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Ancram Opera House Announces SUMMER PLAY LAB Featuring Three New Works By Leading Theater Artists

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Ancram Opera House Announces SUMMER PLAY LAB Featuring Three New Works By Leading Theater Artists

Three theater artists -- Heather Christian, Mariah Ayscue and Frank Boyd - will present streamed staged readings of new works-in-progress at the Ancram Opera House August 7-16. All showings are free and will take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 7PM, with artist talkbacks on Friday, Aug. 14 and Sunday Aug. 16. Reservations are required. RSVP:

"It is an honor to be supporting three visionary theatre artists as they develop their new work; we are especially pleased to welcome back Heather Christian and Frank Boyd, and to introduce Mariah Ayscue," said Jeffrey Mousseau, Co-Director of Ancram Opera House. "Each of their pieces is at a different stage of development, but the common thread is that while we didn't ask them to address these extraordinary times in their work, each artist is ultimately responding in a unique, powerful and personal way to the magnitude of this moment."

Obie Award winning composer/performer Heather Christian's None: A Practical Breviary makes reference to "The Divine Offices" or the "Canonical Hours," a series of eight short masses sung at three-hour intervals by cloistered Catholic nuns and monks. None is set during the canonical hour of 3pm which, in Christian traditions, is an hour of despair and isolation. "Not unlike," said Christian, "Our current moment of enforced separation from our communities." None is an hour of musical hybrids, mixing classical forms with pop music, jazz and blues set against NASA recordings of planetary music "singing" to create a new kind of cosmic gospel. Christian developed Drive-In: American Fugue -- a portion of a larger musical work that focused on small American towns -- as a 2019 Ancram Opera House Artist-in-Residence.

The actor and writer Frank Boyd wrote and performed The Holler Sessions, about one man's burning obsession with American jazz, at Ancram Opera House in 2017. His new piece has the Working Title Live from Lodge #274: Auction Preview. Inspired by findings from garage sales, estate auctions, thrift stores and eBay, Boyd uses personal artifacts from everyday American life in a search for perspective on the loss, reckoning and general strangeness of the current moment. Conceptualized as an Elks Club charity auction, Live from Lodge 274: Auction Preview draws on the work of Buster Keaton, 90s hip hop, and the complicated history of "benevolent" American institutions.

Mariah Ayescue's Mother Hope is set against the backdrop of Covid-19 and national demands for a social justice reckoning. It asks us: Where do we find hope amidst a pandemic? How do people with mental illness cope during this time? Will burgeoning movements like Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name, The Resistance Movement and the MMIW crisis be remembered post Covid-19? What happens when we politicize trauma? Presented in collaboration with Girl Be Heard, a non-profit theatre company that brings global issues affecting girls center stage by empowering young women to tell their stories. Ayscue is a spoken word poet, playwright, director, performer, and activist from Montclair, NJ.

The Ancram Opera House, located in southern Columbia County, is an award-winning intimate rural performance hall showcasing contemporary theatre and alternative cabaret by visionary theater and musical artists. For more information visit

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