January 3 – February 7, 2010

By Rachel Axler
Directed by Pam MacKinnon

By Rachel Axler
Directed by Pam MacKinnon

The world premiere of a dark comedy about the changing face of the American family and the limits of love and cheesecake, as a hopeful young couple gives birth to a smudge.

“For signs of intelligent life in the theatrical universe, I hereby refer you to Smudge, Rachel Axler’s pitch-black comedy.” Kudos to the Women’s Project for its dazzling work on a daring piece.” – Variety

“Creepy and funny. Precise and imaginative. Parenthood never looked weirder or more terrifying than it does in Smudge, a new play by Rachel Axler. Stylishly directed by Pam MacKinnon.” –  The New York Times

“Axler’s dark comedy—alertly directed by Pam MacKinnon for the momentum building Women’s Project—is a horror story: a parent’s nightmare rendered with sometimes lyrical surrealism….Smudge also illustrates ambition: a parent’s, thwarted, and a playwright’s, achieved.” – Time Out New York

“It’s a testament to Rachel Axler’s excellent writing and a marvellous cast that this dark sci-fi comedy, directed by Pam MacKinnon, actually works.” – The New Yorker

“Smudge is filled with laughs, due to Rachel Axler’s tart way with quips, director Pam MacKinnon’s brisk, unsentimental touch, and the ability of both Greg Keller and Cassie Beck to make their characters real and complex.” – Associated Press



Rachel Axler

(Playwright) Rachel Axler is a playwright and Emmy-winning television writer.  Her play, Archaeology, premiered at The Kitchen Theatre in 2009.  Other plays of hers have been developed through The Lark Play Development Center, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Playwrights Foundation and the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Rachel has held fellowships at The Dramatists Guild and The Lark, and is currently working on commissioned plays for South Coast Rep and Lincoln Center Theater. Humor pieces of hers have been published in The New York Times, In Character and two editions of Monologues for Women, By Women. For television, Rachel wrote for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for several years, where she received the 2006 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program and three Writers Guild Award nominations.  She now writes for Parks and Recreation, on NBC. Rachel received her BA from Williams College and her MFA in Playwriting from UCSD.  Member: Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild of America.

Pam Mackinnon

(Director) Pam Mackinnon directed world premieres of Jason Grote’s Maria/Stuart (Woolly Mammoth) and Richard Greenberg’s Our Mother’s Brief Affair (South Coast Rep); productions of Adrian Hall’s adaptation of Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men (Intiman), Lanford Wilson’s Burn This (Juilliard) and Richard Dresser’s Below the Belt (ACT-Seattle).  She also continued her longstanding collaboration with Edward Albee directing A Delicate Balance (Arena Stage). New York productions include Edward Albee’s Peter and Jerry (Second Stage); Edward Albee’s Occupant (Signature); Itamar Moses’ The Four of Us (MTC); Itamar Moses’ Bach at Leipzig  (NYTW); Sheri Wilner’s Father Joy (SPF), John Fugelsang’s All the Wrong Reasons (NYTW); Adam Bock’s Medea Eats (Clubbed Thumb), Gina Gionfriddo’s U.S. Drag (Clubbed Thumb) and Erin Courtney’s Alice the Magnet (Clubbed Thumb).  Other recent productions include the premiere of Roberto Aguire Sacasa’s Good Boys and True (Steppenwolf), Bruce Norris’ The Unmentionables (Woolly Mammoth), David Mamet’s Romance (Goodman), Edward Albee’s The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia? (Alley and Vienna), Edward Albee’s Play About The Baby (Philadelphia and Goodman) and Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest (Juilliard). She most recently directed the world premiere productions in New York of Cusi Cram’s A Lifetime Burning (Primary Stages) with Jennifer Westfeldt and John Patrick Shanley’s Savage in Limbo (Juilliard). She is presently directing Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park (Playwrights Horizons) and Rachel Axler’s Smudge (Women’s Project). Pam is an Affliated Artist with Clubbed Thumb, a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect and a Drama League alumna.

Alaine Alldaffer

(Casting Director) Alaine Alldaffer is the Casting Director for Playwrights Horizons and The Huntington Theater in Boston. Theater credits include Deadman’s Cellphone with Mary Louis Parker (PWH), Grey Gardens (PWH and Broadway), Walmartopia the musical, Knights of Prosperity (ABC), ED (NBC). Currently in the works is This with Parker Posey at Playwrights Horizons.   She credits Lisa Donadio as co-casting director for Smudge.

Cassie Beck

(Colby): Broadway: The Norman Conquests (u/s). Off-Broadway: The Drunken City (Theatre World Award 2008), Prayer For My Enemy(Playwrights Horizons), Oohrah!(Atlantic Theatre), Playlist 2009(Ars Nova). Regional: Three Sisters (Williamstown Theatre Festival); 43 Plays for 43 Presidents (Actors Theatre of Louisville);  All My Sons, Living Out and Be Aggressive (Theatre Works Palo Alto);The Haunting of Winchester (San Jose Rep); 3F 4F (Magic Theatre);  Ms. Beck is the former Artistic Director of Crowded Fire Theatre Company in San Francisco were she appeared in several productions including Trojan Woman, Top Girls, A-A-America,One Big Lie, Slow Falling Bird, We Are Not These Hands, and Anna Bella Eema.

Greg Keller

(Nicholas): Broadway: Uncle Vanya, The Rainmaker. Off Broadway: That Pretty Pretty; or, The Rape Play (Rattlestick), The Seagull (CSC), You Never Can Tell (Roundabout), Telethon (Clubbed Thumb), Reborning (The Public/SPF), Steve & Idi (Rattlestick), Dying City (Lincoln Center). Regional: 33 Variations (Arena Stage) Sick, The Glass Menagerie, This Is Our Youth, Coyote On A Fence, A Dream Play (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Seasons’ Greetings (Denver Center), The Last Schwartz (Florida Stage). Greg holds an MFA in Acting from NYU and is a Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at The Juilliard School.

Brian Sgambati

(Pete): Broadway: Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia trilogy, directed by Jack O’ Brien, and King Lear, starring Christopher Plummer, both at Lincoln Center Theatre. National Tour: The Donmar Warehouse production of Frost/Nixon, starring Stacey Keach, directed by Michael Grandage. Off-Broadway: Landscape of the Body (Signature Theatre Company-dir. Michael Greif); The World Over (Playwright’s Horizons); The Hasty Heart (Keen Company) and Amazons and Their Men (Clubbed Thumb). National: Sweet Bird of Youth, directed by Michael Greif, at La Jolla Playhouse; Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play (Goodman Theatre-dir. Mark Wing-Davey); The Two Noble Kinsmen and Antony and Cleopatra (The Old Globe-dir. Darko Tresnjak); The Blue Demon (Huntington Theatre Company-dir. Darko Tresnjak); The Comedy of Errors (Portland Stage Company,) and Oliver! at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. TV: “The Guiding Light”, “As The World Turns”. As an Associate Artist of the Civilians: original companies of Canard, Canard Goose?, Gone Missing, and Paris Commune. MFA:University of Californa San Diego.

Narelle Sissons

(Set Design) — Bio to come.

Clint Ramos

(Costume Design) — WP: Sand, Transfigures. NY: Public Theater, Second Stage, New York Theater Workshop, Lincoln Center Theater, Mint, Red Bull, Juilliard, Clubbed Thumb, Ma-Yi, Naatco, New Georges, PS122, HERE, others. REGIONAL : Alliance, Guthrie, La Jolla, OSF, CalShakes, ART, Williamstown, Denver Center Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Asolo, Kansas City Rep, Merrimack Rep, Chautauqua, Opera Boston, Opera Theater of St. Louis, many others. INTERNATIONAL: Rijksteatern (Stockholm), Thalia (Bucharest), Teatro Pilipino (Manila), Barbican (London), Kanon (St. Petersburg), O’Reilly (Dublin) HONORS: TDF Irene Sharaff, 2 ATW Henry Hewes Award, Drama Desk Award nom, NYTW Design Fellowship, Audelco, IRNE, Elliot Norton. UPCOMING: When The Rain Stops Falling (LCT, directed by David Cromer), Ruined (Oregon Shakespeare Festival).

Russell H. Champa

(Lighting Design) –Broadway: In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play, Lincoln Center Theater/Lyceum Theater; God Said Ha!, Lyceum Theater. Off Broadway:  Slugbearers of Kayrol Island, Vineyard Theater; Eurydice, Second Stage; The Four of Us, Yellowman, The Other Side, MTC; as well as productions at The Public Theater, The Promenade Theater, Union Square Theater, Classic Stage Company, New York Stage and Film, Cherry Lane Theater,  Primary Stages, MCC, The Zipper,  La Mama ETC. Regional: ACT, Mark Taper Forum,  Wilma Theater, Berkeley Rep, Trinity Rep, Yale Rep, Long Wharf Theater, McCarter Theater, Old Globe, ATL/Humana Festival, Williamstown Theater Festival, Seattle Rep, CalShakes, Philadelphia Theater Company, The Kennedy Center. PEACE.

Asa Wember

(Sound Design) — In the past decade Asa has been the resident sound designer for the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, CT and the audio engineer for New York Theatre Workshop, and has designed for numerous companies in New York, including 13P, Flux Theatre Ensemble, the Assembly, Wolf 359 and the Intentional Theatre Group.  His work with Flux Theatre Ensemble won the 2009 NYITA award for Sound Design.

  • SMUDGE Video Interview with playwright Rachel Axler

  • SMUDGE interview with sound designer Asa Wember

  • Greg Keller and Cassie Beck in SMUDGE.

  • Cassie Beck in SMUDGE

  • Brian Sgambati and Cassie Beck in SMUDGE

  • Greg Keller and Cassie Beck in SMUDGE

  • Greg Keller and Cassie Beck in SMUDGE

  • Greg Keller and Brian Sgambati in SMUDGE