Hangar Theatre Company Presents Free Virtual Play DEAR HOPE

Dear Hope will stream at 7:30 PM EST on Sunday, November 1.

By: Oct. 21, 2020
Hangar Theatre Company Presents Free Virtual Play DEAR HOPE

At 7:30 PM EST on Sunday, November 1, the Hangar Theatre Company will present a virtual stream of a new play, Dear Hope, by Joy Peskin, directed by Michael Barakiva. The performance is free, with registration required at hangartheatre.org/hope.

Dear Hope is a semi-autobiographical story of Hope, a liberal Democrat attending the Women's March in Washington, DC on January 21, 2017. On the way there, she meets Jim, a conservative Republican who just attended the Presidential Inauguration. Alternating between live interactions and email exchanges, Dear Hope is the story of two good people from opposite sides of the political spectrum who will stop at nothing to find common ground. This play dramatizes the challenges and rewards of coming together during divided times.

Playwright Joy Peskin is an editor and personal essayist. She developed Dear Hope, her first play, over a series of Hangar Theatre AIRS (Artist in Residency) fellowships, during which she worked on and workshopped the play in Ithaca. Peskin explains: "Carrie Fisher's advice to ''take your broken heart, turn it into art' resonated with me when my friendship with the man who inspired Jim's character collapsed. I have never aspired to be part of big-picture social or political change, but I've always believed in the power of personal connection. So I thought if I can make friends with someone who truly loves the current President, if I can understand why that is, that will be something. I tried. But I couldn't. And I felt broken-hearted."

Directing the show is Michael Barakiva, who recently stepped down after five years as artistic director of the Hangar Theatre. Michael is an NYC-based Armenian/Israeli American writer and director. He is a graduate of Vassar College and the Juilliard School, where he studied as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Directing, and continues to serve as the artistic director of The Upstart Creatures.

"My initial idea was to edit the hundreds of emails my friend and I had exchanged over the course of the year and turn them into a staged reading," said Peskin. "But as Michael worked with me on this, he gently and patiently steered me toward fiction. Over many drafts, we started to chip away at the story of Jim and Hope, which is very different from my own story. We think this is ultimately a play about what can happen when people make sincere attempts at connection, understanding, and empathy."

Rick Holmes, who stars as Jim, is a member of Actor's Equity and a graduate of NYU's MFA program. Jim has a dozen Broadway credits, and his Off-Broadway credits include roles at MTC, Primary Stages, ATC, and CSC. His television appearances include Dead To Me, The Resident, Tommy, The Politician, Fosse/Verdon, The Punisher, Modern Family, and Atlanta. He has also appeared in films The Post, Irreplaceable You, The Girl In The Park, Melina and Melinda, and The Stepford Wives.

Emily Donahoe stars as Hope. She is an Actor's Equity member with an MFA from the University of California/San Diego and a BA from Vassar College. She appeared in 33 Variations on Broadway; her Off-Broadway credits include roles at Playwrights Horizon, Signature Theatre, The Play Company, Theatreworks, Apparition Productions, and Keen Company. Her film and television appearances include Atlantic City Story, Handsome Harry, Zelimo, Weeki Wachee Girls, How Do You Type a Broken Heart, FBI, Bull, High Maintenance, Law & Order: SVU, Homeland, and As the World Turns. "Barakiva and Peskin are facilitating a profoundly critical conversation with Dear Hope," said Donahue. "I am thrilled to be working on this intelligent, timely piece before what is possibly the most important election in American history. Take a break from writing postcards, phone banking, and bingeing the news, to witness something none of us have seen in a while--two people with opposing political views, attempting to engage deeply with ideas different than their own in the hopes of understanding and connecting with each other."

The production and design team includes Sound Designer Jeremiah Turner, Video Designer/Producer Kaede Kai Kogo, Assistant Director Monica Jimenez, Stage Manager Egypt Dixon, Assistant Stage Manager Thomas Bertron, and Production Manager Adam Zonder. The Hangar thanks Partners in Flight CFCU Community Credit Union and Cayuga Radio Group, and Partner in the Arts Ithaca College.

A pre-show chat will begin at 7:15 PM EST with a discussion of voter access and civic engagement. Leading the conversation will be Tompkins County League of Women Voters Co-President Sally Grubb and Cornell Votes President Patrick Mehler. A talk-back with cast and crew will follow the production.

Thanks to the support of a generous donor, this event is free and open to the public. Registration is required at hangartheatre.org/hope. We hope that this story and performance will inspire people everywhere to vote by November 3, 2020 (either by mail or in person). The performance will be available to view until then. While at times we may disagree, we hope never to disengage, and always to continue to dialogue!