Photo Flash: MAURITIUS At Phoenix Theater 3/5-4/4

The Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis will produce the Indiana premiere of Theresa Rebeck's mystery drama Mauritius in its Frank & Katrina Basile Theatre March 5 through April 4, 2009. Rebeck has had numerous productions of plays such as Spike Heels, Bad Dates, and The Family of Mann Off-Broadway, but Mauritius was her first play to be produced on Broadway (by Manhattan Theatre Club, in 2007.)

Rebeck has worked as a television writer and producer as well, giving her ample experience in plot twists that must be resolved in a short span of time. Rebeck was looking casually on the Internet one day ("Sometimes I avoid work by just typing things in and seeing what comes up") and discovered photos of rare stamps from a 19th century wealthy man's collection. They were to be auctioned off, and among them were two rare stamps from the tiny island of Mauritius. Rebeck delved deeper into philately - stamp collecting - and loved the idea of the frailty and great value of tiny pieces of paper. Out of her research came a play that explores how flaws, in stamps and in people, can lead to complex human dynamics.

After their mother dies, estranged half sisters Jackie and Mary get together to settle the estate. Each one claims ownership of a family stamp collection. Jackie took care of her mother during Mom's final years and claims to have been given the stamps for her kindness. Jackie, desperate for money, wants to see if there's anything valuable that can be sold. Well-off Mary claims the stamps were promised to her by her late grandfather who had actually purchased them, and she wants to keep them for sentimental reasons. Jackie takes the stamps to blasé stamp dealer Phillip who demands a high price for just looking at them. Dennis, another customer at the shop, informs Jackie that she has some rarities, including two exceedingly valuable misprint stamps from the island of Mauritius. Turns out Dennis works for a wealthy, intense, and violent collector, Sterling. Are the stamps real or counterfeit? Are Dennis and Sterling to be trusted? Will Jackie and Mary make peace? The plots twists and turns are the heart of Mauritius.

THE PLAYWRIGHT (from the playwright)
Theresa Rebeck is a widely produced playwright throughout the United States and abroad. Past New York productions of her work include Mauritius at the Biltmore Theatre in a Manhattan Theater Club Production; The Scene, The Water's Edge, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann and Spike Heels at Second Stage; Bad Dates and The Butterfly Collection at Playwrights Horizons; and View of the Dome at New York Theatre Workshop. Omnium Gatherum (co-written, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2003) was featured at the Humana Festival, and had a commercial run at the Variety Arts Theatre. Her newest work, The Understudy, premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival this past summer and will open in New York at the Laura Pels Theater at the Roundabout in the Fall of 2009. Her play Our House will be at Playwrights Horizons in the Spring of 2009.

All of Ms. Rebeck's past produced plays are published by Smith and Kraus as Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays, Volumes I, II and III and in acting editions available from Samuel French. Ms. Rebeck's has also published Free Fire Zone, a book of comedic essays about writing and show business. She has written for American Theatre Magazine and has had excerpts of her plays published in the Harvard Review. Ms. Rebeck's first novel, Three Girls and Their Brother, was published by Random House/Shaye Areheart Books in April of 2008 and is available online and at fine booksellers everywhere.
In television, Ms. Rebeck has written for Dream On, Brooklyn Bridge, L.A. Law, American Dreamer, Maximum Bob, First Wave, and Third Watch. She has been a writer/producer for Canterbury's Law, Smith, Law and Order: Criminal Intent and NYPD Blue. Her produced feature films include Harriet the Spy, Gossip, and the independent feature Sunday on the Rocks. Awards include the Mystery Writer's of America's Edgar Award, the Writer's Guild of America award for Episodic Drama, the Hispanic Images Imagen Award, and the Peabody, all for her work on NYPD Blue. She has won The National Theatre Conference Award (for The Family of Mann), and was awarded the William Inge New Voices Playwriting Award in 2003 for The Bells. Mauritius was originally produced at Boston's Huntington Theatre, where it received the 2007 IRNE Award for Best New Play as well as the Eliot Norton Award.

Ms. Rebeck is originally from Cincinnati and holds an MFA in Playwrighting and a PhD in Victorian Melodrama, both from Brandeis University. She is a proud board member of the Dramatists Guild and has taught at Brandeis University and Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jess Lynn and two children, Cooper and Cleo.

From the playwright's introduction to her Complete Plays: 1989-1999: "I am a woman, I am an American, I am a mother, I sometimes write for television, and I sometimes write movies; I play the piano, I knit, I rail at the universe; I am angry, I am sad; I am a comic realist, a misanthrope, and an idealist. There are many ways to categorize me, and my work. But for myself, I would most like to be considered a playwright."

Dale McFadden directs Allison Moody as Jackie, Jamison Kay Garrison as Mary, Michael Shelton as Phillip, Shane Chuvalas as Dennis, and Rock Mers as Sterling. Linda Janosko is the set designer; Bryan Fonseca is the lighting designer, and Karen Witting is the costume designer.

Mauritius will be performed on the Frank & Katrina Basile Theatre at the Phoenix March 5 through April 4, 2009. Performances are Thursdays at 7:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, and Saturdays at 8:00pm. Single tickets are $25 for those 25 and over, $15 for those 24 and under. All Thursdays are CheapSeats nights: All tickets are just $15. Group rates for adults are available for groups of 15 or more, as are discounts for buying out the house. To purchase tickets: 317.635.PLAY (7529). Website: www.phoenixtheatre.org.

ABOUT The Phoenix Theatre
"The Phoenix Theatre has cornered the market on hip new works....it is a shrewd outfit willing to turn on a dime."
-- Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

The Phoenix Theatre is Indiana's only professional Contemporary Theatre, and has presented productions to challenge and entertain the Indianapolis community for 26 years. An Equity house, the Theatre presents the Midwest and Indiana premieres of many popular Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, and has presented more than 70 world premieres in its quarter century. The Phoenix operates the 130-seat proscenium Mainstage as well as the 75-seat cabaret-style black box Frank & Katrina Basile (buh-SEAL) Theatre. The Phoenix Pub, located in the Basile Theatre, serves beer, wine, coffee, soft drinks, water, and treats, and patrons may take all refreshments into either theatre. Both venues are housed along with administrative offices in a renovated 1907 church in downtown Indianapolis' historic Chatham Arch neighborhood, part of the Mass Ave Arts & Theatre District. The Phoenix Theatre is a member of the National New Play Network and the League of Indianapolis Theatres, and is supported by the Indiana Arts Commission, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as local corporate and foundation funders and more than 500 individual donors.

www.phoenixtheatre.org

Photos by Julie Curry

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