Skylar Astin, Krysta Rodriguez, and More to Star in Theresa Rebeck’s “What We’re Up Against” Off-Broadway
Adrienne Campbell-Holt is set to direct Rebeck’s dark comedy of gender politics this fall.
Adrienne Campbell-Holt (Dry Land, Empathitrax) will direct a cast lead by Teen Choice Award winner Skylar Astin (Pitch Perfect, Spring Awakening), Jim Parrack (True Blood, Of Mice and Men), and Krysta Rodriguez (Spring Awakening, Trial & Error, Quantico).
The four-week limited engagement will kick off October 28, with an opening night set for November 8. The play will run through November 26 at WP Theater (2162 Broadway).
Further casting will be announced at a later date.
Written by Rebeck in 1992, What We’re Up Against premiered in San Francisco nearly 20 years later and has since gone on to have acclaimed regional productions. The play is set in a small architecture firm, where new recruit Eliza is struggling to get a foothold; it is billed as a “darkly funny and all-too-relevant comedy of gender politics.”
“We’re delighted to have this ferocious and sharp play at WP this fall,” says Lisa McNulty, producing artistic director at WP Theater. “Theresa’s words are just as potent and relevant now as they were when the play is set, and we couldn’t be prouder to work with her and WP Lab alumni Adrienne, giving new life to this story.”
“Now more than ever it is vitally important for stories of women to be told, and it is particularly exciting to share What We’re Up Against, which is filled with Theresa’s extraordinary warmth, passion and humor,” added Jenna Segal of Segal NYC Productions. “I’m so pleased to be teaming up with WP Theater on this incredibly important piece of theater and to continue this crucial dialogue.”
The production will feature scenic design by Drama Desk Award nominee Narelle Sissons (All My Sons, How I Learned to Drive), costume design by Lortel Award nominee Tilly Grimes (Small Mouth Sounds), lighting design by Grant Yeager (Now. Here. This), and sound design by Lortel Award winner M.L. Dogg (Oh, Hello on Broadway; Here Lies Love). Casting is by Kelly Gillespie, C.S.A.
Tickets for What We’re Up Against are now on sale via WPTheater.org/tickets, or by calling (212) 765-1706.
A work by Monica Bill Barnes warrants certain expectations. It will be humorous, it will be fun and, despite your cynical self, you will laugh.
But the first time she and her longtime dance partner, Anna Bass, showed their creative producing director what they had been working on in private — the seed of their newest piece — he was perplexed.
“Honestly, you did all these moves for like an hour,” Robert Saenz de Viteri told the two over coffee in a cafe near their Manhattan storage unit. (Ms. Barnes loves props.) He was trying to muster a kindly expression. “But the moves were so repetitive and rigorous,” he continued, “and there was an aggressive personality to it.”
No, this one wasn’t the least bit fun.
Ms. Barnes, whose company’s motto is “bringing dance where it doesn’t belong,” has no interest in boring people, but she does want to make them think. She recalled her response to Mr. Saenz de Viteri: “I said in a slightly defensive voice: ‘I’m not in the mood to make something fun. Come on Anna, let’s go!’”
They went — and kept at it. The resulting show, “One Night Only (Running as long as we can),” will be Monica Bill Barnes & Company’s Off Broadway debut when it opens in previews on Saturday, Sept. 9 at the WP Theater. For just over an hour, “One Night Only” will explore — through sports and, of course, highly refined choreography — the aging body, something Ms. Barnes, 44, and Ms. Bass, who will turn 40 during the run, are all too familiar with.
“We are athletes,” Ms. Bass said. “We’re also well over the age of retirement.”
Lisa McNulty, the theater’s producing artistic director, said the piece was not only about using the language of sports to describe the life of a dancer, but also about investigating “what it means to live a life of physical pursuit, and the beauty and the tragedy of that.”
And it’s still funny. Ms. Barnes is capable of that rare thing in modern dance: appealing to a broad audience.
Her recent hits include “Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host,” created with Ira Glass of “This American Life”; and “Happy Hour,” an immersive office party that features Ms. Barnes and Ms. Bass dressed as men. In “The Museum Workout,” a collaboration with the author and illustrator Maira Kalman, Ms. Barnes and Ms. Bass lead participants on a two-mile trek — part guided tour and part workout — through galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
There, the idea was to create a way for people to be physical in a museum, which had the potential to change their experience of looking at art. (It was a success: The show has also been extended into December.)
In “One Night Only,” there is as much rigor and repetition as there was in its early iteration, but, Ms. Barnes said, they found the humanity in it. “That’s so much why I think humor feels useful and not just fun,” she said. For her, laughter is a sign that audience members are paying attention. “They understood something,” she said, and they also feel like, yeah, I’ve had a similar experience.”
In the show, Mr. Saenz de Viteri plays the announcer, improvising large parts of his script. Ms. Barnes and Ms. Bass engage in competitive running, spinning and the snapping of fingers.
CreditVincent Tullo for The New York Times
If Mr. Saenz de Viteri sensed a no-nonsense approach in their performance early on, he chalked it up to how this show in particular speaks to the reality of their lives: Their bodies require hours of maintenance and training.
“The culture believes there is a limitation to how long you can do this kind of thing for your job and to be onstage performing dance,” he said. “How do we make that interesting? Both because of the movement and because of that idea, we just started talking about athletes and sports.”
The collaborators began to consider how different the world of sports is from that of dance, though in both practitioners tend not to talk or to play a character but to move. That realization resulted in the question for the piece: How can you create an emotional arc around movement?
“Can you open up an audience to feel like they want to jump out of their seats at one moment?” Mr. Saenz de Viteri asked. “Or even boo, and feel like something is totally failing onstage? And can this movement that is so athletic lead us into a direction that creates a totally different relationship with an audience?”
There’s a personal experience buried in the work too. Ms. Barnes’s father was a marathon runner. “He’s in his late 70s now and has always had heart disease,” she said. “He isn’t running anymore.”
But she said that he was an inspiring athlete: “I couldn’t keep up with him. Even in high school, he was always outrunning me and I just felt like, God, if I could get as strong as my dad, I would be really strong.”
His speed began to dissipate until finally she was the one running faster. “Just seeing him and experiencing his frustration with not having the ability to be physical — I can only imagine his feeling,” Ms. Barnes said. “And I think being 44 and feeling so strong right now and having such a physical memory of how strong he was at 44 — there’s something about an understanding of how this is temporary.”
As she sees it, the severity of her early movement experiments for the show was something of a test. “Can we run in place for this entire song as fast as we can?” she asked. “We can. Great. Can we throw our right shoulder 800 times to this really fast song? We can. Great. It felt like I was setting up physical tasks.”
While those moments are no longer in the show — as Ms. Barnes put it, “who wants to watch that?” — they played an important part in creating it.
While “One Night Only” does have an end date (Oct. 8), the plan is to perform it as if each night were its last. And there will not be a point at which the show is frozen — meaning in a final version and ready for critics.
“I keep putting my fingers in my ear and going la la la la la,” Ms. McNulty said. “I’m a realist and I know that this company works outside of the traditional frame of a theatrical collaboration. I’m just going to pretend that it’s not happening. I’m going to treat it like a living, breathing entity.”
In a way, Ms. Barnes is being subversive. But it’s really just the way she operates: You show up and figure it out onstage in front of people.
“Even though we obsessively rehearse every detail, we’re trying to put ourselves in a situation where we’re nervous enough about what we’re doing so that we are so awake to what’s happening,” she said. “The way we’re really trying to undermine the Off Broadway run is to keep each show truly feeling like it is only happening this night.”
Read Original Article Here:
WP theater is so thrilled to see all of these brilliant women of color celebrated!
Even more exciting, all of our current, eligible, 2016-2018 WP Lab members, D Lavinia Grays, Sylvia Khoury, and Leah Nanako Winkler are front and center, alongside our rock star Lab alums Carla Ching, Dipika Guha, Soon He Stanton, and, Lauren Yee.
We at WP Theater would like to thank the Kilroys for taking action to achieve gender parity in theater and for their celebration of this work, particularly WP board member and warrior, Kelly Miller
The complete Kilroys List for 2017 is below. Click here for show descriptions:
Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee
The Great Leap by Lauren Yee
Yoga Play by Dipika Guha
Thirst by C.A. Johnson
Blks. by Aziza Barnes
If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka by Tori Sampson
Is God Is by Aleshea Harris
We, the Invisibles by Susan Soon He Stanton
Queen by Madhuri Shekar
The Opportunities of Extinction by Sam Chanse
Hang Man by Stacy Amma Osei-Kuffour
Last Night and the Night Before by Donnetta Lavinia Grays
El Huracán by Charise Castro Smith
Two Mile Hollow by Leah Nanako Winkler
Black Super Hero Magic Mama by Inda Craig-Galván
Endlings by Celine Song
Eve’s Song by Patricia Ione Lloyd
To the Yellow House by Kimber Lee
Florissant & Canfield by Kristiana Rae Colón
Les Freres by Sandra A. Daley-Sharif
Redwood by Brittany K. Allen
The Homecoming Queen by Ngozi Anyanwu
Burned by Amina Henry
Hatefuck by Rehana Lew Mirza
Magic City or Julie in Basel by Hilary Bettis
Nomad Motel by Carla Ching
Noura by Heather Raffo
Usual Girls by Ming Peiffer
Azul by Christina Quintana
Breach by Antoinette Nwandu
How to Catch Creation by Christina Anderson
Nike, or We Don’t Need Another Hero by Ngozi Anyanwu
Selling Kabul by Sylvia Khoury
Somebody’s Daughter by Chisa Hutchinson
The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin by Jessica Huang
The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa FastHorse
Unreliable by Dipika Guha
The Kilroys is made up of playwrights and producers Zakiyyah Alexander, Bekah Brunstetter, Sheila Callaghan, Carla Ching, Annah Feinberg, Sarah Gubbins, Laura Jacqmin, Joy Meads, Kelly Miller, Meg Miroshnik, Daria Polatin, Tanya Saracho, and Marisa Wegrzyn.
The Most Influential People in Dance Today: Monica Bill Barnes
“When it feels like everything’s already been done, Monica Bill Barnes still pushes boundaries. Her hit collaboration with “This American Life” host Ira Glass mixed dance with radio-style storytelling, and her Happy Hour series embraced the idea of an office-party-meets-karaoke-meets-dance experience. And although plenty of choreographers are setting site-specific work in museums these days, Barnes takes it a few steps further—and leads her audience through an aerobic workout in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
Read the original article HERE
Check out Monica’s upcoming show at WP Theater ONE NIGHT ONLY (running as long as we can)
Congratulations to two members of the WP creative family for their big Tony wins last night! Rebecca Taichman (Best Direction of a Play, Indecent) and Mimi Lien (Best Scenic Design of a Musical, The Great Comet of 1812). These rock stars previously collaborated on WP’s 2011 Milk Like Sugar, a co-production with Playwrights Horizons, by Kirsten Greenidge, and we couldn’t be any prouder.
While we celebrate, let’s take a moment to note that, of the 73 people credited as writers on shows currently on Broadway, only 7 of those artists are women. Shout out to those seven women on making art for change on the Great White Way, but there is still a long way to go.
Let’s celebrate these powerful ladies, and don’t forget to join us in our upcoming season to make some noise for women in theater!
Lisa Lampanelli’s play Stuffed will open off-Broadway this fall in a new production at the Westside Theatre beginning October 6. Directed by Jackson Gay and featuring additional material by Ashley Austin Morris, the work premiered in a WP Theater production in fall 2016.
The work is described as follows: “The four characters in Stuffed are a lifelong dieter, a bulimic, a confident overweight gal, and a permanent size-zero. The play features Lampanelli’s famously irreverent voice, signature wit, and an extra-large scoop of razor-sharp insight into the crazy-making world of our relationships with food. With Lisa onstage, alongside a talented cast, Stuffed doesn’t shy away from tough questions like: Is eating an ice cream sandwich in the shower as emotionally fulfilling as it sounds? When it comes to jeans, what’s better — muffin top or camel toe? And, if Oprah, the most powerful person in the world, can’t conquer her food issues, what can the rest of us do but laugh as we try?”
Casting and creative team will be announced in the coming months. The WP Theater production starred Lampanelli alongside Ann Harada, Zainab Jah, and Jessica Luck.
The lineup includes a world premiere, a sold-out hit, and the return of the Pipeline Festival.
WP Theater has announced its 2017–2018 lineup of productions. The 40th anniversary season will consist of the world premiere of Monica Bill Barnes & Company’s One Night Only (running as long as we can); a return engagement of Kate Bensons’ sold-out hit [Porto], co-produced with The Bushwick Starr and New Georges; and the second biennial Pipeline Fesitval of new plays by WP Lab artists.
WP Theater has also teamed up with fellow Off-Broadway company Colt Coeur to present the Parity Plays Reading Series, which will celebrate new work by female and trans playwrights and directors this fall.
The season will kick off in September with One Night Only, marking the Off-Broadway debut of dance group Monica Bill Barnes & Company. The new piece is co-created by Barnes and Anna Bass, who also perform, and Robert Saenz de Viteri. Barnes choreographs with design by Kelly Hanson and Jane Cox. In One Night Only, everyday movement is taken to monumental new heights as longtime performing partners Bass and Barnes explore the ephemeral nature of life onstage.
Also slated for the fall will be the Parity Plays, created by WP Lab alum Adrienne Campbell-Holt. The annual play reading series will present four new works co-curated by Campbell-Holt’s company Colt Coeur and WP Theater.
In January 2018, WP Theater will team up with The Bushwick Starr to present the Off-Broadway debut of [Porto], which debuted at the Bushwick Starr earlier this year and sold out its premiere engagement. Directed by Lee Sunday Evans, the play sees a woman walk into a Brooklyn bar; when a handsome stranger arrives, disruption ensues. The show will be presented in association with New Georges.
The season will conclude next March with the return of the WP Pipeline Fetival, which will feature five new works written, directed, and produced by the 2016–2018 WP Lab artists. The current lab artists are playwrights Donnetta Lavinia Grays, MJ Kaufman, Sylvia Khoury, Zoe Sarnak, and Leah Nanako Winkler; directors Melissa Crespo, Morgan Gould, Ellie Heyman, Tyne Rafaeli, and Mo Zhou; and producers Roxanna Barrios, SallyCade Holmes, Nidia Medina, Laura Ramadei, and Yuvika Tolani.
Lisa McNulty and BAM’s Joseph Melillo in this beautifully produced bit of documentary film on programming for the theater, from American Theatre Wing!