Nora's Playhouse Presents WHATDOESFREEMEAN? By Catherine Filloux
Nora's Playhouse will present the World Premiere of whatdoesfreemean?, a new play about women and mass incarceration by award-winning human rights playwright Catherine Filloux.
whatdoesfreemean? opens at The Tank, 312 West 36th Street, NYC, on July 6 and continues for 12 performances through July 22. Directed by Amy S. Green, the cast includes James Edward Becton*, Brenda Crawley, Justin Jorrell, Galway McCullough*, Liz Morgan*, and Lisa Strum*.
whatdoesfreemean? follows the journey of an African-American woman serving a long sentence for a non-violent drug offense. When Mary ends up in solitary confinement, she struggles to maintain her sanity in the face of loneliness, indifference, human cruelty, and loss. The play takes the audience into her psychic world. We travel alongside her self-guided intellectual and emotional journey into the nature of freedom, both physical and psychological as Mary's external and internal experience unfolds on stage in the present, in memory, and in the fantasies that help her survive.
whatdoesfreemean? is the newest work by Catherine Filloux, who has been writing about human rights and social issues for 25 years, including such works as Kidnap Road, Selma '65, Luz, Killing the Boss, Lemkin's House, Eyes of the Heart, and The Beauty Inside. Filloux was the recipient of the 2017 Otto Award for Political Theatre. Previous recipients include director Emily Mann and playwright Kia Corthron. Presented by Castillo Theatre, The Otto Awards recognize and connect theater artists engaged in creating political, experimental and community-based theatre.
This imaginative and poetic theatre piece was developed with the support of Nora's Playhouse, a theatre collective dedicated to creating opportunities for women theatre artists of all generations to tell women's stories in a collaborative process that focuses on human rights, female empowerment, and breaking restrictive or negative stereotypes of women.
Nora's Playhouse commissioned Filloux to write whatdoesfreemean? in 2015. Since that time, Filloux and Green have been collaborating on extensive research including interviews with formerly incarcerated women, criminal defense attorneys, corrections officials, prison reform advocates, and forensic psychiatrists.
whatdoesfreemean? tackles some of the most urgent issues of our time: women's rights, sexual harassment, civil rights, and criminal justice reform. Through this piece, Nora's Playhouse hopes to dispel the stereotypes associated with incarceration and help forward conversations about what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
The Nora's Playhouse production of whatdoesfreemean? is presented by The Tank, a home for emerging artists. It is an Equity approved showcase.
Scenic and Lighting Design by Phoebe Mauro. Sound and Projection Design by Sadah Espii Proctor. Costume Design by Rashidah Nelson. Graphic Design by Veronica Bella. Stage Management by Karen Oughtred. General Management by Rebecca Lovett.
The performance schedule for whatdoesfreemean? is Friday 7/6 @7pm, Saturday 7/7 @7pm, Sunday 7/8 @3pm, Thursday 7/12 @7pm, Friday 7/13 @7pm, Saturday 7/14 @7pm, Sunday 7/15 @3pm, Wednesday 7/18 @7pm, Thursday 7/19 @7pm, Friday7/20 @7pm, Saturday 7/21 @7pm, and Sunday 7/22 @3pm. The running time is approximately 80 minutes with no intermission.
Tickets are $20 and are available at The Tank (thetanknyc.org/theater/1090-whatdoesfreemean) or through Brown Paper Tickets at brownpapertickets.com. Tickets will also be available at the theatre 30 minutes prior to each performance.
Group discounts are available through The Tank.
Select performances will be immediately followed by a brief conversation with individuals who will speak to the issues raised in the play.
Saturday 7/7 - Annette Hanson, Director of the University of Maryland Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program, MD
Sunday 7/8 - Michael Hanley, Public Defender, Santa Barbara, CA
Sunday 7/15 - Katherine Sweetness Jennings, College and Community Fellowship, NY
Wednesday 7/18 - Philip Hall, writer formerly incarcerated at Otisville Correctional Facility, NY
Friday 7/20 - Vivian Nixon, Executive Director, College and Community Fellowship, NY
Saturday 7/21 - Sheila Samuels, Esq., Samuels Law Firm, LLC., NY
*Actors appearing courtesy of Actors' Equity Association
Catherine Filloux is an award-winning playwright who has been writing about human rights and social justice for twenty-five years. Catherine was honored in New York City with the 2017 Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre. Her new play Kidnap Road recently premiered at La MaMa and was presented by Anna Deavere Smith as part of NYU's Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. Filloux received the 2015 Planet Activist Award due to her long career as an activist artist in the theater community. Recent productions include: Selma '65 which premiered at La MaMa and has been performed around the U.S; and Luz at La MaMa, and Looking for Lilith Theatre Co. in Louisville, Kentucky. Catherine is the librettist for three produced operas; and her most recent is Olga Neuwirth's new opera, Orlando to premiere at the Vienna State Opera in 2019. She is developing a new musical, All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go, with composer Jimmy Roberts, and John Daggett. Catherine is a co-founder of Theatre Without Borders and a New Dramatists alumna. www.catherinefilloux.com
Amy S. Green is an actor, director, playwright, dramaturg, educator, theater critic/historian, and the Associate Artistic Director of Nora's Playhouse. She holds a PhD in Theater from the CUNY Graduate School and a Kennedy Center Gold Medallion for Lifetime Contribution to the Arts for her work with the American College Theater Festival. Amy is the author of two widely-produced testimonial dramas, Girlz in Blue, about female officers of the NYPD, and What Happened: The September 11th Testimony Project, first-person accounts of ground zero and its aftermath. Her book, The Revisionist Stage: American Directors Reinvent the Classics was published by Cambridge University Press in 1994 and reissued in 2006. She has contributed to such anthologies as The Beckett Papers, Feminist Theatrical Revisions of Classic Works, Preparing the Next Generation of Oral Historians, Women Writing Plays: The First Three Decades of The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and to periodicals including Modern Drama, Onstage Studies, and the New York Law Review. She is an Associate Professor of Theater and Interdisciplinary Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Consortial Faculty Member in the Master of Arts in Applied Theater at the School of Professional Studies, both at the City University of New York.
About Nora's Playhouse: Named for the heroine of Ibsen's A Doll's House, Nora's Playhouse launched in 2009 with a commitment to developing and producing women-centered stories, while increasing professional opportunities for women theatre artists both on and off-stage. Our women-centered mission addresses the fact that women continue to be under-represented as the primary subject matter for scripts, as well as in the positions of director, playwright, manager, designer and technical staff in professional theatre. Nora's Playhouse is interested in sharing a wide range of women's stories and devoted to shedding light on women's human rights issues. In 2015, Nora's Playhouse produced the world premiere of Laurence Leamer's Rose starring Tony-nominee Kathleen Chalfant in a Drama Desk-, Outer Critics Circle- and United Solo-nominated solo turn as the Kennedy matriarch, Rose. www.norasplayhouse.org
About The Tank: The Tank is a non-profit arts presenter serving emerging artists engaged in the pursuit of new ideas and forms of expression. We serve over 2,000 artists every year in over 800performances in our new home on 36th Street, and work across all disciplines, including theater, comedy dance, film music, public affairs, and storytelling. Our goal is to foster an environment of inclusiveness and remove the burden of cost from the creation of new work for artists launching their careers and experimenting within their art form. We keep ticket prices affordable and view our work as democratic, opening up both the creation and attendance of the arts to all. www.thetanknyc.org