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Leigh Fondakowski's BP Oil Spill Play Set for EST This Spring

Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST), in association with The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, has announced SPILL, written and directed by Leigh Fondakowski (The Laramie Project, The People's Temple).

SPILL will begin performances on March 8, 2017, followed by an opening set for March 16, 2017 for a limited run through April 2, 2017 at EST's Curt Dempster Theatre (545 W. 52nd Street).

SPILL is based on the events surrounding the 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil spill, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Created from interviews, testimony, court documents, and media accounts collected in the aftermath of the spill, SPILL follows the story of the 2010 explosion on board the oilrig Deepwater Horizon and the devastating impact of the 87-day spill on the coastal communities and marine life of Louisiana.

The cast of SPILL will feature Michael Cullen (Exit Strategy), Vince Gatton (The Temperamentals), Alex Grubbs (SeaWife), Molly McAdoo (Kansas City Choir Boy). Maurice McRae (Collapse), Ronald Alexander Peet (Kentucky), Kelli Simpkins (I Think I Like Girls), and Greg Steinbruner (Light, A Dark Comedy).

SPILL will feature scenic design by Sarah Lambert (No Need for Seudction), lighting design by Nick Francone (Kentucky), costume design by Suzanne Chesney (Fast Company), sound design by Lee Kinney (Homos, Or Everyone in America), projection design by David Bengali (Square Peg Round Hole), and original compositions by Gary Grundei.

Tickets range from $25 to $50 and are on sale now at or by calling 866-811-4111. Student, senior, and EST Ensemble Member tickets are also available for $30. The performance schedule is as follows: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at 7pm; Saturday at 2pm and 7pm; Sunday at 5pm.

EST is proud to continue their partnership with the Sloan Foundation through the The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project which is an initiative designed to stimulate artists to create credible and compelling work exploring the worlds of science and technology and to challenge the existing stereotypes of scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. The previously annuounced Sloan Commission 2016/17 recipients and plays are Marc Acito (The Man in the Moon), Chad Beckim (Ghosts), Eleanor Burgess (Start Down), Laura Maria Censabella (Untitled), Cory Finley (The Ice), Kristin Idaszak (The Surest Poison), Christina Quintana (Citizen Scientist), Gabrielle Reisman (Pattern Seeking Animals), Abby Rosebrock (La Vida Es Corta), Charley Evon Simpson (Under the Sheet), C. Denby Swanson (Nutshell), Andrea Throne (Untitled al-Zarqali Project), Benjamin Weiner (Untitled Alfred Nobel Project), and Leah Nanako Winkler (Ruby).

SPILL joins the world premiere of EST/Youngblood's MOPE, written by Paul Cameron Hardy and directed by RJ Tolan. MOPE began performances on Wednesday, January 11, officially opened on Saturday, January 14 and recently extended through Sunday, February 19 at EST's 6th Floor Studio Theatre (545 W. 52ndStreet, New York, NY 10019).

The cast of MOPE features J. Stephen Brantley, RJ Brown Jr., Hollye Hudson, Eric Miller, Jennifer Tsay, and Megan Tusing.

"MOPE": /m?p/ (noun): 1. The lowest-level male performer in the adult film industry. An anonymous stunt-penis. Example: "Trevor is a mope." 2. A new play by Paul Cameron Hardy. An examination of a country poisoned by toxic masculinity, hiding inside an uncomfortable comedy about guys who do porn.

Tickets for MOPE are now on sale for $30 and can be purchased at or by calling (866) 811-4111. Student, senior, and EST Ensemble Member tickets are also available at $20. The performance schedule through February 4 is as follows: Monday at 7pm, Wednesday at 7pm, Thursday at 7pm, Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 7pm and 10:30pm. Exceptions: There will be no 10:30pm performance on Saturday, February 4. The performance schedule February 5 through February 19 is as follows: Tuesday through Saturday at 7pm, Saturday at 10:30pm, Sunday at 5pm.

Leigh Fondakowski is a playwright/director and a veteran member of Tectonic Theater Project. She was the Head Writer of The Laramie Project, an Emmy nominated co-screenwriter for the adaptation of The Laramie Project for HBO, and a co-writer of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Her original work as playwright/director includes, SPILL, which premiered at Swine Palace in Baton Rouge in 2015, was subsequently performed at TimeLine Theater in Chicago in 2016 (Jeff Nomination for Best Ensemble), and made the 2015 Kilroy List; The People's Temple, which was performed at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Theater Company, and The Guthrie Theater, and received the Glickman Award for Best New Play in the Bay Area in 2005; I Think I Like Girls, which premiered at Encore Theater in San Francisco (Bay Area Critics Circle nomination for Best Production), and was voted one of the top 10 plays of 2002 by The Advocate. Leigh is a 2007 recipient of the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, a 2009 Macdowell Colony Fellow, and a 2010 Distinguished Visiting Chair at the University of Minnesota, where she lectured and developed CAsa Cushman, a work-in-progress about 19th-century American actress Charlotte Cushman. As director, she directed the national tour of The Laramie Project and Laramie: Ten Years later, and co-directed The Laramie Cycle with Moisés Kaufman at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music. She has developed new work with playwrights Zina Camblin, Colman Domingo, Laura Eason, Julia Jordan, Lisa Ramirez, and Bennett Singer. She released Stories from Jonestown, her first creative non-fiction book in 2013. She is currently a teaching artist at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Naropa University.

Ensemble Studio Theatre - commonly known as EST- was founded in 1968 by Curt Dempster on the belief that extraordinary support yields extraordinary work. We are a dynamic and expanding family of member artists committed to the discovery and nurturing of new voices and the continued support and growth of artists throughout their creative lives. Through our unique collaborative process we develop and produce original, provocative, and authentic new plays that engage and challenge our audience and audiences across the country.

Now with over 600 ensemble artists, EST has been under the artistic direction of William Carden since 2007. The company received two 2013 Drama Desk Award nominations for Finks by Joe Gilford and one 2014 Drama Desk nomination for Bobby Moreno in Year Of The Rooster by Olivia Dufault, who won the 2014 NY Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for a new playwright debut. Hand To God, originated at EST, was nominated for five Tony Awards for its Broadway run. EST received a special Drama Desk Award for its "unwavering commitment to producing new works" in May of 2015.

The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project is an initiative designed to stimulate artists to create credible and compelling work exploring the worlds of science and technology and to challenge the existing stereotypes of scientists and engineers in the popular imagination.

The partnership between the Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is the creative engine behind over 300 commissioned new American plays that challenge and broaden the public's understanding of science and technology and their impact in our lives. Plays from the EST/Sloan Project are produced again and again across the country. This begins at EST's home base in Hell's Kitchen, New York, for over 40 years a crucial platform for new and unheard voices in the American theatre.

Beyond New York, the program now has a nationwide reach. It supports development and production of new plays in over 60 theatres across the country through a combination of seed grants and production incentives. These initiatives provide an extended life for EST/Sloan plays in subsequent regional productions, and the seed grants provide a broader base of artistic opportunity for communities outside of New York, allowing the program to cast a wider net for new work. Over the last 18 years, the EST/Sloan Project's reputation has been enhanced by the critically acclaimed productions presented on the theatre's Mainstage every season under the banner of the EST/Sloan Project, including Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51, which later went on to complete a successful run on London's West End starring Nicole Kidman, as well as productions like Isaac's Eye by Lucas Hnath, End Days and Informed Consent by Deb Laufer, Lenin's Embalmers by Vern Thiessen, and Relativity by Cassandra Medley.

The New York based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology, and economic performance. Sloan's program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience.

Over nearly two decades, The Foundation's pioneering theater program, begun with a 1997 grant to Ensemble Studio Theatre for Arthur Giron's play about the Wright Brothers, Flight, has helped usher in the science play as a regular part of the theater canon. Commissioning close to 20 new plays each year through its two flagship partners, EST and Manhattan Theatre Club-and working with the National Theater in London, The Magic Theater in San Francisco, the Marc Taper Forum in Los Angeles and Playwrights Horizons in New York, among others-the Foundation has made "a Sloan" a highly recognizable and coveted commission for any playwright embarking on a new play with a science and technology theme or character. Beginning with such renowned science plays as Proof, Copenhagen and Alan Alda's QED, more recent grants have supported Deborah Laufer's Informed Consent, a co-production with Primary Stages, Nick Payne's Constellations, a Broadway hit staring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson, Nell Benjamin's The Explorer's Club, Sharr White's The Other Place, Lucas Hnath's Isaac's Eye, and Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51, recently in London's West End starring Nicole Kidman.

Sloan also has a nationwide film program that includes support of six film schools, screenplay development programs with The Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, the San Francisco Film Society, Film Independent and the Black List, and has helped develop and distribute 15 feature films in the past four years including Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game, Michael Almereyda'sExperimenter, Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess, Jake Schreier's Robot &Frank, and Rob Meyer's A Birder's Guide to Everything.

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