Padua Playwrights presents Murray Mednick's 5th 'Gary Play' 'DaddyO Dies Well' premieres at Electric Lodge


"William Burroughs called it Yage. Near the Amazon, they call it Ayahuasca, or, in the indigenous language, Natema."

"You feel Natema, you feel its tremendous power - mother Earth herself, singing, rotating." - DaddyO

VENICE, CA - February 28, 2011 - Padua Playwrights presents the world premiere of DaddyO Dies Well, written and directed by legendary poet-playwright Murray Mednick. A deeply lyrical and darkly comic meditation on the sacred and profane that is the fifth installment in Mednick's eight-play "Gary Plays" cycle, DaddyO Dies Well will run April 2 through May 22 at the Electric Lodge in Venice.

In DaddyO Dies Well, down-on-his-luck Gary takes a psychedelic Ayahuasca trip at the behest of DaddyO, his hipster stepfather. DaddyO is dying, and before he goes, he wants to help his stepson get over his problems. He invites Gary over for tea - but this is not your ordinary Earl Grey. It's Ayahuasca, a powerful hallucinogenic favored by the indigenous peoples of South America. Under the guidance of DaddyO and Antonio the "Angel of Death," Gary is brought to understand the pulse and power of organic life on earth in a lyrically comic return to themes explored in Mednick's earlier "Coyote Cycle." Gary's trip takes him to the mountains and forests of South America, and the flutes and drums of the Andes complement the musicality of Mednick's language.

"In Murray's plays, death is always present somewhere, but Eros, the life-force, ultimately reigns," says Padua artistic director Guy Zimmerman. "These plays are full-length dramatic poems, and a strong iambic meter powers the dialogue like a heartbeat."

"My writing is driven by a poetic impulse, by the language - which turns out to be at the heart, the essence of theater," explains Mednick.

Unemployed actor Gary Bean, was first introduced to audiences in 2003 when Padua presented the first three plays in the cycle, Tirade for Three, Gary's Walk, and Girl on a Bed, in repertory. KCRW hailed the production as "one of the most engaging and ambitious local theater events of the past few seasons," calling Mednick's anti-hero "a sort of L.A. Leopold Bloom." The fourth play, Out of the Blue, premiered in 2006 ("Mednick's craft [is] polished and secure" - Back Stage), and plans are currently in the works for L.A. productions of plays six, seven and eight. The entire octet will be published by Sideshow Books and distributed by TCG (Theatre Communications Group) this spring.

Each of the eight plays stands alone with no requirement that audiences be familiar with any of the preceding plays. Yet, those who have followed the cycle will recognize recurring characters Gary (Casey Sullivan); DaddyO (Hugh Dane); Dr. Jones (Jack Kehler); ex-wives Gloria (Elizabeth Greer) and Marcia (Melissa Paladino); Mama Bean (Strawn Bovee); and Antonio, the "Angel of Death" (Peggy Ann Blow). Accompanying Gary in each of the plays is an updated classical chorus that gives voice to his inner thoughts and memories, articulating the fears, griefs and aspirations that make up his experience.

DaddyO Dies Well is written and directed by Murray Mednick and presented by Padua Playwrights under the artistic direction of Guy Zimmerman. Set design is by Matt Aston; lighting design is by Dan Reed; costume design is by Melody Brocious; projection design is by Marc I. Rosenthal; sound design is by John Zalewski; stage manager is Laura Manchester; producer is Roger Q. Mason; and executive producer is Racquel Lehrman.

Murray Mednick, a pioneer of the Off and Off-Off Broadway movements in the '60s and '70s and playwright-in-residence for Theater Genesis, wrote such ground-breaking works as The Hawk, The Hunter, Sand, Are You Lookin' and The Deer Kill (1970 OBIE Award for Outstanding Play), and was the founder/artistic director of the Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop/Festival in Los Angeles from 1978 to 1995. He is the recipient of two Rockefeller Foundation grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Theatre Critics Association Best New Play citation (for Joe and Betty), a Career Achievement Award from the LA Weekly, an Ovation Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Los Angeles Theater from the L.A. Stage Alliance, a Local Hero Award from Back Stage West, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle's Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theater. The Los Angeles productions of Joe and Betty and Mrs. Feuerstein went on to successful New York runs.

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Amber Cassell From a very early age, Amber Romina Cassell always knew that she did not want to be a writer. While attending film school at the University of Southern California, however, she volunteered as a critic for the school newspaper in order to see all the plays and screenings around town and the rest, as they say, is history. A devoted lover of musical theater, Amber has had the immense pleasure of covering some of Los Angeles' most prominent theatrical events and has conducted in-depth interviews with some of Broadway's greatest talents and strives everyday to help promote and encourage the LA theater scene.

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