James Earl Jones And More Set For First Light 2011 Series of New Plays


James Earl Jones, Roger Robinson and Robert Joy will all perform in the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's First Light 2011 series of new plays about science and technology now through April 23 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street.

"This is maybe the strongest, most varied group of plays we've assembled under the First Light banner," said William Carden, Artistic Director of the Ensemble Studio Theatre, which probably has more plays per square inch in development than any other institution on the planet. "This festival, now in its 13th year, is one of the core pieces of the Ensemble Studio Theatre's artistic life, and we're pleased to see it attracting the talent it deserves."

This year's collaboration between the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will feature a new opera about the first computer language, a look at the lives of bedbug exterminators and a multimedia adaptation of Edwin Abbot's 1884 novella Flatland.

First Light 2011 will culminate in a five-performance run of Pidgeon by Tommy Smith April 20 through 23. Pidgeon covers the exploits of Leon Theremin, a Soviet scientist and inventor of electronic music who worked in the shadow of Stalin's rule. Directed by Mr. Carden, Pidgeon features Robert Joy in the role of Theremin. Curran Connor, Angela Lewis and Peter Maloney round out the cast.

The First Light 2011 lineup (All performances are at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street, unless otherwise noted.):

Monday, April 4, at 7:00pm
Please Continue by Frank Basloe, directed by Law & Order's Matthew Penn, explores the ethical struggles rising from Stanley Milgram's 1960s obedience experiments.

Tuesday, April 5, at 7:00pm
Fast Company by Carla Ching (Artistic Director for the Asian-American theater Second Generation), directed by Linsay Firman (Photograph 51), is the story of a family of grifters - a magician, a sportswriter, and a game theorist - reunited at their mother's deathbed.

Thursday, April 7, at 7:00pm
Smash by Robert Askins flashes back to 1993 and the construction - and demise - of the attempted Hadron Collider in Waxahatchie, Texas.

Friday, April 8, at 3:00pm
The Secret Life of Arthropods & Rodents by Cori Thomas follows the struggles of a young woman, recently paroled, along her journey to become a Pest Control Engineer. Little does she know a bedbug epidemic looms....

Monday, April 11, at 8:00pm at the Five Angels Theater, 789 Tenth Ave at 53rd Street
Ada is an opera composed by Kim Sherman, libretto by Margaret Vandenburg; directed by Lisa Rothe with musical direction by Kimberly Grigsby. Ada chronicles the life of Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and widely credited with writing the first computer program.

Tuesday, April 12, at 7:00pm
Separation of Blood by Bridgette Wimberly recalls a perilous drive through the south by Dr. Charles Drew, the African-American who spearheaded the first blood bank in an era when he wasn't allowed to receive a transfusion himself. Featuring James Earl Jones and Roger Robinson.

Tuesday, April 12, at 3:00pm
Big Hungry World by Susan Bernfield. Ms. Bernfield reunites with the director, Emma Griffin, and star, Kristin Griffith, of her off-Broadway hit Stretch for this story of a Silicon Valley billionaire who wants to cure world hunger.

Thursday, April 14, at 3:00pm & Friday, April 15, 7:00pm, at the Vault, 14 Wall Street, Level B.
Flatland by Sinking Ship Ensemble. Using puppetry, projections, and lasers, Sinking Ship bring Edwin Abbot's 1884 novella Flatland to the stage.

Monday, April 18, at 7:00pm
A Lady Alone by Lynn Eckert, Christine Farrell, and Kevin Confoy is a one-woman play dissecting the struggles of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive an MD degree from an American medical school. Christine Farrell performs as Blackwell

Wednesday, April 20, thru Saturday, April 23, at 7:00pm; matinee Saturday, April 23, at 2:00pm.
Pidgeon by Tommy Smith covers the exploits of Leon Theremin, a Soviet scientist and inventor of electronic music who worked in the shadow of Stalin's rule. Directed by Mr. Carden, Pidgeon features Robert Joy in the role of Theremin. Curran Connor, Angela Lewis and Peter Maloney round out the cast.

Admission is free, but a suggested $10 donation at the door is hoped for. Tickets for Pidgeon are $15. The information number is 212-247-4982 or, via email, info@ensemblestudiotheatre.org.

For more information on First Light 2011, check out the Ensemble Studio Theatre website at www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/now-playing/current-productions/first-light-2011 .

The EST/Sloan Project, has over the past 13 years, granted over $1 million in commissions to over 200 theatre artists and companies, leading to over 65 plays produced in New York and nationwide. The EST/Sloan Project is designed to stimulate artists to create new theatrical works exploring the worlds of science and technology and to challenge the existing stereotypes of scientists and engineers in popular culture. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation <www.sloan.org > believes that a carefully reasoned and systematic understanding of the forces of nature and society, when applied inventively and wisely, can lead to a better world for all. The Foundation makes grants to support original research and broad-based education related to science, technology, and economic performance; and to improve the quality of American life.

Ensemble Studio Theatre < www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org> is a not-for-profit developmental Theatre Incorporated in 1972 with two primary goals: to nurture individual theatre artists and to develop new American plays. Under the guidance of the late founder Curt Dempster, the theatre's membership grew from a core of 20 artists to a flourishing community of over 500 theatre artists of the highest caliber. Among them are winners of accolades and higher awards including Pulitzer Prizes, Oscars, Tonys, Emmys, and Obies. E.S.T. is a lifelong artistic home for its member playwrights, directors, actors, designers, technical personnel and administrators. Each year, the Ensemble produces over 300 projects, including readings, workshops, and fully produced mainstage full-lengths.

Related Articles

Off-Broadway THEATER Stories | Shows

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...