Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players Stage STARTER PISTOL

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Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players Stage STARTER PISTOL

A deer head named Walter, a bounty of venison chili, and a family on the edge are at the center of the world premiere of Michael Gotch's award-winning new play, "Starter Pistol," presented by Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players (REP) Thursday, January 16 through Sunday, February 2, in the Roselle Center for the Arts, Newark, Del.

A 2019 winner of the Ashland New Plays Festival, "Starter Pistol" is staged by the internationally acclaimed director Mark Lamos (Artistic Director of Westport Country Playhouse). Tickets and information are available at or (302) 831-2204.

Following last season's successful premier of Mr. Gotch's Minor Fantastical Kingdoms (now titled Tiny House), REP Producing Artistic Director, Sanford Robbins, is proud to present "Starter Pistol," Mr. Gotch's piercing look at the humor and heartbreak in today's Middle America. In a dying Midwestern town, Karen James-wife, mother, and breadwinner-does her best to clean up after her injured husband, wild sister, miserable brother-in-law, and troubled son. A caregiver to all, Karen's only confidant is a fireplace-mounted deer head. But when her sister brings an outsider to dinner, confrontations with long-repressed feelings, misunderstandings, and missed opportunities create an emotional roller coaster for the entire family.

"The initial inspiration for the play was an image that came into my head one day," says the playwright. "A woman sitting on a couch, holding a gun, in silence. I wondered what was behind that. Who was she? Why was she there? What was she thinking?

"I imagined a story for her and populated it with her family and a stranger. My challenge: could I make it funny? Could I give each person a distinctive and complex voice that an audience would side with, laugh with, identify with, and sometimes also hate, condemn, feel conflicted over? There are several thematic and political angles in the play that I hope might spark conversation. There is intentionality in some of them and others are just happy accidents.

"It's not, finally, a play about guns or toxic masculinity or the death of the American Dream or any other singular public service announcement; first and foremost, it's a story of one family on a particular night in their lives."

The cast includes REP resident company members Kathleen Pirkl Tague as Karen, Stephen Pelinski as Griff, Lee E. Ernst as Curtis, Elizabeth Heflin as Cheryl, and René Thornton, Jr. as Darryl. Student actor Peter Fein rounds out the cast as Matthew Dixon James.

The creative team includes Hugh Landwehr, set design; Tricia Barsamian, costume design; Matthew Richards, lighting design; Michael Bodeen and Rob Milburn, sound design; Liam Lonegan, assistant director; and Matthew G. Marholin, production stage manager.

The performance schedule is Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Post-performance dialogues with the cast take place on January 19, 23, 24, 26, 30, and 31. Pre-show prologues with playwright Michael Gotch take place on January 25 and February 2 at 1:15 p.m.

For further information and to purchase tickets, visit, or call the REP box office at (302) 831-2204 or visit the box office in the Roselle Center for the Arts, 110 Orchard Rd., Newark, DE. Single tickets are $20-$37, with discounts available for seniors, full-time students, military and groups of 10 or more.

REP productions are supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on

ABOUT the Resident Ensemble Players

The Resident Ensemble Players (REP) is a professional theatre company located at the University of Delaware. The REP's mission is to engage audiences throughout the tri-state region and beyond with frequent productions of outstanding classic, modern and contemporary plays performed in a wide variety of styles that celebrate and demonstrate the range and breadth of each resident actor in this ensemble of nationally respected stage actors who have been trained in the same way.

The REP is committed to create future audiences for live theatre by offering its productions at low prices that enable and encourage the attendance of everyone in the region, regardless of income.

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