Photo Flash: Christopher Stokes At Opening Of The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller
On September 12, 2010, Dog Run Rep's world premiere of Jeff Cohen's new play The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller, directed by Alfred Preisser, opened at the West End Theatre, located in The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew on New York's Upper West Side. The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller has a limited run at the West End Theatre, 263 West 86th Street @ West End Avenue, with performances continuing through Sunday, October 3, 2010.
Cohen's play is adapted from the short story by Christopher Stokes, The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller, which is featured in the prestigious anthology Best New American Voices, 2008 and was subsequently published in McSweeney's, 23. At the reception after the show, castmembers were delighted to meet author Christopher Stokes and his wife Beth, who had flown in from Dallas for the opening night performance.
In 1961, Michael Rockefeller, 23 years old, disappeared among the Asmat People of Papua, New Guinea. He was never heard from again. The disappearance of Michael Rockefeller remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of the past 50 years. The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller takes the audience on a journey to the Asmat region of Papua, New Guinea where cannibalism and head-hunting were still a vital part of centuries-old traditions. At the time of his disappearance, Michael Rockefeller, son of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, was already a well-respected cultural anthropologist with a deep passion for exploring the unknown. "It's the desire to do something romantic and adventurous," he said, "at a time when frontiers, in the real sense of the word, are disappearing." Michael Rockefeller also knew that Western contact with the "primitive" world was destroying that world. Even in 1961, in less remote areas of the region, native peoples were wearing pants and losing their way of life. Rockefeller observed: "The West thinks in terms of bring advance and opportunity to such a place. In actuality we bring a cultural bankruptcy."
A cottage industry has grown up around the incident. Fueled, no doubt, by the celebrity of the Rockefeller name, and similarities to the great Conrad story Heart of Darkness, the disappearance has spawned films, books, television episodes and articles, including in Oui Magazine (April, 1977) an article titled: Is This The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller? Christopher Stokes story (and Cohen's stage adaptation) turn the tables on this industry, telling the story as the Asmats themselves might have told it, and challenging our Western cultural biases.
The cast for Michael Rockefeller features Daniel Morgan Shelley as Designing Man, David King as Half-Moon Terror, Aaron Strand as Michael Rockefeller, David Brown, Jr. as Bringing Man, Shannon A. L. Dorsey as Breezy, Tracy Jack as Plentiful Bliss, Rawle "Fitz" Williams as the Governor, Tyshawna Maddox as the Chorus and Sean Lum.
Playwright Jeff Cohen is the Artistic Director and founder of Dog Run Rep and was the founder and Artistic Director of Worth Street Theater Company, The Tribeca Playhouse, and The RAPP Arts Center (now the Connelly Theatre). He has enjoyed an accomplished career in the theatre as playwright, director and producer. His original plays include The Soap Myth and Men Of Clay (Best New Play, 2005 - The Baltimore City Paper). His adaptations of Chekhov include Uncle Jack (published in the anthology Playing With Canons) and The Seagull: The Hamptons (Ten Best Plays - The Boston Globe) - with various casts including Neil Huff, Marin Hinkle, Tammy Grimes, D.B. Sweeney and Laura Linney. Other adaptations include Orestes: I Murdered My Mother, Tartuffe, and the Audelco Award-winning Whoa-Jack! (based on Woyzeck) which featured the professional stage debut of Michael Ealy. Other notable productions include The Normal Heart at The Public Theater (Drama Desk nomination - Best Play Revival), Four by Christopher Shinn (Drama Desk nomination, Lortel Award), Tristine Skyler's The Moonlight Room (Ten Best Plays - The New York Times, 2 Lortel nominations, Outer Critics nomination), The Mystery of Attraction by Marlene Meyer (Obie Award) Tennessee Williams' Small Craft Warnings (featuring David Greenspan) and The Tribeca Playhouse Stage Door Canteen (special 2002 Drama Desk Award).
Director Alfred Preisser, from 1999 - 2009, was the Founding Artistic Director of The Classical Theatre of Harlem, where he created a wide and distinguished body of work noted for its physicality, originality, and use of music and dance. Award-winning highlights include his 2009 production of ARCHIBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE starring André De Shields (four Audelcos); Melvin Van Peebles' Ain't Supposed To Die a Natural Death (seven Audelcos); and his 2006 production of King Lear with André De Shields which opened the 75th Anniversary season at The Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C. He has created critically acclaimed original adaptations of Medea, The Trojan Women and Electra. He is a visiting artist and professor of theatre and directing at City College of New York, and is working with Professor Eugene Nesmith, Associate Professor, and Chair in the Department of Theater at CCNY, to create CityArts Theatre (CAT), a professional summer theatre company for the school. Projects in development include an annual Christmas dance-concert Black Nativity Now, opening in December 2010 at Theatre at St. Clements; and a multi-city tour of Ain't Supposed To Die a Natural Death by Melvin Van Peebles in 2011, marking the 40th Anniversary of that seminal American spoken word musical. After a twice-extended run at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre this Spring, Caligula Maximus, an outrageous theatrical extravaganza, combining elements of a circus, a play with music, and a nightclub installation, co-written by Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner and directed by Preisser, is slated for a commercial run this Fall. His work has been recognized with the American Theatre Wing Award (Outstanding Artistic Achievement), Drama Desk Award (Artistic Achievement), Lucille Lortel Award (Outstanding Body of Work), two Obie Awards (Sustained Achievement and Excellence in Theatre) and numerous Audelco Awards.
The production and design team includes sets by Heather Wolensky, lights by Jay Scott, costumes by Kimberly Glennon, production stage management and sound design by Katie Hong, and press and photography by Lia Chang.
The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller has a limited run at the West End Theatre, The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew, 263 West 86th Street @ West End Avenue, with performances continuing through Sunday, October 3, 2010.
Please note the following performance schedule:
9/16 @ 8 pm, 9/18 @ 8 pm, 9/19 @ 7 pm, 9/20 @ 8 pm
9/23 @ 8 pm, 9/24 @ 8 pm, 9/25 @ 8 pm, 9/26 @ 7 pm
9/30 @ 8 pm, 10/1 @ 8 pm, 10/2 @ 8 pm, 10/3 @ 5 pm
Tickets are $18 and can be purchased through Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or online at www.smarttix.com. $10 RUSH ticket for students and seniors, day of performance, cash only. For more information go to www.dogrunrep.com.
Christopher Stokes and his wife Beth
David Brown, Jr., Shannon A.L. Dorsey, Daniel Morgan Shelley, David King (L-R back row) author Christopher Stokes, playwright Jeff Cohen, Rawle â€œFitzâ€? Williams, director Alfred Preisser, Tyshawna Maddox, Tracy Jack
Playwright Jeff Cohen, author Christopher Stokes, Rawle â€œFitzâ€? Williams, director Alfred Preisser, Shannon A. L. Dorsey, Tyshawna Maddox, Sean Lum, (L-R back row) Tracy Jack, David Brown, Jr. , Daniel Morgan Shelley, David King