Full Cast Announced For New Queer Play AFFECTING EXPRESSION By Kitchen Sink Theatre Company

Eliana Cohen-Orth's AFFECTING EXPRESSION explores queer history and three female artists' multi-layered relationships with each other, art-making, legacy, and home.

By: Feb. 09, 2024
Full Cast Announced For New Queer Play AFFECTING EXPRESSION By Kitchen Sink Theatre Company

Kitchen Sink Theatre Company announced complete casting for the industry reading of AFFECTING EXPRESSION written by Eliana Cohen-Orth and directed by Eliyana Abraham. After a previous production at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ), AFFECTING EXPRESSION will have its first reading in New York City through Kitchen Sink Theatre Company, working towards a full production. The reading will take place on February 24th, 2024 at 7:00PM at The Sheen Center (18 Bleecker Street).

Eliana Cohen-Orth's AFFECTING EXPRESSION explores queer history and three female artists' multi-layered relationships with each other, art-making, legacy, and home. In 1852, renowned crossdressing Shakespearean actress Charlotte Cushman retires from the stage to move to Rome with her long-term partner, reserved writer Matilda Hays. Joining their party is an eccentric young sculptor named Harriet Hosmer and an enigmatic figure representing Charlotte's stage persona. As the women navigate their intersecting artistic paths and the complexities of their relationships, the walls of their home and boundaries between art and reality become increasingly unreliable. Imagining a queer household before modern language to describe that experience, this queer tragicomedy combines history with fantastical elements to explore the thin line between finding and losing oneself in art.

Eliana Cohen-Orth first became interested in Charlotte Cushman as a historical figure after reading her biography When Romeo was a Woman by Lisa Merrill. This sparked a research project that became Cohen-Orth's playwriting thesis at Princeton University, which she continued to develop over the next three years. Cushman (1816-1876) was an internationally celebrated stage actress, known in particular for playing male roles such as Hamlet and Romeo. She lived openly with female romantic partners throughout her life. For some time, Cushman was surrounded by a community of female writers and artists living in Rome, many drawn there by Cushman. This community included Matilda Hays-British novelist, translator, journalist, and advocate for women's rights, and Charlotte's long-term partner-and Harriet Hosmer, who would eventually become the most well-known female sculptor in America in the 19th century. These three women (and the relationships between them) are the core of Affecting Expression.

"This story is grounded in a specific moment in history, but feels surprisingly recognizable. It's been so much fun to get to know these women, both as lesser-known historical figures and as complex human beings," states Cohen-Orth. "I love doing historical research for a theatrical project because the gaps in the archive aren't stopping points-they're opportunities to play."

Eliyana Abraham, director of the production, is a recent Princeton University graduate originally from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She notes, "It is a rare and humbling experience to be gifted the opportunity to touch a play which feels so honest to my own experiences, and the experiences of other queer women artists." Her past directing/choreography credits include Peerless (Princeton Summer Theater), ELECTRIC SYRUP (We Who Wander NYC), Cabaret (Princeton University), and Shrek the Musical (Princeton University).

Tickets are only $5 when purchased in advance ($10 at the door), and may be purchased HERE.

The complete cast of AFFECTING EXPRESSION includes Nora Aguiar (Charlotte Cushman), Paige Elizabeth Allen (Matilda Hays), BT Hayes (Hatty Hosmer), and Sam Melton (Dramatis Personae).

Rounding out the team are Gaea Lawton (Stage Directions), Katie Royse Ginther (Producer), and Em Hausmann (Producer).

Kitchen Sink Theatre Company's 2024 season began with a winter reading series, which included the premiere of EVER, OSCAR on Saturday, January 6, written and directed by Maeve Aurora Chapman, and MURDER! AT THE HEINEKEN ESTATE on Saturday, January 20, written by Grace Mitscherlich and directed by Katie Royse Ginther. Kitchen Sink's 2024 season continues with Delivery Boy, a new play by emerging playwright Jaden Alvaro Gines February 1-11, and STRIKE/OUT on Monday, February 19, written by Lizz Mangan and directed by Em Hausmann. Following the winter reading series will mark the world premiere of NOSEBLEED: A "COMEDY" ABOUT HYPOTHETICALS, MAIL, AND CRAZY LOUD SEX written by Carly Polistina, running later in the spring. In the fall of 2024, playwright Cory Sapienza makes his New York City debut with the bold, insightful play PILLOW TALK. Co-directed by Sapienza and Jesse Hartley, the world premiere play is an honest exploration of sexual encounters in the transgender community.


Kitchen Sink Theatre Company was founded by Katie Royse Ginther in 2021 in Seattle, WA. Following successful productions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Good Water and Thread by Jessica Moreland, and Holy Waters by Matthew Balam, Kitchen Sink's following quickly grew, inspiring Royse Ginther to take it with her to New York City.​ Kitchen Sink aims to make a space for theatre artists in the community (specifically early-career LGBTQIA+ artists) to experiment with their own creativity. It is our goal to cultivate an environment that supports members of our community who have a passion for sharing stories and creating their own reality onstage; this includes actors, playwrights, technicians, directors, and designers. Kitchen Sink is led by a majority of trans, nonbinary, and queer theatre makers. We strive to tell stories which speak to the experiences of our generation-specifically queer stories, or stories with major themes of social change/justice. By connecting primarily with other LGBTQIA+ theatre-makers, we are able to create art that other young queer folks can identify with and relate to. Kitchen Sink prioritizes giving space to those who haven't seen much representation on stage or screen. We actively choose to work with up-and-coming playwrights with strong stories and experiences to share. Theatre for the community, by the community.