ON SET WITH THEDA BARA Extends One Week Off-Broadway

The Off-Broadway engagement must close on March 16, 2024.

By: Feb. 22, 2024
ON SET WITH THEDA BARA Extends One Week Off-Broadway
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Due to critical acclaim and popular demand, Transport Group and Lucille Lortel Theatre have announced a one-week extension of Joey Merlo’s On Set with Theda Bara. The Off-Broadway engagement must close on March 16, 2024.

Directed by Jack Serio, the show stars six-time Obie winner and David Greenspan, who channels all four characters in this uniquely intimate, seance-like production for just 50 people a night. Performances of On Set with Theda Bara, which opened on February 14, take place at The Brick, located at 579 Metropolitan Ave in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Tickets are now on sale at www.transportgroup.org and www.lortel.org.    

In this hallucination of a one-person show, a genderqueer teen who goes missing and their gay detective father come face-to-face with the supernatural and consciousness-devouring Theda Bara, the real-life vamp and silent film star of the 1910s. On Set with Theda Bara is part gothic coming-of-age story and part campy melodrama about identity consumption and the horror of not knowing who you are.

Shortly after the production’s very limited seven day run at The Brick as part of The Exponential Festival in February 2023, Transport Group and Lucille Lortel Theatre began discussions on how best to bring this site-specific production to a larger audience. Quickly, they realized that the physical characteristics of the theatre were an essential element, almost a 5th character in the play. In an extraordinary and unprecedented move, these two Off-Broadway stalwarts agreed to produce a six-week run of the show under an Off-Broadway agreement, while maintaining the production’s incredibly intimate, parlor-like experience for only 50 audience members. 

“On Set with Theda Bara uses the mythology of the silent film star and anti-hero Theda Bara as a metaphor for queerness,” says playwright Joey Merlo. “I’m a lyrical playwright who loves the campy, surreal, and melodramatic. My plays explore the cracks between the boundaries of what’s ‘real’ and what isn’t—by fusing the two I attempt to locate my own existence within the realm of the fantastic. Theda Bara was written in a fever-dream state, literally, as I was very sick at the time and mostly bedridden. From that state, I used a cinematically imagistic narrative to create a play that transcends the traditional theatrical experience and invites a collaboration between audience, performer, and text.”

“I'm so thrilled that Transport Group and Lucille Lortel Theatre have made it possible to bring Joey Merlo’s singular vision back to the stage,” says director Jack Serio. “Joey’s play is as funny as it is genuinely spooky, seamlessly blending camp and horror. Staged as an intimate seance seated around a 32-foot long table, audiences will experience David Greenspan's athletic, hilarious, and deeply human performance just inches away from him. This kind of intimate theatre going is what I get most excited about and what I believe allows us to lean in, consider stories more deeply, and be our most present selves.”

Transport Group and David Greenspan have a creatively rich history that spans decades. “David Greenspan is a once-in-a-generation talent, and one of the most important theatre artists working today.” says Transport Group Artistic Director Jack Cummings III. “It's been an honor to direct him in several projects at Transport Group, developing solo iterations of The Patsy and Eugene O'Neil's six-hour Strange Interlude. I'm so thrilled to bring a young playwright's work, especially a play of an experimental nature, to a wider audience, as Transport Group continues to serve as a homebase for David Greenspan's artistry.”

Likewise, Greenspan’s relationship at Lucille Lortel Theatre has spanned decades. He has appeared on the Lucille Lortel Theatre stage three times since 1996 and, in 2006, Greespan received a Lucille Lortel Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting. In the fall of 2022, Lucille Lortel Theatre presented Greespan’s radical reinterpretation of Four Saints in Three Acts, sans music and featuring Greenspan in another tour-de-force performance where he inhabited all the roles from Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson’s large-cast 1934 opera.

George Forbes, Executive Director of Lucille Lortel Theatre, said, “David is at the pinnacle of his artistry and the very definition of an Off-Broadway artist, always pushing boundaries and form. Shortly after David’s tour-de-force performance of Four Saints, I went to see him in Joey’s beautiful new play at The Brick. As with so much of David’s work, it is much too fleeting and we knew there was a larger audience that should have an opportunity to see this special theatrical piece.” 

The original creative team for On Set with Theda Bara returns and includes Frank J. Oliva (Scenic Design), Avery Reed (Costume Design), Stacey Derosier (Lighting Design), and Brandon Bulls (Sound Design). Derosier and Oliva received 2023 Henry Hewes Design Award nominations for their work on the production. Production Management provided by Luner Eclipse Productions.

Thirty-five performances of On Set with Theda Bara will now take place through March 16, 2024 at The Brick, located at 579 Metropolitan Ave in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The performance schedule is Monday – Saturday at 7pm. The running time is 65 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $69 (general admission) and $89 (reserved) and can be purchased at www.transportgroup.org. A limited number of $20 rush tickets will be available at each performance.