Reckless Tricycle Brings VERA & VALYA & THE MAGICAL ONE CAT CIRCUS to Brooklyn Tonight

Reckless Tricycle, a young-and-hungry troupe of comedic writer/actors, makes its New York debut tonight, November 3, to 19 with "Vera & Valya & The Magical One Cat Circus," a deadpan farce based on age-old Russian fairytales. The piece is conceived and written by Nadja Leonhard-Hooper and co-directed by her and Olivia McGiff. The Tank will present the piece at Standard ToyKraft, 722 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn.

The play is full-throttle whimsey, played deadpan-smart by a cast of charming young actors with beguiling Russian accents and a snappy, precise performance style. Two sisters live in the small town of Yaroslavl, where no one is what they appear to be. Vera can't tell a lie and Valya can't help but fall in love with anyone who walks through their door. Together they train their magical cat, Skazka, hoping someday to join the illustrious Moscow Cat Theatre. When a mysterious stranger arrives claiming to be the director of the institution, the sisters' dreams look like they will come true at last. Problem is, their cat appears to be a fully grown, bearded man doing cat tricks. The stranger reveals himself to be a young detective who accuses the sisters of kidnapping a child and raising him as a feline. The sisters must explain, distract, or, if necessary, take hostages to keep their precious family together. When the Moscow Cat Theater's real director arrives, the sisters must scramble to put on the best cat circus of all time.

Reckless Tricycle, a young company of physical theater makers, originally come together at Vassar College. They had worked together in various configurations on projects including "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui," "Attempts on Her Life" by Martin Crimp and "Here Lies the Water, Here Stands the Man," an adaptation of "Hamlet" from Ophelia's perspective. This production is the troupe's official New York debut. They performed a one-night workshop version of "Vera & Valya & The Magical One Cat Circus" at Dixon Place on April 2.

The piece is written by Nadja Leonhard-Hooper, directed by Nadja Leonhard-Hooper and Olivia McGiff and choreographed by Tessa Permar. Lighting design is by Kelindah Schuster. Costume and makeup design are by Zachary Paradise. Dramaturg is Liesl Schillinger.

The actors are Nadja Leonhard-Hooper as Valya, Sarah Traisman as Vera, Collin Knopp-Schwyn as the Cat, Patrick Brady as the Detective, Jeremy Brick as the Producer and Jane Cardona as the ancient one-man band who accompanies the show on accordion.

Nadja Leonhard-Hooper (Valya, author, co-director) studied theater, political science, and gender/ sexuality studies at Vassar. Last year, she worked as an assistant director with One Year Lease Theater Company and La MaMa. Most recently, she wrote and directed a play called "glitch, "about an artificially intelligent sex doll, for The Tank Theater. She is the subject of an essay to be published in the November, 2016 issue of Vogue.

Sarah Traisman (Vera) is an actor/writer who graduated with a degree in Drama and Psychology from Vassar College last May and completed a season with Santa Cruz Shakespeare this summer. Recently, she performed in "The Bacchae" at La MaMa.

Olivia McGiff (co-director, set designer) received her B.A. in Drama from Vassar College, earning the Molly Thacher Kazan Memorial prize for distinction in the Theater Arts. She has collaborated with companies such as Portland Stage, CAP Stage, and The Debate Society, and is an associate artist with One Year Lease Theater Company.

Liesl Schillinger (dramaturg) is a New York-based literary and theater critic, translator and moderator. She studied comparative literature at Yale, lived briefly in Moscow, where she wrote for The New Republic and sang at the Arbat Blues Club, and worked more than a decade at The New Yorker. Her articles appear in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Vogue, Foreign Policy and elsewhere.

Standard ToyKraft is an artist-run theater that offers low-cost performance and rehearsal space as well as a puppet shop and private studios for visual artists. The founders of STK discovered a derelict factory floor located in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and transformed it into a community organization that provides a supportive refuge for the development of work. STK also produces its own events including puppet slams, variety shows, vaudevilles and spectacles.

Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM at Standard ToyKraft, 722 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn. A special children's matinee will be offered at 3:00 Saturday, Nov. 12. Evening performances are recommended for ages 13 to 113. The Nov. 12 children's version is recommended for ages 7 to 107 and the play's language is adjusted for kittens. Tickets are $15 gen. adm. at evening performances. Tickets to the kids' matinee are $15 for parents and $5 for kids under 16. The play's website is www.thecatcircus.com.

This theater is not handicapped accessible.

Pictured: Nadja Leonhard-Hooper, C: Collin Knopp-Schwyn as the Cat, R: Sarah Traisman. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

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