Corkscrew Theater Festival Opens With THE END OF MERMAIDS, Dark Comedy Set In Failing Mermaid Theme Park
Corkscrew Theater Festival presents the world premiere of The End of Mermaids, written by Anya Richkind and directed by Allison Benko. Running July 12-22, The End of Mermaids is a sinister comedy about a group of women striving to achieve true beauty through their performances at a failing mermaid theme park, while under siege from an impatient, hungry alligator. The play includes several 'underwater performance' sequences, brought to life by inventive set, costume, lighting, and sound design. Performed by Isabella Dawis, Elizabeth Evans, Lindsey Spohler, and Maggie Thompson*, The End of Mermaids kicks off the second annual season of Corkscrew Theater Festival, a new summer theater festival that provides early-career artists with a high level of production support.
Welcome to Mermaidland, Florida, the only place on earth where mermaids are real! Join us for our afternoon special starring Mermaid Bee, Mermaid Vana, and our newest princess of the deep, Mermaid Marie. Reawaken your childhood fantasies. Revel in the death-defying underwater dances. Soak in the impossible beauty. And please disregard the alligators. There is nothing to worry about.
"I recently shared the script with someone who called the world of Mermaidland sparkly and absurdly cruel," said Richkind. "Honestly that is pretty much how I feel about the pursuit of femme beauty -- it is so enticing and so relentless. Wouldn't it feel so good to look beautiful? Even if it also hurts? I think these contrasting forces permeate all aspects of the play, from dialogue to design. We're creating a world that lures you in with cotton candy and then devours you without a second thought. And that feels so exciting. And a little bit scary."
Corkscrew Theater Festival features five world premieres and four readings performed in repertory over four weeks. Special attention has been given to theater makers who are developing work through innovative and robust collaborations. A majority of the participating artists identify as women or trans.
"This play is rich in so many things: language, ideas, and humor," said Benko. "That's a recipe for a pretty amazing play in my book. My elevator pitch typically focuses on the mermaids and the alligators. But in a larger sense, the play is really about the small utopias we create for ourselves, and how precarious those utopias are. The mermaids may think that they live in a female-centric paradise, but they can't actually escape patriarchal demand. It's been a real joy grappling with the enormity of these questions."
The creative team for The End of Mermaids includes An-lin Dauber (set design), Cha See (lighting design), Lily Prentice (costume design), Jacqueline Reed (projection design), Grace Oberhofer (sound design/composer), Nick O'Leary (dramaturg), Cinthia Chen (props design), Margaret Gleberman (stage manager), and Lexie Frare (choreographer).
Performances ofThe End of Mermaids will take place July 12-22 (see schedule above) at Paradise Factory (64 E 4th St, Manhattan). Critics are welcome as of July 12, which serves as the official opening. Tickets are $24 and can be purchased at corkscrewfestival.org or by calling 347.954.9125.
*Appearing through the courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.
Anya Richkind is a graduate of Yale University and a former finalist in the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference. Richkind's work has been produced at Yale, in New York City and in the Bay Area, California. Richkind has studied with Donald Margulies, Deb Margolin and Sarah Ruhl. Richkind likes to write about women, wacky phenomena and where they overlap. www.anyarichkind.comAllison Benko is a director of plays, musical theatre, and opera. Recent/upcoming projects include Another Mikado, Single Rider, What Happened That Night, A Doll's House: A New Opera, The Secret Death of Puppets, The Arthur Miller Centennial, Twelfth Night, and She Loves Me. Notable assistant direction includes Oslo at Lincoln Center Theater directed by Bartlett Sher, which received the Tony for Best Play. Benko has also studied ritualistic shadow puppetry at the Tholpavakoothu Puppet Centre in Kerala, India. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and holds a B.A. in Drama from Tufts University. allisonbenko.com.Alexandra Cadena is a graduate of Yale University and is incredibly honored to be participating in this year's Corkscrew Festival as the producer of The End of Mermaids. She has worked extensively as a producer/stage manager in the theatre with the Yale School of Drama's student-run theatre the Yale Cabaret. Her work as a theatre director/producer also includes the New York International Fringe Festival. She has a vast experience in film and her Production Company, AC Pictures, has several award-winning shorts that have premiered at the Next International Film Festival, Worldfest-Houston, and SENE film festivals. Lindsey Spohler really loves mermaids. She was born and raised in New York City. She graduated in 2013 from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School as a Drama Major and recipient of the Father Fame Award for Musical Theatre Performance. She finished her senior year playing her dream role, Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Lindsey then majored in Theatre at Northwestern University, where she developed passions for on-camera acting as well as the visual arts, and received her degree in the Spring of 2017. She especially thanks Caleb Madison, the original Larry, for introducing her to this awesome group of creatives.
Isabella Dawis happily returns to Corkscrew! Recent: Center for Contemporary Opera (singer and pianist), New York Philharmonic Biennial (featured singer), Opera America, National Asian American Theatre Company, NYU Graduate Film, the Skeleton Rep/the Tank, Project Y's Women in Theatre Festival, New Ohio Ice Factory. Regional: Mu Performing Arts, Minnesota Opera, Children's Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. B.M. summa cum laude, piano performance, University of Minnesota; Classical Voice, New England Conservatory. www.isabelladawis.comElizabeth Evans: Recent Projects: Original cast of Theresa Rebeck's The Way of the World, the film Where is Kyra opposite Michelle Pfeiffer, the Days Like This short film series. She is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. Elizabeth is currently studying at NYU's Graduate Acting Department and will receive her MFA in May 2019.
Maggie Thompson is a Brooklyn born and based actor. Recent theatre credits include Hamlet (dir. Michael Kahn) and Twelfth Night (dir. Ethan McSweeney) at Shakespeare Theatre Company; Othello, Red Velvet, and The Learned Ladies at Theatre at Monmouth; Hedda at HERE Arts Center. She is a graduate of Ithaca College with a BFA in Acting.
Now in its second year, Corkscrew Theater Festival showcases original productions by early-career artists who are creating work through robust and innovative collaborations. Corkscrew aims to advocate for underrepresented artists and viewpoints while mounting a festival that offers a unique mix of work at various stages of development, promoting dialogue among artists and building community around a season of theatre. In its inaugural 2017 run, Corkscrew was featured in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Playbill, WNYC, and more. "Packed with young talent. In the risk-taking venture that is summer festival-going, encountering talent you want to see more of is a worthy payoff." www.corkscrewfestival.org
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