Performance Network Theatre to Present David Ives' VENUS IN FUR, 2/27-4/6

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Performance Network Theatre to Present David Ives' VENUS IN FUR, 2/27-4/6
Performance Network Theatre presents its most titillating show of the season, "Venus in Fur" by David Ives, on February 27 - April 6, 2014 starring Maggie Meyer and Sebastian Gerstner under the direction of Jennifer Graham as she makes her directorial debut at Performance Network. "Venus in Fur" is the most produced script of the 2013 - 2014 season in America, according to Theatre Communications Group, and was credited by the New York Times as, "Ninety minutes of good, kinky fun." This production is generously sponsored by two decadent Ann Arbor hotspots, The Earle Restaurant and The Raven's Club. Tickets can be purchased online at performancenetwork.org or over the phone at 734-663-0681. Mature audiences only.

"Venus in Fur" is an analysis of the psychological side of sadomasochism. Thomas, a beleaguered playwright/director, is desperate to find an actress to play Vanda, the female lead in his adaptation of the classic sadomasochist tale "Venus in Fur". Into the audition room walks a vulgar and distraught actress-oddly enough, named Vanda. Though utterly wrong for the part, Vanda exhibits a strange command of the material. As the two work through the script, the lines between play and reality blur, entering into an increasingly serious battle of submission and domination that only one of them can win.

"Due to a few unforeseen events, we had to make some last minute casting adjustments. Thankfully, we're drawing from a pretty deep bench here in Michigan and we were able to find two absolutely stellar actors, with great chemistry that we think are going to knock it out of the park under the direction of the fabulous Jennifer Graham. Maggie Meyer, who wowed audiences as the titular "Becky Shaw" at PNT this last summer, and Sebastian Gerstner, who charmed everyone as the Wingfield's gentleman caller in "The Glass Menagerie," were steaming up the room at auditions. We're more than a little excited to see the heat they can generate over the course of a month's rehearsal," said Associate Artistic Director Carla Milarch.

Performance Network's production of "Venus in Fur" is the perfect gift to surprise that special someone for Valentine's Day. The production begins right after the holiday, making it the perfect addition to a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine. Patrons are encouraged to make dinner reservations before or after the show at The Earle Restaurant and The Raven's Club for a truly sultry evening at the exclusive, high end restaurants. The Raven's Club is crafting a signature cocktail for which "Venus in Fur" audiences can use their tickets stubs to receive a discount. More details on the cocktail will be released soon.

Jennifer Graham, Director, is excited to make her directorial debut at the Performance Network with "Venus in Fur." She is a lecturer of Theatre at Eastern Michigan University where she creates movement for many mainstage productions including "Urinetown", "Angels in America", "Dead Man's Cell Phone" and "Bud, not Buddy" to name a few. Professional movement work includes "Equus," for which she received a Wilde award for best choreography in 2011. As a performer she has worked professionally at the Gate Theatre's production of "Big Love" in London, UK. She has also worked locally at the Tipping Point Theatre, Andiamo Theatre, and Performance Network. She also enjoys devising and collaborating on new work such as "Simone: An Evening in Chapter Titles" at the Planet Ant Theatre or "Shoulder to the Wheel" at the Riverside Arts Center.

Maggie Meyer, starring as Vanda, is pleased to be back on stage at the Performance Network Theatre. Most recently, audiences may have seen her in "Becky Shaw" or "Dead Man's Shoes". Meyer began theatre at a young age, as a dancer, but quickly grew to love acting. She went on to study in New York at the American Dramatic Arts Academy. Since coming back to Michigan, Meyer has become a proud graduate of the Purple Rose Apprenticeship Program, and a grateful member of the Michigan Theatre Community.

Sebastian Gerstner, starring as Thomas, received his BFA in Theater from Michigan State University and has been living in Ann Arbor and New York ever since. This is his second appearance with Performance Network having appeared in "The Glass Menagerie" last year. He has also recently performed in "Lend Me a Tenor", "Plaid Tidings", and "The Light in the Piazza"; at The Encore Theater in Dexter and has just been cast in "Wizard of Oz"; with Wild Swan Theater going up in May. Marissa Kurtzhals, Assistant Director, currently serves as the Marketing and Public Relations Director at Performance Network Theatre. Kurtzhals received her Bachelor's in Arts Management from Eastern Michigan University with minors in Marketing and Theatre. As an actress, Kurtzhals has performed on the stages of EMU Theatre (where she worked with Jennifer Graham) and Performance Network Theatre's Fireside New Play Festival.

Daniel C. Walker, Set and Lighting Designer, is excited to be designing again for Performance Network. Last year, he designed sets and lights for "Brill" and "Good People", as well as lights for "A Little Night Music". Walker's association with Performance Network goes back almost 20 years, when he used to run the theatre with his former wife, Johanna Broughton. He currently makes his living designing sets and lights throughout southeast Michigan. In addition to being an Associate Artist at Performance Network, he frequently designs for Williamston

Theatre, Encore Musical Theatre and other theaters in the area.

Suzanne Young, Costume Designer, is delighted to return to Performance Network for "Venus in Fur" which will be her 9th production for the company. Other productions include "Jerry's Girls", "A Little Night Music" (Subscribers Choice Award for best costumes 2013), "The Glass Menagerie", and "Drowsy Chaperone" for which she was a 2011 Wilde Award nominee and Subscribers Choice award winner for best costumes. Other recent credits include the Purple Rose Theatre, Pine Mountain Music Festival, the University of Michigan, Tipping Point Theatre, and the Wild Swan Theater. Upcoming productions include "The Magic Flute" for the University of Michigan, "Murder at Howard Johnsons" at The Tipping Point, Spring Comedy Festival at the Purple Rose and "The Importance of Being Earnest" at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. Suzanne studied at Wimbledon School of Art and Design and began her career in London where she did costumes for the BBC Shakespeare series "Hamlet", Opera at Covent Garden, London Weekend Television, The Edinburgh Festival, The Versailles Festival, The Athens Festival and many others. She later moved to Boston where she designed for the Opera Company of Boston, The Boston Lyric Opera, The Cathedral of St John the Divine and others.

Charles Sutherland, Props Designer, has designed props for "County Line", "The Mountaintop", "Brill", "Circle Mirror Transformation", "Ain't Misbehavin'", "The Piano Lesson", "Fences", "She Loves Me!", and the award winning, "It Came from Mars" at Performance Network Theatre. He follows Jim Posante's advice, that if there's a window on a set, there ought to be a story out there!

Katherine Altman, Stage Manager, just completed an apprenticeship at Performance Network. She is thrilled to continue to work with her PNT family as a part of the "Venus in Fur" team. A graduate of Macalester College with a degree in Theatre and English, Altman has experience directing and acting as well as in stage management. She has also worked as a director and instructor at a summer theatre camp in Ohio and served as a drama coach, high school drama teacher, and after school drama program coordinator in North Carolina. Most recently, she has served as the assistant stage manager for "Jerry's Girls" and "Becky Shaw" and as director of Children's Theatre Network show "Ella Mentry and the Case of the Missing Scientist" at Performance Network. Coming soon, Altman will also be directing "Family Fairy Tale Vacation", a show for young actors, at Ann Arbor Civic Theatre as well as assistant directing "Other Desert Cities" and "The Renaissance Man" at Performance Network Theatre later this season.

Megan Rosenberg, Assistant Stage Manager, recently completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts at Kalamazoo College with a double minor in French and Sociology/Anthropology. Highlights in her training and education include an acting intensive at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, a bilingual senior thesis, and work through Kalamazoo College's Festival New Playhouse directing the new play Bringing Home the Bones by Bonnie Joe Campbell, assistant directing "Into the Woods" under Ed Menta, and on stage most prominently as Violet Venable in "Suddenly Last Summer" and Clara in the new play "Alison Shields" by Joe Tracz. She feels privileged to commence the next part of her theatrical journey as an apprentice at Performance Network Theatre, whilst working towards her eventual career goal of being the Artistic Director of a small theatre company.

"Venus in Fur" by David Ives runs at Performance Network from February 27 - April 6, 2014. Regular tickets are $22 - $41 with discounts for students, seniors, children under the age of 16, and military and can be purchased online at performancenetwork.org or by calling the box office at 734-663-0681.

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