World Premiere Play BRAWLER Is Next On The Kitchen Theatre Company Stage

World Premiere Play BRAWLER Is Next On The Kitchen Theatre Company Stage

Kitchen Theatre Company continues its 2017-2018 Season with the world premiere of Brawler by Walt McGough, a play about pro sports and what it means to be a hero, produced in collaboration with Boston Playwrights' Theatre. Performances of Brawler begin at the Kitchen Theatre Company in The Percy Browning Performance Space on April 8 and run through April 22.

Brawler centers on Adam, once the scariest man in the NHL. Now he's down in the minors and high on pills, and he just trashed the Dunkin' Donuts Center locker room. His friends need to talk him down before he gets into trouble, but he's got his own agenda and is spoiling for one last fight. Brawler is a modern-day riff on Sophocles' Ajax, seen through the lens of the last true gladiator sport.

Brawler playwright Walt McGough's love of hockey has been life-long. "I grew up a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, watching them win back-to-back Stanley Cups (the first time), and there's a constant tension between loving the sports, and the men that play them, and needing to recognize the toll that their abilities take on their bodies," says McGough.

"Sophocles and other Grecian playwrights were also generals, writing for audiences made up largely of military veterans," adds McGough. "Viewed through that lens, Ajax is very clearly not just some distant, mythical story, but actually a very real and painful discussion around post-traumatic stress disorder and feelings of abandonment in soldiers after the fighting is done. At the same time, I was reading coverage around Derek Boogaard, a star Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers enforcer who died of an overdose after a very fast and public decline. The two stories meshed together for me: both Boogaard and Ajax were men at the peak of their field, sacrificing their bodies for people and causes that ultimately abandoned them when the damage was done. . .The more I thought about it, the more I couldn't shake Ajax as a frame for that discussion, and my hopes are that this play will reflect the very real paradox of loving sports in today's world."

Brawler has been developed using a novel approach to new play development. Kitchen Theatre Company Artistic Director M. Bevin O'Gara, who is directing the play, created a partnership with Boston Playwrights' Theatre that allowed the playwright to develop the play with the support of both theaters, with built-in time to revise the play after getting the response of an audience, and all with one cast and design team. The play had a rehearsal period and three-week run in Boston in March, 2018. McGough was included in the rehearsal process and made numerous revisions to the script as the cast and director worked on the play. After the Boston Playwrights' Theatre production closed, the entire creative team came to Ithaca for another rehearsal period. McGough refined the play again in response to discoveries made during the rehearsals and performances in Boston.

"This has been a dynamic, exciting process," says O'Gara, "and I am thrilled to be working on Walt's extremely timely play. Examining the inextricable link between the heroic and the brutal, and what they each cost us, feels so necessary give current headlines. We are raising questions about culpability and how we, both as individuals and as a society, enable our heroes. We are investigating the brutality of turning a blind eye."

Adam is played by Greg Maraio, Odie is played by Anthony Goes, Jerry is played by Marc Pierre, and Trisha is played by Gigi Watson, all making their Kitchen Theatre Company debuts. Scenic design is by CristinaTodesco, lighting design is by Evey Connerty-Marin, sound design is by Andrew Will, and costume design is by Penney Pinette, all Boston-based designers. The production stage manager is Jennifer Schilansky, and Brendan Komala is providing technical direction.

Special events for Brawler include Pay What You Can Nights on April 8 and 10 and a Student Mixer on Wednesday, April 11 with Pay What You Can for students. Opening Night is on April 12 and includes a post-show reception with delicious food from Ithaca Bakery and Mira Catering and drinks from Treleaven Winery and Triphammer Wine and Spirits. There are Actors' Forum discussions after the shows on April 13 and 20, facilitated by WHCU Radio's Lee Rayburn. On Sunday, April 15, there will be a post-show talk by Cornell Classics professor Jeffrey Rusten. For more events and information, visit kitchentheatre.org.

The Show Underwriter for Brawler is TRAVIS HYDE PROPERTIES. The Media Sponsor is ESPN ITHACA.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Walt McGough (Playwright) is a Boston-based playwright (by way of Pittsburgh and Chicago). In Boston, he has held fellowships with both the Huntington and New Repertory Theatre Companies, and was a finalist for the 2016 Dramatists Guild Lanford Wilson Award. His plays include Pattern of Life, which was named Best New Play by the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNEs), and The Farm, Priscilla Dreams The Answer, and Paper City Phoenix, all of which received Best New Play IRNE nominations. Other plays include Chalk, Dante Dies!! (And Then Things Get Weird), The Haberdasher!, and Non-Player Character. He has worked around the country with companies such as San Francisco Playhouse, The Lark, the Huntington, New Rep, Playwrights Foundation, the Kennedy Center, NNPN, Boston Playwrights Theatre, Fresh Ink, Sideshow, Orfeo Group, Nu Sass Productions, Chicago Dramatists, and Argos. In 2015, his play Advice for Astronauts was selected as the winner of the Milken Playwriting Prize. He has served on the staff at SpeakEasy Stage Company in Boston and Chicago Dramatists, is a founding ensemble member of Chicago's Sideshow Theatre Company, and co-hosts the bi-weekly pop culture comedy podcast Crossover Appeal. He holds a BA from the University of Virginia, and an MFA in playwriting from Boston University. More information at www.waltmcgough.com.

M. Bevin O'Gara (Director) is Producing Artistic Director at the Kitchen Theatre Company. As a director, Bevin's credits include The Who & The What by Ayad Ahktar, Milk Like Sugar by Kirsten Greenidge (Elliot Norton Award nomination for Best Production) and Becoming Cuba by Melinda Lopez at the Huntington Theatre Company; The Bridges of Madison County, appropriate, A Future Perfect, Tribes (Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards for Best Production), and Clybourne Park with SpeakEasy Stage Company; Brahman/i, Chronicles of Kalki, You for Me for You, Love Person, and The Pain and the Itchwith Company One Theatre; Phedre with Actors' Shakespeare Project; Fast Company with the Lyric Stage Company; Marjorie Prime with the Nora Theatre Company; How Soft the Lining and Translations with Bad Habit Production; Two Wives in India and Gary with Boston Playwrights' Theatre; 2.5 Minute Ride with New Repertory Theatre; and Melancholy Play with Holland Productions.

EVEY CONNERTY-MARIN (Lighting Design) is delighted to be working on Brawler again and making their debut design outside of Boston. Previous designs include The Lion King Jr, Lost Tempo, The Honey Trap. They are a recent graduate of Boston University with a degree in lighting design and a concentration in lighting production. You can find their other projects on their website: www.eveylight.com.

CRISTINA TODESCO (Scenic Design) Most recent credits include The Bakelite Masterpiece (New Repertory Theatre), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Boston Conservatory), and Brawler (Boston Playwrights' Theater). Theater companies include Actors' Shakespeare Project, Company One, ART Institute, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, The Culture Project, Gloucester Stage, Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Playwrights, Merrimack Repertory Theater, Olney Theater Center, Orfeo Group, Poet's Theater, Speakeasy Stage Company, Stoneham Theater, Harbor Stage, Summer Play Festival, Trinity Rep, Wheelock Family Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival among many more. She has designed for the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston and at Tanglewood. For Outstanding Design, she is the recipient of four Elliot Norton Awards: The Clean House (New Rep), Twelfth Night (ASP), The Aliens and The Flick (Company One) and an IRNE Award: appropriate (Speakeasy Stage). She earned a BFA in painting from Boston University's School of Visual Arts, and an MFA in scenic design from BU's School of Theatre Arts, where she currently teaches.

PENNEY PINETTE (Costume Design) is a Boston-based designer focusing in dance and theatre. She has designed Ideation, The Gift Horse, Golda's Balcony, and A Number at New Rep. In addition she teaches costume production at Boston University where she has recently received her MFA. She has worked with Boston Conservatory's dance department from 2013-2017, puppeteer Bonnie Duncan of They Gotta Be Secret Agents, and the Boston dance community, including Prometheus Dance, Contrapose Dance, and Fort Point Theater Productions.

ANTHONY GOES* (Odie)is making his Kitchen Theatre Company debut. He was last seen locally in Simon Says at the BCA and in the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Regional houses include Pasadena Playhouse, New Victory Theatre, Lynn Redgrave Theatre, Crossroads Theatre, Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, and Connecticut Rep to name a few. Anthony Holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Connecticut and currently is an adjunct professor at the Community College of Rhode Island.

Greg Maraio* (Moose) is thrilled to be making his debut at the Kitchen Theatre Company. Greg is a Boston native who has been working as an actor and a director for the past 10 years. He was a member of the ensemble of the 2016 workshop production of Finish Line and returned for its world premiere at Boston's Shubert Theater in March 2017. Recent acting credits include Jordan in the New England premiere of Significant Other (IRNE Nomination) as Jonathan / Miranda in Casa Valentina (Elliot Norton and IRNE nominations) and as Victor / Clint in John Kuntz's Necessary Monsters (SpeakEasy Stage). Other recent acting credits include Faithless (Boston Playwrights' Theatre); Colossal (Company One); Translations (Bad Habit Productions); and The Misadventures of Spy Matthias (Theatre on Fire). He has also worked with many local companies including the Huntington, New Rep, Zeitgeist Stage, and Central Square Theater, where he will be performing the role of La Marquise de Merteuil in their June Production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Greg received a BFA from Lesley University where he studied acting with Anne Pluto. MARC PIERRE*

Photo: Marc Pierre, Anthony Goes, Greg Maraio, and Gigi Watson. Photo by Julia Pacheco-Cole


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