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Naomi Wallace's ONE FLEA SPARE Gets 20th Anniversary Run Off-Broadway

Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company will present the 20th year anniversary production of "One Flea Spare" by Naomi Wallace, directed by Caitlin McLeod, Off-Broadway October 16 to November 13 at Sheen Center, 18 Bleecker Street. The production will feature Broadway vets Concetta Tomei, Gordon Joseph Weiss and Remy Zaken.

In plague-ravaged 17th-century London, a wealthy couple is preparing to flee their home when a mysterious sailor and a young girl appear sneaking into their boarded up house. Quarantined together for 28 days, the only thing these strangers fear more than the Plague is each other. Definitions of morality are up for grabs and survival takes many forms in this fiercely intense and darkly humorous drama. It's the play's first appearance in New York City since its Public Theatre production in 1996, when it won the OBIE Award for best play, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Joseph Kesselring Prize and the 1996 Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award.

In 2009, "One Flea Spare" was incorporated into the permanent repertoire of France's National Theater, the Comédie-Française. Wallace is the only living American playwright to enter the repertoire and the only American after Tennessee Williams to be so honored. The play has also joined the permanent repertoire of Komorní scéna Aréna in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

The play is distinguished by its beautiful, rough, heightened language that is often described as "muscular." The setting is London during the plague of 1665-6. Mr. and Mrs. Snelgrave, a prosperous couple of mercantile wealth, are quarantined in their house while most people of their class have escaped to the countryside. Through odd circumstances, they must share their dwelling with two people who have sneaked in for refuge: an enigmatic adolescent girl named Morse and a sailor named Bunce. Bunce has a wound in his side, making him obliquely Christ-like. The house is patrolled by a clownish watchman named Kabe, whose job is to keep everyone inside. Confined to the two rooms where nobody has died, the Snelgraves and their intruders live in unwelcome intimacy; in doing so, they become transparent to each other. Barriers disintegrate between the governors and the governed, but the doors to love and salvation are not opened. The rich retain the cruelty of their indifference and only the feral survive. The plague is revealed to be something metaphorical: a drive that causes us to destroy ourselves and each other.

Director Caitlin McLeod muses that because playwright Wallace grew up in a working class community in Kentucky, she has a heightened empathy toward the oppressed and the poor. The playwright is also, according to McLeod, a history buff, but the play's production style will not be "too period" in order for its themes not to be distancing for us. In literature, plagues are often used symbolically. Camus' plague in "La Peste" was fascism in France and how people reacted to it. Wallace's London Plague, then, is at least partly a caveat on the age of modern income inequality, when the rich could make a difference but choose not to, collapsing resources swamp us with the oppressed and young people are hardened by seeing the damage.

Mr. Snelgrave is played by Gordon Joseph Weiss. Mrs. Snelgrave is played by Concetta Tomei. Morse-is played by Remy Zaken. Bunce is played by Joseph W. Rodriguez. Kabe is played by Donté Bonner.

Scenic and projection design are by Bryce Cutler. Costume design is by Sarafina Bush. Lighting design is by AaRon Porter. Music composition and sound design are by Mark Van Hare. Props Master is Megan O'Leary. Production Manager & Technical Director is Matthew Mauer. Creative Producer is Allison Bressi. Production Stage Manager is Ed Herman.

IF YOU GO:
ONE FLEA SPARE
Oct 16 - Nov 13, 2006
Sheen Center, 18 Bleecker St.
Presented by Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company (www.playhousecreatures.org)
Previews 7:00 PM October 16-18 and 8:00 PM October 20-22, opens 7:00 PM October 23; runs through November 13 on the following schedule: Wed-Sat at 8:00 PM, matinees Sat at 2:00 PM and Sun at 3:00 PM. (Six previews, 25 regular performances)
Tickets: $40, premium: $50, previews: $35. Opening night tickets $75. Students $19.
Box Office: 212-925-2812, web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/962742
Runs two hours with intermission.
Critics are invited on or after October 20. Opens October 23.

Naomi Wallace's plays--which have been produced in the UK, Europe, USA and the Middle East--include "In the Heart of America," "Slaughter City," "One Flea Spare," "The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek," "Things of Dry Hours," "The Fever Chart: Three Vision of the Middle East," "And I and Silence" and "Night is a Room." Her awards include the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (twice), Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, Obie Award and the Horton Foote Award. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts development grant. In 2013, Wallace received the inaugural Windham Campbell prize for drama and in 2015 an Arts and Letters Award in Literature. Signature Theatre dedicated a season to her in 2014.

Director Caitlin McLeod is originally from Iowa and grew up in Yorkshire, UK. She was Trainee Director at The Royal Court Theatre, London from 2011-12 and is currently Associate Director with HighTide Festival Theatre and Presence Theatre. This year, she was one of the Old Vic 12 Company and also a Sky Academy Scholarship Winner. Her directing credits include "A Further Education" (Hampstead Downstairs), "BRENDA" (HighTide and The Yard), "Polar Bears" (West Yorkshire Playhouse), "And I And Silence" (Signature Theatre, New York), "The Malcontent" (Shakespeare's Globe), "CommonWealth" (Almeida Theatre). "FACTS, "And I And Silence" and "Northern Star" (Finborough Theatre), "The Children's Hour" (Royal Welsh College), "The Red Set" and "Mahua" (The Royal Court), "Escalator Plays" (HighTide), "Love, Love, Love" (La Mousson d'ete Festival and Théâtre du Rond-Point), "One Short Sleepe" (Southbank Festival), "The Lady's Not For Burning" and "Elephant's Graveyard" (Warwick Arts Centre Studio) and "Slaughter City" (RSC reading).

Gordon Joseph Weiss (Mr. Snelgrave) has appeared on Broadway in "Fool for Love," "Sly Fox," "The Life," "Jelly's Last Jam," "The Visit," "Ghetto" (Tony and Drama Desk Nominations), "Raggedy Ann," "King of Hearts," "Goodtime Charley" and "Jumpers."

Concetta Tomei (Mrs. Snelgrave) has appeared on Broadway "Cyrano" (opposite Kevin Kline), "The Elephant Man" (opposite David Bowie), "Noises Off," and "Goodbye Fidel." At Lincoln Center, she appeared in "The Clean House and at The Public Theater, she has appeared in "The Normal Heart" (original cast), "Richard III" (Equity Bayfield Award), "Fen" by Caryl Churchill, Tommy Tune's "Cloud 9" (orig. cast) and Nora Ephron's "Love, Loss, and What I Wore."

Remy Zaken (Morse) has appeared on Broadway in "Spring Awakening" and Off-Broadway in "Dear Evan Hansen," "Brooklynite," "The Anthem," "Freckleface Strawberry," "Spring Awakening," and "Radiant Baby."

Joseph W. Rodriguez (Bunce) has appeared Off-Broadway in "The Libertine" at The Kirk, Theatre Row, in 2010 and in a 2013 production at Bridge Rep in Boston, for which he was nominated for four Best Actor awards. Other NYC credits include "Buffalo Hair" with Jeffrey Wright at The Public and "Richard III" with Austin Pendleton at New Perspectives. At ART in Boston, he has appeared in "Hamlet" with Mark Rylance and "King Lear" with F. Murray Abraham.

Donté Bonner (Kabe) studied at the University of Central Florida. His stage credits include "Romeo and Juliet" on Broadway and the world premiere of "WAR" at Yale Rep. Film credits include "Sydney White." Television credits include "The Night Of" and "Sneaky Pete."

Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company (www.playhousecreatures.org), founded in 2009, has produced eight main stage productions, including the world Premiere of Tennessee Williams' "A Recluse and His Guest." It has also produced five new works series, five staged readings including John Guare's original work, "More Stars Than There Are In Heaven," and several weekend-long Tennessee Williams festivals, as well as cabaret and comedy events. The troupe also produces free camps and trips to Broadway for underserved youth in New York City through its Little Creatures Act Out initiative (www.playhousecreatures.org/little-creatures-youth-program.html). This Spring, Playhouse Creatures will present a second mainstage production, "Mrs. Packard" by Emily Mann, in both Boston and New York with its producing partner, Bridge Repertory Theater (www.bridgerep.org).


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