Brown/Trinity Rep M.F.A. Programs Present RHINOCEROS and MARISOL

Brown/Trinity Rep M.F.A. Programs Present RHINOCEROS and MARISOL

The Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Programs will present a three week run of two unique and rarely produced plays running in repertory next month at the Pell Chafee Performance Center (PCPC), Providence, RI.

Eugene Ionesco's iconic absurdist play Rhinoceros will be directed by Heidi Handelsman (Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Programs '14). Rhinoceros will be presented on alternate nights in rotation with the deeply mystical Obie Award-winning play Marisol, by José Rivera, directed by Taibi Magar (Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Programs '14). Performances of both plays will run from February 21 through March 10 in the Citizens Bank Theater, Pell Chafee Performance Center, 87 Empire Street, Providence. Tickets are $10 (general admission) and $5 (students and seniors), and are now on sale at the Trinity Rep box office, by phone (401) 351-4242, and online at

One of the most iconic works in the absurdist theater movement, Eugène Ionesco's Rhinoceros was first written in 1959, and continues to resonate today. The story centers on a lone hero who watches his friends turn into rhinoceroses one by one until he alone stands unchanged. With this pivotal work, Ionesco confronts our accepted ideas of culture, morality, and mob mentality as the irrational and illogical collide with the comedic and thought-provoking, all through the lens of a fantastically dark and subversive sense of humor.

"Rhinoceros asks us rich, unanswerable questions," states director Heidi Handelsman. "For example, is holding on to your beliefs when you are the only one who thinks that way worth the inescapable loneliness? Wouldn't it be better to transcend that loneliness and join the non-thinking, all-powerful herd?"

Handelsman also admires Ionesco's ability to capture these grand ideas and transform them into an entertaining package. "Rhinoceros starts as a comedy, and then slowly shifts into a horror story," she states. "Ionesco took the real-life crises he witnessed in Europe and whipped them into a riotous, pitch-black comedy. It's a provocative thrill ride."

Alternatively, José Rivera's compelling, award-winning play Marisol is a dark comedy that defies convention through stark, yet magical realism. Brooklyn has become a war zone of chaos and destruction. Angels are warring in heaven. God is calling it quits. Coffee and apples are extinct, and even the moon is hiding in shame. The play's hero, Marisol Perez, is abandoned by her guardian angel and embarks on a surprising, dangerous and whimsical journey that weaves a tale of hope, compassion and self-empowerment.

Rivera's ability to present magical realism with humor and irony is what drew director Taibi Magar to stage Marisol. "Riveramakes us look at difficult things and see the riveting beauty in them," she explains. "The play feels truthful and ecstatically hopeful. As a surrealist portrayal of our world, it asks us to think creatively about our important roles as citizens through playful and imaginative imagery."

The cast for Rhinoceros includes second-year MFA acting students Greg Fallick (Berenger), Ted Moller (Jean), Sylvia Kates(Daisy), Ben Chase (The Logician/Dudard), Matt E. Russell (The Café Proprietor/Botard), Carisa Anik Platt (The Housewife),Steven Jaehnert (The Grocer/Mr. Papillon/The Little Old Man), Elise LeBreton (The Grocer's Wife/Mrs. Boeuf), Alex Curtis(The Old Gentleman/A Fireman), and Bridget Saracino (The Waitress/The Little Old Man's Wife).

The cast for Marisol includes second- year MFA acting students Nikki Massoud (Marisol), Tangela Large (Angel), Ben Grills(Lenny), Catherine Dupont (June), Zdenko Martin (Man with Golf Club/ Man with Ice Cream Cone), Sherri Eldin (Woman with Furs), and Mark Larson (Man with Scar Tissue).

Both Rhinoceros and Marisol will feature set design by Patrick Lynch, lighting design by Kirsten Opstad, sound design byAndy Russ, and costume design by Jessie Darrell Jarbadan.

Rhinoceros director Heidi Handelsman's recent credits include As You Like It and A Bright Room Called Day for Brown/Trinity Rep; Principal Principle for Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep; and He Is Here He Says I Say for Writing is Live at Brown University. She has developed new plays at New Georges, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Youngblood, the Woodshed Collective, NYU/Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, and the New York International Fringe Festival. Handelsman is a New Georges Affiliated Artist and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and was a 2010-2011 Resident Director at Ensemble Studio Theatre. She is an MFA candidate in Directing at Brown University / Trinity Rep. When in New York, Heidi hosts and curates the Potluck, a play-reading series.

Taibi Magar (director, Marisol) previously helmed Brown/Trinity Rep's productions of The Winter's Tale and Small Craft Warnings; On the 5:31 and The Upstart with Rising Phoenix Rep; Hamlet and Inhale with The Gallery Players; Rum & Vodka at Faux Real; Kindertransport, The Wake of Jamey Foster and Fran's Bed at NYU Tisch; Orson's Shadow with Outrageous Fortune and was co-director for The Dime Show with The Women's Project. As an assistant, she has worked at The Alley Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, Shakespeare on the Sound, and Broadway's production of Exit The King. Magar has worked with the NYU MFA Playwriting program, LAByrinth Theatre Company and The Public Theater. Magar was the 2008 Public Theater Shakespeare Lab Directing Fellow and the Brown University Stephen Sondheim Fellow and MFA Directing Candidate in 2014.

Performances for Rhinoceros are Thursday, February 21 at 7:30pm; Saturday, February 23 at 7:30pm; Sunday, February 24 at 2:00pm; Friday, March 1 at 7:30pm; Saturday, March 2 at 2:00pm; Sunday, March 3 at 7:30pm; Thursday, March 7 at 7:30pm; and Saturday, March 9 at 7:30pm.

Performances for MarisolareFriday, February 22 at 7:30pm; Saturday, February 23 at 2:00pm; Thursday, February 28 at 7:30pm; Saturday, March 2 at 7:30pm; Sunday, March 3 at 2:00pm; Friday, March 8 at 7:30pm; Saturday, March 9 at 2:00pm; and Sunday, March 10 at 2:00pm.

The Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Programs provides a three-year professional training program for eighteen students under the auspices of an Ivy League University and Rhode Island's Tony Award-winning theater company. Brown University's Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance is internationally recognized for the quality of its faculty and instruction. Trinity Rep, with its deep tradition of resident artists, provides powerful artistic assets and creates a firm foundation for a new generation of theater artists.

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