Epic Theatre Ensemble Returns with World Premiere of THE WINNING SIDE

Epic Theatre Ensemble Returns with World Premiere of THE WINNING SIDE

Epic Theatre Ensemble returns off-Broadway with the world premiere of The Winning Side, a new play by James Wallert. The Winning Side will begin previews on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 and officially open on Monday, October 8, 2018 at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd St.), a program Building for the Arts NY, Inc. The Winning Side will play a limited run through Sunday, October 28, 2018.

Based on the true story of Wernher von Braun, Chief Rocket Engineer for the Third Reich and one of the fathers of the United States space program, The Winning Side explores the hidden history behind America's 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.

The Winning Side will star Sullivan Jones ("The Looming Tower") as Wernher von Braun, Melissa Friedman (Hannah and Martin) as Margot, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. (Einstein's Gift) as Major Taggert and Devin E. Haqq (Macbeth: Born with Teeth) in multiple roles. It will be directed by Ron Russell (Epic co-founder and executive director)

As the preeminent face and voice of space exploration on television during the 1950's and 60's, von Braun was one of the most famous men in the world. But because of his complicated legacy, he's largely been left out of the history books. With The Winning Side, Wallert creates an accessible theatrical experience for audiences of all ages that re-examines this forgotten figure of the space race, and asks challenging questions about our contemporary views of science, technology, politics, and ethics.

The creative team includes: Chika Shimizu (set/projections designer), Cat Tate Starmer (lighting designer), Betsy Rugg-Hinds (costume designer) and Ron Russell (sound designer).

"As long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by the American space program," Wallert said. "The moon landing was presented as an awesome feat of American engineering genius and political will. It wasn't until much later that I began to become aware of just how much moral compromise and human sacrifice was marshaled to propel America toward that 'one small step'."

Wallert was inspired by the biography, Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War by Michael J. Neufeld, Senior Curator, Space History Department at The National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Neufeld will be the post-show talk back guest on Saturday, October 13 at 8 pm. And Neufeld, who had a chance to read the play and see an early workshop said: "The Winning Side" takes the facts of Wernher von Braun's life in Nazi Germany and the United States and artfully mixes them with fiction to produce a stimulating theatrical experience that asks fundamental moral questions about his Nazi past and the American decision to bring him over. It will be a valuable experience for students and adults, provoking debates and morality and history."

Tickets are $20 for all preview performances (October 3-7), $35 for the first week (October 10-14) and $45 thereafter. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.epictheatreensemble.org/the-winning-side/. There will be post-show talkbacks following every performance with experts in the fields of history, science, politics, engineering and technology. Audience members are invited to stay for these lively and fascinating discussions that will revolve around the play's subject matter.

Theatre Ensemble, founded in 2001, is dedicated to creating bold work with and for diverse communities that promotes vital discourse and change. builds thoughtful citizenship in communities throughout NYC by producing award-winning, socially minded plays and connecting these plays to schools via curriculum-integrated in-school and elective beyond-school program.

Epic makes theatre that empowers. Epic's artists are equal parts cyphers and mentors: they create and amaze; they teach and inspire; they translate the struggles of history into lessons for our future; they fight their way into the center of the civic dialogue. We value youth voice deeply, because we share a youthful passion for justice; we believe that theatre that embraces this passion transforms audiences from passive bystanders into active participants forging a more inclusive and collaborative vision of America.

Off-Broadway, Epic has commissioned and developed 39 new works of socially-minded theatre, including 10 U.S. premieres and 13 world premieres such as nationally-known plays like Kate Fodor'sHannah and Martin and Nilaja Sun's No Child... and in 2015, Nilaja's next solo piece PIKE ST., now on tour across the nation and even the world, winning numerous awards at Edinburgh in summer 2017. They've presented this new work alongside engaging productions of classics from Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Shaw, and New York premieres of acclaimed work from around the country and world, such as Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play in Brooklyn and Vern Thiessen's Einstein's Gift. Epic is the recipient of OBIE, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Drama League, and OTTO Awards, among many other honors.

"The Winning Side is a wonderful example of a stage production that brings together the history of the space program, entertainment and education into a single unified experience," said Asif Siddiqi, Professor at the Department of History at Fordham University and another post-show talkback guest on a date to be announced. "The value of this play is not only that it is consistently enjoyable, but that it doesn't avoid the hard historical questions. This is a one-of-a-kind experience, bringing a deeply controversial episode of our space program to the stage."

"Historians usually believe that their research finding cannot be fictionalized without losing analytical precision and critical clarity," said Alexander Geppert, Associate Professor of History and European Studies at NYU. "Jim Wallert proves us wrong. The Winning Side tells a fascinating story of technological ambition, political opportunism and personal betrayal in the name of humanity."

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