THE BIG MEAL to Open Artists Rep's 2013-14 Season, 9/3-10/6
Artists Rep's 2013/14 season kicks off with The Big Meal by Dan LeFranc in its West Coast premiere, directed by new Artistic Director Dámaso Rodriguez. Set in a quintessential American restaurant, entire lives whiz by for a modern family whose stage and age are short-order fare. From birth to that inevitable last course - and every corndog, calamari and Cadillac margarita in between - a multi-generational potluck of characters live life's major and minor moments around the dinner table.
At the production's first rehearsal, Director Dámaso Rodriguez said that this play, with its strong themes of family and food, beginning and endings, gatherings and goodbyes, couldn't be a better start to his tenure as Artists Rep's Artistic Director.
Portraying 26 characters and five generations in 80 minutes with eight actors is an unprecedented undertaking for a playwright, a director and a cast. Written more like a score than a play, The Big Meal's unique format allows for a flow of overlapping dialogue and tangential conversations found at any family's dinner table. With quick time shifts over the course of the play, the essence of characters get passed to another actor in the next age.
"At first it feels like a cute romantic comedy," said director Damaso Rodriguez. "And then it transforms, becoming more abstract and expressionistic as it goes." The complexity of life is reflected in how the play is told. Rodriguez continues, "This play speaks to universal things that if told traditionally would be prosaic but in this condensed form really looks at the whole of life in a very interesting and all-encompassing way."
He said The Big Meal is a "real ensemble piece that needs smart, fast, intuitive actors." The outstanding cast includes Allen Nause (former Artistic Director, Resident Artist), Vana O'Brien (Resident Artist), Scott Lowell (lauded LA-based screen and stage veteran), along with Val Landrum, Britt Harris, Andy Lee-Hillstrom, Agatha Olson and Harper Lea.
Scenic Design by LA-based, award-winning designer Susan Gratch, Sound Design by Rodolfo Ortega, Resident Artist; Lighting Design by Brent J. Sullivan; Costume Design by Jessica Bobillot; Properties Design by Rusty Tennant. The Stage Manager is Michelle Jazuk, the Assistant Director is John Steinkamp, and Stephanie Mulligan is the Production Manager.
The Big Meal, written by Dan LeFranc and directed by Dámaso Rodriguez features Vana O'Brien, Allen Nause, Val Landrum, Scott Lowell, Britt Harris, Andy Lee-Hillstrom, Agatha Olson and Harper Lea. Performance Dates: Sept. 3 - Oct. 6. Preview performances September 3-6. Opening Night is Saturday, September 7. Show runs Wednesday through Sunday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2pm. All performances play the Artists Repertory Theatre - Alder Stage (16th and Alder St.). Tickets: $25-$55. Box Office: 503.241.1278 or www.artistsrep.org.
Dan LeFranc received the 2010 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award for Sixty Miles to Silver Lake, premiered by Page 73 Productions and Soho Rep. His play The Big Meal received its world premiere at American Theatre Company in Chicago, where it was declared the "#1 Play of 2011" by Time Out Chicago and garnered five Joseph Jefferson Award nominations. The Big Meal received its off-Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons, where it picked up a Drama Desk nomination and four Lucille Lortel nominations, including for Outstanding Play. His most recent play, Troublemaker or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright recently premiered at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Dan's other plays include Backyard, Bruise Easy, Catgut, The Fishbone Fables, In the Labyrinth, Kill the Keepers, Night Surf, and Origin Story. Dan is currently working on commissions for Yale Rep, South Coast Rep, and Playwrights Horizons. He has been recognized with the Helen Merrill Award and the Whitfield Cook Award, plus a Djerassi Resident Artists Program Fellowship, a John C. Russell Fellowship, and two MacDowell Colony/Alpert Foundation Residencies. He is a member of the MCC Playwrights Coalition and New Dramatists, and a former member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. A graduate of the MFA playwriting program at Brown University, Dan served as head playwriting instructor for the Brown/Trinity Rep Consortium and visiting faculty at Brown, SUNY Purchase, and Yale University, among others. Sixty Miles to Silver Lake andThe Big Meal have been published by Samuel French. The Big Meal also appeared in TheatreForum, McSweeney's quarterly food journal Lucky Peach, and the Methuen Drama Book of New American Plays, edited by Sarah Benson. Dan is currently the Playwright-In-Residence at Playwrights Horizons.