Corkscrew Theater Festival Presents Work by Haleh Roshan
Corkscrew Theater Festival's third annual summer season continues with the world premiere of Haleh Roshan's A Play Titled After the Collective Noun for Female-Identifying 20-Somethings Living in NYC in the 2010s. Directed by Lauren Zeftel and running July 18-August 3, Collective Noun centers on three young leftist women fighting for change in the world around them while managing their professional ambitions, romantic relationships, and a strange bug infestation in the kitchen. The play subverts the familiar mode of stories about young women living together in American cities through impassioned Brechtian political arguments, challenging questions about activism and faith, and a dose of surrealism. Performed by Mari Vial-Golden as Shirin, Akyiaa Wilson as CJ, Remy Zaken as Elizabeth, and Justin Fuller as Exterminator,Collective Noun is the third of four mainstage productions that are part of Corkscrew Theater Festival, which provides early-career artists with a high level of production support.
In Collective Noun, Shirin is working on a book about post-Occupy Wall Street grassroots movements and trying not to succumb to anxiety attacks. CJ is a public defender navigating NYC's fucked up judicial system, while trying to make time for a meaningful personal life. Elizabeth needs to finish college and figure out what to do next. Oh, also, there's a mysterious bug infestation in the kitchen. Hashtag millennials, amirite? Putting an urgent spin on stories about "girls" in any medium, Collective Noun is a love letter to an unsung history of collective action and a battle cry for radically re-envisioning what it means to fight for change.
"Collective Noun was born out of my frustration with the recent inundation of media - TV shows, of course, but also films, books, and yes, plays - that purports to be about and for "girls," without any real interrogation of how that genre fails to represent the majority of young women in America and around the globe," said Roshan. "That genre - heterosexual-centered, white-centered, cis-centered, with a total absence of class politics that undergird the capitalist patriarchy - defangs feminism into a social group rather than a political ideology.
"This play is my attempt to foreground the ferocious, truly leftist young women and comrades of all genders that I know and have organized alongside in the years since Occupy Wall Street, whom I never see really represented onstage or onscreen."
According to Zeftel, "It is a beautiful challenge to tackle an immediate time-capsule like this: a play where the hopes and fears (political or personal) of only a handful of years back, now feels like a lifetime ago. Yet, as we approach another long election season, a story like this is vital. It reminds us that the work is not up to boosting a few lone power positions, but rather through continuous avenues of activism that weave together to create collective change. Haleh has captured enormous ideas and channeled them not through mythic icons, but through everyday heroes who in their efforts give us tangible insight, catalyzing us to be active participants in our own futures."
Corkscrew Theater Festival features four world premieres, four workshop productions, and four readings performed in repertory over four weeks. Special attention has been given to theater makers who are developing work through tight-knit collaborations. A majority of the participating artists identify as women, trans, or non-binary.
The creative team for Collective Noun includes Afsoon Pajoufar (scenic and lighting designer), Raphael Regan (costume designer), Drew Weinstein (sound designer), and Aaron A. Watson (stage manager).
Performances of Collective Noun will take place July 18-August 3 (see schedule above) at Paradise Factory (64 E 4th St, Manhattan). Critics are welcome as of the 8pm performance on July 20, which serves as the official opening. Tickets are $24 and can be purchased at corkscrewfestival.org or by calling 347.954.9125.
About the Artists
Haleh Roshan is an Iranian American playwright and fiction writer. Her work fuses leftist politics with intercultural narratives to challenge capitalist power structures and trouble conceptions of identity. Plays include FREE FREE FREE FREE (Exponential Festival, 2018 O'Neill NPC finalist); The Woman Question, adapted from the prison memoir of a woman in 1980s Iran; The Houseguest, adapted from a play by Mohsen Yalfani (Oye! Avant Garde); and Reverence, about the founding of the Joffrey Ballet (Tom Kirdahy Productions). @halehroshan / halehroshan.com
Lauren Zeftel creates + collaborates on stories that use inventive metaphors to embody the invisible forces that shape us - transforming abstract concepts into visceral experiences for audiences. She served as Associate Director on Small Mouth Sounds national tour (dir. Rachel Chavkin) and on James + Jerome's Ink at the Met Museum (dir. Annie Tippe + Rachel Chavkin). First Draft Resident (The Drama League). LCT Directors Lab Alum. Williamstown Directing Corp. Playwrights Horizons Directing Fellow Alum. http://www.LaurenZA.me
Brandon Smithey - NYC-based producer working in theater, film, and television. Credits include FREE FREE FREE FREE by Haleh Roshan, short film Little, award-winning play What Every Girl Should Know by Monica Byrne, and The Whole Damn Thing by Jessica Penzias. Brandon was a part of the production team behind such television series as The Mindy Project and United States of Tara. Education: NYU (MA), USC (BS).
Mari Vial-Golden (Shirin) is a theater artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Primarily an actor, she has developed work and performed Off-Broadway and regionally with a variety of companies including PTP/NYC, Geva Theatre Center, Hangar Theater Company, Triad Stage, Urbanite Theater, American Stage, Merrimack Rep, Cal Shakes, Florida Repertory Theater, Maaa Theater and more. Education: BA, Middlebury College; British American Drama Academy. Mari is also a teaching artist, writer, director and yogi. marivialgolden.com
Remy Zaken (Elizabeth) - Broadway: Dear Evan Hansen (Virtual Community Voice), Spring Awakening (OBC Thea). Off-Broadway: One Flea Spare, Dear Evan Hansen, Brooklynite, The Anthem, Freckleface Strawberry (title role), Spring Awakening, Radiant Baby. Regional: The Diary of Anne Frank (title role), Spelling Bee, How I Learned To Drive, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Best Debut). TV: "Bull," "Gossip Girl," "Law and Order," "It Could Be Worse." Columbia University: BA in psychology.
Akyiaa Wilson (CJ) has been around a lot. You've definitely seen her in something before. A former Bat at The Flea where she was seen in the world premiere of Girls In Trouble, and as Clytemnestra in the New York premiere of the epic These Seven Sicknesses as well many, many weeks of #Serials@the Flea. She holds a B.F.A. from Syracuse University.
Justin Fuller (Exterminator) - New York theatre credits include The Orphans' Home Cycle at The Signature Theatre (Special Drama Desk Award), A Coproduction of Laura Eason's stage adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at The New Victory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kansas City Rep & The Rep Theatre of St. Louis, Detroit & Not Clown with Pigeonholed Theatre Company and Girlfriend Repair at CAPS LOCK THEATRE. Regional Credits include many productions at Hartford Stage, Elm Shakespeare Company, The Majestic Theatre, New Century Theatre, Northern Stage & Theatre at The North Hall. Very excited to be joining Corkscrew Festival in bringing Haleh Roshan's beautiful play to life for the first time!
Photo Credit: Victoria Ungvarsky