Christina Masciotti to Debut RAW BACON FROM POLAND at Abrons Arts Center
Abrons Arts Center will present the world premiere of 2016 Guggenheim Fellow Christina Masciotti's newest work, Raw Bacon from Poland.
For shoe salesman and aspiring personal trainer Dennis Toledo, a lifetime of trouble assumes a new intensity after a bad tour in Iraq. Though he's managed to anesthetize the enduring wounds of that service with prescription drug abuse, when he's arrested on a domestic violence charge and sentenced to Brooklyn Treatment Court, he's forced to find new ways to handle his volatile tangle of mixed emotions. Further upheaval with his wife leaves him perched on the edge of recovery with an all-consuming drive to win full custody of his 6-year-old daughter.
Performances will take place June 1-3, 7-10 and 14-17 at 8pm at Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street, Manhattan). Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at www.abronsartscenter.org.
Raw Bacon from Poland is inspired by a conversation Masciotti had with Ben Williams, who makes his directorial debut with this production. She explains, "On the way home from rehearsal one night, Ben was talking about his years as a shoe salesman, and he made the offhand comment: 'Women in hats. They never buy.' For whatever reason, I was immediately gripped by the dubious ethics of sales culture. The sizing up of customers. The exploitation of vulnerabilities. The lying with panache. It was a world that seemed apt for characters I had in mind." says Masciotti.
"The space of the luxury shoe store itself appealed to me as a manufactured image pretending to be something it isn't, making you want something you don't." Masciotti adds. "Soon, unexpected parallels emerged in the story of a young veteran who's trying to do the same thing-convince you he's someone he's not. His life is riddled with false narratives as an addict, a father, and a combat vet."
The play attempts to lend a vast scope to the intimate struggles of a vulnerable man reduced to a jumble of raw nerve endings. "A story of New York City, it is also a microcosm of the American experience for many people whose stories are never told," Williams notes. It probes for a deeper understanding of posttraumatic stress injury and recovery; how physiological processes can influence what we experience as real. Williams continues, "Dennis struggles to control his subconscious and the play examines how frightening a place the inner mind can be."
"I would say Dennis, like many of my characters, is on an unholy path of awakening." Masciotti comments. "I make no attempt to hide his jagged edges. Even his language revels in imperfections. I think it's important to showcase what's been broken in him-through no fault of his own-as well as the forgotten wholeness lurking just underneath."
The cast for this world premiere production features Joel Perez, Kate Benson, Jay Smith, Douglas Scott Streater, and Paul Boocock. The creative team includes Jacob A. Climber (set and costume design) and Barbara Samuels, (lighting design).
Christina Masciotti's most recent production, Social Security, was a five-star-reviewed Time Out New York Critics' Pick, received an honorable mention from The Kilroys, and was named one of the Best Shows of 2015 by HeLen Shaw. The scripts for her earlier work, Vision Disturbance and Adult have been selected for inclusion in the permanent archives of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Vision Disturbance was also cited as one of Time Out New York's Top 10 Shows of 2010. Her work has been anthologized by Smith and Kraus and Applause Theater and Cinema: Best Contemporary Monologues for Women (2014 and 2016).
One of The New York Times 2015 Faces to Watch, Masciotti has been honored as a finalist for The Princess Grace Award, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Centre Stage New Plays Festival, and the Trustus Playwrights festival. She is also a Berks County Community Foundation SPA Fund Fellow, a nominee for the Doric Wilson Independent Theater Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award, and the Francesca Primus Award. Her work has been funded by The Jerome Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, the French-American Fund for Contemporary Theater, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NYSCA, the Independence Community Foundation, LMCC, and The Puffin Foundation. A 2016 Guggenheim Fellow in Drama and Performance, she studied playwriting at Brown University and earned an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
Masciotti's work has been presented by Abrons Arts Center, The Bushwick Starr, The New Group, The Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival; CUNY's Prelude Festival; Arts Emerson's TNT Festival (Boston); Circle X Theatre (Los Angeles); LaStarria 90's Desorientacion Series (Santiago, Chile); Theater Bonn (Bonn, Germany); the VIE Scene Contemporanea Festival (Modena, Italy); International Theatre Institute (Athens, Greece); and, as part of PS 122's New York Express Tour, Theater Garonne (Toulouse, France), T2G (Genevilliers, France), Le Maillon (Strasbourg, France), and ZKM (Zagreb, Croatia). For more information about her, please visit www.christinamasciotti.com
Ben Williams, who directs and provides sound design for Raw Bacon from Poland, has previously worked with Masciotti as sound designer for her works Vision Disturbance, Adult, and Social Security. His other collaborations include Elevator Repair Service, minor theater with Julia Jarcho, Lily Whitsitt, The Wooster Group, Rich Maxwell and NYC Players, Big Dance Theater, Sibyl Kempson, Kate Benson, and Lee Sunday Evans. He has received OBIE, Lortel, and LA Drama Critics Circle Awards for his sound designs. For more information about Williams, please visit www.benwilliamsdotcom.com
Joel Perez (Dennis)made his Broadway debut in Fun Home after originating the role Off-Broadway at The Public Theater. Other stage work includes Sweet Charity (The New Group), In the Heights (1st National Tour), Fame (Macau Music Festival), Stuck Elevator (A.C.T. and Long Wharf Theater), and Pirates! (Huntington Theater). Ensemble member of Broken Box Mime Theater. TV work includes "Person of Interest" (CBS), "Odd Mom Out" (Bravo), "The Outs" (Vimeo Original), "The Big C" (Showtime), and "Black Box" (ABC). He studied at Tufts University and The British American Drama Academy. He is repped by BRS/GAGE, Abrams Artists Agency and Anonymous Content. Follow him @misterjoelperez
Raw Bacon from Poland is made possible with generous support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Workspace program.
The Abrons Arts Center is the OBIE Award-winning performing and visual arts program of Henry Street Settlement. Abrons supports the creation and presentation of innovative, multi-disciplinary work; cultivates artists in all stages of their practice with educational programs, mentorships, residencies and commissions; and serves as an intersection of engagement for local, national and international audiences and arts-workers.
Each year the Abrons offers over 250 performances, 12 gallery exhibitions and 30 residencies for performing and studio artists, and 100 different classes in dance, music, theater, and visual art. The Abrons also provides New York City public schools with teaching artists, introducing more than 3,000 students to the arts. For more information, go to www.abronsartscenter.org.