Ryan Drake's YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING to Have World Premiere at HERE

The production is directed by Ryan Dobrin.

By: Dec. 04, 2023
Ryan Drake's YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING to Have World Premiere at HERE

Ryan Drake’s you don’t have to do anything will make its world premiere at HERE (145 6th Ave; Enter on Dominick, 1 block south of Spring), February 8–23 (official opening February 11), in a production directed by Ryan Dobrin and produced by Pulitzer Prize Finalist Heroes of the Fourth Turning and Corsicana playwright Will Arbery (in his first foray into producing), Leigh Honigman, and Joey Nasta. A play about when intimacy feels filthy, you don’t have to do anything is a work of arresting candor—one with uneasy resonance to anyone whose sexual coming-of-age occurred during the reality-restructuring dawn of online communication. 

you don’t have to do anything follows a relationship between two teenage classmates, Teddy and Clark, founded on a mutual sense of outsiderness. So often presented in queer teen narratives as a safe haven, this connection as a site of secret discovery becomes manipulated to destructive ends. Ryan Drake’s world premiere work follows Teddy as he sorts through 11 years of this withering, undead bond—fractured into an exchange of texts, voicemails, social media alerts, distortions, patterns, and chilling imprints. 

you don’t have to do anything’s cast includes Yaron Lotan (“Fleishman Is in Trouble”, Dead Poets Society) as Teddy, Will Dagger (Corsicana, Uncle Vanya) as Clark, Andrea Abello (Hindsight, Passage) as Enid, and Miles Elliot (Off-Broadway debut) as Guy & Others. Further casting will be announced at a later date. The creative team includes Cat Raynor (Scenic & Props Design), Bentley Heydt and Molly Tiede (Lighting Design), Christopher Vergara (Costume Design), Carsen Joenk(Sound Design), and Zack Lobel (Projections Design). Alex Might joins as Fight & Intimacy Director (How to Defend Yourself, RENT). This production is a part of SubletSeries@HERE: a curated rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as a technical liaison.

you don’t have to do anything was the result, for playwright Ryan Drake, of attempting to write a very different play, and continuously feeling haunted by a character who kept trying to make his way into it: the character that would become Clark, a similarly impositional force in so many facets of Teddy’s world. Simultaneously, Drake was observing how language on cruising apps like Grindr and Scruff felt increasingly aggressive as people hid behind anonymity and curated, truncated personas. 

Drake sought to write about nascent sexuality experienced in the surreal blur of our online/IRL lives and selves—and how one might process something as reality-upending as sexual assault across that charged terrain. Drake says that, in an earlier workshop production Dobrin (Associate director for Merrily We Roll Along) staged at IRT Theater, Dobrin’s “vision for the play captured the surreality and dreaminess and hypnotism of being online. He understood exactly how the play is propulsive but at the same time slow and dreamy and scary—creating the feeling that the character, and his whole reality, is stuck in a way.” 

Says Dobrin, “I really think of this play as a period piece because it is about what it means to be a teenager in a very specific time—post digital age, but pre-all of us having a really strong understanding how we use our voices differently while we're Instant Messaging, and what it meant to maintain a friendship long distance in that format. All of the technology was new and everyone was figuring out how to use it at the same time—and that directly intersected with queer teenagers suddenly being able to find each other in new ways. Of course, the result is all of us had these really weird fucked up things that we did when we were online at 13. In our rehearsal process it became clear that we had so many identical experiences of being online at midnight at our home computers in this very isolated way.”

Though the play surrounds two characters, it is experienced specifically through Teddy’s memory as he traverses 11 years in recollection of reality, online semi-reality, and dreamscape—and occasional direct audience address, an element Drake notes as influenced by “the Mother play of this work, How I Learned to Drive.” 

Says Dobrin, “Teddy is onstage for almost the entirety of the show, and is the audience’s way into this world.” In Dobrin’s production, adult actors play the characters in, and aging out of, adolescence. He says of this choice: “We are meeting present day Teddy, who is taking us on a journey back. There’s something about seeing an adult make the choices they made as teenagers that gives them more weight and knowingness. They embody, from the beginning, the humans they will be, shaped by those choices.”

Will Arbery says, “It’s an honor to be producing Ryan’s beautiful play, which captures the haunting of growing up, and of the people who affix themselves forever to our stories, whether we ask them to or not. For this to be my first producing project is very meaningful to me. And it’s so important to keep independent theater thriving right now.”

About Ryan Drake (Playwright)

Ryan Drake (He/They, Playwright) is a queer playwright, filmmaker, and educator in Brooklyn, NY. His work has been supported by New York Theatre Workshop,  HERE Arts Center, IRT Theater, Brick Aux, The Tank, Mercury Store, Less Than Rent Theatre, The Wild Project,  serials@TheFlea, Dixon Place, The Actors Company LA, Medicine Show, 999 Festival and Kenyon College. He has been a finalist for the 2022 & 2021 PWC Core Apprentice Program, and a semi-finalist for the 2022 Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship, 2021 Princess Grace Award, 2022 Premiere Stages Play Festival, 2022 & 2021 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and 2019 Eugene O’Neill National Play Conference. He won the Rita & Burton Goldberg Playwriting Prize and the James E. Michael Playwriting Prize. BA: Kenyon College, MFA: Hunter College, Playwriting.

About Ryan Dobrin (Director)

Ryan Dobrin (He/Him, Director) is one of the Producing Artistic Leaders of The Movement Theatre Company, the associate director of Merrily We Roll Along on Broadway, and the director of Those Guilty Creatures. Fellowships/affiliations include The Drama League, Playwrights Horizons, MTC, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Roundabout Directors Group, Fault Line Theatre, and Ars Nova. Associate/assistant credits on and off-Broadway with directors including Maria Friedman, Sam Gold, Billy Porter, Christopher Ashley, Trip Cullman, Zi Alikhan, Whitney White, Tyne Rafaeli, and Margot Bordelon. Productions and development include: 24 Hour Plays Broadway, New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Joe's Pub, Victory Gardens Theater, The Brick, IRT Theatre, University of Michigan, Fordham University, Atlantic Acting School, Clubbed Thumb, EST, NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing, Shakespeare Academy at Stratford, A4, Playdate Theatre, Ars Nova, and Waterwell. Ryan graduated from Wesleyan University, where he received the Rachel Henderson Theater Prize and the Outreach & Community Service Prize.

About the Cast

Yaron Lotan (Teddy) (He/Him) New York Theatre: Dead Poets Society at Classic Stage Company, For A Brief Moment I Was Something Else at HERE Arts Center. Film: Summer Solstice. TV: Fleishman Is in Trouble, Dispatches from Elsewhere. He starred in, edited, and produced Dylan Guerra’s short film “Didn’t Think I’d See You Here,” currently on the festival circuit. He has performed in workshops and readings at New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Lincoln Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Primary Stages, The Drama League, and more. Training includes Fordham University, The Moscow Art Theatre School, and the Professional Training Company at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Will Dagger (Clark) (He/Him) has helped develop new work with EST, New Dramatists, Primary Stages, Second Stage Theater, Clubbed Thumb, The Civilians, New York Theatre Workshop, Colt Couer, Lesser America, The Actors Studio, and The New Group. Theatre: Corsicana (Playwrights Horizons), Uncle Vanya (O’Henry Productions), The Antelope Party (Dutch Kills), Among the Dead (Ma-Yi), The Convent of Pleasure (Cherry Lane). TV: Law & Order: SVU (NBC), FBI: Most Wanted (CBS), The Blacklist (NBC), and Deception (ABC). He also writes songs.

Andrea Abello (Enid) (She/Her) is a Colombian-American actor, poet, and educator based in Brooklyn. Off-Broadway: Soho Rep, NYTW, Signature Theater, Fault Line, Playwrights Realm, IRT. Select regional: Arena Stage, St. Louis Rep., Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Hangar. Film/TV: As You Like It (feature), FBI (CBS), Lisey's Story (Apple TV+) written by Stephen King & produced by J.J. Abrams. She is a recipient of the Leonard A. Slade Jr. Poetry Fellowship with the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, and co-founder of The Parlor, an interdisciplinary reading series in Flatbush. Associate Artist with Fault Line Theatre and the Commissary. BFA: NYU Tisch.

Miles Elliot (Guy & Others) (He/Him) is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan where he received his BFA in Acting. He is thrilled to be making his Off-Broadway debut and would like to extend loads of thanks to the whole YDHTDA team for welcoming him with open arms. He would also like to thank Chuck and everyone at BRS, and his Mom and Dad.

About the Creative Team

Cat Raynor (Scenic & Props Designer) (She/Her) is a set and production designer from New York. Recent design credits include Sometimes The Rain, Sometimes The Sea (The New School), Brainsmash (59E59), The Brightest Thing In The World (Yale Repertory Theater); Affinity (Yale School of Drama); you don’t have to do anything (IRT Theater), and short films “MAJOR” and “Good Taste.” She previously worked in the art department of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Cat holds an M.F.A. in Design from Yale School of Drama and a B.A. in Fine Art from Kenyon College. 

Bentley Heydt (Lighting Designer) (He/Him) is a NYC-based Korean American lighting designer. Select Credits: Off-Broadway/NYC Theatre: (no)man (IMGE Dance); A Number (A.R.T./NY-Drama League); The Seventeenth Chapel (A.R.T./NY-Drama League); She Talks To Beethoven (A.R.T./NY-Drama League); Girlfriend the Musical (A.R.T./NY-Drama League); I Dream of Hornets (Boundless Theatre); Gen Z On Fire (Royal Family Productions); Normal? A New Musical (The King’s College NYC); Cubic and Quartet (Born Dancing); The Weak and The Strong, Uzume, and Resistance(Planet Connections Theatre/14th Street Y). Assist/Assoc*: Life of Pi (Broadway); How To Dance In Ohio (Broadway); Mr. Holland’s Opus* (Ogunquit Playhouse World Premier); Rent 25th Anniversary National Tour (Work Light Productions); A Christmas Carol (Indiana Rep 2022*, 2021, and 2017); The Nutcracker Ballet (Connecticut Ballet 2021, 2019). MFA, Ohio University. 

Molly Tiede (Lighting Designer) (She/They) Select NYC/Regional credits: you don’t have to do anything (IRT, NYC),DirectorFest (ART NY), A View from the Bridge, (Gerald Lynch), Anthem (Sheen Center), What Was Lost, Shades of Blue (Abingdon Theater), La Traviata (VAO), Cavalleria Rusticana (BLO), Sweeney Todd, Dayton Opera, I and You (Portland Stage) Josephine, After Live (Opera Colorado), Light and Dark (Dayton Ballet) Associate/Assistant: The Heiress (Walter Kerr), Here There are Blueberries (La Jolla Playhouse and STC, DC), Too Much Sun, Can You Forgive Her, This Day Forward (Vineyard), The Lady from Dubuque, Wakey Wakey (Signature), Love, Love, Love (Roundabout), LAByrinth, George Street Playhouse, Indiana Repertory, Cleveland Playhouse, Alley Theater, Old Globe San Diego, Opera: Juilliard, Santa Fe, Gotham Chamber, Opera Colorado. 

Christopher Vergara (Costume Designer) (he/him/él) is a NYC-based queer Latino costume designer rooted in culturally responsive design, education, and social justice. Select credits include American Mariachi (Alley); Espejos:Clean (Studio); Party People (Actors Theatre); How to MELT ICE (Boundless); Living and Breathing (Two River); Sugar Skull: Dia de los Muertos Musical Adventure (Rhythm of the Arts); El Otro Oz (TheatreWorksUSA); Anna in the Tropics, Elian (Miami New Drama); Eight Nights, Detroit '67 (Detroit Public); Anna in the Tropics (Barrington); Windfall (Bay Street); Once (VinWonders, Vietnam); Macbeth (McCarter); In the Heights (Orlando Shakes); The Golem of Havana (La Mama); Madame Butterfly, La traviata(Brevard Music); and Walpurgisnacht, Majisimas (Les Ballets Trockadero). He is a member of IATSE-USA 829, Wingspace, Design Action, La Gente: The Latiné Theatre Network, and Gotham Knights Rugby. 

Carsen Joenk (Sound Designer) (She/Her) is a multidisciplinary artist who embraces the weird, wild, and unfamiliar. Much of her work lives at the intersection of sound and story, using stylized theatricality as a means of entertainment, conversation, and dissidence. Carsen is the co-artistic director of Rat Queen Theatre Company, a 2023 Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellow, member of the 2020-2022 Roundabout Directors Group, and a resident artist with New Light Theater Project. As a sound designer, her work has been heard across theatre, film, podcasts, and new media.

Zack Lobel (Projections Designer) (He/Him) is a video and lighting designer born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. His work has been seen across theaters, museums, and nightclubs. He recently designed the premiere of the Bessie Award winning New York Is Burning at the Guggenheim, followed by a run at the Joyce. He is a resident video designer at the historic Webster Hall. Upcoming: Underground Uptown Dance Festival at Lincoln Center (Lighting Designer). Other highlights include his collaborations with Hilton Als on his “Lives of the Performers” series, and the producing organization “Works and Process,” most recently presenting their work at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. Associate Artist with Faultline Theatre. Select Theater Credits: The Public (UTR), LaMama, Ma-Yi, McKittrick, Abrons. Associate: Signature, Roundabout, Berkeley Rep, NYTW. 

Alex Might (Fight & Intimacy Director) (She/Her) is an actor and movement director based between Chicago and New York. Credits include POTUS (Broadway), How to Defend Yourself (New York Theater Workshop), RENT (Paper Mill Playhouse), The Wolves (Actors Theatre of Louisville), backstroke boys (Fault Line Theatre), and Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Keen Company). She has done additional productions at Williamstown Theatre Festival, ATL Humana Festival, WP Theater, Primary Stages, Breaking the Binary, Princeton, Columbia, NYU, and King’s Head Theatre in London. www.alexmight.com

About the Producing Team

Will Arbery (Producer) (He/Him) is a playwright and screenwriter. His play Heroes of the Fourth Turning premiered at Playwrights Horizons in 2019 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, OBIE winner, Lortel winner, New York Drama Critics Circle Award winner. It was named one of the best plays of the year by The New York Times, Vulture, Time Out, and more. Corsicana premiered at Playwrights Horizons in 2022 and was a New York Times Critics Pick. Evanston Salt Costs Climbing premiered at The New Group and was the subject of a feature in The New York Times Magazine. His plays are available from TCG Books and Concord Theatricals. Other plays include: Plano (Clubbed Thumb), You Hateful Things (NYTW Dartmouth Residency) and Wheelchair (3 Hole Press). He was the recipient of a Whiting Award in 2020. TV: Succession and Irma Vep. His work has been featured in The Paris Review. He's currently under commission from Manhattan Theatre Club, Audible, and The Met Opera. Willarbery.com

Leigh Honigman (Producer) (She/Her) is an arts administrator and producer working in theater, film, and live events. She enjoys producing new works by underrepresented artists that interrogate the ways in which society impacts the individual. Recent theatre credits include would you set the table if I asked you to? (Line Producer - Brick Theater, 2023), NO GOOD THING DWELL IN THE FLESH (Line Producer - ART/NY Gural Theatre, 2023), you don’t have to do anything. (IRT Theater 3B Development Series, 2022), Of the woman came the beginning of sin and through her we all die (Normal Ave, 2019), and The Ugly Kids (Fresh Fruit Festival at The Wild Project, 2018). Events include Mask4Mask (Purgatory, 2021), SLUT Spring Fling(The Paper Box, 2019), and the sold-out Missed Connections and Support Your Local Sex Worker (Museum of Sex, 2018).

Joey Nasta (Producer) (He/They) is an actor, director, and producer. Currently, Joey works in general management for ADH Theatricals, with select upcoming projects including a nationwide tour of AMOC’s Broken Theater and an off-off-Broadway run of Transformation: The Christie Jorgensen Show at 59E59. They also work as a development consultant for AD Hamingson & Associates. Recently, Joey appeared as Monty Navarro in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder with the Light Opera of New Jersey. He produced socially-distanced theatre with the Rogue Ensemble, directing Titus Andronicus at Grant's Tomb (NYTimes, Daily Beast feature) and Much Ado About Nothing. Upcoming: developing and directing the pilot production of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Jr. for MTI with Aspire PAC. Previously, he worked in development at Ensemble Studio Theatre and PlayCo, and general management at Clubbed Thumb. Executive Producer at Spokehouse Productions. B.A. Acting/Directing, Fordham.

Photo credit: Maria Baranova