Karin Coonrod Directs I Killed My Mother at La MaMa 2/10-3/4

Following its U.S. premiere in Chicago, "I Killed My Mother," a new play by Romanian playwright András Visky, will make its New York premiere at La Mama E.T.C. this winter in a production staged by director Karin Coonrod.

From February 10 - March 4, La MaMa in association with Chicago's Theatre Y will present the lyrical tale of an orphaned Romanian teenager's personal odyssey as a highlight of the downtown institution's 50th anniversary "Homecomings" season.

About the show: "I Killed My Mother" is a fiction based on the true story of one of the many Romanian orphans born under the reign of Nicolae Ceau?escu, the Communist dictator who outlawed both contraception and abortion. Thousands of desperate women were forced to abandon their newborn babies, and many of the orphanages and juvenile homes created to deal with them suffered from appalling conditions and abusive staff. The issue continues to have ramifications for Romania even 20 years after Ceau?escu's execution.

The two-person play tells the story of Bernadette, a girl who grows up in a series of Romanian orphanages after being abandoned by her mother. With the help of her friend Clip, she learns to transcend the incessant brutality of her surroundings and turn her back on parasitic relationships, even the maternal bond, in order to realize her own extraordinary identity.

Coonrod most recently directed the acclaimed production of William Shakespeare's "Love's Labor's Lost" at The Public Theater in fall 2011. 

One of Eastern Europe's most active living playwrights, András Visky has had his plays staged throughout Europe and in the United States. He is the associate artistic director of the Hungarian Theater o fCluj, Romania, where he has collaborated with such prominent U.S. artists as RoBert Woodruff, the former artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, and Obie Award-winning director Andrei Serban. Both men will be on hand for a post-production discussion of Visky's work hosted by the Romanian Cultural Institute on February 15th.

"My mentor was the brilliant Romanian director Liviu Ciulei, and meeting a playwright from his birthplace who shares his passion, boldness, and engagement with political issues was like discovering a long-lost brother," said Coonrod. "But what's most striking about Visky's play is its universality – it's about the spiritual leap required to transcend difficult relationships of all kinds, whether they be with a birth mother, a mother country, or any other unhealthy bond."

Coonrod and Theatre Y debuted their spare, poetic production of "I Killed My Mother" in Chicago in 2010. The company, which has deep ties to Eastern Europe, enjoyed a triumphant launch in 2006 with the first U.S. production of Visky's play "Juliet," starring actor and current artistic director Melissa Hawkins, who also plays Bernadette in "I Killed My Mother."

The production continues LaMaMa's decades-long tradition of introducing American audiences to some of Eastern Europe's most influential theater artists, including Serban, who emigrated to the U.S. from Romania in 1969 with the help of La MaMa founder Ellen Stewart.

The cast of "I Killed My Mother" is Theatre Y's Melissa Lorraine Hawkins (Bernadette) and Andrew Livingston (Clip). Other members of the artistic team include Peter Ksander (lighting and scenic design), Eduardo Paulo (graphic design) and Christopher McLinden (Producing Artistic Associate).

Preview performances: Friday, February 10th and Saturday, February 11th, 7:30pm
Opening night performance: Sunday, February 12th, 8pm
Regular performances: February 16th – March 4th, 2012
7:30pm (Thursdays - Saturdays), 2:30pm (Sundays)
Duration: 90 minutes

La MaMa First Floor Theatre (74A East 4th Street)

$20.00 general/$15.00 students/seniors

Box Office:
Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.lamama.org, calling 212.475.7710 or visiting the La MaMa box office at 74A East 4th Street.

About András Visky
András Visky is a poet, playwright and essayist and the resident dramaturg at the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj, Romania, where he also holds the position of associate artistic director. He is the author of more than a dozen plays, including "Juliet," which opened at Budapest's Thalia Theatre in 2002 and ran there for several seasons; "Born For Never", which opened at the Festival d'Avignon in 2009 and earned the critics' choice award for best performance of the Festival; and "Alcoholics" and "I Killed My Mother", which are currently playing at the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj. In 2009, Visky was awarded the prestigious József Attila Award by the Hungarian Minister of Culture.

About Karin Coonrod
Karin Coonrod is an internationally renowned director who has received numerous awards for her innovative reimaginings of classic plays. The founder of Arden Party Theatre Company in New York and Compagnia de' Colombari in Orvieto, Italy, Coonrod first gained widespread acclaim for her production of Shakespeare's "Henry VI" at The Public Theater, where she recently staged William Shakespeare's "Love's Labor's Lost." Her work, which has been hailed by the New York Times as "prodigiously inventive," has been seen at Theatre for a New Audience, American Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, Moscow Art Theater, Yale University, and Columbia University.

About Theatre Y
Theatre Y was founded in 2006 by actor Melissa Hawkins and director Christopher Markle. The company is steeped in the theatrical traditions of Eastern Europe, which Chris Markle advanced until his death in 2008. Chris had a long artistic partnership with the Romanian director Liviu Culei and worked with other primal masters of the Eastern European theatre, including Luciane Pintilie and Taduesz Kantor. These collaborations - in addition to the traditions and work of Romanian-Hungarian playwright András Visky - influenced the company?s founding, with Visky?s play Juliet as its first production. Written for his mother, the play centers on the true story of András? first memories in a communist gulag, the play is a dialogue about love. Theatre Y (www.theatre-y.com) has toured the English version of Juliet internationally for the past three years, including performances in Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Israel, Palestine and over a hundred performances in the United States. In the winter of 2010, Theatre Y?s production of Visky's I Killed My Mother was a world premiere which played to sold-out houses at Chicago?s Greenhouse Theater and garnered critical acclaim. Recently in Chicago Theatre Y presented a trilogy of plays including Camus' The Misunderstanding, James Joyce's Exiles and Philip Ridley's Vincent River.

About La MaMa
The arts institution La MaMa has a worldwide reputation for producing cutting-edge work in theater, dance, performance art, and music. Founded in 1961 by theater pioneer and legend Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has produced and presented more than 3,000 theatrical productions to date and is a vital part of the fabric of cultural life in New York City and around the world.

La MaMa provides a supportive home for artists and takes risks on unknown work. Artists such as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Blue Man Group, David and Amy Sedaris (and others whose names you haven't heard of yet) began their careers at La MaMa. International Artists introduced to America by La MaMa include Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban, Kazuo Ohno and, more recently, the acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre. La MaMa has been honored with more than 30 OBIE Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, and, in 2006, Ellen Stewart was recognized with a special TONY Award for Excellence in the Theatre.

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