Clubbed Thumb and Playwrights Horizons Complete Casting for MEN ON BOATS
Written by Jaclyn Backhaus and directed by American Theater Company Artistic Director Will Davis, MEN ON BOATS will move uptown to Playwrights Horizons' Peter Jay Sharp Theater (416 West 42nd Street) for a four-week limited engagement Wednesday, July 20 through Sunday, August 14. Opening night is set for Monday, August 1.
Reprising their roles from the 2015 premiere at Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks are Hannah Cabell (The Father) as "OG," Danielle Davenport (An Octoroon) as "Hall," Danaya Esperanza (Our Lady of Kibeho) as "Seneca," Donnetta Lavinia Grays (O, Earth) as "Sumner," Birgit Huppuch (Judy) as "Goodman," Layla Khoshnoudi (The Offending Gesture) as "Bradley," Kelly McAndrew (Perfect Arrangement) as "Powell," and Kristen Sieh (RoosevElvis) as "Dunn." Joining the cast are Jocelyn Bioh (An Octoroon) as "Hawkins" and Elizabeth Kenny (Sick) as "Old Shady."
Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. MEN ON BOATS is the joyfully anachronistic retelling of the 1869 Powell expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River.
The production features scenic design by Arnulfo Maldonado, costume design by Ásta Bennie Hostetter, lighting design by Solomon Weisbard and sound design by Jane Shaw. The Production Stage Manager is Erin Gioia Albrecht.
MEN ON BOATS was originally produced by Clubbed Thumb at the Wild Project in June 2015 as part of the theater's annual Summerworks festival. Clubbed Thumb is the inaugural participant in Playwrights Horizons' Resident Company program; this return engagement is an outgrowth of this strong partnership between them. MEN ON BOATS is a special event, presented in addition to Playwrights Horizons' regular season offerings.
Playwrights Horizons is a writer's theater dedicated to the support and development of contemporary American Playwrights, composers and lyricists and to the production of their new work. Under the leadership of artistic director Tim Sanford and managing director Leslie Marcus, the theater company continues to encourage the new work of veteran writers while nurturing an emerging generation of theater artists. In its 45 years, Playwrights Horizons has presented the work of more than 400 writers and has received numerous awards and honors, including a special 2008 Drama Desk Award for "ongoing support to generations of theater artists and undiminished commitment to producing new work." Notable productions include six Pulitzer Prize winners - Annie Baker's The Flick (2013 Obie Award, 2013 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park (2012 Tony Award, Best Play), Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife (2004 Tony Award, Best Play), Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles (1989 Tony Award, Best Play), Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George - as well as Ms. Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation (three 2010 Obie Awards including Best New American Play); Lisa D'Amour's Detroit (2013 Obie Award, Best New American Play); Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale (2013 Lortel Award, Best Play); Kirsten Greenidge's Milk Like Sugar (2012 Obie Award); Lucas Hnath's The Christians (2015 Kesselring Prize), Robert O'Hara's Bootycandy (two 2015 Obie Awards); Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Sarah Ruhl's Stage Kiss and Dead Man's Cell Phone; Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn; Dan LeFranc's The Big Meal; Amy Herzog's The Great God Pan and After the Revolution; Bathsheba Doran's Kin; Adam Bock's A Small Fire; Edward Albee's Me, Myself & I; Melissa James Gibson's This (2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist); Doug Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie's Grey Gardens (three 2007 Tony Awards); Craig Lucas's Prayer For My Enemy and Small Tragedy (2004 Obie Award, Best American Play); Adam Rapp's Kindness; Lynn Nottage's Fabulation (2005 Obie Award for Playwriting); Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero; David Greenspan's She Stoops to Comedy (2003 Obie Award); Kirsten Childs's The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (2000 Obie Award); Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey's James Joyce's The Dead (2000 Tony Award, Best Book); Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Assassins; William Finn's March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland; Christopher Durang's Betty's Summer Vacation and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You; Richard Nelson's Goodnight Children Everywhere; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's Once on This Island; Jon Robin Baitz's The Substance of Fire; Scott McPherson's Marvin's Room; A.R. Gurney's Later Life; Adam Guettel and Tina Landau's Floyd Collins; and Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley's Violet.
Clubbed Thumb commissions, develops and produces funny, strange and provocative new plays by living American writers. Clubbed Thumb is a groundbreaker, with a remarkable track record for cultivating and launching artists' careers; a matchmaker, forging relationships between artists through productions and early-career and development programs; and an incubator, nurturing artists and their work, from first reading to fully mounted production. Clubbed Thumb's plays vary in style and content, but are always 90 minutes or under. They feature substantial and challenging roles for both men and women, are questioning, formally inventive, theatrical, and, somewhere in the text, they contain a sense of humor. While the theater's emphasis is emerging artists, Clubbed Thumb provides a home for artists at all stages of their careers to make unique work and take risks in a safe and well-supported environment.
Since its founding in 1996, the company has presented plays in every form of development, including nearly 100 productions, and many playwrights, including Sarah Ruhl, Gina Gionfriddo, Jordan Harrison, Lisa D'Amour and Clare Barron made their New York and in some cases professional debut in Summerworks. Accolades awarded to Clubbed Thumb alumni artists include the Pulitzer short-list, Tony, MacArthur, Steinberg, Kesselring, as well as numerous Susan Smith Blackburn, Guggenheim, Whiting and Obie Awards. Clubbed Thumb has earned five Obies, including the Ross Wetzsteon Award for sustained artistic excellence. In 2010, Producing Artistic Director Maria Striar was honored at the inaugural Lilly Awards with the Margo Jones Award for Artistic Directorship, citing her efforts as a "fierce champion of new works and new writers... who has helped launch and/or develop the careers" of scores of playwrights, especially women.
Jaclyn Backhaus (Playwright) is a playwright of Punjabi, German, and botanical descent. Recent New York productions include Men On Boats (NYT Critics' Pick, Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks, The Kilroys' 2015 List), People Doing Math Live! (Under The Radar Festival's INCOMING! Series), The Incredible Fox Sisters (Live Source, The New Ohio), and You On The Moors Now (Theater Reconstruction Ensemble, HERE Arts Center). She is the recipient of the Jody Falco and Jeffrey Steinman Commission for Emerging Playwrights from Playwrights Horizons, as well as a commission from Ars Nova for the new musical trilogy, Bull's Hollow, alongside composer Mike Brun and director Andrew Neisler. She is co-founder and co-creative director of Fresh Ground Pepper, director of FGP's PlayGround PlayGroup, and Founding Resident Playwright of TRE. She has developed and showcased her work with the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Playwrights Horizons, The Ice Factory Festival, (not just) 3 New Plays, Joe's Pub, The Civilians R&D Group, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Ars Nova's ANTFest, and The Falcons. Jaclyn is the 2016 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Clubbed Thumb. She hails from Phoenix, Arizona.
Will Davis (Director) is a director and choreographer focused on physically adventurous new work and the newly appointed artistic director of American Theater Company in Chicago. Recent projects include: Evita for the Olney Theatre Center, Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus for Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks, receiving a remount at PlaywrightsHorizons in August; Orange Julius by Basil Kreimendahl; Mike Iveson's Sorry Robot for PS122's COIL Festival; and two productions of Colossal by Andrew Hinderaker for Mixed Blood Theater and the Olney Theatre Center, for which he won a Helen Hayes award for outstanding direction. Davis has developed, directed and performed his work with New York Theatre Workshop, Clubbed Thumb, the New Museum, theOlney Theatre Center, the ALLIANCE THEATRE, the Playwright's Realm, the Fusebox Festival, New Harmony Project, the Orchard Project, the Ground Floor Residency at Berkeley Rep, Performance Studies International at Stanford University, and the Kennedy Center. He is an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the NYTW 2050 Directing Fellowship and the BAX (Brooklyn Art Exchange) artist in residence program. He holds a BFA in Theatre Studies from DePaul University and an MFA in Directing from UT Austin.
Jocelyn Bioh (Hawkins) is a writer/performer from New York City. She was last seen in the Tony Award-winning play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Other credits include An Octoroon (Soho Rep.), Bootycandy (Wilma Theater), SEED (Classical Theater of Harlem), and Neighbors (The Public Theater). Her plays include Nollywood Dreams (Kilroys List 2015), School Girls, and the musical The Ladykiller's Love Story (with music/lyrics by Cee Lo Green).
Hannah Cabell (OG). BROADWAY: A Man for All Seasons (Roundabout). OFF-BROADWAY: Men on Boats (Clubbed Thumb), Major Barbara (The Pearl), Grounded (Page73; Drama Desk nom.), Collapse (Women's Project), 3C (Rattlestick), Compulsion (Public Theater), Zero Hour (13P), Pumpgirl (Manhattan Theatre Club), Jane Eyre (Acting Company), Gentleman Caller (Clubbed Thumb), Mark Smith (13P). REGIONAL: World premieres of The Moors (Yale Rep), Marie Antoinette (ART and Yale Rep), Compulsion (Yale Rep and Berkeley Rep; BACCA nom.), and Sarah Ruhl's adaptation of Three Sisters (Cincinnati Playhouse); world premiere of Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Berkeley Rep; BACCA nom.). TV: The Path (upcoming on Hulu), Mr. Robot, Happyish, The Leftovers, Law & Order: CI. TRAINING: MFA, NYU. Recipient of the Annenberg Fellowship for the Arts.
Danielle Davenport (Hall) is a Brooklyn-based actor and writer who has performed in productions, workshops and readings at theaters including The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Theater for a New Audience, Soho Rep, New York Theater Workshop, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, INTAR, Clubbed Thumb, Target Margin, The Civilians, Hartford Stage and others. Screen credits include Netflix's Master of None and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, HBO's Boardwalk Empire and a number of short films. Author of two plays-Claudia, a 2012 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference semifinalist, and Always, recently developed as part of the Fire This Time Festival-she's currently working on her first television pilot and graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University.
Danaya Esperanza (Seneca) is excited to be making her Playwrights Horizons debut and happy to be working again with Clubbed Thumb! Her recent credits include Jose Rivera's Another Word for Beauty with The Goodman Theatre, Jaclyn Backhaus's Men On Boats with Clubbed Thumb, Washeteria with Soho Repertory Theatre and Katori Hall's Our Lady of Kibeho with The Signature Theatre. She has also appeared on the CBS television show, Elementary. Danaya is a graduate of The Juilliard School. Siempre con amor para mi mami.
Donnetta Lavinia Grays (Sumner), raised in Columbia, South Carolina, is a Brooklyn-based actor and playwright. Acting credits include Broadway's In The Next Room, Or The Vibrator Play and Well. Notable NY Theater credits includes O, Earth with The Foundry Theatre, Men On Boats and 16 Words Or Less with Clubbed Thumb, Be The Death Of Me and In The Footprint with The Civilians (Associate Artist), The Wii Plays at Ars Nova and Shipwrecked! An Entertainment at Primary Stages. Regionally she is a 2-time Connecticut Critics Circle Award recipient and Helen Hayes Award nominee. Performing at American Conservatory Theater, Portland Stage Company, Westport Country Playhouse, Arena Stage, Hartford Theaterworks, Centerstage, The Huntington Theatre, Barrington Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company. Film/TV credits include Book Of Henry (upcoming), Wild Canaries, The English Teacher, The Wrestler, Blue Bloods, The Blacklist, All Law & Orders, Mercy, Rubicon, The Sopranos and A Gifted Man. Her plays include Last Night And The Night Before (formerly Sam) (2015 National New Play Network New Play Showcase. 2015 Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest Winner. 2014 Eugene O'Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Semifinalist), The Review Or How To Eat Your Opposition (2013 Eugene O'Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Finalist) The New Normal, The Cowboy Is Dying, The B Factor and Absence Of Faith and a short story entitled Peaches With King. She is the inaugural recipient of the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award, a member of the 2014-15 Civilians R&D Group, Actors Studio Playwright/Directors Unit. She is a 2013-14 Women's Project Playwrights Lab Semifinalist and is a terraNova Collective Groundbreakers Playwright group alum.Her work has been read or developed by New York Theater Workshop, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Portland Stage Company, Pure Theatre Company, [the claque], Naked Angels, Classical Theater of Harlem, Slant Theater Project, terraNova Collective, Theatre 4 the People, TOSOS, The Group Lab and Coyote REP. Proud member of The Actors Center Workshop Company, SAG-AFTRA, AEA and The Dramatist Guild of America. www.donnettagrays.com
Birgit Huppuch (Goodman). Goodman in Men On Boats (Clubbed Thumb Summerworks). Recent work include The Moors (Yale Rep), Judy (Page73), I Will Be Gone (Humana Festival), The Wolfe Twins (Studio Theatre, D.C.), Love in the Wars (Bard Summerscape). Other credits include: The Debate Society's Blood Play (Bushwick Starr, Public, Williamstown, ArtsEmerson), Pig Iron's Twelfth Night (Abrons, FringeArts), In the Next Room or the vibrator play (Cleveland Playhouse), A Map of Virtue (13P), Not What Happened (BAM Next Wave), Neighbors (Public), Angel Reapers (Joyce Theatre), Telephone (Foundry, OBIE Award for Performance). Film: The Sisterhood of Night, Jonathan's Chest (Sundance Short 2014). Web: High Maintenance ("Brad Pitts," "Ruth"). 2011 Charles Bowden Award. Clubbed Thumb Affiliated Artist.
Elizabeth Kenny (Old Shady). Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb and Off-Broadway debut. An actor and playwright, Elizabeth recently relocated to New York from the West Coast after two years touring her award-winning solo show Sick (excerpted at TEDMED 2014). NYC theater: This From Cloudland, The Year of My Mother's Birth. Seattle theater: Hamlet, These Streets (actor/playwright), The Last Letter, The Compendium of Nastiness, Bash, Big Boss, Trouble in the City of Desire, Ubu, The Hairy Baby.
Layla Khoshnoudi (Bradley). Theater: Nobody's Girl (New Jersey Rep), Wyoming (Lesser America), Dido of Idaho (Ensemble Studio Theater), My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer, I Hate F*ing Mexicans (The Flea), I am Gordafarid (Noor Theater), Women (Beth Dies Inc.). Web: ControlTop TV's My Ex is Trending. Film: Making Eyes (short). Long Nights, Short Mornings (feature). Layla received an MFA in Acting from Brooklyn College. She is beyond thrilled to be a man on a boat!
Kelly McAndrew (Powell) is currently performing in The Moors by Jen Silverman at Yale Rep. This April she will at the Humana Festival in The Wellesley Girl by Brendan Pelsue directed by Lee Sunday Evans. Her most recent NY credits include: Perfect Arrangement (Primary Stages), Men on Boats (Clubbed Thumb), Abundance (TACT), Almost, Maine (Transport Group) and Good Television (Atlantic Theatre Company). Broadway: Maggie the Cat, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Off-Broadway: Still Life (MCC), The Cataract (The Women's Project), Book of Days (Signature Theatre). Recent regional credits include: Grounded and Precious Little (City Theatre), All in the Timing (Dorset Theatre Festival), Other Desert Cities (The Guthrie), Good People (Pittsburgh Public), August: Osage County, Alive and Well, Dividing the Estate, Sight Unseen (The Old Globe). TV: Orange is the New Black, Smash, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Gossip Girl. Film: When the Moon Was Twice as Big (filming), Appropriate Behavior (Sundance 2014), In the Family (2011 SPIRIT nomination), Everybody's Fine (with Robert DeNiro).
Kristen Sieh (Dunn) is a founding member of The TEAM, with whom she has written and performed new works, including Particularly in the Heartland, Architecting, and RoosevElvis (The Royal Court, A.R.T, Walker Arts Center, The Vineyard, Bushwick Starr) She has also performed with Pig Iron (Viola in Twelfth Night), The Public Theater (Fortress of Solitude, February House), Classic Stage Company (Anne Washburn's Iphigenia in Aulis), The Foundry (O, Earth), Half Straddle (Ghost Rings), Ripe Time (The World is Round at BAM), Elevator Repair Service (Gatz, The Sound and the Fury, etc.), Banana, Bag & Bodice (Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage), The Builders Association, The New Group, The O'Neill Center, The 52nd St. Project, and others. Regional credits include A.R.T., Syracuse Stage, Denver Center Theater, Long Wharf, and Baltimore CenterStage. TV: Orange is the New Black, The Blacklist, Boardwalk Empire, and Law & Order. Kristen also does voiceovers and makes cakes.