Paula Vogel's THE MINEOLA TWINS to Open This September at Cutting Ball
Cutting Ball Theater kicks off its 2017-18 Season with THE MINEOLA TWINS, Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel's razor sharp and prescient satire about the women's movement and the rise of conservatism.
Associate Artistic Director Ariel Craft directs a cast of three: Elissa Beth Stebbins, Sango Tajima and Steve Thomas.
The Mineola Twins opens in previews on September 28 and runs through October 29. Opening night is scheduled for Saturday, September 30 at 8 p.m. The press opening will take place the following Monday, October 2 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $15 - $45, and may be purchased online at cuttingball.com/productions/the-mineola-twins or by phone at 415-525-1205.
"Though rarely performed, The Mineola Twins is without a doubt a play for our time by one of the best writers for the American stage working today," said Craft. "It's political theater in the form of a farce."
The play centers around a pair of twins: Myrna is the "good" twin, straight-as-an arrow, traditional in her values; Myra is the "evil" twin, rebellious and unabashedly promiscuous. Even their chest sizes are in explicit contrast. Spanning three decades from the Eisenhower Administration through Nixon and George H. W. Bush, The Mineola Twins follows the growing and eventually insurmountable chasm between the two sisters through the women's movement, examining what happens when the person you expected to fight at your side becomes your own adversary and greatest threat.
Vogel specifies that the actors in The Mineola Twins be double cast, with one actor playing both twins, another playing each of their sons, and another playing the twins' partners. She adds that, with one exception, "all the characters should be played in a constant state of high hormonal excitement."
For the play's visual design, Craft together with scenic designer Michael Locher have drawn inspiration from the impossible geometries of M. C. Escher. "Escher's iconic worlds, with their many doors and many passageways, evoke some of the classic hallmarks of farce, but more than that we're inspired to create an environment that's as complex as these women, Myrna and Myra." The production will also feature costume design by Morgan Louie, lighting design by Jax Steager and sound design by Sara Witsch.
In addition to her work at Cutting Ball, where she most recently directed Racine's Phèdre, Craft is the founder and artistic director of The Breadbox. Recent Breadbox directing credits include a critically acclaimed production of The Awakening based on Kate Chopin's novel of the same name, and radical re-imaginings of Federico Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding and John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. Craft holds a BFA with honors from New York University where she studied directing and multidisciplinary theater-making at the Playwrights Horizons Theater School. She was an Artistic Fellow at the American Conservatory Theater, and previously served as Assistant Artistic Director at The Custom Made Theatre Co. Theatre Bay Area recently honored Craft with a Titan Award.
Stebbins returns to Cutting Ball after making her CBT debut in 2015 as the Chorus Lead in Antigone. In The Mineola Twins she plays the twins, Myra and Myrna. A Bay Area-based actor much in demand, her other recent credits include Crowded Fire's You For Me For You; Shotgun Players' The Village Bike, Caught and The Rover; and The Little Prince at Marin Theater Company. Stebbins holds a B.A. from Santa Clara University in Theater and English, and has continued her training with Shakespeare & Company.
Tajima plays the roles of Jim and Sarah in The Mineola Twins. She is a core member of Ragged Wing Ensemble in Oakland as well as the political theater collective The Bonfire Makers. In addition to these, she has performed with Campo Santo, Marin Theater Company, FaultLine Theater, Impact Theatre and New Conservatory Theatre Center. This will be her second time on Cutting Ball's stage after playing Rosaura in Life is a Dream. She holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Michigan.
Finally, Thomas plays the roles of Myra and Myrna's sons, Kenny and Ben. Thomas is a recent transplant from Chicago. Last season he made his Cutting Ball Theater debut in Hedda Gabler. He has also performed in We Players' Romeo and Juliet. In Chicago, Thomas studied with The Second City and worked with The Annoyance Theater in their production of The Power of Prom. Other Chicago and Midwest acting credits include Macbeth, Qui Nguyen's Soul Samurai, Measure for Measure, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Present Laughter, The Boys Next Door, Reefer Madness, Metamorphoses, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Mr. Marmalade.
Co-founded in 1999 by Rob Melrose and Paige Rogers, Cutting Ball Theater presents avant-garde works of the past, present and future by re-envisioning classics, exploring seminal avant-garde texts and developing new experimental plays. In addition to producing West Coast premieres and re-imagining the classics, Cutting Ball Theater has produced nine world premieres and seven world premiere translations. Over the years Cutting Ball has received recognition and honors from numerous grant makers and media outlets including the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, San Francisco magazine, the Acker Awards, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the American Theatre Wing.
Painting by Jennifer Berkowitz