Soho Rep Announces 2018-19 Season

Soho Rep. announces its 2018-2019 season, with two world premieres that demonstrate the small but flexible space's "indispensible" (New York Magazine) presence as "a 70-seat house filled with big ideas" (Hilton Als, The New Yorker). Through singular and irreverent stylistic approaches, Kate Tarker's Thunderbodies,directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz (October 16-November 18, 2018), and Christopher Chen's Passage, directed by Saheem Ali (April 23-May 26, 2019),interrogate the staggering ramifications of U.S and global imperialism.

The season begins with Kate Tarker's war comedy Thunderbodies, a grotesquely hilarious depiction of an America through the looking glass. Tarker is the recipient of the 2017 Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and has also been recognized as a finalist for the Princess Grace Award and as a semi-finalist for the Relentless Award, butthis world premiere is the first New York production of one of her plays. Tarker joins a history of playwrights whose first significant productions have happened at Soho Rep., including César Alvarez, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Aleshea Harris, Lucas Hnath, Dan LeFranc, and Young Jean Lee.

The play is suffused with elements of both Tarker's artistic and personal background. Tarker, who studied clowning and Commedia dell'Arte, has built characters that feel wrought from the virtuosic nuttiness of both practices. Growing up on military bases abroad, Tarker developed a removed fascination with American culture, all while wrestling with her upbringing in proximity to the war machine.

Tarker says, "I am thrilled that Soho Rep is going to produce Thunderbodies. It's my angriest and most confident play, but I was getting worried that no one was going to do it and that I was going to be condemned to a life with my hands chained at my desk, writing boring, polite plays, even though we live in the most impolite of times. People are animals, they are lusty, power-hungry beasts, at least as much driven by instinct as they are by reason but probably more. I just want us to be real about that. Here's to exorcising our collective demons through laughter."

Lileana Blain-Cruz (Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.) directs a cast that includes Deirdre O'Connell (NYTW's Terminus, Manhattan Theatre Club's Fulfillment Center)as Grotilde, Juan Carlos Hernandez (Wait Until Dark on Broadway; Atlantic Theater Company's Tell Hector I Miss Him) as General Michail Itterod, Mia Katigbak (NAATCO's Henry VI, NYTW's Scenes From a Marriage) as President, Monique St. Cyr (The Public's Julius Caesar, ms. estrada by The Q Brothers Collective at The Flea) as girl, and Matthew Jeffers (NYTW's Light Shining In Buckinghamshire, The Flea's The Mysteries) as boy. The creative team includes Matt Saunders (scenic designer), Oana Botez (costume designer), Yi Zhao (lighting designer), Chad Raines (sound designer), Thomas Schall (fight director), Ryan Courtney (props), Emely Zepeda (production stage manager), and Bonnie McHeffey (assistant stage manager).

Chen's Passage, directed by Saheem Ali (Sugar in Our Wounds) takes another approach to examining political dominance. Chen's play follows people living and working in Country X, a land that has been colonized by Country Y. His script strips away the specifics of any real-world country, as well as typical identity signifiers (including gender, ethnicity, and names, identifying characters rather by letters), as Chen explores the dynamics of two imaginary countries that are just that-imagined-by their own citizens and by citizens of the other country. Passage exhibits the playwright's "distinctive and exhilarating form of storytelling" (The Brooklyn Rail), last on display in New York in 2016, in his "intricately constructed, unrelentingly destabilizing puzzle of a play" (The New York Times, in a Critics' Pick review), Caught.

Sarah Benson says, "Thunderbodies and Passage are wildly distinctive works but share a resonance in that they are both an irreverent explosion of 'nationalism.' I am so thrilled to bring them to vivid production in the hands of Lileana Blain-Cruz and Saheem Ali.

In January, the 2017-2019 Soho Rep. Writer/Director Lab will culminate in public presentations of new works that have been created and developed by artistic collaborators Shayok Misha Chowdhury & Virginia Grise, Ann Marie Dorr & Paul Ketchum, Jen Goma & Kristine Haruna Lee, Raja Feather Kelly & Daaimah Mubashshir, and Julia Mounsey & Peter Mills Weiss under the mentorship of co-chairs William Burke, a playwright, director, and curator whose productions include the food was terrible (The Bushwick Starr), PIONEERS!#goforth (JACK), COMFORT DOGS: Live from the Pink House (JACK), FURRY! (JACK) FURRY!/LA FURIA! (The Bushwick Starr), and Untitled American Flag Craft Project (The Brick), and I Made a Mistake, EXPLODITY! and DAY!Night?fuck with Target Margin Theater; and the playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury, whose "outstanding" (Hilton Als, The New Yorker) play Fairview premiered to overwhelming acclaim last season at Soho Rep. Founded in 1998, The Lab is one of Soho Rep.'s signature programs and fosters collaborations between writers and directors in the early stages of their careers.

Both Thunderbodies and Passage demonstrate Soho Rep.'s commitment not only to nurturing playwrights of promise, but also realizing their work. Tarker and Chen's plays will be workshopped in Soho Rep.'s Studio program, which encompasses the commissioning, development and production of at least nine new plays between 2018 and 2022. Among the artists involved, Carmelita Tropicana & Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Becca Blackwell & Charlotte Brathwaite, and Narcissister will workshop pieces slated for production in future Soho Rep. seasons across January, February, and April, 2019. The Studio is distinctive within the theater community in that it fully supports the development of new work, from first impulse through full production, over the course of several years. In the past four seasons, 88% of the company's productions have been commissioned or developed in the Studio, including Fairview, Is God Is, Futurity, 10 Out of 12, An Octoroon and more.

Soho Rep. 2018-2019 SEASON SCHEDULE

Soho Rep. Presents
THUNDERBODIES (World Premiere)
By Kate Tarker
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
October 16 - November 18, 2018

Soho Rep. (46 Walker Street)
Tickets: $35 general admission tickets, $65 premium seats
99-Cent Sundays: October 28, November 4, 11
sohorep.org or 212.352.3101

Do you remember
When things were stable
When things were just one thing, everywhere-
One species? Unpolluted? Indivisible, under God
With liberty and justice for some?

It's springtime in America. The war is finally over. Grotilde has completed her life's work of losing the last 10 pounds, General Michail has proposed, and the President is up to her new tricks. So what if the weather is a little strange and the last soldier won't come home?

Kate Tarker's satire pokes, picks, and plucks at a society swimming, spinning, sloughing, and slurping through the fog of war. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz (Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.)

Kate Tarker's plays THUNDERBODIES and Dionysus Was Such a Nice Man will have their world premieres this season, at Soho Rep and the Wilma Theater, respectively. Other plays include God is Dead, Let's Make Love and Laura and the Sea (a finalist for the L. Arnold Weissberger Award and Princess Grace Award, and a semi-finalist for the Relentless Award). Her works have been developed at The Lark, The Vineyard, The Wilma, Ars Nova, New York Theatre Workshop, Magic Theatre, Cutting Ball, the Playwrights' Center, and The O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, among others. She is the recipient of a Jerome Fellowship, The Vineyard's Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, Theater Masters' Visionary Playwright Award, and a PWCenter/NET Ensemble Collaboration Grant. She has also collaborated with Pig Iron and Siti Company Conservatory. Tarker is a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, an Ars Nova Play Group alum, a New Georges Jam member, and a former Playwrights' Center Core Writer. She has been featured twice on the Kilroys List. M.F.A. Yale.

Lileana Blain-Cruz (Director) Recent Projects: The House That Will Not Stand at NYTW, Water by the Spoonful at Mark Taper Forum/CTG, GURLS at the new Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton, Pipeline at Lincoln Center, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World at Signature Theatre (Obie-Award), Henry IV, Part One at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Bluest Eye at The Guthrie, War at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater and Yale Repertory Theater, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again at Soho Rep, Red Speedo at New York Theatre Workshop, Salome at Jack, Much Ado About Nothing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; and Hollow Roots at the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater. She was recently named a 2018 United States Artists Fellow. Upcoming projects include Fabulation at Signature and Faust at Opera Omaha.

Deirdre O'Connell (Grotilde) Deirdre's select recent stage work includes Terminus (New York Theatre Workshop); The Fullfillment Center (MTC); Little Children Dream of God (Roundabout); By the Water (Lucille Lortell Nomination) (MTC); The Way West (The LAByrinth Theater Company Production directed by Mimi O'Donnell and The Steppenwolf Theatre production directed by Amy Morton), A Family For All Occasions (directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Thinner Than Water with the LAByrinth Theater Company, of which she is a proud member; The Vandal (The Flea Theater); Magic/Bird (Longacre Theatre); Circle Mirror Transformation (Obie and Drama Desk Awards; Playwrights Horizons); In The Wake (Los Angeles Ovation Award, The Richard Seff Actor's Equity Award, Lucille Lortel nomination; The Public Theater and Mark Taper Forum); In The Blood, The Poor Itch, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (The Public Theater), and many more. Film credits include: The Boy Downstairs Diane St. Vincent, Gabriel, Synecdoche, NY, What Happens in Vegas, Imaginary Heroes, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Secondhand Lions, Fearless and Pastime (Independent Spirit Award, Best Supporting Actress nomination). Recent Television credits include: two seasons of "The Path," (Hulu), "Friends From College," (Netflix), recurring roles on "One Dollar," "The Affair," and "Nurse Jackie."

Juan Carlos Hernandez (General Michail Itterod) Broadway: Wait Until Dark. Off-Broadway: A Question Of Mercy, Big Al, A View From 151 Street, and most recently played (Mostro) in Tell Hector I Miss Him at the Atlantic Theater Company. Regional: Merry Wives Of Windsor, King Lear, The Dresser, Filumina, and The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. Film: Tower Heist, Cop Out, The Mercyman, Carlito's Way: Rise to Power, Waking Up In Astoria, Against the Ropes, High Crimes, and In America. Television: "Oz," "The Blacklist," "The Mysteries of Laura," "Blue Bloods," "Elementary," and "Shades of Blue." Juilliard group (25).

Mia Katigbak (President) Selected NYC: Henry VI (NAATCO); Peace for Mary Frances (New Group); Scenes From a Marriage (NYTW); Peer Gynt and the Norwegian Hapa Band (Ma-Yi); Dear Elizabeth (Women's Project); Awake and Sing! (NAATCO, Obie Award); I'll Never Love Again (Bushwick Starr), The Marriage of Alice Toklas by Gertrude Stein (Untitled Theater Company #61). Other NYC: The Foundry, New Georges, Soho Rep, Clubbed Thumb, Target Margin, Intar. Regional: Sharon Playhouse, Humana Festival, Two River Theater, Berkeley Rep, Guthrie, Swine Palace. 2017 Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement.

Monique St. Cyr (girl) is excited to be making her Soho Rep. debut. Favorite credits include Julius Caesar (The Public's Shakespeare in the Park), ms. estrada by the Q Brothers Collective (The Flea Theater), Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill (The Flea Theater), You Do Not Look (Signature Theatre), Playing Hot! (Gym at Judson), and Beardo (Pipeline Theatre Company). She loves new work and is thankful to have been a part of the LCT Directors' Lab this year. She is a graduate of Muhlenberg College and a proud AEA member.

Matthew Jeffers (boy) is thrilled to be making his Soho Rep. debut. Favorite previous credits include Light Shining In Buckinghamshire (NYTW) The Mysteries (The Flea), The Blacklist (NBC), Little Rooms (Ma-Yi), Washington Square Theater Project (Playwrights Horizons), and a particularly surly bomber in some Hearthstone commercials. Towson University grad and proud Baltimore native.

Soho Rep. Presents
Studio Workshops
With New Works from Becca Blackwell & Charlotte Brathwaite, Carmelita Tropicana & Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and Narcissister
January, February, and May 2019

Becca Blackwell is a NYC based trans actor, performer and writer. Existing between genders, and preferring the pronoun "they," Blackwell works collaboratively with playwrights and directors to expand our sense of personhood and the body through performance. Some of their collaborations have been with Young Jean Lee, Half Straddle, Jennifer Miller's Circus Amok, Richard Maxwell, Erin Markey, Sharon Hayes, Theater of the Two Headed Calf and Lisa D'Amour. Film/TV includes: Untitled Noah Baumbach Project, Shameless, Deadman's Barstool, and Jack in the Box. Becca is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award.

Charlotte Brathwaite is known for her unique approach to staging classical and unconventional texts, video, film, dance, visual art, multi-media, site-specific installation, performance art, plays and music events. Her work has been seen in the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia and ranges in subject matter from the historical past to the distant future illuminating issues of race, sex, power and the complexities of the human condition.

Named as one of the "up-and-coming women in theatre to watch" by Playbill, Brathwaite is recipient of several awards and citations including the Prelude Festival Franky Award, the Princess Grace Award, the Julian Milton Kaufman Prize (Yale), a Rockefeller Residency, and the National Performing Network Creation Fund. She received her MFA at Yale School of Drama and her BA in Physical Theater at the Amsterdam School for the Arts (the Netherlands). She has been a Visiting Professor at Amherst College and a Visiting Artist at Williams College.

Currently she is a freelance director and Assistant Professor of Music and Theater Arts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). www.charlottebrathwaite.com

Carmelita Tropicana has been performing in New York's downtown arts scene since the 1980s, straddling the worlds of performance art and theater in the U.S., Latin America and Europe with her irreverent humor, subversive fantasy and bilingual puns. She is an Obie Award winning performer and playwright and a 2017 recipient of a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship with three NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships in playwriting and performance art. She received a Creative Capital grant (2016) for a collaboration with playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and the Performance and Activism Award from the Women in Theater Program/ATHE (2015). Her work has been produced/presented nationally and internationally (both in English and Spanish) at INTAR Theater, Performance Space 122, Yale University, Cornell University, Northwestern University, Mark Taper Forum's New Festival, Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in Sevilla, Spain. Recent works include: Schwanze-Beast (2015), a collaboration with Ela Troyano, a performance commissioned by Vermont Performance Lab; Recycling Atlantis (2014), a performance installation at 80WSE Gallery a collaboration with Ela Troyano and Uzi Parnes. Her latest publication is a book, co-edited with Holly Hughes and Jill Dolan Memories of the Revolution: The First Ten Years of the WOW Café (University of Michigan Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies including Animal Acts, Performing Species Today (University of Michigan Press 2014) O Solo Homo-The New Queer Performance winner of a Lambda Literary Award (Grove Atlantic 1998). Tropicana sits on the Board of Directors of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, has been called "prodigiously talented" and "one of this country's most original and unsettling dramatists" by the New York Times. His plays include Everybody (Signature Theatre), Gloria (Vineyard Theater), An Octoroon (Obie Award; Soho Rep, Theatre for a New Audience), War (Yale Repertory Theater; Lincoln Center/LCT3), Appropriate (Obie Award; Signature Theatre), and Neighbors (The Public Theater). He is currently a Residency Five playwright at the Signature Theater and his honors include a Fulbright Arts Grant, the Helen Merrill Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award.

Narcissister is a Brooklyn-based artist and performer. Masked and merkin-ed, she works at the intersection of dance, art, and activism in a range of media including film, video art, and experimental music. She has presented work worldwide at festivals, nightclubs, museums, and galleries. She won "Best Use of a Sex Toy" at The Good Vibrations Erotic Film Festival, a Bessie Award nomination for the theatrical performance of Organ Player, Creative Capital and United States Artists Awards, and interested in troubling the popular entertainment and experimental art divide, she appeared on America's Got Talent. Her first feature film "Narcissister Organ Player" premiered at Sundance and SXSW Film Festivals 2018 and she recently completed the Sundance Theatre Lab for the creation of a new theatrical work with playwright Branden Jacobs Jenkins which will open at Soho Rep in New York in 2019.

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