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NAATCO's QUEEN to Begin Performances the A.R.T./New York Mezzanine Theatre This Friday

Featured in Queen will be Stephanie Janssen, Ben Livingston, Keshav Moodliar and more.

NAATCO's QUEEN to Begin Performances the A.R.T./New York Mezzanine Theatre This Friday

NAATCO (The National Asian American Theatre Company) will present the inaugural production of the NAATCO National Partnership Project, Queen, written by playwright and screenwriter Madhuri Shekar (House of Joy) and directed by Aneesha Kudtarkar, which will begin performances Friday June 10th at the A.R.T./New York Mezzanine Theatre (502 West 53rd Street), continuing through July 1st only.

This NAATCO/Long Wharf Theatre partnership production comes directly from its engagement at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven.

Queen launches the NAATCO National Partnership Project (NNPP), an ambitious new initiative to establish relationships with theaters around the country to develop and implement strategies for including Asian American theater artists, technicians, and administrators in their practices. On American stages today, there is a growing emphasis on inclusion and belonging. But Asian Americans continue to be largely excluded from this movement and continue to be portrayed in stereotypic and formulaic ways. Since its founding, NAATCO has been dedicated to changing this dynamic. Long Wharf Theatre, as an anchor NNPP partner, joins in the effort towards promoting more expansive representations of Asian Americans.

The next NNPP project is in partnership with Soho Rep, scheduled for early 2023, followed by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in a new modern verse adaptation by Hansol Jung (Wolf Play, Wild Goose Dreams, Cardboard Piano), running April 8th to April 30th at Two River Theater, Red Bank NJ.

"Queen marks a significant moment for the NAATCO National Partnership Project. It is the NNPP's inaugural production, and it is all the more significant because it is with our anchor partner, Long Wharf Theatre," said Mia Katigbak, actor-manager and co-founder of NAATCO. "When I was thinking of the NNPP, I had many inspirational conversations with Jacob Padrón, the Artistic Director of Long Wharf, whose Sol Project was doing something comparable with Latinx playwrights partnering with theatres across the country. Not only was Jacob's wisdom and experience with the Sol Project helpful, but his total support of what NAATCO was trying to do was fundamental."

Featured in Queen will be Stephanie Janssen (Broadway: Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Mrs. Warren's Profession; Off-Bway: Clive - New Group, Ivanov - Classic Stage Company); Ben Livingston (Broadway: Mamma Mia!; One Man Two Guvnors, The Heiress; Off-Broadway: Our Town - Barrow Street Theatre, The Library - Public Theater); Keshav Moodliar (Native Son, Measure for Measure - The Acting Company, Duke on 42nd Street); and Avanthika Srinivasan (Off-Broadway debut!). Queen has scenic design by Junghyun Georgia Lee, costume design by Phuong Nguyen with Assistant Costume Designer Kyle Artone, and lighting design by Yuki Nakase Link with Assistant Lighting Designer Jackie Fox. Sound design and original music by UptownWorks: Daniela Hart, Bailey Trierweiler, and Noel Nichols.

Queen follows PhD candidates Sanam and Ariel who have spent the better part of the last decade exhaustively researching vanishing bee populations across the globe. Just as these close friends are about to publish a career-defining paper, Sanam stumbles upon an error in their calculations, which could cause catastrophic damage to their reputations, careers, and friendship. Now, Sanam is confronted with an impossible choice: look the other way or stand by her principles and accept the consequences? Queen is a provocative portrayal of brilliant women confronting inconvenient truths.

Madhuri Shekar (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. She was born in California and grew up in India, and is currently based in Jersey City. Madhuri is an alum of the Juilliard Playwriting program, a fellow at New Dramatists, and the 2020 winner of the Lanford Wilson Playwriting award. Madhuri's audio play Evil Eye debuted on the Audible best-seller list in May 2019, and won the 2020 Audie Award for Best Original Work. Her play House of Joy received its world premiere at Cal Shakes in August 2019. Madhuri's new play Dhaba on Devon Avenue was slated to premiere at Victory Gardens in April 2020, and is postponed until we emerge into a new post-pandemic life. In addition to Queen (2019 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, Outstanding Original Full Length Script; Edgerton New Play Award), Madhuri's other plays include In Love and Warcraft (Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award), A Nice Indian Boy, Antigone: Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine's, and the TYA play Bucket of Blessings (Suzi Bass Award for Outstanding Original Work - TYA). Madhuri's plays have also been developed or showcased at Center Theatre Group, The Old Globe, the Kennedy Center, the Hedgebrook Playwrights Festival, South Coast Repertory, the Movement Theater Company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ma-Yi Theatre, NY Stage & Film, and Juilliard. Madhuri has an MFA in Dramatic Writing from USC, and a dual Master's degree in Global Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and USC. She is an alumna of the Ma-Yi writers lab and the Center Theatre Group Writers Workshop, and a co-creator of the Shakespearean web series, "Titus and Dronicus." Madhuri was a staff writer for the upcoming HBO show "The Nevers." She wrote the feature film adaptation of Evil Eye, produced by Blumhouse, and now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Aneesha Kudtarkar (Director) is a New York-based theater director and graduate of the Yale School of Drama. She is a trained Indian Classical (Bharathanatyam) dancer. Her interests include new play development, theater pedagogy, and the George W. Bush painting collection. Aneesha was a Drama League Director's Project Fellow in 2015, and the recipient of the 2019 Kauffman Memorial Prize at Yale. Recent Projects include Romeo & Juliet (Two River Theater: Tiny Shakes), The Who and The What (TheaterWorks Hartford), Men on Boats (Southern Methodist University), [Veil Widow Conspiracy] (NAATCO), LOCUSTS, Trouble in Mind, The Winter's Tale (Yale School of Drama), and The Purple Flower (Yale Cabaret).

The National Asian American Theatre Co., Inc. (NAATCO) was founded in 1989 by Richard Eng and Mia Katigbak. NAATCO's mission is to assert the presence and significance of Asian American theatre in the United States, demonstrating its vital contributions to the fabric of American culture. They present the following repertory:

European and American classics as written with all Asian American casts;

Adaptations of these classics by Asian American Playwrights; and

New plays - preferably world premieres - written by non-Asian Americans, not for or about Asian Americans, but realized by an all Asian American cast.

Development and production of new plays by Asian American Playwrights that incorporate other performative arts and media.

NAATCO puts into service its total commitment to Asian American theater artists to more accurately represent onstage the multi- and intercultural dynamics of our society. Their repertory demonstrates a rich tapestry of cultural difference bound by the American experience. The enrichment accrues to each different culture as well as to America as a whole. NAATCO's work demonstrates the abilities of Asian American theater artists to reach across ethnic boundaries to illuminate abiding characteristics of human nature, and to reflect and emphasize the kinship among disparate cultures. NAATCO and its performers have been the recipients of numerous awards, including a special Drama Desk Award in 2019, the Ross Wetzsteon Award (an Obie given to theaters that nurture innovative new plays), the St. Clair Bayfield Award (Mia Katigbak in Henry VI), the Lilly Award for Trailblazing, a performance Obie (Mia Katigbak in Awake and Sing!), and the Rosetta LeNoire award from Actors Equity Association recognizing NAATCO's contribution toward increasing diversity and non-traditional casting in American theater.

Performances, which run June 10th through July 1st at the Mezzanine Theatre, A.R.T./NY (502 West 53rd Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues), will be Monday through Saturday evenings at 7pm, with matinees Saturday at 2pm. Tickets, which are $35, may be purchased online.

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