Salt Lake Acting Company News Release
January 18, 2017
For Immediate Release
Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC)’s first play of 2017, HARBUR GATE, by Kathleen Cahill, boldly enters the national discussion about gender, running February 8-March 12
At a time of evolving notions about what it means to be a woman or a man, SLAC presents a brave and honest play about gender in the military where “men are men and women are not” according to one of the characters, a young Marine Sergeant named Vinnie Russo.
“In the Marines you take an oath and you trust,” says another character, Marine veteran Michelle Kessler. And if trust is the bedrock of the soldier’s profession, what happens when that trust is broken? Six characters, in three interconnected plays, illuminate the emotional chaos which results, and how it disturbs, destroys and transforms the lives of three women forever.
In the first play, ORPHEUS, we meet two Army medics who are up for the Purple Heart: Chadwick Conroy, a gay man who joined the military to “iron himself out,” and his roommate Carey Pollack, a lesbian who is still mourning the loss of a beloved comrade in battle. The second play, HARBUR GATE, takes place in a convoy truck on the road to Mosul, Iraq, where Marines Vinnie Russo and Alyson Moss play out a battle of the sexes in the war zone. In the culminating play, VETERAN IN A NEW FIELD, Michelle Kessler, a Marine veteran suffering from PTSD, has a comedic and ultimately transforming encounter with an image from the Civil War through a blind painter in the park.
Playwright Kathleen Cahill says of the genesis of this play: “I was sitting in my kitchen one afternoon. On the radio they were talking about an exhibit in Washington DC on Americana war paintings. They talked about Veteran in a New Field [by Winslow Homer] and the title is what caught me. They were talking about how extraordinary and mystifying the painting was because it looked really simple, but the more you looked, the more you realized it was saying so many things about life and death all at once. I had also just heard about how the military wanted to become gender neutral by 2016 (at the time it was 2013). I was thinking that women combatants were veterans in a new field. It was the two thoughts together that got me involved.” Cahill spent a year interviewing female veterans. She sat in on trauma support groups at the Salt Lake VA, and she read a lot of books by women who had served. “I had no idea what I was getting into with this subject, how moved I would be, and how much it would change me.”
She applied for and received a commission funded by the National New Play Network. HARBUR GATE received an in-house reading at SLAC, followed by an in-depth workshop in SLAC’s Playwrights’ Lab before its public reading in the New Play Sounding Series and now finally, the World Premiere production running February 8 – March 12. This play exemplifies SLAC’s commitment to the development of new work and local playwrights.
HARBUR GATE was honored with an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, which gave the cast and creative team two extra weeks of rehearsal, during which they participated in invaluable training, interviews, and meetings with some of Utah’s veterans. Their first week together as a team was spent sitting in on trauma group sessions at the VA, as well as meeting veterans who came to talk at the theatre. The cast built strength and stamina with military workouts, learned about gun technique at the shooting range and made some unexpected discoveries about gender in the military from listening to veterans’ stories.
Director Tamilla Woodard says: “The extra weeks of rehearsal brought us to a different level. It still would have been a good play with good acting, but now it is a play that is deep and profound, it is a piece of art that lives in everyone in the room. And we feel that we have to be as truthful and go as far as we can to give back to the people we met, they should know that their story is important and that their lives matter, and that we are listening.”
SLAC’s production of HARBUR GATE is presented in collaboration with Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s Arts in Service to the Military Cultural Festival. As part of the festival, several professional arts organizations will present military-themed productions, including Utah Opera’s The Long Walk. Other offerings spotlight veterans’ use of the arts as a means of self-expression. The festival is also working with VetTix.org to offer free/discounted tickets to veterans for arts events throughout the community.
Kathleen Cahill awards include the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, two Connecticut Commission on the Arts Playwriting Awards, a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Award, a Rockefeller Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts New American Works Grant, two Edgerton Foundation Awards and a Drama League Award. Her play CHARM was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; her play THE PERSIAN QUARTER was nominated for a Steinberg Award. (Both published by Dramatic Publishing.) Her produced musicals include FRIENDSHIP OF THE SEA (North Shore Music Theatre) DAKOTA SKY (Olney Theatre) an opera, CLARA, two opera/cabarets, A TALE OF TWO CITIES: PARIS AND BERLIN IN THE TWENTIES (Maryland Center for the Performing Arts), a comic opera cabaret, FATAL SONG (most recently Utah Opera) and PERDIDA, the WINTER’S TALE SET IN MEXICO, (most recently Catholic University, DC and upcoming at the Grand Theatre, Salt Lake City. Published by Dramatic Publishing.) Her plays include the comedy, COURSE 86B IN THE CATALOGUE (Salt Lake Acting Company) THE STILL TIME (Georgia Rep/ Porchlight Theatre, Chicago) the comedy, WOMEN WHO LOVE SCIENCE TOO MUCH (Porchlight Theatre and NPR Radio) JOY FOREVER (Cleveland Public, Firehouse Theatre, Massachusetts) CHARM ( National New Play Network Festival, Salt Lake Acting Company premiere, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Dallas; Orlando Shakespeare; Taffety Punk, Washington D.C. among others) THE PERSIAN QUARTER ( Salt Lake Acting Company, Merrimack Rep.). Her play, HARBUR GATE, is an NNPN commission, workshopped at Colt Coeur in New York, and in the Lab of the Salt Lakc Acting Company, where it will be produced in 2017 and in 2018, at the 16th Street Theatre, Chicago. She wrote the screenplay for the independent feature, Downtown Express.She writes for Alan Cumming when he introduces Mystery! on PBS. She is Playwright-in-Residence at the Salt Lake Acting Company.
Tamilla Woodard^ is a theatre director who works both nationally and internationally. She is co-founder of PopUp Theatrics, a partnership creating site impacting theatrical events around the world and in collaboration with international theatre artists. Currently, she is serving as the Artistic Director of The Five Boroughs/One City Project, a multiyear initiative of The Working Theater. The project will support the commissioning and development of 5 Playwright/Director teams working in collaborations and creating theatrical works in response to and inside of working class communities in all 5 boroughs. She is a past Time Warner Directing Fellow at the Women’s Project Theater Lab, a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop, alumnus of The Lincoln Center Directors Lab and artistic affiliate with New Georges. She graduated from The Yale School of Drama’s Acting program and is the recipient of The Charles Bowden Award from New Dramatists and The Josephine Abady Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women. Her work has been presented and developed at the Working Theater, NYTW, New Georges, HERE, The Lark, The Actors Theatre of Louisville, PS122, DR 2, The Culture Project, Urban Stages, Dance Theatre Workshop, The Kitchen Theatre and for festivals and theater’s around the US and Internationally. Recent: Betty Shamieh’s FIT FOR A QUEEN, The Classical Theater of Harlem; Dan Hoyle’s, THE BLOCK, The Working Theatre; BROKEN CITY: WALL STREET, a street immersive for PopUP Theatrics. More at www.tamilla.com
Ariana Broumas Farber (Michelle) most recently appeared as Peter Nickoleavich in ELIZABETH BAM at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. Other local credits include: PICNIC (the Grand Theater), THE FERMI PARADOX (Salt Lake Acting Company), THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD (Pioneer Theater Company), SLAM '05/'07 and COLD (Plan-B), and SPARK and THE SEX HABITS OF AMERICAN WOMAN (Pygmalion Productions) and RIDE ME (New Works Theater Machine). Regional credits include: HONK!, LILLY'S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE, THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE MAGIC MRS. PIGGLE WIGGLE and SNAPSHOT SILHOUETTE with the Minneapolis Children's Theater Company; THE WOOLGATHERER with 3 a.m.productions, PROM with Philadelphia's New Paradise Laboratories, and A CHRISTMAS CAROL with Theater on the Hill in Westminster, Maryland. She is a graduate of the Actor Training Program at the University of Utah (Magna Cum Laude), and a real-life Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. “To the fights in distant places, and the friends who are no more…” Semper Fidelis.
Cassandra Stokes-Wylie* (Alyson/Moss) is thrilled to be back at SLAC for the second time this season after having played Tanya in BULL SHARK ATTACK. She lives in New York City and was most recently seen there in Troy Deutsch’s IN A TILTED PLACE as various characters at IRT Theater and Helena in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM with dell’Arte Ensemble at Classic Stage Company. Salt Lake credits include Actress Two in THE EXIT INTERVIEW with Salt Lake Acting Company, Roxy in CHEAT and Mrs. Givings in IN THE NEXT ROOM, OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY, both with Pygmalion Productions, Elizabeth Proctor in THE CRUCIBLE at The Grand Theatre and the Governess in THE TURN OF THE SCREW with UTAC. She understudied and performed with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and has a BFA in Acting from the University of Utah.
Lane Richins (John) is excited to be treading the boards at SLAC again, having previously performed here in TOO MUCH MEMORY and BIG LOVE. As an actor and director, Lane has worked with several companies in the Valley over the past 2 decades, including SLAC, Pygmalion Theatre Company, The Grand, Plan B, Sundance Children's Theatre, and others. Lane currently sits on the Board of Directors for Pygmalion Theatre Company.
Matthew Sincell* (Chad) is delighted to be returning to the SLAC stage with this world premiere of HARBUR GATE. Past SLAC credits include STREETLIGHT WOODPECKER and TRIBES. Prior to his move to SLC, Matt called NYC home, where he performed Off-Broadway, Regionally, and on London's West End. Some past credits include SHAKESPEARE'S R&J (Joe Calarco, dir., UK premier and London West End transfer), BURY THE DEAD, BEYOND GLORY (w/Stephen Lang), BOXES (w/Robert Askins), HAMLET (WVU artist in residence), three seasons with The American Shakespeare Center, international artist in residence at The Globe Theatre, London, and former company member of Blessed Unrest (nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role, IT Awards, 2008). Love and more love to my wife, Corinne.
Natalia Noble (Carey) is equally excited and humbled to be performing in her first SLAC production. She most recently appeared alongside several Broadway veterans in Pioneer Theater Company's regional premiere of Sting's, THE LAST SHIP. Other theatrical appearances include: Carrie White in CARRIE: THE MUSICAL; Mary Lane in REEFER MADNESS; Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut in AVENUE Q; Victoria Grant in VICTOR/VICTORIA; and Lady Macbeth in MACBETH; Film Credits: Moments of Clarityand The Big Sleep. She wishes to thank her family and friends for their unyielding love and support.
Topher Rasmussen (Russo) is delighted to return to SLAC for his second Kathleen Cahill play. SLAC credits: R+J: STAR CROSS'D DEATH MATCH, COURSE 86B IN THE CATALOGUE (2012 CityWeekly Arty: Best Chewing of Scenery), THE FERMI PARADOX (Davey Foundation Reading), HARBUR GATE (SLACLab, NPSS Reading), and LAURA AND THE SEA (SLACLab, NPSS Reading). Other credits: THE PRIVATE EAR (Sting & Honey), ADAM AND STEVE & THE EMPTY SEA (Plan-B, fringeNYC 2013), BORDERLANDS (Plan-B), THE WORST THING I'VE EVER DONE (Sackerson), THE REVENGER'S TRAGEDY, ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, TWELFTH NIGHT, TAMING OF THE SHREW (Grassroots Shakespeare Company), NEXT TO NORMAL (UVU, KCACTF 2014), and HAMLET AND OPHELIA GO SWIMMING (Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival). Love and gratitude to my friends and family, Kathleen, and SLAC.
Set Design – Shannon Roberts**
Costume Design – Erin M. West
Lighting Design – Jesse Portillo**
Sound Design – Jennifer Jackson
Asst. Light Design – Martin Alcocer
Asst. Sound Design – Gavin Yehle
Stage Manager – Jennie Sant*
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
** The lighting design of HARBUR GATE is represented by United Scenic Artists Local USA 829 of the IATSE
^The director is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union.
Salt Lake Acting Company
By Kathleen Cahill
Running time is approximately 70 minutes.
February 8 – March 12, 2017
Wednesdays – Saturdays @ 7:30 p.m., Sundays @ 1:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 28 @ 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 11 @ 2:00 p.m.
168 West 500 North
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Salt Lake Acting Company
168 West 500 North, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84103
Box Office: 801-363-7522
Open 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mon – Fri
Single tickets range from $15 – $42, depending on the performance.
Student, Senior and 30 & Under discounts are available.
Discounts are also available for groups of 10 or more.
Subscribers always pay the lowest price.
ABOUT SALT LAKE ACTING COMPANY
Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC)’s mission is to engage and enrich community through brave contemporary theatre. Founded in 1970, SLAC is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 professional theatre dedicated to producing, commissioning, and developing new works and to supporting a community of professional artists. SLAC has been nationally recognized by the Shubert Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Edgerton Foundation, among others. SLAC operates under a SPT Actors Equity Association contract and is a Constituent Member of Theatre Communications Group and the National New Play Network.
ABOUT THE EDGERTON FOUNDATION
Over the last ten years, the Edgerton Foundation has supported an extended rehearsal process for 297 world premiere productions. Through this support, many plays have scheduled numerous subsequent productions, with 24 making it to Broadway and All the Way winning two Tony Awards in 2014, and Hamilton winning 11 awards in 2016. Nine plays have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with Next to Normal winning in 2010, Water by the Spoonful in 2012, The Flick winning in 2014, and Hamilton winning in 2016.
ABOUT NATIONAL NEW PLAY NETWORK
National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country’s alliance of non-profit professional theaters dedicated to the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has supported more than 200 productions nationwide through its innovative National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere program, which provides playwright and production support for new works at its Member theaters. Additional programs - its annual National Conference, National Showcase of New Plays, and MFA Playwrights Workshop; the NNPN Annual and Smith Prize commissions; its residencies for playwrights, producers and directors; and the organization’s member accessed Collaboration, Festival, and Travel banks and online information sessions - have helped cement the Network’s position as a vital force in the new play landscape. NNPN also strives to pioneer, implement, and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights. Its most recent project, the New Play Exchange, is changing the way playwrights share their work and others discover it by providing immediate access to information on more than 9,500 new plays by living writers. NNPN’s 30 Core and more than 75 Associate Members - along with the more than 150 affiliated artists who are its alumni, the thousands of artists and artisans employed annually by its member theaters, and the hundreds of thousands of audience members who see its supported works each year - are creating the new American theater. nnpn.org