VONNEGUT, USA Premieres Tonight at Atwater Village Theatre

The Next Arena (TNA) presents the World Premiere production of Vonnegut, USA, an adaptation of five Kurt Vonnegut short stories by TNA's artistic director, Scott Rognlien.

Sometime just north of the midway point of the last century and somewhere in the northeastern region of America, there's great change in the air. In the city of Ilium, the Federal Forge & Foundry's headquarters is teeming with excitement as a new vice president arrives on the scene. Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Spruce Falls, this important executive has rented a home and the locals are thrilled with what this great industrialist could do for their little town. Well, maybe not all of them...

These two very different locations are inhabited with hilarious, colorful characters of all shapes and sizes from the American mid-century landscape. They share their stories with each other and with the audience in this "narrative anthology" of simple human tales that highlight the triumphs and pitfalls of progress as it storms across the country during its post-war industrial boom. The incomparable voice of Kurt Vonnegut brings this world to life.

In Vonnegut, USA the actors often speak directly to the audience, relating important information and insightful commentary, sometimes while still being "inside a scene," similar to a Shakespearean aside or a Greek Chorus. "By doing this we are able to access all levels of the original source material," says Rognlien. "Vonnegut has mentioned in his writings that he always felt adaptations were missing one key character - him, the author. With this style of adaptation, his voice and persona is integral to the stories."

This adaptation is extremely true to the original text so as not to sacrifice his unique storytelling style.

The cast includes the talents of Rob Beddall, Keith Blaney, Jason Frost, Marjorie LeWit, Carryl Lynn, Darren Mangler Paul Nieman, Eric Normington, Maia Peters, Paul Plunkett, JR Reed, RoB Smith and Matt Taylor.

The design and production Team includes Kate Leahy (Lighting and Projection Designer), Britanny Blouch (Set Designer), Kimberly Freed (Costume Designer) and Becky Hefferman (Stage Manager).

In Vonnegut, USA the actors will often speak directly to the audience, relating important information and insightful commentary, sometimes while still being "inside a scene," similar to a Shakespearean aside or a Greek Chorus. "By doing this we are able to access all levels of the orginal source material," says Rognlien. "Vonnegut has mentioned in his writings that he always felt adaptations were missing one key character - him, the author. With this style of adaptation, his voice and persona is integral to the stories."

This adaptation is extremely true to the original text so as not to sacrifice his unique storytelling style.

The cast includes the talents of Rob Beddall, Keith Blaney, Jason Frost, Marjorie LeWit, Carryl Lynn, Darren Mangler Paul Nieman, Eric Normington, Maia Peters, Paul Plunkett, JR Reed, RoB Smith and Matt Taylor.

The design and production Team includes Kate Leahy (Lighting and Projection Designer), Britanny Blouch (Set Designer), Kimberly Freed (Costume Designer) and Becky Hefferman (Stage Manager).

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Author) Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, IN. When World War II broke out, Vonnegut was 16; at 20, he entered the army and was shipped off to Europe, where he almost immediately was captured by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. He was sent as a POW to Dresden. On February 13, 1945, British and American bombers destroyed the city by dropping high explosives followed by incendiary bombs. The event would later be the inspiration for his groundbreaking novel, Slaughterhouse Five. After the war, Vonnegut took an advertising job at General Electric to support his family and began writing short fiction on the side. From 1950 into the early 60s, Vonnegut published multiple short stories every year in various American magazines that still packed their pages with what Vonnegut called "slick fiction." By the mid-sixties the short-story market was drying up but Vonnegut's novels had already developed a cult following of college students. In these novels, Vonnegut mastered his trademark black comic voice, making his audience laugh despite the horrors he described. By the early 1970s, Vonnegut was one of the most famous living writers on earth. - Courtesy of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library/Rodney Allen

Scott Rognlien (Adaptor/Director/Producer) Scott's work as a director has been seen in Chicago, England, Central Oregon, and Los Angeles. With The Next Arena, Scott directed No Exit, We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, The Angry Guy in the Pink Hat and the critically acclaimed Von Bach. Also with TNA, he adapted and performed Vladimir Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading for the stage. Scott is the Artistic Director and a founding member of The Next Arena, and is a graduate of Northwestern University's Performance Studies Department.

ABOUT THE CAST

Robert Beddall (Harry Barker, Lawrence Morgan) Robert was born and raised in Worcestershire, England, and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He is a current member of The Road Theatre Company. LA and CA theatre credits: Henry IV part II, The Man in the Iron Mask (SSC), Coriolanus (The Archway Theatre), That Good Night (The Road Theatre), Sherlock Through the Looking Glass (POH), Richard III (A Noise Within). Film: Night Vet, A Marine Story, Second Thoughts, Locked Up, Selves. www.robbeddall.com

Keith Blaney (Verne Petrie, Herb White) This is Keith's third show with TNA. When he's not working with this wonderful company, Keith is developing screenplays with writing partners Charlotte and Bones, and telling tales at one of LA's many storytelling forums such as Sit 'n Spin at the Comedy Central Stage. Later this year you can see Keith with Dr. Dre in Apple TV's first scripted series Vital Signs.

Jason Frost (Newell Cady) Jason is thrilled to be originating another role with The Next Arena. From off (off-off) Broadway venues in New York to Los Angeles theaters like the Boston Court (as an understudy) and the Matrix Theatre (where he managed to blow hot candle wax on his own face while on stage, in a play with Darren Mangler), Jason has acted in plays and movies for 20 years. It's great to do another.

Marjorie LeWit (Patty Lee Minot, Mary Mansfield, Elsie Strang Morgan) TNA debut! She was recently seen as Lieutenant Black in Jacques Freydont's Eviction Notice with Defiance Theatre Company, where she is also the Associate Artistic Director. Past NYC theatre credits include Mommy in The American Dream (Brooklyn Music Theater), Spider Woman in Kiss of the Spider Woman (National Actor's Theater), Karen in The Children's Hour, and Arkadina in The Seagull, and several one-act plays at The Player's Theatre, Rattlestick Playwright's Theatre and the American Globe Theatre.

Carryl Lynn (Miss Daily, Mrs. Dickie, Maid, Reva Deal) Carryl is a native of Boston & Cape Cod, where her theatre credits include the original cast of Gip Hoppe's "Jackie: An American Life." Los Angeles theatre credits: Coeurage Theatre's award winning Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carré, (StageSceneLA Award for Outstanding Ensemble), Fancy Meeting You Here, Talking With, and Cowboy Mouth. Her film & TV credits include CryptTV's Bloody Mary, Kevin Smith's Red State, Alice, True Blood, and NCIS. She studied with legendary Milton Katselas at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.

Darren Mangler (Stanley Atkins) Darren graduated from WIU and toured the country performing Last of the Red Hot Lovers for the Repertory Theater of America and The Pied Piper with Missoula Children's Theater. His biggest hit in LA was The Last Laugh playing Fatty Arbuckle. He's been in many national commercials and has been seen on Freakylinks, Switched at Birth, The Longest Yard, and Conan. Darren's short film "The Whole Person" has won awards and his web series "2 for Stew" is currently on Funny or Die. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1902919/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Paul Michael Nieman (Upton Beaton) Paul has been honored with two Best Actor awards for his portrayals of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Lt. Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men. Paul appeared in the award winning film The Convicted, and the award winning web series Half Sisters. Paul's background includes radio and commercial voice-over work. In San Diego on K-Best 95FM he was known as Paul Diamond and had the #1 rated show for women ages 18-35.

Eric Normington (Kennard Pelk) Eric is the proud father of three and a freelance actor/writer working in television and commercials. You can also see him perform longform improv with Big Boss, a House Team, most Sundays at The Nerdist School Stage. Eric would like to thank Scott and his fellow cast mates for all their hard work in bringing these great Vonnegut stories to life. Fun fact: This sentence brings Eric exactly to the 75 word bio limit.

Maia Peters (Sheila Hinckley White; VONNEGUT, USA Producer) Maia is a founding member of TNA and is thrilled to be joining this amazing production. Previous TNA roles include Minna/Elsa in Von Bach, several Onesies productions, Inez in No Exit, and director of Fool for Love. You may also have seen her as Princess Leia in Patrick T. Gorman's Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes/Saga in 60. And, in honor of Scott, "Congratulations, thank you, and love you!"

Paul Plunkett (Henry George Lovell, Jr.) Paul Plunkett is a founding member of the SacRed Fools Theatre Company and has served multiple terms as an Artistic Director. Fools' credits include Gorey Stories (Ovation for Producing, LADCC Ensemble Award with the cast), Baal and countless late-night and off-night shows. Shows directed include Endgame, Candide and 43 Plays for 43 Presidents.

JR Reed (Dave Mansield; VONNEGUT, USA Producer) This marks JR's third production with TNA. Previously he appeared in Onesies and in the title role of Von Bach. Other notable theatrical endeavors include being a company member of The Actors' Gang, Michael Sargent Players, Another Showcase Showdown, and in Star Wars Saga in 60 Minutes. JR has been on Blackish, Community, a slew of commercials, and played a major role in New Line's Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. He appeared with Tenacious D on stage and was the lead singer of Trainwreck.

Rob Chester Smith (Lou Sterling, Ed Newcomb) Rob is an actor and writer here in L.A. You may have seen him in a TV show or two or maybe in a bunch of commercials. But it may have been Robert Sean Leonard. He is super-proud of the show and thankful to Scott and The Next Arena for the opportunity.

Matt Taylor (Bud Carmody, Al Tedler) Matt is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and is trained in long form improv from Chicago's Second City Theater, I.O. Chicago and LA's I.O. West. Vonnegut, USA marks his 12th performance with The Next Arena over the past 11 years.

IF YOU GO:

VONNEGUT, USA

Previews: October 12 & 13 at 8:00 pm
Runs: October 14 - November 20
Plays: Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm
Where: Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Ticket Prices: Opening Night Gala October 14 at 8 pm - $30 Fridays and Saturdays: $20 Previews & Sunday Matinees: Pay-What-You Can Appropriate for: Ages 13 and up
Buy Tickets: vonnegutusa.bpt.me
Info: 323-805-9355



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