Planet Connections Theatre Festivity Announces 2017 PLAYWRIGHTS FOR A CAUSE Creative Team

By: May. 08, 2017
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"This is an excellent season of plays," Glory Kadigan, founder and curator of Planet Connections Theatre Festivity's Playwrights For A Cause, said, remarking about this year's plays and playwrights, and now, the creative team. "I'm so proud of the activist artists involved with Planet Connections for continuing to connect with audiences in so many creative ways while drawing attention to organizations who are on the front lines of this important work."

This year, the event will be Sunday, July 23, and will benefit the New York Civil Liberties Union with "The Protest Plays," stories of standing up to injustice:

Mean Girls by Lyle Kessler
Directed by Glory Kadigan
Assistant Director: Adam Chisnall

Baby Monitor by David Stallings
Directed by Brock H. Hill
Assistant Director: Anna Hogan

Resistance by ReGina Taylor
Directed by Tonya Pinkins
Assistant Director: Ashley Marinaccio

Snow Day by Catherine Filloux
Directed by Hannah Ryan
Assistant Director: Susan Tenney

Fall of the Sparrow by Jose Rivera
Directed by Kat Yen
Assistant Director: Vinny Eden Ortega (Assistant to the Producer)

Lighting Designer: Benjamin Ehrenreich
Scenic Designer: Raye Levine
Costume Designer: Ariel Pellman
Sound Design: Jacob Subotnick
Casting Director: Robin Carus
Production Stage Manager: Kathryn Meister
Assistant Stage Manager: Maayan Voss de Bettancourt

"I'm so pleased to be working alongside Lyle Kessler on this hilarious comedic protest playlet, 'Mean Girls," Ms. Kadigan continued "we come together for a cause and this year we are benefitting the NYCLU which has always worked for the benefit of Racial rights, LGBT rights, Reproductive Rights, Immigration Rights and more. I'm so proud of the activist artists involved with Planet Connections for continuing to connect with audiences in so many creative ways while drawing attention to organizations who are on the front lines of this important work."

The annual Playwrights for a Cause benefit, hosted by Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, addresses powerful social and topical issues in our society, through the works of prominent playwrights. This year, the event will be Sunday, July 23, and will benefit the New York Civil Liberties Union, one of the nation's foremost defenders of civil liberties and civil rights, with "The Protest Plays," stories of standing up to injustice. A reception will follow the performance.

Event location of the event and how to reserve tickets will be announced shortly. Benefit tickets for reserved seating will be $20 - $125. Planet Connections Theatre Festivity is New York's premiere socially-conscious theatre, music and film festival. The entire festival is aligned to help artist shine a light on the issues facing our society and support the organizations working to make a difference.

"I'm honored to collaborate on Playwrights For A Cause with ReGina Taylor for this important artistic benefit for the NYCLU. Planet Connections mission of combining theater and social justice while nursing activist artists is to be commended," commented celebrated African-American director Tonya Pinkins.

Chiming in was Hannah Ryan (Resident Director, Hamilton: An American Musical Broadway): "I am thrilled to welcome the long-awaited opportunity to collaborate with the insanely talented Catherine Filloux, a playwright who has spent her entire career creating pieces of substance that encourage much-needed change. It is a rare event in this business to get to share with a group of like-minded artists a unified voice that so directly supports an organization engaged in social justice. To say being a part of this festival is an honor is an understatement."

2017 Production Team:

Glory Kadigan (Founder; Associate Producer; Director,? Mean Girls by Lyle Kessler) Ms. Kadigan founded Planet Connections Theatre Festivity and served as the Producing Artistic Director for six seasons. She also founded Playwrights For A Cause and served as Producing Artistic Director for four seasons. Among her directing credits: World Premieres of ReGina Taylor's Biting the Bullet and John Patrick Shanley's Doublecross at the Playwrights for a Cause benefit at the Atlantic Theater, St. Anne's Soup (Israel Horovitz, World Premiere), Breaking Philip Glass (Israel Horovitz, World Premiere), Her Speech (Erik Ehn, World Premiere), Over the River and Through the Woods (Neil LaBute, World Premiere), Two Minute Warning (Neil LaBute, World Premiere), Safe by Penny Jackson (14th Street Y), Stain by Kristina Poe (Nylon Fusion), Five Sandwiches by Michael Puzzo (Nylon Fusion), The Picture of DorIan Gray (MT Works), Two Rooms (Workshop Theatre), Most recently, she directed Erik Ehn?'s Clover? at La Mama?. This summer?, directing the World Premiere of Erik Ehn's Quiet House? and Michael Puzzo's Without. Ms. Kadigan is also a playwright whose work as been presented in Singapore, London and New Zealand.

Brock H. Hill (Producing Artistic Director; Director, Baby Monitor by David Stallings) is a New York based director and arts administrator. He is the Producing Artistic Director of the Planet Connections Festivity and Artistic Director of the Altruistic Theatre Company. He is known for ensemble based organic work. Selected projects include: Child's Play, Helvetica (Rising Sun, Planet Connections); Mistakes Madeline Made, Humans Anonymous (Tongue in Cheek Prod); Books on Tape (Tongue in Cheek, FringeNYC); Civilization! (Planet Connections Festivity); Choose Your Grown Adventure, Wardrobe of the Living Dead (Altruistic Theatre); Invoice (Leela Theatre Festival); And the Elements Spoke, In Transit (Articulate Theatre). For more information visit:

Tonya Pinkins (Director, Resistance by ReGina Taylor) recently To Love Somebody by Jonell Lennon and directed Exit: An Illusion at The America Bard Theater 2017. Tonya's short film What Came After by Christopher Oscar Pena is screening at Festivals around the USA She adapted the film from the play she directed at Artistic New Directions' Eclectic Festival in 2016. She directed A Visit Home by Jeffrey Sweet in The Eclectic Festival 2013. Tonya directed Larry Powell's Easy to Love in the Fire This Time Festival 2015, and For Colored Boys by Jesse Alick in 48 Hours in Harlem. She just directed The Green Book Wine Train and travel Trip at the National Black Theater. She directed "Miss Roj" from THE COLORED MUSEUM for Project One Voice at The Kimble Theater; a reading of #BoxSeats at NYTW and in National Black Theater's Monday Night Reading series. She directed the reading of The First Time by Tracey Conyer Lee at Urban Stages, V-Day the Vagina Monologues at The World Health Ministry Conference in San Miguel De Allende Mexico. Tonya works with The African American Policy Forum and actively supports #SayHerName and TheMovementForBlackLives among other causes and organizations.

Hannah Ryan (Director, Snow Day by Catherine Filloux): ?Resident Director Hamilton: An American Musical Broadway, Chicago and US Tour, An American in Paris on Broadway, Director Every Path (La Jolla Playhouse & Moxie Theatre) The Guys (Davenport Theatre) The Big Announcement (Drama League Rough Draft) Let's Misbehave: A Tribute to Cole Porter (Mr. Finn's Cabaret) Cendrillon and Gianni Schicchi (Point Loma Opera Theatre) Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Forced Marriage, Only in New York, et al (Point Loma Playhouse). Associate Director: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on Broadway. Drama League Director's Project Fellow. SDC Foundation Denham Fellow. Founding member of Nettleworks

Kat Yen (Director, Fall of the Sparrow by Jose Rivera) is the 2016-2017 Van Lier Directing Fellow at Second Stage, a member of New Georges Jam, and a M.F.A. Directing candidate at Yale School of Drama. She has directed and set-designed at NYTW, New Group, EST, Signature Theatre, Bushwick Starr, JACK, New Ohio, INTAR, Harvard/A.R.T., The Flea, Wild Project, HERE Arts, Primary Stages, Poetic Theater Productions, Rising Circle, Yangtze Repertory, LAByrinth Theater, Horse Trade and TFNC. She is an alumnus of Lincoln Center Directors Lab, a former Resident Director at The Flea Theater, and the former Co-Artistic Director of Spookfish Theatre Company.

Adam Chisnall (Assistant Director, Mean Girls by Lyle Kessler) Last Assistant Directed for Glory Kadigan at La Mama's Clover by Erik Ehn. Adam directed Emerson at BigMart for Planet Connections Theatre Festival. Adam created and directed The One Act Comedy Fest which had world premieres at The PIT Loftand Q.E.D in Astoria. Adam also works as a producer with The New York Theatre Barn. In the past Adam has directed shows for The Gallery Players, Venus/Adonis Theatre Festival, LeelaNYC Theatre Festival, Thespian Productions, and Strawberry One Act Festival. When not directing, you can find him as a host to Broadway's Next Hit Musical and #theOUTtalk on OutliciousTV. As an actor, Adam has been seen off-Broadway in The Jackie Mason Musical and has appeared in Old Jews Telling Jokes in South Florida. This May he starred in Ronnie Larsen's Totally Naked Comedy Show. He holds a BA in Musical Theatre from Point Park University and has studied with The Second City Chicago.

Anna Hogan (Assistant Director, Baby Monitor by David Stallings) New York based director in theatre and film. The multimedia reading Hold My Spot (Director) and the full production of The Glory of Living (Assistant Director) can both be seen at this year's Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. Anna has been the Assistant Director for Brock H. Hill in Child's Play (Rising Sun) and Helvetica (Planet Connections/Rising Sun). Recent New York credits: W(wrestling) (Step 1 Theatre Project/24 hour Pride Fest), The Things that Don't Translate (The Freeks), Blinking in Treetops (Lady Plays, podcast). Film credits: Yellow Fever (Wham Bam Productions), Prayer Never Fails (Sweet Unknown Studios), Crossing the Line (Tascosa Films).

Ashley Marinaccio (Assistant Director, Resistance by ReGina Taylor) Select credits include International: Under One Sun (Bosnian Cultural Center), Girl Be Heard: Across Borders, Ending Sexual Violence In Conflict Global Summit, TEDxWomen (introduced by Jane Fonda), TEDxTeachersCollege National Tour: Girl Be Heard: Congo, Mothers and Daughters (sponsored by UN Women's Foundation); New York: Embodi(ED) (HERE Arts Center), Parthenogenesis(NY International Fringe Festival) Riding in Cars with Hezbollah (Culture Project- IMPACT Festival), 9mm America(2013 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity - 12 Planet Connections Award Nominations, Winner of "Outstanding Production") Trafficked (2012 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity - 11 Planet Connections Award Nominations, Winner of "Outstanding Direction"); Decadent Acts at Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (Winner - 2010 Planet Activist).

Susan Tenney (Assistant Director, Snow Day by Catherine Filloux) works in theatre, dance and film, both nationally and internationally. She is a four-time Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (PCTF) Award recipient in both Direction and Choreography. Co-director and choreographer for D4rkly Your Retrorockets Fl4re a new gothic sci-fi multidisciplinary work by Steven Tenney premieres in this year's PCTF! Choreographer for Erik Ehn's World Premiere, Clover 2016, La Mama, directed by Glory Kadigan. Currently in development as director and choreographer for Susan Shafer's The Mah Jong Chronicles. Member SDC, and League of Professional Theatre Women. This is her third season with Playwright's For a Cause.

Vinny Eden Ortega (Assistant Director, Fall of the Sparrow by Jose Rivera; Assistant To the Producer,) is a New York City based director and writer currently serving as the Assistant Producing Artistic Director of Planet Connections Theatre Festivity and the Co-Artistic Director of The Dare Tactic. Ortega adapts existing narratives and creates original work based off a range of materials including text, film, poetry, social media, music, and visual art. Credits include Marie Antoinette (Theatre Row), Macbeth (St. Paul's), 4.48 Psychosis (TheDare Tactic), HOPELESS (Planet Connections), Gathering Sparks (Bangkok International Tour).

Benjamin Ehrenreich (Lighting Designer) REGIONAL: Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins (Berkshire Theatre Group) Owners (Yale Repertory Theatre). NYC: Playwrights for a Cause 2016, SAFE by Penny Jackson (Planet Connections), Clover by Erik Ehn (La Mama), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Gallery Players), Ultimate Beauty Bible (NYU TISCH Experimental Theatre Wing). OTHER: As You Like It, Lottie in the Late Afternoon, Iphigenia Among the Stars, Antony and Cleopatra (Yale School of Drama). A View From the Bridge (Vertical Player Repertory, New York), Macbeth (Community20 Productions, London). Benjamin was the Allen Lee Hughes Light Fellow at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. from 2008 to 2009, and he received his MFA in Lighting Design from the Yale School of Drama.

Raye Levine (Scenic Designer) A NYC based actress/producer/set designer. She is a graduate of William Esper Studio and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cooper Union. Raye is an ensemble member & Producer with Barefoot Theatre Company and Ice Theatre of NY. Theatre (acting, selected): Extinction at Guild Hall (dir. Josh Gladstone), The Vote in Orange by Isreal Horovitz (French Embassy), Parkslope (Cherry Lane Theatre), On The 5:31 (dir. Jerry Ruiz), Restlessness of Desire (dir. Shira-Lee Shalit, SVA main stage), Finally by Israel Horovitz (Boston Calderwood Pavillion), Wetiko (The Actor's Studio, moderated by Steven Adly Guirgis). Raye designed the set for Extinction at Guild Hall and is currently working on a set for Andromeda at Guild Hall.

Ariel Pellman (Costume Designer) design credits include: Five Sessions, La Cancion (currently running at Repertorio Español in Manhattan), Off Track at NY Fringe, Nine the Musical, Intimate Apparel, and Romeo and Juliet. MFA NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Designed costumes for 2016 Planet Connections Playwrights For A Cause.

Jacob Subotnick (Sound Design) is a NYC based composer and sound designer who has designed over 90 Off and Off-Off Broadway productions. Selected Off-Broadway: A Midsummers Night Dream (Masterworks Theater); Donkey Punch (SOHO Playhouse); InnerVoices 2014 (TBG Theater); Any Given Monday (59E59). Selected Off-Off-Broadway: The Ballad of Rodrigo (Funny...Sheesh: Nominated for Outstanding Original Music NYITA 2015); Virus Attacks Heart (Nominated for Outstanding Sound Design Planet Connections 2014); Tulpa or Anne and Me (Winner: Outstanding Sound Design Planet Connections 2011); The Picture of DorIan Gray (Nominated for Outstanding Sound Design Planet Connections 2010); The American Play (The Dirty Blondes/FringeNYC 2015); The Tunnel Play (The Dirty Blondes/FringeNYC2014); Why You Beasting?, Judgement Day (FringeNYC 2013). Selected Regional: Hair (Mount Washington Valley Theater: Nominated for Outstanding Sound Design NHTA 2010). This marks his 20th collaboration with Glory Kadigan.

Robin Carus (Casting Director) has a career spanning 18 years and she casts theatre, film, on-camera commercials, voiceovers, & new media. Select credits include Tours: TheatreworksUSA (9 years, over 200 national tours), The Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Spank! Regional: The State Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company Off-Broadway/Off-Off-Broadway include: Me The People, Safe, I Know What Boys Want (Lion Theatre), Culture Shock 1911-1922 (Horizon Rep), Woman at the Funerals (IATI), Pete the Girl (The Living Theatre), Aesop's Fables (Circle in the Square), The Last Castrato, Like You Like It (dir. Igor Golden), The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks, Seussical (dir. Marcia Milgrom Dodge), Max & Ruby, Henry and Mudge, Cam Jansen (dir. Gordon Greenberg), Walk Two Moons, Summer of the Swans, Junie B. Jones (dir. Peter Flynn), Sarah Plain and Tall (dir. Joe Calarco), Romeo and Juliet (Lortel). Festivals: Planet Connections Playwrights For A Cause (5 years)`, 2009 Marathon Festival. Cast recordings: With A Little Help From My Friends, Like You Like It (Broadway Records).

Kathryn Meister (Production Stage Manager) Selected New York Credits: Clover (Planet Connections/La Mama); Hyena (Edinburgh Fringe Festival; United Solo Festival; La Mama); Romeo & Juliet (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival); The Blueprint Specials (Waterwell); La Fanciulla del West (Apotheosis Opera); Carefully Taught, Merrily We Roll Along (Astoria Performing Arts Center). Graduate of the University of Southern California.

Maayan Voss de Bettancourt (ASM) recently made her directing debut (Alcina with OperaRox Productions). Having mostly worked in opera, she has a diverse technical background. Credits include La Fanciulla del West (ASM) and Tannhäuser (Choreographer) with Apotheosis Opera; Standing 8 (Sound Technician); NoFEMMEber, Dr. Wilkes' World of Wonders, and Femmes Fatales (Lighting Design/Operation); OperaRox Productions (Director of Development); 2017 New York Opera Fest (committee member).


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