Olney Theatre Center to Present Lauren Gunderson's I AND YOU, 2/26-3/23

Olney Theatre Center to Present Lauren Gunderson's I AND YOU, 2/26-3/23

Olney Theatre Center, a Maryland destination for professional theater performance and education, will present the National New Play Network (NNPN) Rolling World Premiere of I And You by playwright Lauren Gunderson February 26 - March 23, 2014 in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab. Ms. Gunderson's play was just last week selected as a finalist for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Award.

Ms. Gunderson's big-hearted, life-affirming play tells the intimate story of Anthony and Caroline, two high-schoolers from very different worlds who find themselves thrown together to research Walt Whitman's towering masterpiece, Leaves of Grass. As the two get to know each other through Whitman's powerful verse, they finally learn of the deeper mystery that brought them together. I And You is a valentine to youth, poetry, hope, heart, and the connections between us all.

"I am excited to be producing a new play, and in particular bringing this project to Olney Theatre Center," says Olney Theatre Center Artistic Director Jason Loewith. "I And You gives us our first collaboration with major rising talent Lauren Gunderson. And I have long admired director Eleanor Holdridge's work and was ecstatic at how quickly she became attached to this project and dug deep into the play."

"I have long wanted to work with Jason and Olney Theatre Center," says Ms. Holdridge. "Then I read Lauren's script and was captivated with the incredible richness of her language and how she combines the vigor and rhythm of contemporary teenage speech, with the timeless beauty and vigor of Walt Whitman."

The cast of I And You features two Olney Theatre Center newcomers, Thaddeus Fitzpatrick as Anthony and Rachael Tice as Caroline. Mr. Fitzpatrick recently participated in the Lincoln Center Education reading of Autumn's Harvest and Harold Clurman Theatre's production of Alcestis. Ms. Tice recently appeared in Pulling Teeth and Chekhov's The Seagull at the Alley Theatre and recently made her film debut in Slider which will be out in theaters this Spring. I And You is made possible in part by contributions from production sponsor Patricia Woodbury, FTI Consulting.

I AND YOU by Lauren Gunderson, directed by Eleanor Holdridge, will run February 26 - March 23. Press Night: Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 7:45pm. Performances are Wednesday-Saturday at 7:45pm; matinees on Sunday at 1:45pm; Saturday matinees at 1:45pm on March 8, 15, and 22; and, Wednesday matinees on March 5, 12, and 19. There are no evening performances on March 5, 13 and 19. Tickets are $32.50-$65. Discounts available for groups, seniors, military, and students.

ABOUT LAUREN GUNDERSON Lauren Gunderson is the co-bookwriter for the musical The Happy Elf with music and lyrics by Harry Connick, Jr. Her newest play, I and You, was presented at South Coast Repertory's Pacific Playwrights Festival in April 2012, her third commission with the theatre. They previously produced her commissions Silent Sky and Emilie: Le Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight (published by Samuel French). Her play, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is currently enjoying productions in multiple cities around the country this year (published by Playscripts), and her youth musical, The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful (And Her Dog!) premiered at the Kennedy Center in October. She is currently working on a new play commission for SF Playhouse. Her plays have been produced off-Broadway (Parts They Call Deep), off-off Broadway (Sus Manos), and regionally (including Class, The Van Gogh Cafe, Leap, Background, and A Short History of Nearly Everything). She has been commissioned by Marin Theatre Company and has also developed plays with Primary Stages and Second Stage in NYC, O'Neill Playwrights Conference, Magic Theatre in San Francisco, Kitchen Dog Theatre in Dallas, Actors Express and Horizon Theatre in Atlanta, JAW/West in Portland, among others. Her work has received national praise and awards including the Berrilla Kerr Award for American Theatre, Young Playwright's Award, Eric Bentley New Play Award, Essential Theatre Prize, and many others including a TFI Sloan Science Script Award for her screenplay Grand Unification. She teaches Arts Activism and has spoken internationally about the intersection of science and theatre, as well as writes for The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and tweets @LalaTellsAStory. She holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch and is a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.

ABOUT THE CONTINUED LIFE OF NEW PLAYS FUND: NNPN's flagship program, the Continued Life of New Plays Fund, supports three or more theatres which choose to mount the same new play within a twelve-month period. The result is a Rolling World Premiere through which the playwright develops a new work with multiple creative teams, for multiple communities of patrons, ensuring the resulting play is of the highest possible quality. And with a minimum of three productions in a single year, the play attains the momentum it needs to join the repertoire of frequently-produced new American works. NNPN provides grants of $7,000 to the first three participating theaters in each Rolling World Premiere; to date, NNPN has championed the continued life of 35 new plays in over 100 productions, with over a quarter-million dollars in grants. ABOUT OLNEY THEATRE CENTER Olney Theatre Center is an award-winning, nonprofit, Equity theatre. Located just north of Washington, D.C. in arts-rich Montgomery County, Maryland, Olney Theatre Center offers a diverse array of professional productions year-round. Olney Theatre Center is situated on 14 acres in the heart of the beautiful Washington-Baltimore-Frederick "triangle," within easy access of all three cities. Olney Theatre Center is home to the National Players, America's longest-running touring company and led by Artistic Director Jason Loewith and Managing Director Amy Marshall. For more information, visit www.olneytheatre.org. Follow Olney Theatre Center on Twitter @olneytheatre or twitter.com/olneytheatre and on Facebook at facebook.com/olneytheatre.

ABOUT NATIONAL NEW PLAY NETWORK The National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country's alliance of non-profit professional theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has commissioned almost two dozen playwrights, provided nineteen MFA graduates with paid residencies, and supported nearly 150 productions nationwide through its innovative Continued Life of New Plays Fund, which creates "Rolling World Premieres" of new plays. Hundreds of artists have gained employment through these efforts in the dozens of regions of the country where NNPN member theaters are located. NNPN receives substantial support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Shubert Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Network is comprised of a relatively small group of Core Members, who pioneer and implement collaborative new play strategies, and a growing group of Associate Members, who disseminate the Network's programs and strategies nationwide.

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