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Open Fist Theatre to Present 'Early Look' at THE GARY PLAYS - PART 1, 12/4-6

The Open Fist Theatre Company presents an 'Early Look' at the first installment of Murray Mednick's eight-play "Gary Plays" cycle, directed by Padua Playwrights Artistic Director Guy Zimmerman. Three performances of Part I (comprised of Mednick's Tirade For Three, Gary's Walk and Girl on a Bed) will be presented on December 4th, 5th and 6th at the Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles, paving the way for a full production of the entire octet in 2016. With its environmental themes, the production is part of the inter-disciplinary city-wide Vision LA Festival being held across Los Angeles from November 30th-December 10th, 2015 while the UN ministers are meeting in Paris to craft new emissions standards (www.visionLAfest.org).

THE GARY PLAYS are an octet of loosely-connected plays portraying economic and spiritual distress in the contemporary urban wilderness of Los Angeles. Unemployed actor Gary Bean is Mednick's everyman/anti-hero, hailed by KCRW as "a sort of L.A. Leopold Bloom." "This cycle of plays is both a portrait of Los Angeles and a testament to the quality of its theater; given the various assaults on the community over the past year, it couldn't come at a better time," says director Guy Zimmerman. Martha Demson, Artistic Director of Open Fist agrees, pointing out how much Mednick's octet of plays resonates with the community's sense of siege. "As Gary walks his dead son's ashes along the LA River to the sea, he revisits failed relationships, confronts the Angel of Death and is heckled by the voices of his fading dreams and his persistent narcissism. These plays today seem a pointed and humorous allegory for all our struggles."

"We began this project in August 2014 with PushPush in Atlanta when we read through the entire text of THE GARY PLAYS -- all 8 of them -- and began the process of imagining what it would mean to present the cycle as one coherent, epic whole," explains Zimmerman. "Now we're getting ready for the next phase of this marathon project -- three intensive labs in L.A. to get the entire text up on its feet with the Open Fist. The first of these will focus on the initial trilogy of plays in the cycle, Mednick's Tirade For Three, Gary's Walk and Girl on a Bed." Demson adds, "When I heard that Guy Zimmerman was in discussions with various companies to develop and present the full cycle of THE GARY PLAYS, I felt that our Company would the perfect home. Guy and I had collaborated previously on one of his original plays -- The Black Glass -- and I knew that his approach and aesthetic would be a great fit for us. We were looking for something bold, LA-centric, and grand in scope for the inaugural season of our new theatre in Hollywood. Murray Mednick's Gary Plays are exactly that project. As we launch this epic undertaking, we hope that curious audiences will take advantage of the rare opportunity to join us as we mount and shape the component parts. We are thrilled to be presenting the results of this initial lab at the Skylight Theatre, a theatre long-recognized for its commitment to the development of bold new work."

L.A. audiences were first introduced to Gary in 2003, when Padua presented the first three plays in the cycle,Tirade for Three, Gary's Walk and Girl on a Bed, in repertory ("one of the most engaging and ambitious local theater events of the past few seasons" - KCRW). The fourth play, Out of the Blue, premiered three years later ("Critic's Pick" - Back Stage), and DaddyO Dies Well ran in 2011 (full of vitality and truth"-EyeSpyLA). In 2012,The Nightmare Audition and The Fool and The Red Queen were combined into a single evening ("Critic's Choice" - Los Angeles Times). The entire octet is published by TCG (Theatre Communications Group) in a single volume titled Beneath the Dusty Trees, THE GARY PLAYS by Murray Mednick.

Mednick, a pioneer of the Off and Off-Off Broadway movements in the '60s and '70s and playwright-in-residence for Theater Genesis, wrote such ground-breaking works as The Hawk, The Hunter, Sand, Are You Lookin' andThe Deer Kill (1970 OBIE Award for Outstanding Play), and was the founder/artistic director of the Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop/Festival in Los Angeles from 1978 to 1995. He is the recipient of two Rockefeller Foundation grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Theatre Critics Association Best New Play citation (for Joe and Betty), a Career Achievement Award from the LA Weekly, an Ovation Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Los Angeles Theater from the L.A. Stage Alliance, a Local Hero Award from Back Stage West, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle's Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theater. "As Murray Mednick experiments with language... he is emblematic of a Los Angeles dramatic tradition in much the same way that Clifford Odets is identifiable with Gotham or David Mamet with Chicago," wrote Bob Verini in Variety.

The cast of THE GARY PLAYS - PART 1 will feature: Peggy Ann Blow, Hugh Dane, Carl J. Johnson, Jeff LeBeau, Noel Kachaturian, Laura Liguori, Derek Manson, Laura Richardson, Christopher Rivas, Barbara Schofield, Caitlin Thompson, & Amanda Weier.

THE GARY PLAYS - PART 1 will perform on Friday, December 4 and Saturday, December 5 at 8pm, and Sunday, December 6th at 12pm at the Skylight Theatre, 1816 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles. Tickets are $20; For tickets and details, visit www.openfist.org.


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