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Sebastian Arcelus, Jenny Bacon, Julia Coffey And Lynette Freeman Headline Preview Reading Of NOVEL: An Audio Drama Series

Sebastian Arcelus, Jenny Bacon, Julia Coffey And Lynette Freeman Headline Preview Reading Of NOVEL: An Audio Drama Series

Midtown Direct and Triple Birch Media present an exclusive preview reading of NOVEL: An Audio Drama Series, created by Aimee Parrott and William Bienes.

Suzanne Agins directs, with live sound design by Shane Rettig.

Sebastian Arcelus, Jenny Bacon, Julia Coffey and Lynette Freeman headline the ensemble cast.

Set in the 19th century, when the Suffrage movement was gaining momentum, NOVEL was inspired by a list of preposterous reasons for which women could be confined to asylums, in particular, "novel reading."

The unique event marks the first time that Midtown Direct Rep is presenting original work written specifically as a podcast series.

Midtown Direct Rep and Triple Birch Media will present an exclusive preview reading of NOVEL, an original audio drama series created by Aimee Parrott and William Bienes, on Sunday, November 17th at 7pm at The Woodland (60 Woodland Rd, Maplewood, NJ). Tickets, which are $20 in advance ($25 at the door; $10 students and seniors), are available at EventBrite.

The reading will also be presented in New York City on Monday, November 18th at 4pm at Sunlight Studios (321 West 44th Street, New York, NY). To request an industry or press invitation, contact Executive Producer Steven Tabakin at

NOVEL tells the story of a young woman confined to an asylum for the crime of reading novels who uses her wit and her love of books to regain her rightful place in the Suffrage movement.

Suzanne Agins directs, with live sound design by Shane Rettig. The cast will feature guest actors Julia Coffey and Lynette Freeman joining Midtown Direct Rep (MDR) ensemble members Sebastian Arcelus, Jenny Bacon, Lucas Calhoun, Dwayne Clark, Brian Corrigan, Danielle Ferland, and Josephine Rose Roberts with middle school student Rowan Wechsler. MDR's Terrence Witter is stage manager.

NOVEL tells the story of Hope Fairfax (Julia Coffey), a young suffragist who is confined to an asylum for reading novels. Imprisoned just outside of Chicago in 1881 by her husband Silas (Sebastian Arcelus), Hope must use everything in her power to regain her freedom. She uses the novels she loves to empower the women in the asylum by teaching them to read, and to reach her allies outside the asylum.

This reading will present the series' pilot episode, "Sense and Sensibility," followed by scenes from the second episode, "Frankenstein."

In Episode One, "Sense and Sensibility," Hope Fairfax endures a humiliating intake process as she's committed to an asylum for the "crime" of reading novels. She is not mentally ill, but she married the wrong man. After her arrival, the action drops back in time to reveal Hope's romance with Silas, her father's second-in-command, and how it contributed to her current predicament. Once in the asylum, Hope resists treatment, but finds she can't close herself off from the other patients. She befriends two of them, Iola and Rose, and ultimately, tells them the story of Sense and Sensibility. As Episode One concludes, Hope sees a way forward as she receives a copy of Frankenstein, sewn into the lining of her favorite dress by her brother, Timothy. She's not alone - and she can use the pages to teach the women in the asylum to read and empower them to demand the equality they deserve.

Episode Two, "Frankenstein," asks, what does it take to create a monster - and why do we do it? Dr. Nilsson's treatment of Rose transforms her in unpredictable ways. He's focused on his own desires and doesn't see the tragic impact of his treatments until it's too late. The story will unfold alongside flashbacks to Rose's relationship with Silas - and Hope's marriage to him as it unravels.

Aimee Parrott and William Bienes (Creators/Writers) have been writing partners for the past four years. In that time, they have completed six original teleplays with two more in progress. NOVEL won the Television Drama category at the 2018 Creative World Awards and is an official script selection of the 2019 Richmond International Film Festival. Prior to their partnership, both have had several of their short scripts produced and one full-length feature film.

Steven Tabakin (Executive Producer) is an award-winning creative producer with credits in narrative and documentary feature film, television, and theater. Independent films include A Bird of the Air; Dark Yellow; Casting By; Ten Thousand Saints; The Exonerated; and How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change. For PBS he was responsible for Far East; Twilight: Los Angeles; Beckett on Film; The Man Who Came to Dinner; The Women; Tantalus: Behind the Mask; The Topdog Diaries; and six-part documentary series Changing Stages. His Public Theater credits include Caroline, or Change; The Story; See What I Wanna See; Well; Embedded; Passing Strange; The Public Sings; Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk; The Wild Party; Saturn Returns; On the Town; The Tempest; and many others. He is presently developing a play with music about jazz legend Billy Strayhorn, that was originally developed with MDR, as well as several scripted and documentary series

Suzanne Agins (Director) is a freelance director and Artistic Director of the Upstart Creatures, a company dedicated to creating (meta)physical feasts that combine theater and food ( Recent: Mamma Mia! and Memphis the Musical (Cape Fear Regional Theatre), The Heart of Robin Hood (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), Pride and Prejudice by Kate Hamill, adapted from Jane Austen (Hangar Theater), Dreamgirls (CFRT, 7 BroadwayWorld Awards including Best Musical and Best Direction), In the Heights (Hangar Theater- regional premiere, 5 SALT awards including Best Musical and Best Direction), The Clubby Amy Fox (Rough Cut production at Ensemble Studio Theatre). Off Broadway: world premieres of Radiance by Cusi Cram (LAByrinth Theater Company), Jailbait by Deirdre O'Connor (Cherry Lane). Her work has also been seen at theaters including the O'Neill, Dorset Theater Festival, Ars Nova, and Williamstown Theater Festival, where she served as Artistic Associate for New Plays from 2005-2007. She holds an MFA in Directing from UC San Diego, is the recipient of a Princess Grace Fellowship, an adjunct faculty member at Princeton University (her alma mater) and NYU, and a member of SDC.

Midtown Direct Rep (MDR), the resident theater company of The Woodland in Maplewood, NJ, is a professional, ensemble-based theater company of over 100 working Broadway actors and theater professionals who call South Orange and Maplewood home. Midtown Direct Rep is dedicated to developing and presenting new plays and musicals focusing on work that reflects our diverse community. Midtown Direct Rep is also the local presenter of the hugely successful event Listen to Your Mother, which showcases local writers and performers each year around Mother's Day. Company members include two-time Tony Award-winner Norbert Leo Butz, Tony Award-winner Michele Pawk, Tony Award-nominees Stephanie J. Block, Megan Lawrence, and Christiane Noll, plus Sebastian Arcelus, Joel de la Fuente, Bradley Dean, and many others. Guest actors have included James McDonald, Michelle Hurst, Geoffrey Arend, and Academy Award-winner Olympia Dukakis. Recent projects include work by Matt Schatz, Kate Moira Ryan, Y York, Jack Canfora, Peter Flaherty, Jeremy Desmon, Chad Hardin, James Hindman, Chisa Hutchison, David Johnston, Kait Kerrigan, Kara Lee Korthron, David Myers, Sandy Rustin, John Walch, Douglas J. Cohen, Zoe Samuel, Mark Kendall, Cheri Steinkellner, Matt Williams, Rob Zellers and others. The Company is led by Interim Managing Director Ondine Landa Abramson and Artistic Advisors Sandy Rustin and Steven Tabakin.

Triple Birch Media is New York-based production company founded by Steven Tabakin, dedicated to the idea that great storytelling has the power to transform individuals and societies. Triple Birch Media produces ambitious live events and compelling content for agencies, production companies, broadcasters, organizations and individuals - collaborating with some of the finest artists and technicians working today to bring extraordinary projects to life onstage, onscreen and for audio.

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/ Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.

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