Woodshed Collective Presents THE CONFIDENCE MAN Beginning 9/1, Plays Free To Public On the Ship Lilac

By: Aug. 06, 2009
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Woodshed Collective will present the world premiere of The Confidence Man, conceived by Woodshed Collective, written by Paul Cohen (winner of the 2008 NYCFringe best playwright award), and inspired by Herman Melville's1857 novel about a riverboat con man, beginning Tuesday, September 1 and playing free to the public on the ship Lilac, a decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard vessel docked on the north side of Pier 40, at the intersection of West and Houston streets on the Hudson River. The supervising director is Teddy Bergman, with direction by Stephen Brackett (Whore at Summer Play Festival), Lauren Keating (Al's Business Cards at The Lion), and Michael Silverstone, and production design by Gabriel Hainer Evansohn. The Confidence Man is scheduled to open Wednesday, September 16.

Herman Melville's novel The Confidence Man is a colorful tale of a mid-19th century riverboat con man who charms and then cheats his fellow passengers.

Woodshed Collective's production of The Confidence Man will be composed of a series of interwoven and simultaneously performed vignettes throughout the ship, and will evoke the whirlwind of both a riverboat journey and the everyday urban chaos of New York City. The audience will have the freedom to explore different elements of the play by choosing what to see and which character's story to follow just as one selects which newspaper stories to read, which YouTube videos to screen, or which online links to click. By allowing audience members to immerse themselves in the experience, the production seeks to blur the line between performer and patron, reclaim confidence in the power of live theater, and leave the lingering impression that the audience members themselves may not be immune to the confidence man's charms or cons.

As disarmingly relevant today as it was in the 19th century, The Confidence Man begs the question: in whom may we safely place our confidence? In light of recent economic events surrounding Bernard Madoff, sub-prime lenders, and the deflating of the real estate bubble, confidence is a word on many minds these days. President Obama included the theme in his inaugural address, noting a profound "sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights."

The cast of The Confidence Man includes Meng Ai, Ben Beckley, Kate Benson, Pepper Binkley, Felipe Bonilla, Bethany Caputo, Eric Clem, Juliette Cohen, Dan Cozzens, Todd D'Amour, Danny Deferrari, Matt Dixon, Nicholas Feitel, Emmitt George, Laurel Holland, Jocelyn Kuritsky, Roger Lirtsman, Brendan McDonough, Melissa Miller, Moti Margolin, Emily Perkins, Michael R. Piazza, Mallory Portnoy, Jacob Grigolia Rosenbaum, Gina Vetro and Lee Zarrett.

The production designer for The Confidence Man is Gabriel Hainer Evansohn; scenic design: Sara Walsh and Daniel Zimmerman, lighting design: Zack Brown, Sound Design: Daniel Kluger and Brandon Walcott, costume design: Jessica Pabst. The production stage manager is Colin Miller with stage management by Caley Clocksin and Amanda Tammy.

Playwright Paul Cohen is a native New Yorker and a product of its public school system. His plays includeCherubina, Mourn the Living Hector(Outstanding Playwrighting Award - FringeNYC '08), and The 385 Pound Smoker. He is pleased to be working with Woodshed Collective on board the Lilac.

Woodshed Collective (Teddy Bergman [Artistic Director], Carl Faber, Emily Fishbaine, Gabriel Hainer Evansohn [Artistic Director], Jessica Pabst, Jocelyn Kuritsky, Stephen Squibb [Producing Artistic Director]) is the most recent evolution of what began as a method of creating theater. Founded as the Woodshed Theater Ensemble in spring of 2002 at Vassar College, the company aimed to deemphasize the traditional model of theatrical production. This meant including all members of the ensemble in all aspects of production, from concept development to direction and design. When the founding members relocated to New York City, the decision was made to focus on creating a fully realized installation theater. Woodshed Collective thus aims to create a tangible, immersive world for our audience to explore. This new focus extends our inclusive effort to the audience themselves, allowing them to interact and influence the world of the performance itself. The precedent for this extends throughout the production history and has always found an echo in our collaborative cross-disciplinary process. This history includes staging Macbeth in a cramped basement full of dead leaves, Griselda Gambaro's Antigona Furiosa in a theater converted into a café serving hot coffee, and a Hedda Gabler that choked in an atmosphere saturated with cheap incense. In staging Never the Sinner, John Logan's award winning play about the Leopold and Loeb trial, Woodshed Collective converted the CSV Flamboyan into the courtroom world of 1920s Chicago. In this way, Woodshed Collective has evolved its method into an effective professional model, while continuing to create work in and through an experimental artistic process.

Woodshed Collective's 2008 production of Caridad Svich's Twelve Ophelias was performed in Brooklyn's McCarren Park Pool and was hailed by critics.

Stephen Squibb is producing artistic director and a founding member of Woodshed Collective. With Woodshed he has worked most recently on Twelve Ophelias, Never the Sinner, Blood Wedding, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and Equus, among others. His work as an actor, director and artist has been seen at Atlantic Stage 2, Emily Harvey Foundation, HERE Arts, McCarren Park Pool, Theater Row, and Walkerspace. Recent collaborators include Bosko Blagojevic, Martin Puchner, Chris Reitz, Evert Sprinchorn, Caridad Svich, and Ricardo Valentim. He is on the editorial board at NoPassport Press, and recent writing has appeared in the Contemporary Theater Review and Looking Glass Magazine. He was formerly the wine critic at TimeOut: Istanbul.

Teddy Bergman, supervising director of The Confidence Man, is a founding member and co-artistic director of Woodshed Collective. He is an actor and director, born and raised in New York. He directed the company's production of Twelve Ophelias at McCarren Park Pool last summer. As an actor, his theater credits include Dreyfus In Rehearsal (Theater Row), Peter and the Starcatchers (La Jolla/Disney, dir. Roger Rees, Alex Timbers), Dance Dance Revolution (Les Freres), Nobody Likes the Mormons (Ars Nova), I.E. In Other Words (The Flea, dir. Kip Fagen), Hell House (St. Ann's Warehouse/Les Freres, dir. Alex Timbers), Cherubina (PL115, dir. Alexis Poledouris), Daniella Uses Dirty Words (Abingdon Theatre Co.), and work regionally at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. His TV credits include "Law and Order: SVU" and "As The World Turns." His film credits include Nora Ephron's Julie and Julia, Little Big League, Honeymoon in Vegas, and Striptease. As a director, he has assisted Trip Cullman on Dog Sees God at the Century Center for the Performing Arts and Sweetness at the Summer Play Festival. His own directing work includes productions of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Stoppard's After Magritte, and Chekov's The Bear.

Production Designer Gabriel Hainer Evansohn is a director, designer, founder and artistic director of Woodshed Collective. Credits with Woodshed include: 12 Ophelias (scenic design), Never the Sinner (director), Blood Wedding (scenic design), Antigona Furiosa (director) among others. He currently works as the Stage 2 production manager for the Atlantic Theater Company as well as the resident scenic and lighting designer for the Atlantic Acting School.

LILAC is a decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard vessel that served as a lighthouse tender for the U.S. Lighthouse Service from 1933 until 1939. In 1939, the Coast Guard took over LILAC, under the name WAGL-227, as a buoy tender until 1972. She is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an excellent candidate for National Landmark status. She is the last surviving vessel in her class (Violet Class) and one of the few steam-powered government vessels in this country. LILAC is the oldest lighthouse tender left as well as the only steam-powered vessel from the Coast Guard.

The Confidence Man performs the following schedule through Saturday, September 26: Wednesday at 8pm; Thursday through Saturday 7pm and 9:30pm; and Sunday at 8pm. There are special performances on Tuesday, September 1 and Monday, September 21 at 8pm, and there is no performance on Sunday, September 6. Admission is free and performances take place aboard the LILAC on the north side of Pier 40, at the intersection of West and Houston streets on the Hudson River. Tickets are free and may be reserved at www.brownpapertickets.com. For more information about The Confidence Man and Woodshed Collective, visit www.woodshedcollective.com.



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