the California Senate.

Medical Marijuana. With the recent legalization of marijuana in certain states, and the prevalence of medical marijuana facilities in California and San Diego, this topic can be highly charged, especially when addressing issues of cancer treatments. Bill and Neil have very different perspectives on this issue that are discussed during the course of the play.

Grief. There is no textbook to coping with loss. The post-traumatic stress of losing a child or a spouse and grappling with how to continue after such darkness can be both difficult to navigate as well as overcome. Bill and Dinah want to connect as much as they want to stay isolated. Jeannette fears the future without Neil. Is it possible for these characters to see each other through the darkest of moments and into the light?

Intrepid plans to invite speakers on both sides of many of these issues for talkbacks after select performances of “The Quality of Life.” More information will be available on the website.

“The Quality of Life” by Jane Anderson opens July 5 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre, 2822 State Street. Tickets available here

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Talking “Terrible Things”: A Conversation with Annie Hinton

after all the terrible things I doAnnie Hinton likes to take chances. At least, when it comes to theatre.

While visiting her daughter at Marquette University last fall, Annie to her to the Milwaukee Rep to see “after all the terrible things I do,” the world premiere of a new play by A. Rey Pamatmat.

“Knowing nothing about the play or the playwright, I was a wee bit nervous because our time together was short,” says Annie, an Intrepid Staged Reading Series Committee Member and director of Monday evening’s performance. “Neither of us were quite prepared for the emotional punch it delivered.”

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama and the recipient of multiple fellowships and playwriting residencies, Pamatmat’s plays have been described as “riotously funny” but also “tear-jerking,” and, specifically for this play, “masterfully realistic,” “searing,” “incredible, indescribable, infuriating, inflammatory, and intense.”

Annie Hinton directs "after all the terrible things I do" for the Staged Reading Series

Annie Hinton directs “after all the terrible things I do” for the Staged Reading Series

Annie, who admits that new works “excite her the most” and whose career has often revolved around the direction and development of new work – from growing up in the bowels of Wyoming to her early theatre life in grad school in Seattle – states that Pamatmat is absolutely “a playwright to be watched.”

“I have not been this moved/horrified/weepy in the theatre in a long time,” Annie says. “It was a room full of resounding nose snorting and a sea of white kleenexes for the last 15 minutes.”

“after all the terrible things I do” follows the story of Linda, a bookstore owner (played by Savvy Scopelleti), and David, a new employee (played by Joshua Jones), who come together in what could be considered everyday circumstances. However, as the two begin to open up about their lives and become more honest about their past, the situation becomes anything but ordinary. Or does it?

A. Rey Pamatmat

A. Rey Pamatmat   (photo by Ben Arons)

Pamatmat has spoken extensively on his inspiration for the story. “Part of writing this play was identifying how a heightened behavior like bullying and harassment is actually rooted in everyday actions and circumstances,” he told Molly Fitzmaurice of the Huntington Theatre Company, which closes a full run of the play on June 21. “I was reading all the articles that led up to the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign, and what surprised me was that there was never any real analysis of what in our society actually encourages bullying.”

It becomes clear as Linda and David work through the themes of the play, that they also have difficulty separating the norms of everyday behavior from their personal experiences of bullying and harassment.

“We have prioritized being the best, most competitive and happiest over being the humblest, most generous, and most understanding,” Pamatmat continued. “We’ve done it to the degree that division, acrimony and even violence have become the standard in our politics, our jobs and our schoolyards.”

That the theatre can create a space to talk about what is happening in our society and to cultivate conversation around what is hurting us is a powerful tool. That this issue will hit close to home for many people is a ruthless commentary on where we are as a community and how far we still need to go.

“At least once a week we hear of a tragic suicide over bullying or someone will fess up in the press to bullying a kid while in school,” says Annie. “We all have some kind of demons, things we wouldn’t want anyone to know, things that perhaps we cannot believe we actually did. At its core it is about bullying, but it speaks to me in asking the question….are you forever defined by your past? Can you get past that past, and the inner demons and self loathing to find forgiveness?

“And the greater question,” Annie continues, “should you even ask for forgiveness, because, in the end, will it really make you whole again?”

The answers, as the audience will see on Monday evening, might be shockingly surprising.

after all the terrible things I do by A. Rey Pamatmat, a staged reading. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive. Monday, June 22: 6:30 pm complimentary wine/appetizer reception. 7:00 pm reading. $15. Rsvp to boxoffice@intrepidtheatre.org and pay with cash/check at the door or purchase tickets online.

Encinitas Library

Last Call: A Conversation with “Savage in Limbo” Director T.J. Johnson

Savage in Limbo Widget2“One of my goals is to seek out plays that have that universality of the human condition.”

Antonio “T.J.” Johnson reflects on his choice to include Savage in Limbo, John Patrick Shanley’s homage to the dark nights of the soul that can only be found in the wee hours of a Bronx bar, in this year’s Staged Reading Series lineup. The play will be read on Monday evening at the Encinitas Library.

“I was cast as Murk in a New York reading of this play and I was very impressed by the diversity of the cast and how the story was not affected by that diversity,” says T.J., who will direct the reading with a smart and savvy cast, including Sherri Allen, Bryan Barbarin, Carol Cabrera, Jeffrey Jones and Jennifer Eve Thorn.

Antonio "T.J." Johnson

Antonio “T.J.” Johnson

This universality is one of the things that drives this playwright’s work. Well known for his recent Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Doubt, even in this early play, Shanley drives home themes and situations that resonate regardless of race, background or geographical location. Everyone can relate to the fight to prove the truth of one’s own instincts against a sea of opposition. Everyone can relate to the realization that one’s life direction might be unclear, or in limbo.

“There are no heroes. There are only human dealings,” says T.J., explaining that while Shanley introduces these themes, he very rarely becomes didactic in his writing. “He leaves the conclusion to the journey of the individual in the audience. I think the debates go on into the night.”

Although Savage in Limbo was written 30 years ago, the play’s urgent message to “break the sameness” is still just as relevant, and watching the story of these 30-somethings unfold as they attempt to solve their life problems over booze and banter is a testament to the theatrical power of the bar setting to elicit truth-telling.

“I am intrigued by plays set in bars,” admits T.J. “A lot of truths are spoken there, such as in O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. Turning points are reached as the truth serum flows. Lies are exposed and feelings may be hurt, but always with the right intentions. We get to witness it and live in New York for a short time with these characters.”

Part of what makes this invitation to the party so realistic is the powerful accuracy of Shanley’s dialogue. D.C. Theatre Scene reviewer Steven McKnight commented that “few people can write successfully for realistic characters in such a lyrical manner. Shanley can be fiercely funny or brutally honest while still maintaining compassion for the lovable losers that populate many of his works.”

This realism, while effective, can also present a challenge to the actors as they work to capture the various tempos, rhythms and speech patterns of their characters.

“As this is one of his early plays, Shanley has fun with snide New York dialogue delivered in rapid pace,” says T.J. “We have to trust that dialogue and find the rhythms.”

Join us Monday evening, and enjoy a glass of wine as you find your own reserved seat at the bar. The company is guaranteed to entertain.

Savage in Limbo by John Patrick Shanley, a staged reading. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive. Monday, May 18: 6:30 pm complimentary wine/appetizer reception. 7:00 pm reading. $15. Rsvp to boxoffice@intrepidtheatre.org and pay with cash/check at the door or purchase tickets online.

Encinitas Library

Life is a Sueño: A Conversation with Staged Reading Director Stephen Schmitz

Sueno Widget“Poetry, language and a little irreverence…”

Director Stephen Schmitz gives a nutshell synopsis of José Rivera’s Sueño when asked what audiences can expect from Monday evening’s installment of the Intrepid Staged Reading Series at the Encinitas Library. Rivera’s play, adapted from Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s 1635 play, Life is a Dream, takes the words of Spain’s answer to William Shakespeare and breathes contemporary life into the hundred-year-old narrative.

“Rivera’s ability turn a phrase, moving from the profound to the crass at a moments notice, and to find poetry in the mundane, is just wonderful,” says Stephen. “The first thing I told my cast was I wanted to language to shine above all else in this reading.”

Stephen Schmitz, Sueño director

Stephen Schmitz, Sueño director

The story follows the journey of the hero, Prince Segismundo, who is imprisoned at a young age when astrologers predict that he will be the ruin of his father’s kingdom. From inside his captivity, he consorts with a colorful cast of characters until his father, unable to find another heir, releases him for one day to determine whether or not his son is fit for the monarchy. Moving from isolation to court and back, Segismundo begins to question what part of life is real and what part is all just a dream. As Segismundo questions, we all begin to wonder the same thing.

“I don’t think there is a more essential question about life and the human condition we can imagine than ‘What is this? What are we experiencing? What are we supposed to do with this life? How much control do we have?’” says Stephen. “Our lives and philosophies have become so complex, perhaps the playwright is reminding audiences to simplify their lives. Return to the basics, if you will: Be just, be kind, and stop trying to control everything.”

José Rivera, a Fulbright scholar, two-time Obie Award winner and Oscar Nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries, manages to combine these themes of Calderón’s original work while keeping the language relevant and accessible. That is what originally drew Intrepid Staged Reading Series Committee Member Brian Rickel to the play.

Brian Rickel, Staged Reading Series Committee

Brian Rickel, Staged Reading Series Committee

“I’ve worked on a lot of his plays either in class or as a teacher,” says Brian. “I am really drawn to some of the social arguments he forces people to examine. Sueño is probably the one that I’ve spent the least amount of time with but touched me the most when I saw it performed and I wanted to share that experience.”

Bringing these irreverently philosophical characters to life on Monday night will be Joel Castellaw, James Cota, Jerry Hagar, Shane Monaghan, Charles Peters, Erin Petersen, Derek San Filippo and Kristin Woodburn Wright.

Not up on your Calderón? Not to worry, says Stephen.

“The original allegory should shine through so much, it will give the audience a deeper understanding of their current condition.”

Even if it is “spiced,” as American Theatre says of Sueño, “with science, sarcasm and sweetness.”

Sueño by José Rivera, a staged reading. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive. Monday, April 27: 6:30 pm complimentary wine/appetizer reception. 7:00 pm reading. $15. Rsvp to boxoffice@intrepidtheatre.org and pay with cash/check at the door or purchase tickets online.

Encinitas Library