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New York Premiere of Oren Safdie's GRATITUDE to be Presented at Urban Stages

Najaf finds herself caught in a web of her own making that promises liberation even as it might simultaneously lead to her undoing.

New York Premiere of Oren Safdie's GRATITUDE to be Presented at Urban Stages

Playwright Oren Safdie will get a New York premiere of his newest play, Urban Stages presents MainLine Theatre's (Amy Blackmore, Artistic Director) production of GRATITUDE. Directed by Maria Mileaf, performances will begin on June 5 in advance of its opening night on Thursday, June 8, and will run through June 30, 2022. The subject matter can be disturbing and deals with sexual material. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by visiting www.UrbanStages.org. For ages 16+.

GRATITUDE tells the story of 15-year-old Najaf, a Muslim girl from a devout family, who attends an exclusive private high school where she becomes infatuated with Drew, the class stud. Torn between her traditional upbringing and family expectations and her new sexual awakening, Najaf finds herself caught in a web of her own making that promises liberation even as it might simultaneously lead to her undoing.

"Oren's work is powerful, smart, and provocative, but also highly entertaining. We are thrilled that he is returning to Urban Stages as we present Montreal's MainLine Theatre and their production of, Gratitude. They have assembled an amazing cast of young performers and a talented creative team of seasoned theatre professionals."

Urban Stages Artistic Director, Frances Hill

The cast includes Jalen Xavier Ford (Film: Listen to the House Party), Jake Guthrie (NY Theater Barn's Ashes to Ashes), Erik Larsson (Regional: Brighton Beach Memoirs), and Aline Salloum (Rattlestick's The Meltdown), This creative team includes Neil Patel (set design), Greg MacPherson (light design) and Laurie Churba (costumes), Fiona Misiura (Stage Manager) and Isabel Davison (assistant stage manager). Safdie, Mileaf, Patel, and Churba reunite for the first time in nearly two decades after collaborating on the Off Broadway hit Private Jokes, Public Places.

Urban Stages team includes Frances Hill (artistic director), Antoinette Mullins (development & literary director), Olga Devyatisilnaya (company manager/financial administrator), Ilanna Saltzman (outreach director), Kim T. Sharp (technical director), Bara Swain (creative consultant), Vincent Scott (director & school consultant), and Disnie Sebastien (social media).

Gratitude received its world premiere at Montreal's MainLine Theatre, where critics raved - "The 75-minute play begins rather innocently, but dissolves into so much sexual tension and human desperation with a great deal of simplicity and humour." Montréal Times; "Gratitude offers a topical look at high school lust and longing .... The scenes are well-paced, engaging, and funny. "The Globe And Mail; "Safdie has hit the proverbial ball out of the court with his new play Gratitude. Safdie's play captures youthful stirrings with all their passions and insecurities to devastating effect. Gratitude is a brave, provocative story exploring the realities around sex, love, consent, duty, gender roles, and rebellion." The Suburban / Jewish Mag; "Oren Safdie's triumphant return to Montreal with Gratitude, he does an ingenious job of bringing the conundrum to the forefront for all generations in a thought-provoking fashion ... Join the humanistic and captivating game of human, moral and ethical chess, running at the Mainline." - OrcaSound Arts & Entertainment.

The kernel of Safdie's newest work grew out of his own experience attending St. George's School in Montreal. The day he was to start Grade 11, he received a phone call from the boyfriend of a girl in his class, threatening to put two bullets through his head if he showed up at school. From this, he has woven a story of four characters grappling with their newfound sexual urges while discovering the power their bodies have on others. Add to that the emotions of first love, peer pressure, sexual identity, and cultural discrepancies, and you have a story that captures the youth of our time in all its complexities.



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