Melis Aker's FIELD, AWAKENING Premieres At Corkscrew Theater Festival

Corkscrew Theater Festival presents Field, Awakening, written by Melis Aker and directed by Tatiana Pandiani. Running July 14-22, Field, Awakening is a political drama set in Turkey in 2016, where a group of high school friends reunites at a soccer field on the evening of an attempted military coup. As the night progresses, the friends unexpectedly find themselves at the center of international strife, and they begin to realize that the Turkey they called home may be rapidly disappearing. Performed by Kieron Anthony, Ayse Babahan, Jamar Brathwaite, Sinan Eczacibasi*, Fahim Hamid*, and Nazli Sarpkaya, Field, Awakening is the second production in the second annual season of Corkscrew Theater Festival, a new summer theater festival that provides early-career artists with a high level of production support.

After ten years of self-imposed estrangement from her country, Rana reunites with three old friends on a soccer field in Istanbul on July 15th, 2016 -- the eve of the attempted coup d'etat in Turkey. As the night progresses, the foursome realizes how brutal nostalgia can feel when the distance between them widens, when life in the present implicates them in political turmoil and places them under surveillance. Spanning across the surreal events of one evening, Field, Awakening is not a homecoming: it's the tale of a stranger in a strange land, searching in vain for home amidst a landscape of fleeting familiarity.

"The initial spark for the play was very much a deep conflict I had every time I went home [to Turkey], a feeling of being neither here nor there," said Aker. "It's been an emotional experience because this play particularly deals a lot with an idea of memory or nostalgia we can't really contain. Through the questions of my collaborators, I've had to confront my relationship to my own nostalgia. This is an homage to my home, and even though I have a hard time loving it right now, there is an ancestry to it -- there is so much on the land itself. I hope that I can share a bit of that love alongside the fear."

Corkscrew Theater Festival features five world premieres and four readings performed in repertory over four weeks. Special attention has been given to theater makers who are developing work through innovative and robust collaborations. A majority of the participating artists identify as women or trans.

The creative team forField, Awakening includes Taísa Malouf (set design), Reza Behjat (lighting design), Dina El-Aziz (costume design), Stefania Bulbarella (projection design), Aker (sound designer), Jack Calk (assistant sound designer), Anna Woodruff (dramaturg), Mark H. (stage combat director), and Kadaja Brown (stage manager).

Performances ofField, Awakening will take place July 14-22 (see schedule above) at Paradise Factory (64 E 4th St, Manhattan). Critics are welcome as of July 14, which serves as the official opening. Tickets are $24 and can be purchased at corkscrewfestival.org or by calling 347.954.9125.

*Appearing through the courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.

About the Artists

Melis Aker is an actor, writer and musician from Turkey, and will be a NYTW 2050 Fellow in the fall. Plays: Field, Awakening (2018 Sundance Theatre Lab finalist, 2018 Berkeley Rep Ground Floor finalist, Lark's 2018 Van Lier New Voices Fellowship finalist) will perform at Signature Center this May; Manar (2017 Columbia@Roundabout finalist, 2016 Theatre503 Playwriting Award semi-finalist) was at Golden Thread Productions' 2017 ReOrient Festival, LPAC's 2017 Rough Draft Festival, and was featured by Silk Road Rising on New Play Exchange; 330 Pegasus: A Love Letter [Part I] (Lark's 2018 Jerome New York Fellowship Finalist) received a Noor Highlight series reading at NYTW; Azul, Otra Vez [Blue, Revisited] was workshopped at NYTW and BRICLab Residency. Melis recently gave a TEDx Talk in Ankara and works as Ayad Akhtar's assistant. BA Drama/Philosophy (Tufts), Acting (RADA), MFA Playwriting (Columbia). Meg Pantera The Agency (acting) | www.melisaker.com

Tatiana Pandiani is an Argentine, NYC based director and choreographer. Selected: Azul, Otra Vez (BRIC), Eurydice & The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Atlantic 2), Le Negrophilie (Kampala Theater Festival, Uganda), Appropriate & Assassins (Princeton), NANAS (IATI), La Lupe (SEA), NORA (Lanesboro Arts), 1989 (Connelly). Upcoming: Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Rwanda and the Frank Collymore Hall in Barbados. Tatiana is a Teaching Artist at the Atlantic, a NYTW Directing Fellow, and the Artistic Associate at Miami New Drama. MFA: Columbia. www.tatianapandiani.com

Mei Li Heman is a New York-based Senior Manager & Producer. Born in the US and raised in Brazil, she is a bilingual storyteller and has worked in the entertainment industry for 6+ years. Credits include festival nominated documentary feature films, unscripted television series, digital content, and theatre productions. She is currently studying, freelance producing, and interning at 101 Productions. Past internships include 321 Theatrical Management, NAMCO, Ars Nova, AKA NYC, and 101 Productions.

Bethany Sharp is a New York-based Creative Producer and freelance Director, currently studying as a Theatre Management and Producing MFA candidate at Columbia University. She is a Kansas native but considers herself just as Minnesotan after working for seven years in Minneapolis as an actor, freelance director, and producer. She co-founded Box Wine Theatre and acts as Producing Artistic Director. NYC internships have included TDF and Primary Stages. Bethany currently serves as the Assistant Marketing Fellow and Playwrights Festival Fellow at Columbia University. boxwinetheatre.com

Kieron Anthony (Gerdun) is a New York City based actor originally from Trinidad and Tobago. Recent credits: A Distorted Reality is a Necessity to be Free (Manhattan Rep), Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat (Atlantic Stage 2), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Atlantic Stage 2). He has also wrapped the pilot season of the web series "Hampton 10-10." An Atlantic Acting School Alumni, Kieron spent his early years as a sprinter for his country and Umiami, where he studied Biology and Kinesiology.

Ayse Babahan (Rana) Born in Raleigh, NC, Ayse grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. She moved to New York at seventeen to train at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting's professional conservatory. Theatre credits include The Tempest, The House of Bernarda Alba, Fefu and Her Friends, Bee, Fatima, and Her Pigeon and The Whale. Over the summer she joined The Flea Theatre as a Bat.

Jamar Brathwaite (Aziz) is honored to be counted amongst this stellar team. Jamar was recently seen in The Classical Theater of Harlem's 4 time Audelco Award winning production of The Three Musketeers last Summer. Other credits include: In The Penal Colony (Tank), Machinal (Columbia Stages), Ain't Never Been Easy (Castillo), Manar (L.P.A.C). Film: "Man of Faith" (Motus), "No Compromise" (Reel Works). Jamar's a proud graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

Nazli Sarpkaya (Chichek) Off-Broadway: Angry Young Man (Urban Stages). Regional theatre: Angry Young Man (Guild Hall of East Hampton); Broken Stones (InterAct Theatre); Naked Influence (Capital Repertory Theatre). NYC selected theatre credits include: Debriefing; Antony & Cleopatra: Infinite Lives (FringeNYC), Tiger Tiger (Dixon Place), as well as workshop productions at Ensemble Studio Theatre, La Mama, Lynn Redgrave Theatre, Teatro SEA and The Kraine Theatre. MFA in Acting from Brooklyn College. Co-creator of the new series VOWS. www.nazlisarpkaya.com

Sinan Eczacibasi* (Bedir) is an immigrant actor from Turkey. He is a recent graduate of Brown Trinity Rep's Acting MFA program. Regional credits: To Kill a Mockingbird, Blues For Mister Charlie. TV/Film: "Madam Secretary" (CBS), "Across The Sea", "Let Mercy Come." Other Credits: Our Country's Good, Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest, The Year of the Rooster. Sinan is very excited for his first New York show.

Fahim Hamid* (Levent / Che Ronaldo Guevara) is thrilled to working with this ensemble. NY credits: Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare Forum), Nothing Left to Burn (Actors' Company Theatre), phoenicia flowers (Noor Theatre/NYTW), Hot Fun in the Wintertime (Cherry Lane Theatre), Good (Tribeca Performing Arts Center). Regional: Disgraced (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), The Kite Runner (New Repertory Theatre). Television: "Tyrant" (FX), "The Family" (ABC). Proud BU Theatre alum and native Brooklynite. www.fahimh.weebly.com

About Corkscrew Theater Festival

Now in its second year, Corkscrew Theater Festival showcases original productions by early-career artists who are creating work through robust and innovative collaborations. Corkscrew aims to advocate for underrepresented artists and viewpoints while mounting a festival that offers a unique mix of work at various stages of development, promoting dialogue among artists and building community around a season of theatre. In its inaugural 2017 run, Corkscrew was featured in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Playbill, WNYC, and more. "Packed with young talent. In the risk-taking venture that is summer festival-going, encountering talent you want to see more of is a worthy payoff." www.corkscrewfestival.org

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