Opalescent Productions' UNTYING LOVE to Feature Jed Dickson, Nancy Hess and More

Opalescent Productions has announced the cast for Untying Love, a new drama about the end of life and letting go by Peggy Willens to run at TADA! Theater, 15 West 28th Street, NYC from October 13 to November 4, 2012.

Emma Berry directs a cast of eight, including Jed Dickson* (Off B'way: The Mask), Nancy Hess* (B'way: Phantom, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Goodbye Girl), Rodrigo Lopresti (TV: The Quarter Life, Connected, The Black Donnelly's), Simon MacLean* (New York: The Crucible (ArcLight), Biography (Mint)), Marie Marshall* (NY: House of Mirth (Metropolitan); LA: Woman of Manhattan, Psychopathia Sexualis (Zoo)), John Mateyko (New York: Seussical), Nancy Nagrant* (New York: Naked in Encino, Family Dinner), and Kyla Schoer* (Off B'way: The Awesome 80's Prom). *Appearing Courtesy of Actors' Equity Association. AEA Approved Showcase.

In the tradition of Chekhov and Shepard, Untying Love is a raw and unblinking view into the intimate moment when people embrace the ultimate act of family love.  The play is set in a hospice, where Steven’s mother is caught between life and death.  He doesn’t know how to help her.  Sharing stories, laughter and tears, his quirky family hopes to give his mother a peaceful goodbye, free of pain and fear.  Two supportive hospice volunteers provide all the help they can.  But something’s in the way.  Who’s not letting go, and why?

Director Emma Berry described it as “a stunning script of depth, one that requires a first-class caliber of performance.  It drew me back to live theater after many years away.”

Untying Love can be viewed as a contrasting but complementary piece to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit by Margaret Edson, with whom Willens attended high school in Washington, DC. While Wit portrays the experience of a woman, Dr. Vivian Bearing, in the last stages of ovarian cancer, in Untying Love the dying patient remains offstage. And while Wit is highly literary, including flashbacks to Dr. Bearing's erudite lectures on the poetry of John Donne, the characters in Willens' play struggle to communicate their most basic hopes, fears and resentments.  But the two plays share two themes: that there are times when medical intervention can no longer help, and that there is something in the human experience that cannot be understood through intellect alone.

Untying Love is presented in a time when end-of-life issues, palliative care and hospice care are receiving increased attention.  Current political debates about Medicare spending touch on the topic both obliquely ? about 25% of Medicare dollars are spent during the last year of a person’s life[1]? and directly, as when the term “death panels” was coined for a proposal to offer Medicare patients voluntary counseling about living wills and end-of-life care options.  The provision was deleted from the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Eighty percent of U.S. patients state that they don’t want aggressive intervention and hospitalization once their disease reaches a terminal phase,[2] and yet many people who want to die at home or in hospice do not have that opportunity.  

The palliative care and hospice communities work to help families acknowledge what’s happening during the dying process while easing patients’ physical and emotional pain.  The hospice philosophy is to help people live with dignity in their last days and weeks, with a chance to say their goodbyes and to die in peace.  There is, in short, such a thing as a good death.

Please note that Untying Love is not a political or “message” play, however.  It indelibly portrays one family’s journey through the end-of-life moment. 

"So many scripts aim to entertain rather than provoke,” Berry said, “and this script is, in its own quiet way, utterly provoking.”

Untying Love is presented by Opalescent Productions.  Director: Emmy Berry; Scenic Design: Tim McMath; Costume Designer:Kristine Koury; Lighting Designer: Lois Catanzaro; Fight Choreographer: Gael Schaefer; Stage Manager: Emily Bible; Casting Director:Jamibeth Margolis, CSA; Publicist: Paul Siebold.

Emma Berry (Director) has directed over 100 mainstage plays and a wide range of physically based performances in her native England as well as Paris, Murcia and Krakow. In London, she led productions equivalent to NYC's Off Broadway: Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, Richard III; Pinter: The Room, No Man's Land, The Birthday Party. Elsewhere in Europe: Antigone, L'Avare(Molière), American Buffalo, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, `Night, Mother; and many more. On Broadway, Emma served as consulting dramaturge for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  Training: M.A. in Directing, Central School of Speech and Drama, London.  Emma also studied the practice of directors Staniewskia (Poland) and Mnouchkine (France). 

Peggy A. Willens (Playwright & Producer) studied playwriting with Tina Howe in the Hunter College graduate program and Julie McKee at HB Studio. She is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc. and the founder of Opalescent Productions, LLC.  Untying Lovewas selected as a Semi-Finalist in the 2010 Hidden River Arts Playwriting Award competition.  Peggy holds a B.A. in Linguistics from Wesleyan University and an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management.

This presentation is not a production by TADA! Youth Theater.  For information about TADA! programs, visit www.tadatheater.com.

Tickets are $18, $15 for Students and Seniors. Click HERE or call 866-811-4111. Running October 13 – November 4, 2012, the show will play Thursday-Saturday at 8pm / Sunday at 3pm. Previews: Sat., October 13 @ 8pm & Sun., October 14 @ 3pm. Opening Night: Monday, October 15 @ 7pm.

TADA! Theater is located at 15 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY.

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