Page 73 Extends World Premiere of Majkin Holmquist's STARGAZERS

The production now runs through May 10 at the Connelly Theater.

By: Apr. 10, 2024
Page 73 Extends World Premiere of Majkin Holmquist's STARGAZERS
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Page 73 has extended its world premiere production of 2024 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Page 73 Majkin Holmquist's Stargazers. Reuniting the organization with director Colette Robert, who helmed the world premiere of Page 73's production of Zora Howard's Pulitzer Prize Finalist play STEW, Stargazers is an ambitious work of grim humor and heartful horror—a play both warm and barbed with social and political insight. In it, a grieving mother contemplates selling her Kansas farm—guided, she says, by the ghost of her daughter. While her ex-husband and neighbors fight to keep the land, an East Coast developer hopes to build a progressive utopia that would alter the landscape forever. Stargazers began previews on April 8, opens on April 20, and now runs through May 10 at the Connelly Theater.

The cast of Stargazers is: Lizzy Brooks (Macbeth on Broadway, Macbeth in Stride) as Clementine, Baize Buzan (To Kill A Mockingbird on Broadway, the film Being The Ricardos) as Jessica/Bridget, Andrew Garman (The Holdovers film, Greater Clements) as Al/Dedham, Fernando Gonzalez (Skinnamarink, Prepared) as Avery/Andy, Miles G. Jackson (Endlings, “The Other Two”) as Casey/Jim, Keren Lugo (Privacy, Romeo y Julieta) as Aracely, and Kelly McAndrew (The Thin Place, Men on Boats) as Rita.

The creative team includes Lawrence E. Moten III (set), Alicia J. Austin (costumes), Reza Behjat (lights), Tosin Olufolabi (sound), and Caitlyn Murphy (props). Kate Croasdale is the production stage manager, and Carolyn Reich is the assistant stage manager. Casting is by Taylor Williams, CSA.

When she moved in 2015 from central Kansas's Smoky Valley region to the East Coast, homesickness instilled in Majkin Holmquist the desire to write a play from the perspective of a plot of land like the dilapidated farm her family purchased from distant relatives. “Being on this piece of land ignites my imagination — it's so stunning but also eerie; with its overgrown corrals and broken down barn. From the East Coast, I started experimenting with telling a story about the land, and what it might want to say about the people coming on and off it and changing it. I wanted to ask: what is our responsibility to land's history, and to its future?”

Colette Robert, who was a script reader for the 2022 Playwriting Fellowship, for which Holmquist was a finalist (before ultimately receiving the honor in 2023), was enamored of Holmquist's work when she encountered it. The director, who helmed a workshop of Stargazers this past spring, says, “I read another play that Majkin submitted, and I've never done this before, because I was reading hundreds of plays and we read about 20 pages of each—but I asked if I could read the whole play. I was so struck by Majkin's talent and voice.”

She adds of Stargazers, “I remember the first time hearing it around the table for the March 2023 workshop, I was so obsessed with its dark humor. I'm excited by how every character in the play is right and wrong about multiple things, how Majkin shows the nuances and gray areas of the arguments they're having.”

 

Holmquist's familiarity with both Kansas farmland and America's biggest metropolis are evoked in the play's intersection and complication of biases within two poles of the country: with interactions both tinged by – or, sometimes, assumed to be tinged by – coastal neoliberal condescension and white rural bigotry and parochialism.

 

Holmquist says, “I was experiencing a lot of conversations about the Great Plains, Midwest, Red States, fly-over country, and encountering a lot of really strange assumptions about the place that I come from—and on the flip side, I now go home and encounter very strange assumptions about the East Coast. These two conversations are seldom capturing the reality of the other. I wanted that feeling to persist in the play itself where people are coming with this assumption about who is on this farmland, and the politics of the people there—and then the people in Kansas also see through the lens of their assumptions, about the people who want to change this piece of land.”

“Stargazers feels to me in conversation with other great Page 73-produced writers Samuel D. Hunter and Leah Nanako Winkler,” says Page 73 Artistic Director Michael Walkup. “Certainly the evocation of home and the comedy of closely observed characters – and Majkin also shares their interest in offering audiences glimpses of what feels like a vast, maybe terrifying unknown that pervades our daily lives though is often invisible to us. We're also returning to the Connelly Theater for Majkin's ghost story, an apt follow up to our last premiere in that space, John J. Caswell, Jr.'s supernatural Man Cave.”




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