EVERYBODY By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Comes to Artists Rep
Artists Repertory Theatre presents Everybody, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama. The production is co-directed by Jessica Wallenfels and Dámaso Rodríguez, and is an inventive twist on a medieval morality play. Everybody runs from November 25 through December 30 on the Alder Stage.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a two-time Obie Award winner, a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Award recipient, and was awarded the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Theatre Award, among many other honors. Artists Rep's 2017/18 season opened with the much-lauded Jacobs-Jenkins satire An Octoroon, which was co-directed by Rodríguez and Lava Alapai.
Death tells Everybody that their time is up. But Everybody doesn't want to greet Death alone, so Everybody seeks the company of their friends Stuff, Kinship, Friendship, Cousinship, and Love to make the trip bearable. From the scintillating mind that brought you An Octoroon, Everybody is an audacious riff on the 15th century morality play Everyman. Of the robust 10-person cast, five brave actors will play a multitude of roles with their characters chosen by lottery onstage every night - with a possible 120 combinations - as they fight to cheat Death.
"In Everybody, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's modern, funny, and haunting riff on the archetypal medieval morality play Everyman, Death comes for Everybody, and they're not ready to go," said Everybody Co-Director and Artists Rep Artistic Director Dámaso Rodríguez. "Unfortunately, for us all, the moment we face the end of life is determined by chance. It's a universal truth that unites us. And at every performance of Everybody, the casting will also be left up to chance. Five of the actors in this cast of 10 will be assigned their role on stage during the performance, including the title role. There are 120 possible combinations and the resulting role assignments will create specific adjustments to every aspect of the performance, including dialogue, characterization, choreography, technical cues, costumes, and props. I'm inspired by plays that break free from formula and, to a certain extent, that are a mystery to me as I begin producing and rehearsing them. Any theatre performance you'll ever attend is fueled by adrenaline and nervous energy, and is to some degree wholly unique, but you're unlikely to experience a fully staged piece of theatre with so much left to chance."
"A reminder of the present moment is what I think theatre does best while providing the insight to change the course of the future in the next instant," said Everybody Co-Director Jessica Wallenfels. "Everybody uses randomness to point to the universality at the core of humanity. For example, the people working on this production, by my estimation, span ages from 10 to 69. It is perhaps our differences of all kinds that are most instructive in this life and present us with our chance to grow. Looking at Everybody, I recognize the desperation, the negotiating, and the avoidance patterns that apparently humans have engaged in since at least medieval times. I can laugh about those flaws, especially through Jacobs-Jenkins's telling of this funny-sad-serious-wacky play, and I can see myself within the timeless pattern of humankind's folly."
Everybody is sponsored by Charlotte Rubin, Bob & Janet Conklin, and Hotel deLuxe.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's plays include Everybody (Signature Theatre; Pulitzer Prize finalist), War (LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater), Gloria (Vineyard Theatre; Pulitzer Prize finalist), Appropriate (Signature Theatre; Obie Award), An Octoroon (Soho Rep; Obie Award), and Neighbors (The Public Theater). A Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre, his most recent honors include the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright from the London Evening Standard, a London Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Playwriting, a MacArthur fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the Benjamin Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Theatre Award, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award. He sits on the board of Soho Rep and, with Annie Baker, he is an associate co-director of the Hunter College MFA program in playwriting.
JESSICA WALLENFELS is a director/choreographer and educator. Wallenfels works as a freelance director and creates new work that is music and movement-driven with her company, Many Hats Collaboration. Recent projects include co-directing the new musical Scarlet at Portland Playhouse, and directing Ella Enchanted and Pete the Cat for Oregon Children's Theatre. Selected choreography credits include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Playhouse, Artists Repertory Theatre, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. Wallenfels directed the original work The Snowstorm, which won the Drammy Award for Best Production in 2015. She has guest directed at Portland State University, Willamette University, Western Oregon University, and others. Wallenfels teaches movement and devising with Staged! and the Portland Playhouse apprentice program. She holds a BFA from California Institute of the Arts and an MFA in directing from the University of Portland. Upcoming projects include The Undertaking through Many Hats, to debut in the Fertile Ground Festival 2019, and Into the Woods at Broadway Rose.
DÁMASO RODRÍGUEZ is in his sixth season as artistic director of Artists Repertory Theatre. He is a co-founder of the Los Angeles-based Furious Theatre Company, where he served as co-artistic director from 2001-12. From 2007-10 he served as associate artistic director of Pasadena Playhouse. His directing credits include work at Pasadena Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theater, A Noise Within, The Playwrights' Center, The Theatre @ Boston Court, and Furious Theatre. Rodríguez is a recipient of an LA Drama Critics Circle Award, Back Stage Garland Award, NAACP Theatre Award, and Pasadena Arts Council's Gold Crown Award.
Directing credits at Artists Rep include the World Premiere musical Cuba Libre by Carlos Lacámara featuring the music of three-time Grammy-nominated band Tiempo Libre; the World Premiere production of E.M. Lewis's five-part epic Magellanica; the Portland premieres of Stephen Karam's The Humans, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's An Octoroon (co-director), Nick Jones's Trevor, David Ives's adaptation of Pierre Corneille's The Liar, Nina Raine's Tribes and Exiles by Carlos Lacámara; the U.S. premiere of Dawn King's Foxfinder; the West Coast premieres of Charise Castro Smith's Feathers and Teeth, Jeffrey Hatcher's Ten Chimneys, and Dan LeFranc's The Big Meal; and revivals of The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder, The Miracle Worker by William Gibson, and The Playboy of the Western World by J.M. Synge. Credits at other theatres include productions by contemporary and classic playwrights including Craig Wright, Neil LaBute, Matt Pelfrey, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Richard Bean, Owen McCafferty, Alex Jones, William Shakespeare, Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Noel Coward, Bernard Shaw, Clifford Odets, and Lillian Hellman. His upcoming projects include Mi Cuba (in development) by Caridad Svich at American Conservatory Theatre, and the World Premiere of Wolf Play by Hansol Jung at Artists Rep. He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). damasorodriguez.com