Jayne Houdyshell to Star in JC Lee's RELEVANCE at MCC Theater
MCC Theater today announced that Tony Award winner and MCC alum Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans; A Doll's House, Part 2; Coraline at MCC Theater) will star in the World Premiere production of Relevance, written by J. Lee ("How to Get Away With Murder," "Looking") with direction by Tony Award nominee Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed). Complete casting will be announced at a later date.
"J. Lee is a master at examining the discomforts of identity, and he peels away several fresh layers in Relevance. It's a bracing look at the intersection between race and generation in feminism, and Jayne Houdyshell will illuminate it brilliantly," said MCC Artistic Director William Cantler.
As previously announced, Relevance begins previews at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street) on Thursday, February 1, 2018, with an official opening night set for Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
"Relevance raises difficult questions I don't have an answer to, but I couldn't be more excited to wrestle with them in this production at MCC Theater along with Liesl Tommy, a powerful voice, advocate and talent in our community," said playwright J. Lee. "Jayne is one of those actors who haunts a writer, challenging them to build a vehicle worthy of their immense talents. I wrote this play with her voice, her power and her wit at the forefront of my brain & heart. So, I am grateful that she's stepping into a role I crafted with her in mind."
In Relevance, Theresa Hanneck is a celebrated author and veteran feminist warrior; Msemaji Ukweli is a promising young writer who is quickly becoming the leading cultural critic on race, class, and gender for a new generation. When a heated exchange between the two women goes viral, Theresa finds herself ill-equipped to manage her message in the era of 140 character tweets-especially against a rival whose time may have come. A collision of ideals within the feminist movement propels J. Lee's riveting drama from breathless start to surprising finish. Who decides your worth?
Also announced today: the creative team for Relevance includes scenic design by Tony Award winner Clint Ramos, costume design by Jacob A. Climer, lighting design by Jiyoun Chang, sound design by Broken Chord, projection design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, and casting by Telsey + Company/Adam Caldwell, CSA, William Cantler, CSA, Karyn Casl, CSA. Production Stage Manager Alex H. Hajjar and Stage Manager Ayisha Hunt.
Jayne Houdyshell: Broadway: A Doll's House: Part 2 (Tony Award nomination), The Humans (Tony Award), Fish in the Dark, Romeo and Juliet, Follies (Tony Award
nomination), The Importance of Being Earnest, Dead Accounts, Bye Bye Birdie, Wicked, Well (Tony Award nomination, Theatre World Award). Off-Broadway: The Humans (Obie Award, Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble); Harrison, TX; Coraline, The Receptionist, The New Century, The Pain and The Itch, Much Ado About Nothing, Well (Obie Award). She is the recipient of a 2013 Special Drama Desk Award "for her artistry as an exceptionally versatile and distinctive Broadway and Off-Broadway performer." Film: Lucky Stiff, Everybody's Fine, Garden State, Trust the Man, Bounty Hunter. TV: "The Good Fight," "American Odyssey," "Elementary," "Blue Bloods," "Law & Order: SVU."
J. Lee writes for theatre, film and television. His play Luce received its world premiere in 2013 at Lincoln Center Theatre and is currently being adapted into a movie starring Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer. Other plays have been staged and developed throughout the United States at venues including Center Theatre Group, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company, Marin Theatre Company, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, Magic Theatre, Azuka Theatre Company and many others. He's received commissions and/or fellowships from The Old Globe, Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, South Coast Repertory, Playwright's Realm and the National New Play Network. His television credits include ABC's "How To Get Away With Murder," and both "Looking" and "Girls" on HBO, where he's developing a television show based on The Song Machine by John Seabrook. He's currently working on the film adaptation of The Nutcracker for Warner Brothers with director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. JC is a graduate of Bloomsburg University and The Juilliard School. He can be found online @jclee1230.
Liesl Tommy is an Obie and Lortel award-winning director whose recent Broadway production of Danai Gurira's Eclipsed starring Lupita Nyong'o garnered 6 Tony Award® nominations. Liesl made history as the first woman of color ever to be nominated for the Tony Award® for Best Direction of a Play. She also recently made her TV directorial debut with Ava DuVernay's show, Queen Sugar on Oprah's network OWN. Off-Broadway credits include: Vineyard Theatre/Signature Theatre (VA): Kid Victory; Public Theater:Eclipsed, Party People, The Good Negro; Signature Theatre: Appropriate (Obie Award). Liesl has also directed productions at the Hyperion Theater for Disney, Canadian Stage, Luminato Festival, Huntington Theater, LA Jolla Theater, Woolly Mammoth, Baltimore Centre Stage, Dallas Theater Center, OSF, Berkeley Repertory, Shakespeare Theater, CATF, Yale Repertory, California Shakespeare Theater, La Jolla Playhouse and Trinity Repertory. Liesl is a Program Associate at The Sundance Institute and Associate Artist at Berkeley Repertory. Liesl is a proud native of Cape Town South Africa.
MCC Theater broke ground on its first permanent home- a two-theater complex on West 52nd Street and 10th Avenue-on March 22, 2016. Set to open in 2018, the space will unite MCC's diverse roster of programs under one roof for the first time in the company's three-decade history. The new facility will also allow MCC to expand its programming and establish it as a cultural anchor within the Clinton neighborhood. The project is funded by a public-private partnership between the Theater and the City of New York.
MCC is one of New York's leading nonprofit Off-Broadway companies, driven by a mission to provoke conversations that have never happened and otherwise never would. Founded in 1986 as a collective of artists leading peer-based classes to support their own development as actors, writers and directors, the tenets of collaboration, education, and community are at the core of MCC Theater's programming. One of the only theaters in the country led continuously by its founders, Artistic Directors Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, and William Cantler, MCC fulfills its mission through the production of world, American, and New York premiere plays and musicals that challenge artists and audiences to confront contemporary personal and social issues, and robust playwright development and education initiatives that foster the next generation of theater artists and students.
MCC Theater's celebrated productions include Penelope Skinner's The Village Bike; Robert Askins' Hand to God; John Pollono's Small Engine Repair; Paul Downs Colaizzo's Really Really; Sharr White's The Other Place (Broadway transfer); a fully reimagined version of the legendary musical Carrie; Jeff Talbott's The Submission (Laurents/Hatcher Award); Michael Weller's Fifty Words; Alexi Kaye Campbell's The Pride; Bryony Lavery's Frozen (Broadway transfer; four 2004 Tony Award® nominations including Best Play, Tony Award® for Best Featured Actor); Tim Blake Nelson's The Grey Zone; Rebecca Gilman's The Glory of Living (2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist); Margaret Edson's Wit (1999 Pulitzer Prize); and ten plays by Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute, including Reasons to Be Happy, reasons to be pretty (Broadway transfer, three 2009 Tony Award® nominations, including Best Play), Some Girl(s), Fat Pig, The Mercy Seat, and most recently All The Ways To Say I Love You. Many plays developed and produced by MCC have gone on to productions throughout the country and around the world.
Blake West joined the company in 2006 as Executive Director. MCC will open its first permanent home in 2018 in Manhattan's Clinton neighborhood, unifying the company's activities under one roof for the first time and expanding its producing, artist development, and education programming.