Kitchen Theatre Company Offers the World Premiere of BIRDS OF EAST AFRICA
Kitchen Theatre Company kicks off 2017 with the world premiere of Wendy Dann's poignant and poetic Birds of East Africa, directed by Rachel Lampert, January 29th-February 12th. Previews begin Sunday January 29th with Opening Night on February 2nd.
Following the unexpected death of her husband, Marion, an accomplished ornithologist, finds herself without a place that feels like home. Not knowing where to land, she arrives on the doorstep of her college friend Stephen and his husband Nick but is quickly caught in the middle of their unraveling marriage. Stephen's career is all consuming, leaving Little Room for Nick, who has a chronic illness with symptoms that have begun to accelerate. The three mid-40's friends discover they are standing at a crossroads, and that what once seemed permanent and secure in their lives is now fragile and vulnerable. In a series of tightly wrought scenes moving back and forth in time, with dancers transforming into the birds so central to Marion's life, Wendy Dann's new play explores how we heal, find hope and move on. "I am fascinated by playwright Wendy Dann's ability to so truthfully capture life's tiny, intimate moments of communication. The play is packed with those seconds in time when we observe something seemingly minor that transforms into a revelation," says Rachel Lampert, artistic director of Kitchen Theatre Company and director of Birds of East Africa. "Wendy has written an exquisite piece that offers honesty and hope amidst sorrow and loss. I am excited to see this world premiere come to life with our wonderfully talented cast."
Kitchen Theatre Company's Birds of East Africa cast includes one Kitchen Theatre Company veteran: Lena Kaminsky* (Marion), who played Donna in the 2014-2015 production Swimming in the Shallows. Joining her are NYC-based actors Daniel Pettrow* (Stephen), Gabriel Marin* (Nick), and Jacob Goodhart (Daniel). Ithaca College student Jeremiah Porter and New York City-based Jeremy Swift are actor/dancers who round out the cast in various roles, including the gorgeous birds that Marion has spent her professional life studying. (*Member, Actors' Equity Association) Playwright Wendy Dann is a writer and director based in Ithaca. She is the co-author of the musical Sammy & Me (MusicalFare Theatre, Hangar Theatre, ALLIANCE THEATRE, National Black Theatre Festival and New Vintage Theatricals). Her play The Strangest Thing was a finalist for the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and her short play Brother Love was a finalist for the Arts & Letters Prize in Drama and was published in Stone Canoe. Her work has been developed and produced by the Hangar Theatre Pilot Series, the Civic Ensemble and Cherry Arts. Wendy is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Playwriting. Regional directing work includes Dallas Theater Center, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, ALLIANCE THEATRE, Syracuse Stage, Capitol Repertory Theatre, Kitchen Theatre Company (including last season's Buyer & Cellar), and seven seasons as associate artistic director at the Hangar Theatre. The creative team includes scenic designer Alexander Woodward (What I Thought I Knew, Waiting for Spring at KTC), lighting designer Steve TenEyck (Buyer & Cellar, Bed & Sofa, Perfect Ganesh among many others at KTC), costume designer Lisa Boquist (Hand to God, Precious Nonsense, Paloma among many others at KTC), and, making his KTC debut, Sound Designer and composer Grant Carey. Jen Schilansky is production stage manager.
In conjunction with the Ithaca world premiere of Birds of East Africa, Kitchen Theatre Company will present several surround events. Post-show talkbacks with the playwright, director and design team are scheduled for Sunday, January 29th, Tuesday, January 31st and Wednesday, February 1st (preview performances). On Friday, February 3rd and Friday, February 10th, there will be a post-show talkback moderated by Lee Rayburn from WHCU radio, with the cast, director and playwright. There is also a free to the public pre-show talk on Wednesday, February 8th at 6:30pm by Dr. John W. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., Director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University.
Pay What You Can Night will be Tuesday, January 31st. The Friday, February 10th performance is Under-40 Night and includes a free wine tasting and a post-show event. For complete event listing, check the website: www.kitchentheatre.org.
Kitchen Theatre Company's production of Birds of East Africa has the Co-Producing Sponsorship of CSP Management. Additional support comes from individuals Elissa Cogan and David Squires. The Media Sponsor is WCNY.
Tickets are available by calling (607) 272-0570 or online at www.kitchentheatre.org. Tickets and season subscriptions are available over the phone at (607) 272-0570, or in person at the Kitchen offices (409 W. State St.) Monday-Friday, 10:00 AM-6:00 PM and at the theater (417 W. State St.) Saturday-Sunday, 12:00-4:00 PM. Birds of East Africa is recommended for ages 14+. "Important conversations happen in the Kitchen."