Jim Carpenter, Kelli Simpkins & Silas Cooper to Lead Swine Palace's SPILL; Full Cast Announced

Jim Carpenter, Kelli Simpkins & Silas Cooper to Lead Swine Palace's SPILL; Full Cast Announced

Swine Palace, in association with The Study Group, is pleased to announce casting for the world premiere of Leigh Fondakowski's SPILL in March 2014.

SPILL is a multimedia play inspired by the 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil spill, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The project is the co-creation of playwright/director Leigh Fondakowski and visual artist Reeva Wortel, and is based on interviews, photographs and court documents collected in the aftermath of the spill. Louisiana citizens, including fishermen, political figures, cleanup workers, scientists, and oil industry workers, as well as others interviewed for the project, are characters represented in the play. Leigh Fondakowski will direct the project with an ensemble cast, some of whom have collaborated on past projects with Fondakowski - including national theatre actors Jim Carpenter, Kelli Simpkins and Silas Cooper, as well as local actors, Anthony McMurray, Jenny Ballard, Ashley Adams, Amar Atkins and Tim Moriarty.

SPILL includes scenic design by Sarah Lambert, lighting design by James L. Murphy, sound and media design by Matt O'Hare and costume design by Jamie Grace-Duff.

The production of SPILL begins March 12, officially opens on March 14th and runs through March 30th at the Reilly Theatre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A staged reading of the play was presented December 10th at Ensemble Studio Theatre in Manhattan as part of the EST/Sloan First Light Festival. SPILL was developed in part with commissioning funds from The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science and Technology project.

SPILL tells the dramatic story of the 2010 explosion on board the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, and the devastating impact of the 87-day spill on the coastal communities and marine life of Louisiana.

Within months of the disaster, the artists began speaking with a broad array of Louisiana citizens, including fishermen, political figures, cleanup workers, scientists, oil industry workers, and the families of those lost in the explosion. As they collected over 200 hours of stories and interviews, Wortel painted portraits of each interviewee. The play will premiere in conjunction with an art installation of these portraits.

SPILL explores the rich culture of Louisiana and the resilient nature of its inhabitants in the face of natural destruction and tragedy. The stories of the individuals, families, and communities whose history and daily lives are inextricably tied to the Bayou and the oil industry come to life in ways never before seen on stage. Through these poignant and deeply personal stories, Louisiana becomes a mirror of where we are as a society and a global community as we face the most important environmental, economic, and energy policy decisions of our time. Expressing the fundamental story of man versus nature, at the core of SPILL is the question: What is the true human and environmental cost of oil?

James Carpenter has 30 years of performing experience in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a former Associate Artist with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, performing in over 30 shows there, as well as the Aurora Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, The Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Cutting Ball Theater and TheatreWorks. This will be his 12th year as an Associate Artist with the California Shakespeare Theatre. Regional credits include work at Yale Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre, the Intiman Theatre, The Old Globe, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He was in Leigh Fondakowski's production of The People's Temple at Berkeley Rep. He is a recipient of the Bay Area Theatre Critic's Circle Continued Excellence in the Arts and Lifetime Achievement Awards and in 2010 was named a Lunt-Fontanne Fellow. Film Credits: Metro, Nine At Night (Singing), Presque Isle, The Rainmaker, The Sunflower Boy. Television: "Nash Bridges".

Silas Cooper most recently appeared in The New Orleans Shakespeare Festival productions of Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar. Other local appearances include 33 Variations at Southern Rep and The Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill A Mockingbird and True West for NOCCA Stage Company. He has toured nationally in Noises Off and appeared in Moscow, London and New York. Regional credits include Baltimore Center Stage, Delaware Theatre Company, Colonial Theatre, Dallas Rep, Swine Palace, Southern Rep, Tulane Center Stage and Utah Shakespearean Festival. Stage appearances in Los Angeles include the Falcon, 24th Street and Colony Theatres. Directing credits include Einstein and the Polar Bear in LA, The Trip to Bountiful at NOCCA Stage Company and Driving Miss Daisy at JPAS. TV/Film credits include the lead role Snakeskin Jacket, The Green Lantern, Columbiana, Chameleon, Schizopolis, Multiplicity, Justice for Natalee, Head of the Class, "Acceptance," "House of Secrets," "Treme," "Return to The Batcave," "JAG" and "Dr. Vegas". He is currently the head of the drama division at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. He holds a BFA in Theatre from Tulane and an MFA in Acting from the University of Washington's PATP.

Kelli Simpkins is a member of The Study Group and has worked on SPILL as a lead performer and dramaturg for two years. She is also an artistic associate of About Face Theater in Chicago and is a company member of Tectonic Theater Project in NYC. She is one of the original creator/performers of The Laramie Project, directed by Moises Kaufman, at the Denver Center, Berkeley Rep., La Jolla Playhouse and Off-Broadway. Regional theatre credits include the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Dramatists (Jeff nomination for principle actor), Chopin Theater, Timeline Theater, Piven, ATC, Steppenwolf Theatre, About Face Theatre, and HERE Arts Center, Cherry Lane Theater and Z Space. She worked five years as a performer/dramaturg on 33 Variations, directed by Moises Kaufman, prior to the premiere. Directing credits include Good Death, an original play that she directed and co-wrote with students at Western Michigan University. Film and TV credits include: Betrayal, A League of Their Own, Chasing Amy, The Nearly Unadventurous Life of Zoe Cadwaulder, "Law and Order: C. I." and HBO's "The Laramie Project" (Emmy nomination: Ensemble Writing.) She also performed in Leigh Fondakowski's The People's Temple at The Guthrie, Perseverance and Berkeley Rep. She is a certified teacher in Tectonic's "moment work" technique. Kelli is a 2013 proud recipient of the Chicago 3Arts Award.

Jenny Ballard is a recent graduate of Louisiana State University's Professional Actor Training Program, where she earned her M.F.A. Prior credits include Swine Palace's All the King's Men, A Free Man of Color, The Taming of the Shrew, Pride & Prejudice, August: Osage County, HEIST!, King Lear and Design for Living. She graduated with a B.A. in English and Theatre from the University of Tennessee. She is the Founding Artistic Director of Knoxville Children's Theatre where she worked as both an instructor and a director. Other professional credits include Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, The Miracle Worker, Arms and the Man, Twelfth Night (Tennessee Stage Co.); The Life of Galileo (Clarence Brown Theatre); The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Proof (Actor's Co-op).

Anthony McMurray is a recent graduate of Louisiana State University's Professional Actor Training Program, where he earned his M.F.A. Prior Credits include: Swine Palace's All the King's Men, A Free Man of Color, The Taming of the Shrew, Pride & Prejudice, August: Osage County, HEIST!, King Lear and The Metal Children. He graduated with a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Northern Colorado. Favorite credits include: Chicago, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and The Merchant of Venice. Anthony is currently the Producing Artistic Director of Playmakers of Baton Rouge.

Ashley Adams is a member of Swine Palace's resident ensemble and is currently pursuing her M.F.A. at Louisiana State University. She recently graduated from Anderson University with a B.A. in Musical Theatre. Recent Swine Palace credits include Clybourne Park and Twelfth Night.

Amar Atkins is an Atlanta native and currently a member of Swine Palace's resident ensemble. He received his B.A. in Theatre from Albany State University and is currently pursuing his M.F.A. at Louisiana State University. Recent Swine Palace credits include Clybourne Park, Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice.

Tim Moriarty, a native of Seattle, Washington, is a member of Swine Palace's resident ensemble. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in Philosophy from Boston College and is currently pursuing his M.F.A. at Louisiana State University. Recent Swine Palace credits include Clybourne Park, Twelfth Night and Merchant of Venice.

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