Photo Preview: Cast Set For BASS FOR PICASSO, Rehearsals Begin
Theater Breaking Through Barriers, the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway company known for its productions that integrate able-bodied actors with artists with disabilities, presents the world
premiere of Kate Moira Ryan's BASS FOR PICASSO -- a new play about five New Yorkers, including a physically disabled food writer for The New York Times, whose secrets are exposed during a memorable dinner party -- with previews to begin April 17 prior to its official press opening May 2 at Theatre Row's Kirk Theatre (410 West 42nd Street). Ike Schambelan directs.
In BASS FOR PICASSO, amputee and food writer for the New York Times Francesca Danieli throws a dinner party for her friends recreating recipes (including the titular entrée) from the Alice B. Toklas
Cookbook. The guest list includes Pilar, her multilingual art detective lover, who has spent time in Guantanamo for visa problems; Bricka Matson, a lesbian widow with a small child and Republican
in-laws who are trying to gain custody; Joe, an OB/GYN whose lover is a geographically challenged crystal meth addict; and Kev, a playwright who has recently fallen off the wagon and written a soon-to-open Off-Broadway play about all of them. It's an insanely funny, irreverent look at gay and lesbian life in the new millennium.
BASS FOR PICASSO stars Anita Hollander, an actress who lost her leg to cancer and is best known for her one-woman show, STILL STANDING, which has been performed at the White House, Off-Broadway, and throughout the United States. Ms. Hollander serves as East Coast National Chair
of the AFTRA Performers with Disabilities committee. Her credits include Public Theater's revival of WOYZECK, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis, the world premiere of John Belluso's GRETTY GOOD TIME at Kennedy Center (Helen Hayes Award nomination), and TBTB's production of John Belluso's A NERVOUS SMILE, directed by Mr. Schambelan, performed at last year's International Festival of the Blind and Visually Impaired in Zagreb, Croatia.
Joining Ms. Hollander in the cast are Mary Archbold (Outstanding Actor, FringeNYC Excellence Award-winner for JAZZ HAND: TALES OF A ONE ARMED WOMAN); Felice Neals (Hourglass Group's FLIRTING WITH THE EDGE), Terry Small (TBTB's THE MIDDLE AGES), and Nicholas Viselli (TBTB's revival of A.R. Gurney's THE COCKTAIL HOUR).
Playwright Kate Moira Ryan -- author of 25 QUESTIONS FOR A JEWISH MOTHER, THE BEEBO BRINKER CHRONICLES, OTMA, CAVEDWELLER, and most recently MOMMY QUEEREST (IT'S JEWDY'S SHOW!) -- has crafted a funny, deeply touching look inside the life of five driven New Yorkers,
including a woman whose disability is a part of her life, but does not define it. That's the way it works for so many of the 54,000,000 Americans, nearly 20% of all U.S. citizens, who deal with a
To gain greater acceptance of people with disabilities, Theater Breaking Through Barriers strives to have their lives realistically enacted onstage, on TV and in films, and by actors who actually have
disabilities. The recent controversies concerning the use of a hearing actor to play a deaf character Off-Broadway in THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, and of a seeing and hearing actress to play Helen Keller on Broadway in THE MIRACLE WORKER, show the problem is very much with us.
What's good is there is now controversy; years ago no one would even have noticed.
"Three things are necessary to confront this problem: the willingness of producers to risk using actors with disabilities; the training and development of these actors; and the existence of visible role models to inspire young people with disabilities to dare to become actors and writers and represent their own lives," says Mr. Schambelan, who will direct the play. "We are the only Off-Broadway theater showing the wares of these talents," he adds.
The design team for BASS FOR PICASSO includes Bert Scott (lighting and set design); Christine Field (costume design); Alden Fulcomer (sound design); and J. David Brimmer (fight director). Kimothy Cruse is stage manager; Brooke Elsinghorst is assistant stage manager.
Kate Moira Ryan's recent projects: Her play, based on Ann Bannon's bestselling pulp novels from the 1950's, THE BEEBO BRINKER CHRONICLES, written with Linda S. Chapman and directed by Leigh Silverman, is currently running at Brava Theater in San Francisco. Winner of a 2008 GLAAD Media Award, THE BEEBO BRINKER CHRONICLES played Off-Broadway at 37 Arts and is published by Dramatists Play Service. Ms. Ryan's 25 QUESTIONS FOR A JEWISH MOTHER, written with and for Judy Gold enjoyed a long-running Off-Broadway engagement, winning a 2007 GLAAD Media
Award and earning Ms. Gold a Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Actress. A book based on the play was released by Hyperion/Voice and recently nominated for a Quill Award. This past December, Ms. Ryan's MOMMY QUEEREST (IT'S JEWDY'S SHOW!), a second collaboration with Ms. Gold, premiered at Washington, D.C.'s Theater J to sold out audiences. Other current projects include an adaptation of Moscow playwright Olga Mukhina's TANYA TANYA, which premiered in December at Towson University and was directed by director Yury Ournov; and THE WEATHERMEN, a musical written with composer David Clement.
Director Ike Schambelan has been a theatrical director, teacher and critic for 45 years. He has a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College and a Doctor of Fine Arts from Yale Drama School. He has directed at the Long Wharf Theatre, the Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, The New Dramatists, Equity Library Theatre, the Pittsburgh Public Theater and the George Street Playhouse; and has directed many productions for Theater Breaking Through Barriers. He is
a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and of Actors' Equity. As founder and Artistic Director of Theater Breaking Through Barriers, he has built it for 30 years into an Off-Broadway company recognized for doing first-class art. Previous productions include revivals of works by Shakespeare, Shaw and Gurney and new plays, including New York premieres of THE RULES OF CHARITY and A NERVOUS SMILE by disabled playwright John Belluso.
Theater Breaking Through Barriers, formerly Theater by the Blind, is a critically acclaimed company integrating able-bodied actors with artists with disabilities. Founded in 1979, by Artistic Director Ike
Schambelan, the company's mission is to change the image of people with disabilities from one of dependence to independence, to fight stereotypes and misperceptions associated with disability, and to show how vibrant, fluid and exuberant the work of artists with disabilities can be.
Performances of BASS FOR PICASSO run April 17 through May 23 at Theatre Row's Kirk Theatre (410 West 42nd Street): Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm; and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $41.25. For reservations, call 212-279-4200 or visit www.ticketcentral.com.
For additional information, visit www.tbtb.org