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Oren Safdie's THE BILBAO EFFECT Begins Previews Tonight May 12

THE BILBAO EFFECT, a world-premiere play that puts contemporary architecture on trial, written by Oren Safdie (whose previous play about architecture, PRIVATE JOKES, PUBLIC PLACES, was a hit Off-Broadway in 2003) will be presented Off-Broadway with previews starting May 12 prior to an official press opening night on May 16, 2010 at Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place) in Manhattan.  THE BILBAO EFFECT will run Wednesday through Saturday at 8PM through June 5.  For tickets call (212) 352-3101 or (866) 811-4111 or visit


PRIVATE JOKES, PUBLIC PLACES, which was also presented at the Center for Architecture, starred Anthony Rapp. Mr. Safdie's most recent play Off-Broadway, THE LAST WORD, enjoyed critical and popular success, and starred the Emmy Award-winning actor Daniel J. Travanti and Adam Green in 2007.

"The Bilbao Effect" became a popular term after Frank Gehry built the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, transforming the poor industrial port city of Bilbao into a must-see tourist destination. Its success spurred other cities into hiring famous architects and giving them carte blanche to design even more spectacular buildings in hopes that the formula could be repeated.

In Mr. Safdie's play THE BILBAO EFFECT -- the second play of a planned trilogy focusing on contemporary architecture -- Erhardt Shlaminger is a world famous architect who faces censure by the American Institute of Architects, following accusations that his urban redevelopment project for Staten Island has led to a woman's suicide. The play tackles controversial urban design issues that New Yorkers have recently encountered in Brooklyn as a result of the hotly-debated plans to redevelop the Atlantic Yards into an architecture-star mega-development. THE BILBAO EFFECT explores whether architecture has become more of an art than a profession, and at what point the ethics of one field violate the principles of the other.

Directed by Brendan Hughes, THE BILBAO EFFECT will be presented by the Center for Architecture in association with Jacqueline Bridgeman, Fritz Michel and Les Gutman. The play was commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts, is supported by the Quebec Government Office - New York, and was developed through a column Mr. Safdie wrote for Metropolis Magazine.

The cast of THE BILBAO EFFECT includes Tommy Biggiani, John Bolton (Broadway's SPAMALOT and CURTAINS, and TV's "Gossip Girl"), Marc Carver (BILL W. AND DR. BOB, New World Stages), Anthony Giaimo (MEASURE FOR MEASURE at Pearl Theatre Co, "The Bird Cage" w/ Nathan Lane, "Bad Boys II" w/ Will Smith), Ann Hu (PRIVATE JOKES, PUBLIC PLACES, TV's "Law and Order"), Lorraine Serabian (Broadway's CABARET and ZORBA, Tony nomination), Joris Stuyck (SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE FINAL ADVENTURE at Cincinnati Playhouse, GUANTANAMO at the Culture Project, BBC-TV miniseries "Tender Is the  Night"), Jay Sullivan (DURANGO at The Public, ORESTES: A TRAGIC ROMP, TV's "The Good Wife"), and Joel Van Liew (FROM UP HERE at MTC).

Set Design for THE BILBAO EFFECT is by Jisun Kim, lighting design is by Cat Tate Starmer, costume design is by Tristan Raines and sound design is by Ben Arons. Production stage manager is Mary Ellen Allison.

A native of Montreal where he grew up the son of the renowned architect Moshe Safdie, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and grew up in his father's famed Habitat '67, Oren Safdie is a former architecture student at Columbia University. In addition to its successful debut in NYC, PRIVATE JOKES, PUBLIC places has been produced internationally in Toronto, London, and the National Theatre in Romania. Other plays include "WEST BANK, UK" "JEWS & JESUS" "FIDDLER SUB-TERRAIN" and "LA COMPAGNIE" which he developed into a 1/2 hour pilot for CBS. As a screenwriter, Oren scripted the film YOU CAN THANK ME LATER starring Ellen Burstyn, Amanda Plummer and Mary McDonnell, and the Israeli film BITTERSWEET. He has also written for METROPOLIS, DWELL and THE NEW REPUBLIC.

BRENDAN HUGHES (Director) returns to New York after several years splitting his time between Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where he serves as Impresario of the Harbor Stage at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, and Los Angeles where he teaches acting, writes and makes films. New York theatre has included directing for Lucid Theatre, Tikal Too Entertainment, the Dwight Street Book Club and Triptych Theatre. Brendan is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, where he ran the Yale Cabaret in its 35th season. He directed the New England Premiere of PRIVATE JOKES, PUBLIC PLACES for Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.

Set Design for THE BILBAO EFFECT is by Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams, lighting design is by Cat Tate Starmer, costume design is by Chloe Chapin and sound design is by Ben Arons.

The Center for Architecture is a destination for all interested in the built environment. It is home to the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the Center for Architecture Foundation, vibrant nonprofit organizations that provide resources to both the public and building industry professionals. Through exhibitions, programs, and special events, the Center aims to improve the quality and sustainability of the built environment, foster exchange between the design, construction, and real estate communities, and encourage collaborations across the city and globe. The Center also celebrates New York's vibrant architecture, explores its urban fabric, shares community resources, and provides opportunities for scholarship. As the city's leading cultural institution focusing on architecture, the Center drives positive change through the power of design. For more information, please visit

Performances of THE BILBAO EFFECT run May 12-June 5 at The Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place, between Bleecker Street and West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village); Wednesdays-Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets are $18. For tickets call (212) 352-3101 or (866) 811-4111 or visit


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