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Yankowitz's NIGHT SKY Previews Off-Broadway 5/22 At Baruch PAC

NIGHT SKY, a play by Susan Yankowitz about a brilliant astronomer who loses her ability to speak, will be presented Off-Broadway this spring with previews beginning May 22 prior to its official opening June 2 in the Rose Nagelberg Theatre at the Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Ave.) in Manhattan. NIGHT SKY is presented Off-Broadway by Stan Raiff/Power Productions (IRENA'S VOW) in association with the National Aphasia Association.

NIGHT SKY, directed by Daniella Topol, marks the return to the New York stage of actress JorDan Baker -- in the starring role of the astronomer Anna -- last seen in NY in the original cast of Edward Albee's THREE TALL WOMEN opposite Marian Seldes and Myra Carter 15 years ago.

NIGHT SKY explores what the noted author and physicist Steven Hawking has called the two remaining mysteries -- the brain and the cosmos -- as the play looks at what happens to a bright, articulate astronomer, her family and her career when she is struck by a car and loses her ability to speak conventionally, a condition known as "aphasia." As she is left to expresses herself in an alternately funny, poetic, confusing and profound hodge-podge of words, astronomer Anna, her daughter,
fiancé and colleagues face uncommon challenges of the mind and spirit as they discover new ways to communicate, and what it really means to listen.

NIGHT SKY is inspired by and dedicated to the memory of the late, revered actor, director, playwright and founder of the Open Theatre, Joseph Chaikin, himself affected with aphasia following a stroke in 1984. Having recovered sufficiently to continue writing, directing and performing until his death in 2003, Mr. Chaikin commissioned Ms. Yankowitz to write a play that dealt with aphasia. NIGHT SKY is that play.

NIGHT SKY is presented Off-Broadway by Stan Raiff/Power Productions (producer of IRENA'S VOW last season Off-Broadway and presently on Broadway) in association with the National Aphasia Association.

JorDan Baker, starring as the astronomer Anna in NIGHT SKY, has not been seen in a New York stage since her memorable performance in the original cast of Edward Albee's 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning play THREE TALL WOMEN with co-stars Myra Carter and Marian Seldes. Since leaving New York, Ms. Baker has appeared on several television series including as a regular on "The New Adventures of the Old Christine" opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus, along with roles on "Brothers and Sisters," "Medium," "Cold Case," "Without a Trace," "The O.C.," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Passions," "Gilmore Girls," and "Still Standing." Ms. Baker also appeared on Broadway in GARDEN DISTRICT, which earned her a coveted Theatre World Award.

Also featured in the cast of NIGHT SKY are Jim Stanek (LESTATE, LITTLE WOMEN, THE RIVALS on Broadway), Tuck Milligan (GEM OF THE OCEAN, Broadway), Lauren Ashley Carter, Dan Domingues (KING LEAR opposite Alvin Epstein Off-Bway) and Darlesia Cearcy (THE COLOR PURPLE, Broadway).

The month of June, in fact, is National Aphasia Awareness Month. It is estimated that over one million Americans have aphasia -- the sudden inability to communicate, speak, read, write or understand language. In addition to the late Mr. Chaikin, cinematographer Sven Nykvist, poet Ralph Waldo Emerson and composer Maurice Ravel, noted figures who have experienced "aphasia" include ABC-TV reporter Bob Woodruff and Congressmen, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota.

Susan Yankowitz is a playwright, novelist, lyricist and librettist. Her plays include: PHAEDRA IN DELIRIUM (Classic Stage Company/The Women's Project) winner of the QRL poetic play competition; TERMINAL and 1969 TERMINAL 1996 (collaborations with Joseph Chaikin's Open Theatre) Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Playwright; A KNIFE IN THE HEART (West Coast Premiere at Sledgehammer Theatre) O'Neill Conference winner; and THE THUMBPRINT OF MUKHTARAN MAI (presented as part of SEVEN in the United States and abroad). Ms. Yankowitz is the librettist/lyricist of SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT, a gospel-and-blues opera with music by Taj Mahal; CHERI, an opera/music theatre work with Michael Dellaira (finalist for the 2006 Richard Rogers Award and a featured opera at the 2006 Opera America New Works Sampler, to be produced at Long Leaf Opera in 2012);
and bookwriter/lyricist of TRUE ROMANCES, a musical fantasia with Elmer Bernstein. Ms. Yankowitz has written the novel, SILENT WITNESS, published by Knopf, as well as several films and television plays. Her teleplay, THE PRISON GAME, was aired on PBS, as was SYLVIA PLATH: ARROW TO THE SUN, which won her a WGA nomination for the best-written documentary of the season.

Daniella Topol's (Director) recent NY credits include: Judith Thompson's PALACE OF THE END (Epic Theatre Company), Sheila Callaghan's DEAD CITY (New Georges), Trista Baldwin's SAND (Women's Project and Productions), the recent productions of HOUSEBREAKING and TOPSY TURVY MOUSE at Cherry Lane Theatre, and Zakiyyah Alexander's SICK? (Summer Play Festival). Upcoming productions include: Susan Bernfield's STRETCH (People's Light and Theatre Company) and is a resident artist at HERE developing a multi-media piece on floods entitled WATER (OR THE SECRET LIFE OF OBJECTS).

Stan Raiff / Power Productions NY, Inc (Producer) is represented this season on Broadway with IRENA'S VOW, a new play by Dan Gordon, starring Tovah Feldshuh. He has produced and directed for ABC and NBC TV20 Children's Programming, including "Through Children's Eyes" (Emmy Award), along with shows on Broadway and Off Broadway such as RIVERSIDE DRIVE, BUFFALO BILL, CHARLOTTE SWEET and many others. Mr. Raiff established the award winning project The Catskills IDEA (Institute for Development of the Entertainment Arts), which created such major events as Festivals for Irving Berlin and Danny Kaye as well as Rodeo Now and Let's Tango!. His upcoming new musical LOVE INCORPORATED (NEXT STOP LOVE) by Marc Castle will open Off-Broadway in the summer of 2009.

The National Aphasia Association (NAA) is a consumer-focused, not-for-profit organization that was founded in 1987 as the first national organization dedicated to advocating for persons with aphasia and their families. The NAA's mission is to end the devastating consequences of aphasia through increasing understanding of the
disorder, encouraging the development of community resources and advocating on behalf of those left, literally, without a voice. The NAA works to reach out to people with aphasia to help them move forward with their lives. This year marks the NAA's 22nd year of promoting public education, research, rehabilitation and support services to assist people with aphasia and their families. Ongoing programs include: Website /Toll-free number (800) 922-4622; Registry of Aphasia Community Groups in the U.S. and Canada; State Representatives Network of rehabilitation professionalswho volunteer to answer questions about resources in their areas; Annual regional conferences for people with aphasia, caregivers, and rehabilitation
professionals; National Aphasia Awareness Month in June; and The Aphasia Handbook: A Guide for Stroke and Brain Injury Survivors and Their Families" (American edition), published by the NAA in 2004, called an "essential resource for people with aphasia and their families" by neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, MD.

Scheduled May 22nd through June 20th, performances of NIGHT SKY run Tuesdays through Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 3:00pm & 8:00pm; and Sundays at 3:00pm (with an added performance on Monday, June 1st at 8:00pm and no performance on Wednesday, June 3rd) at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue). All tickets during previews are $45, and will range $65 - $45 - $25 after opening. There will be a limited number of $25 Student Rush tickets available for each performance.
Tickets - which are available for purchase beginning May 1st - can be reserved by calling TheaterMania at 212-352-3101 or online at

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