THIS IS US Scribe and Neil LaBute Among Writers of THE OTHER PLAYS
Theater Breaking Through Barriers, who scored a hit this past summer with Samuel D. Hunter's The Healing, will kick off its 38th season with the World Premiere of THE OTHER PLAYS: SHORT PLAYS ABOUT THE OTHERNESS IN OUR SOCIETY, a bill of new short works by playwrights Dennis A. Allen II, Bekah Brunstetter (a Writers Guild Award nominee for This Is Us), Lameece Isaaq, Neil LaBute and Tatiana Rivera. This evening of short plays exploring the themes of race, religion, sexual identity, and social otherness begins previews on March 10 at the Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at The A.R.T./New York Theatres. Opening night is set for Thursday, March 16.
THE OTHER PLAYS features 5 short plays:
• In Beckah Brunstetter's GIRL #2, an audition raises issues of diversity in casting for a group of actresses. Directed by Gwynn MacDonald.
• When a black girl asks her white co-worker to go with her to an office party, the answer is anything but black and white in Neil LaBute's NO HARD FEELINGS. Directed by David Rosar Stearns.
• In A DIFFERENCE OF BEAUTY by Tatiana G. Rivera, a compliment from a stranger elicits an unusual reaction. Directed by Pamela Sabaugh.
• Set in a bombed out house in Aleppo, Lameece Issaq's NOOR AND AHMAD GO TO HOGWARTS shows two Muslim kids trying to escape the horrors of war through the world of Harry Potter. Directed by Ann Marie Morelli.
• In Dennis A. Allen II's TRADITIONAL, can love conquer the burden of conventional gender roles? Directed by Christopher Burris.
"In this troubling time where respect for and protection of the Other seems to be under threat, we believe in letting all voices be heard, celebrating both what is unique and universal, petty and grand within us all, " notes Nicholas Viselli, Artistic Director of Theater Breaking Through Barriers. "As a band of artists who live and represent disability - the only Otherness that knows no race, religion, gender, sexual identity or preference, age, social class, country or political affiliation - it is our goal to unite all Others on a common ground to share, learn and grow together as one."
THE OTHER PLAYS stars Ito Aghayere, Kiera Allen, Russell Barnes, Scott Barton, Melanie Boland, Zazel Chavah-O'Garra, Sofiya Cheyenne, Stephen Drabicki, Jaleesa Graham, Azariah Gunn, Ryan Haddad, Bree Klauser, Andy Lucien, Dipti Mehta, Lawrence Merritt, David Rosar Stearns, and Pamela Sabaugh. The production team features Julius Novick (dramaturg), Andre Sguerra (production manager), Geoffrey Bryant (sets), Courtney Butt (costumes), Michael Joseph Ormond (production stage manager), Livia Hill (assistant stage manager), Andre Sguerra (production manager / lighting design), Charles Bowden (props/ set dressing) and Steve Asher (general manager).
Theater Breaking Through Barriers, under the Artistic Direction of Nicholas Viselli, is a critically acclaimed Off-Broadway company integrating able-bodied actors with artists with disabilities. Founded in 1979 by Ike Schambelan as Theater by the Blind, the company's mission is to change the image of people with disabilities from one of dependence to independence, to fight stereotypes and misperceptions associated with disability, and to show how vibrant, fluid and exuberant the work of artists with disabilities can be. The company has premiered works by Bekah Brunstetter, Bruce Graham, John Guare, A.R. Gurney, Samuel D. Hunter, David Henry Hwang, Neil LaBute, Kate Moira Ryan and Diana Son, among others. For more info visit www.TBTB.org.
Dennis A. Allen II was born and raised in Hempstead, New York. His play The Mud is Thicker in Mississippi was a winner at the 35th annual Off Off Broadway Samuel French Festival. He is a recipient of Atlantic Theater Company's inaugural 2014-15 Launch Commission and National Black Theatre's, 2016-17 "I Am Soul Playwright Residency." He's received the Himan Brown Creative Writing Award two years running, and has developed and produced plays with The New Black Fest, Lark Play Development Center, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Working Theater, and the National Black Theatre, among others. As an actor Dennis helped to develop and performed in Reid Farrington's Tyson vs. Ali and Kate Benson's A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of The Greatest of the Great Lakes. Dennis teaches artist workshops around the country, most recently at Indiana University, Atlantic Theater Company, The National Black Theater and Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
Bekah Brunstetter hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and currently lives in Los Angeles where she is a Co-Producer on NBC's This is Us. Her plays include The Cake (Ojai Playwrights Conference), Going to a Place where you already are (South Coast Repertory), The Oregon Trail (Portland Center Stage Fall 2016, O'Neill Playwrights Conference; Flying V), Cutie and Bear (Roundabout commission) A Long and Happy life (Naked Angels Commission), Be A Good Little Widow (Ars Nova, Collaboraction, The Old Globe), Oohrah! (The Atlantic Theater, Steppenwolf Garage, the Finborough Theater / London), Nothing is the end of the World (except for the end of the world) (Waterwell productions), House of Home (Williamstown Theater Festival) and Miss Lilly Gets Boned (Ice Factory Festival.) She is an alumni of the CTG Writers Group, Primary Stages writes group, Ars Nova Play Group, The Playwright's Realm, and the Women's Project Lab. She is currently a member of the Echo Theater's Playwright's group. She has written for MTV (Underemployed; I Just want my Pants Back, ABC Family's Switched at Birth, Starz's American Gods. She holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from the New School for Drama.
Lameece Issaq is the Artistic Director of Noor Theatre, Obie-winning company dedicated to supporting, developing and producing the work of theatre artists of Middle Eastern descent. She has over fifteen years of experience working in the professional theater as an actor, writer and producer. Not only has she been involved in the Arab-American artist community, but also the New York Theater scene, having worked at such esteemed institutions as The Public Theater and New York Theater Workshop and with many of New York's finest theater artists, including Tony-Award winning directors Sam Gold and Daniel Sullivan and playwrights Naomi Wallace and David Hare.
Neil LaBute received his Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing from New York University and was the recipient of a literary fellowship to study at The Royal Court Theatre. Films include In the Company of Men (New York Critics Circle Award for Best First Feature, Filmmakers' Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival), Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, Possession, The Shape of Things - a film adaptation of his play by the same title - The Wicker Man, Lakeview Terrace and Death at a Funeral. Plays include bash: reasons to be pretty, latter-day plays, The Shape of Things, The Distance From Here, The Mercy Seat, Autobahn, This Is How It Goes, Some Girl(s), Wrecks, In a Dark Dark House, Helter Skelter, The Furies and The War on Terror. LaBute is the author of several fictional pieces that have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Playboy, among others. A collection of his short stories was published by Grove/Atlantic.
Tatiana Rivera is an emerging playwright and singer who has lived in NYC for over 7 years. Born and raised in the Bay Area, she is a graduate of UC San Diego (BA, Theatre) and Columbia School of the Arts (MFA, Playwriting). After graduation, she shifted her career focus to higher education administration, finance, and specialized programming, working for institutions including Columbia, NYU, and Stanford in New York. Her plays include: The Brain Plays, Buttermilk Pancakes or Both Sides Now, Go From Here, and Finding Damascus. Tatiana is also an active volunteer with New York Cares, PAWS NY, and Monday Night Hospitality.
THE OTHER PLAYS runs March 10 - 26; Wednesday & Thursday 7pm, Friday & Saturday at 8pm, and Saturday & Sunday at 3pm. The Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at The A.R.T./New York Theatres is located at 502 West 53rd Street (off 10th Avenue). All tickets are $25 at www.TBTB.org.