Thursday, August 18, 2011

REP STAGE OPENS 19th SEASON WITH REGIONAL PREMIERE OF FARCICAL COMEDY HIT

When I was an English major in college (back in the 60s), I became interested in the woman playwright Aphra Behn—quite possibly the first female playwright in English literature. I am thrilled to learn that a play has been written about this gutsy woman and that it will be performed at Rep Stage, the professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College (HCC).

clip_image001OR,
A funny, inventive comedy based on real-life playwright, poet and spy Aphra Behn

By Liz Duffy Adams
Directed by Michael Stebbins

WHEN: August 31September 18, 2011; A post-show reception follows the Saturday, September 3, evening performance and free post-show discussions follow the September 9 and 16 performances.*
WHERE: Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center (HVPA) on the campus of HCC.

The free love of the '60s — the 1660s — is riotously explored in this recent Off-Broadway sleeper hit based on real-life playwright Aphra Behn's life as an undercover spy and her romantic romps through Restoration England in order to gain entry into the boys' playwriting club.

Christopher Isherwood, in his New York Times review of Or, wrote, "Luminaries of 17th-century England are resurrected...in Or, a playful, funny and inventive comedy by Liz Duffy Adams...her language has a natural period flavor and a formidable wit; her characters possess the spark of fully animated spirits; and she weaves into her story both biographical detail and cultural context with grace.”

Or, is a perfect way to kick off Rep Stage’s 2011-12 season, in that it is a celebration of all things theatrical,” says Michael Stebbins, Rep Stage’s producing artistic director and the director of Or,.  “Or, is a bow to Restoration theater and history. Liz Duffy Adams brings Aphra Behn and Nell Gwyn, two female artistic trailblazers of their day, back to life and back to the theater—front and center—where they belong. Or, also gives the audience the opportunity to meet the ‘merry monarch,’ King Charles II, who was responsible for reopening theaters in London during the Restoration. At a time when the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London wreaked havoc on the city, Aphra, Nell and Charles II lifted the psyche and spirit of the people in a time of need. Theater provided then what it continues to provide today: an escape from the difficulties of the day by way of the play.”

*A pre-show lecture, moderated by Rep Stage’s dramaturge Dr. Lisa A. Wilde will complement Or, before the September 17 matinee beginning at 12:30 PM in Monteabaro Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information on post-show discussions and the pre-show lecture, visit www.repstage.org.

Meet the Cast:

  • Charlotte Cohn (Aphra Behn) has appeared on Broadway in Coram Boy and Baz Lurhmann’s critically acclaimed production of La Boheme.  She has performed leading roles in Center Stage’s The Murder of Isaac and The Boys from Syracuse and ACT’s Happy End. Her cabaret, Simply Complicated: the Elegant Escapades of a Danish, Israeli, Opera Singing Tank Commander, has been performed in NYC, at Baltimore’s CenterStage and will have a European tour 2012. Charlotte comes to Rep Stage straight from Syracuse’s Kitchen Theatre, where she appeared in Jason Odell William’s At a Loss. Other credits include the “2003 Tony Awards” and “Broadway Bares XIII.” A member of New York's prestigious Actors Studio, Charlotte lives in New York City with her husband, Jason Odell Williams, and their daughter, Imogen.
  • Christine Demuth (Jailor, Nell Gwyn, Maria) has appeared at Rep Stage in Two by J.M. Barrie: The New Word and The Old Lady Shows Her Medals, The Glass Menagerie, A Dickens of a Carol, and Intelligence.  She has also performed at The Folger Theatre, Stanislavsky Theatre Studio, Single Carrot Theatre, Frances Merrick Performing Arts Center, Maryland Arts Festival, and in NYC’s “Shakespeare IN THE RAW.”  Christine comes to Rep Stage after performing the role of Ophelia in Hamlet at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival.
  • Jason Odell Williams (Charles II/William Scott/Lady Davenant) returns to Rep Stage after appearing in last season’s Two by J.M. Barrie: The New Word and the Old Lady Shows Her Medals. He has performed Off-Broadway at The Pearl Theatre, The Aquila Theatre, Transport Group, La Mama ETC, The DR2 and The Actors Studio. Regionally, he's played leading roles at The Studio Theatre (Fat Pig), The Maryland Stage Company’s production of Tartuffe at CenterStage, New Jersey Rep (Yankee Tavern) and three seasons at Heritage Rep in Charlottesville, VA. He is also a playwright and had three plays produced in New York last season. A Columbia, MD native, Jason is married to Or, actress Charlotte Cohn.

The Or, Design Team includes Melanie Clark (costume designer), Terry Cobb (light designer), James Fouchard (set designer), Tim Jones (properties designer),  and Ann Warren (sound designer).

About Rep Stage
Rep Stage, a professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College, is in its 19th season. The company is a member of both League of Washington Theatres and Baltimore Theatre Alliance. Performances are made possible by the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and National Endowment for the Arts, as well as through generous individual contributions. Howard Bank is the Rep Stage 2011-12 season partner.