Wonder Woman Play LASSO OF TRUTH Set for Marin Theatre Company, 2/20-3/16

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Wonder Woman Play LASSO OF TRUTH Set for Marin Theatre Company, 2/20-3/16

Marin Theatre Company begins the second half of its 2013-14 Season with the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of Lasso of Truth, which was co-commissioned by MTC and NNPN in 2010 from Minnesota-based playwright Carson Kreitzer. Running for a limited time from February 20 to March 16, this multimedia theatrical event explores the history of Wonder Woman - from her creation as a comic book superhero character to her lasting influence in American pop culture. The play is directed by MTC artistic director Jasson Minadakis and features local actors Lauren English, Jessa Brie Moreno and Liz Sklar, as well John Riedlinger (Minnesota) and Nicholas Rose (Ohio). Opening night is Tuesday, February 25. Based in Mill Valley, MTC is a 47-year old professional nonprofit theater that is a destination for exhilarating performances, inspired new American plays and powerful theatrical experiences.

"When Carson approached me with her idea for Lasso of Truth, I don't think she realized how deeply its central theme would resonate with me," Minadakis said. "I have long been a fan of comic books - I learned to read through comic books and now my oldest son is learning to read through them too. The play that Carson wrote for us is beyond what I imagined. While it's primary storyline is about Wonder Woman's creator William Moulton Marston and his nontraditional family, this play has a lot to say about where we are today in regards to gender - how far we've come towards equality and how much further we have to go. Both the structure of this play and the design of our production are extraordinary, more like a comic book than a play, combining numerous plot lines and visual media - illustration and animation - with live storytelling to form a complex mosaic unlike anything we've had on our stage before."

In Lasso of Truth, a contemporary young woman is closing in on an ultra rare comic book, the first appearance of Wonder Woman, published in 1941. But as she does, she must untangle the knotty history behind her childhood idol's controversial creator, William Marston, and his unorthodox family. The early 20th-century psychologist and father of the modern lie detector modeled his superheroine on the two women - his wife (in real life Elizabeth Holloway Marston, a loose model for the character "Wife" in the play) and his former student and lover (Olive Byrne, a loose model for "Amazon") - with whom he had children and lived together in a polyamorous relationship. Believing that "not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength and power," he invented "the obvious remedy" - "a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman," not knowing his Amazon warrior would live on to become a worldwide feminist icon who continues to be at the center of battles over gender disparity.

Published by DC Comics (previously All-American Publications), Wonder Woman - known also as Princess Diana of Themyscira and her secret identity Diana Prince - was introduced in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941, first featured on the cover of Sensation Comics #1 in January 1942 and began to be published under her own title in Wonder Woman #1 by the summer of 1942. As created by William Moulton Marston, writing under the pseudonym Charles Moulton, she was an Amazonian warrior princess from Paradise Island with the god-like powers of Aphropdite, Athena, Hercules and Mercury combined. Over her 73-year history, Wonder Woman has been the center of numerous controversies. In 1968, she lost her powers, prompting Gloria Steinem to put the superheroine on the cover of the first issue of Ms. magazine in July 1972 and advocate for the reinstatement of her powers, which occurred in February 1973. Despite the success of the 1975-1979 Wonder Woman television series featuring Lynda Carter (currently being re-aired on Me-TV since December 2013), three other Wonder Woman television adaptations (in 1974, 2011 and 2014) have been scrapped and Wonder Woman has never appeared in a feature film. Wonder Woman's first blockbuster appearance will likely be in 2016 in Batman Vs. Superman, the sequel to 2013's Man of Steel, though rumors about the film-in-production have led to criticism about Wonder Woman serving as a supporting character, having limited powers and possibly being introduced as a love interest for Superman, as she was recently in DC Comic's New 52 comic series (Superman/Wonder Woman #1, October 2013).

Lasso of Truth was co-commissioned in 2010 by MTC and the National New Play Network. To workshop and develop the play, MTC partnered with Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, where playwright Carson Kreitzer was a Core Writer at the time of writing the play. Lasso of Truth also received readings at Lark Play Development Center in New York City, NNPN's National Showcase of New Plays at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington DC, Oregon Shakespeare Festival BLACK SWAN Lab and Playwriting Australia National Play Festival. Made possible in part by NNPN's Continued Life of New Plays Fund, this is the first production of the Rolling World Premiere of Lasso of Truth, which will also receive productions during the 2014-15 season at Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta from March 20 to April 13, 2014, and Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City from January 21 to February 8, 2015.

A long-time colleague of MTC's artistic director Jasson Minadakis, playwright Carson Kreitzer is known for her "muscular and sharp" (CityBeat) and "raw and bold" (Hollywood Reporter) writing that addresses "scorching issues [that] defy simple response" (Los Angeles Times). She has been produced at regional theaters across the country, as well as in New York and London. Locally, Custom Made Theatre Company produced Kreitzer's The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer in 2009.

MTC's artistic director Jasson Minadakis directs the world premiere of Lasso of Truth. Winner of the 2010 San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for best director (Equivocation) and a nominee in the same category in 2011 (The Glass Menagerie), he most recently directed The Whipping Man at MTC and Virginia Stage Company, a production that was highlighted as one of the best in the Bay Area of 2013 by San Francisco Chronicle, Marin IJ and BroadwayWorld.com - San Francisco. He has assembled a team of top local designers, including Annie Smart (scenic; Berkeley Rep, Cal Shakes), Callie Floor (costumes; MTC, A.C.T.), Jim French (lighting), Cliff Caruthers (sound; MTC, A.C.T., Berkeley Rep) and Kwame Braun (video; passing girl; riverside, Stageshakers!), with Minnesota-based graphic artist Jacob Stoltz to develop this production, which will include nearly 300 graphic images and four animation sequences in addition to the live performances.

Lasso of Truth features the returns of Marin native and Branson School graduate Liz Sklar, who last appeared at MTC in Othello, the Moor of Venice in 2012, and Jessa Brie Moreno (formerly Berkner), who directed MTC's 2013 School Tour production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and was last seen onstage at MTC in The Crucible in 2001. This world premiere features the debuts of San Francisco-based actor Lauren English, a founding company member of SF Playhouse, Cincinnati-based actor Nicholas Rose, who helped found the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company with Minadakis in 1993, and Minneapolis-based actor John Riedlinger, who has acted in numerous productions of Kreitzer's work including the world premieres of Flesh and the Desert (2012) and The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer (2003, with Frank Theatre) at Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis.

Recommended for mature teens and up due to adult language and content, including frank discussions and mild erotic scenes that feature homosexuality and bondage.

Pictured: Jessa Brie Moreno (Wife), Liz Sklar (Amazon) and Nicholas Rose (Inventor). Photo by Kevin Berne.

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