MANA Plays Centre Theater, 11/2-25; Moves to Philly's Off Broad Street Theater, 11/29-12/2
Thousands of miles of the Pacific have helped keep the secrets of Easter Island from the world. The prehistoric people on the most remote island on earth, which they called Rapa Nui, created hundreds of massive stone statues, moved them miles across the island and then stood them on gigantic stone ceremonial platforms, which themselves were works of engineering equal to the pyramids.
Who made the gigantic statues, and how did they move them from their volcanic quarry? Then why were the statues toppled and the islanders descend into chaos and cannibalism?
In 1913 a yacht sailed from England and a harrowing year later arrived at the island to try and solve the mysteries. Led by Katherine Routledge, one of the first female archaeologists, and one the first women to graduate from Oxford University. Routledge, who was the heir to one of the largest fortunes in England, had done archeology in Africa. She became fascinated with enigmatic Easter Island and convinced the Royal Society to sponsor the first archaeological explorations of the island.
She and her husband landed and began to try and unravel the hidden story, but quickly found themselves in a world where the mysteries only got more puzzling and quickly dangerous.
Based on the true story of the Routledge expeditions, Ray Saraceni's "Mana" tears part the thin façade of Imperial nobility as the proper British researchers come face to face with the bloody reality of life on the island. Even darker secrets emerge from Katherine's haunted past as she tries to control her own ghosts, while the potent and often dangerous spectral ancestors of the islanders defend their secrets.
Katherine struggles to solve the mystery of the island before the it again descends into chaos and horror.
"Mana" opens November 2 and runs through November 25 at the Centre Theater, Norristown's professional theater at 208 DeKalb St. in downtown Norristown. Show-times are 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. The production then moves to Philadelphia for 4 performances at the Off Broad Street Theater, 1720 Sansom Street. Showtimes in Philadelphia are Thursday November 29 through Saturday December 1 at 8 p.m. and Sunday December 2 at 2 p.m.
Mr. Saraceni was born and raised in Bryn Mawr, attended Malvern Prep and received his bachelors and Master degrees from Villanova University. He received his Doctorate in theater history from Tufts University and teaches at Villanova University. Saraceni has been a critically acclaimed actor on many Philadelphia stages. His first play "Maroons, The Anthracite Gridiron," was a huge hit last fall and was nominated for a Barrymore award for best new play.
"It's always a pleasure to take on the mysteries of a new play," stated John Doyle, co-director of the production. "I think the audience is going to really enjoy discovering what Katherine finds out, about the island and herself, through the course of this exciting new play."
This is the 25th year of the collaboration of John Doyle and Randall Wise and directors. They have codirected more than 50 productions over the span of their careers.
The cast feature's Adam Altman as the cynical company manager Percy Edmund. Altman has performed across the region with many theater companies. Playing Katherine is Laurie Norton and has worked with Iron Age Theatre in the critically claimed Simpatico. has been seen at the Wilma, the Idiopathic Radiculopathy Consortium. She has performed in New York and was nominated for a Barrymore for ANGELS IN AMERICA. Mark Cairns plays Scoresby, He is a veteran actor widely seen on the Philadelphia stage with the Wilma, Philly Shakes, Luna, EgoPo and Commonwealth Classic Theatre.
Working together the Centre Theater and Iron Age Theatre have been one of the most critically acclaimed companies in the area for over fifteen years. The Philadelphia City Paper called the companies "The area's most under-appreciated professional theater." The companies have receivEd Barrymore nominations for a number of their productions including a Best New play nod the world premieres of the boxing comedy "Molumby's Millions," and the Pottsville, Pennsylvania centered tale about the birth of the National Football League "Maroons, the Anthracite Gridiron."