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59E59 Theaters to Host Immersive Auction Experience BENEATH THE GAVEL

59E59 Theaters will host the New York City premiere of BENEATH THE GAVEL, an immersive theater experience written and directed by Mara Lieberman. Produced by Bated Breath Theatre Company, BENEATH THE GAVEL begins performances on Wednesday, March 15 for a limited engagement through Sunday, April 9. Press opening is Tuesday, March 21 at 7:15 PM.

Experience the intoxicating world of art auctions in this immersive theater event. With fistfuls of cash, the audience becomes rival bidders as the performers around them bring various art auction roles to life: deep-pocket collectors, art dealers, artists, critics, and auctioneers. With vivid storytelling and theatricality, BENEATH THE GAVEL boldly exhibits how art is assigned value. As the stakes rise, so does the excitement-and tension-of a world that values art as commerce.

Until the late 1990s, Christie's Auction House had a location at 502 Park Avenue. 59E59 Theaters' B and C spaces were part of the famed auction houses galleries, making this an ideal location for BENEATH THE GAVEL's NYC premiere. Art world veteran Barbara Strongin served as consultant to the project, and her decades-long experiences at both Christie's and Sotheby's Institute of Art form the basis for this unique insider's perspective. Ms. Strongin will participate in a post-show talk back after the performance on Saturday, April 1 at 8:15 PM.

The cast features Gabriel Aprea, Missy Burmeister, Corey Finzel, Sean Hinckle, Mia Hutchinson-Shaw, Moira O'Sullivan, and Debra Walsh.

The design team includes Tim Golebiewski (set design); Jen Rock (lighting design); Gail Fresia (costume design); and Krista DeVellis (props design). The production stage manager is Elizabeth Ramsay.

The performance schedule is Tuesday - Thursday at 7:15 PM; Friday at 8:15 PM; Saturday at 2:15 PM & 8:15 PM; and Sunday at 3:15 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Tickets are $35 ($24.50 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit

Mara Lieberman (playwright/director) has served as Executive Artistic Director of Bated Breath Theatre Company, an award-winning company that's been making original theatre for museums and other non-traditional venues since 2012. For Bated Breath she has directed and served as lead writer for Interludes: Beyond the Foot of the Stage for Real Art Ways, The Toulouse-Lautrec Project at the Wadsworth Atheneum and The New Britain Museum of American Art, Freedom: In 3 Acts for The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, Wild Things: The Life and Work of Maurice Sendak and the immersive art auction play, Beneath the Gavel, also at The New Britain Museum of American Art. Mara has directed at The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, The NYC Fringe Festival, and the American Living Room festival co-sponsored by Lincoln Center and HERE. In addition, she directed an adaptation of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse at New Georges Room and the 78th Street Theater Lab. Mara has also served as Lloyd Richards' assistant at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center's National Playwrights Conference and has been mentored by Mr. Richards as well as by directors Mary Zimmerman, Tina Landau, and Anne Bogart.

Barbara Strongin (consultant) is a 36-year veteran of the International Fine Art Auction Industry where she has held a number of executive level positions including Senior Vice President/Director of Operations for Christie's Auction House for twenty-six years and Director of Administration and Lecturer for Sotheby's Institute of Art for ten years. Early on in her career at Christie's, she was described by Peter Watson, author of the book From Manet to Manhattan, as "the single most powerful person in the art market" due to the fact that she was in charge of seating the important evening sales, and thus, knew all the important players in the industry. She was also a consultant to the 2003 Nancy Meyer's film, Something's Gotta Give, starring Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Amanda Peet. Ms. Peet's character as an auctioneer at Christie's was developed after Ms. Strongin's role as an auctioneer at Christie's. Currently Ms. Strongin serves as a freelance Auctioneer, Auctioneer Trainer and works with International Fine Art Auction Houses to train their auctioneers. She has lectured at NYU Stern School of Business, and will be lecturing at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She will also be returning to Christie's this spring as a Lecturer for Christie's Education to teach her course on the Auction Business.

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