UCSB Theater/Dance Will Present LAUNCH PAD's WHAT MARTHA DID
Stage and screen actress Enid Graham will enjoy the first full production of one of her own plays when What Martha Did is presented in the Performing Arts Theater at UC Santa Barbara on November 15-24. What Martha Did is the 15th Preview Production to come out of LAUNCH PAD, UCSB's innovative laboratory for playwrights-in-residence, where the writer is included in all aspects of the production, from design and casting to rehearsals and marketing.
"I feel like I've hit the jackpot with LAUNCH PAD," says Graham. "I feel really lucky to be having this experience in a place with so much talent and devotion to the process."
One of the things that makes LAUNCH PAD so special for Graham is that it takes the play past the workshop stage and into production, allowing her to see how things work when the play is fully staged and designed. Martha's team of professional designers includes Costume Designer Ann Bruice, Scenic Designer Ann Sheffield, Lighting Designer Michael Klaers and a talented composer, UCSB sophomore Gaurav Mishra.
Graham's jackpot grew a little more when special guest artist and UCSB professor, Julie Fishell, joined the cast. The two were colleagues at The Juilliard School in New York where Fishell was three years ahead of Graham. "We all looked up to her and hoped that, since we were going to the same school, we would one day become as talented as she," Graham remembers. "Having her work on my play is a dream come true." Fishell leads the cast including local favorite Brian Harwell and seven talented students in the BFA Acting Program.
"Our preview production has all of the talent of the professional world without the pressure," adds LAUNCH PAD founder and Martha director, Risa Brainin. "It's exciting for the actors and the audience; by staying in previews, the playwright gets to make changes all the way through. We are thrilled to launch this powerful play."
What Martha Did is a darkly funny drama about regret, facing the truth, and finding forgiveness. The play kicks off with a gathering to commemorate the 25th edition of Martha Fisher's celebrated book of poems which brings her fractured family back home - all except Martha herself, who committed suicide soon after the book's original publication. Haunted by the past and events they can't explain, her family struggles to move forward. How can they reconcile the Martha who wrote so brilliantly about the joys of living and the hidden Martha who ended her own life?
ABOUT: The Department of Theater and Dance fosters a vibrant and stimulating environment that encourages creative self-expression and critical thinking. Undergraduate programs include intensive, conservatory-style training for actors and dancers, as well as general degrees with a focus on Dance, Design, Directing, Playwriting, Theater and Community and Theater and Performance Studies. The department's nationally recognized and highly ranked graduate program offers a diverse array of interdisciplinary approaches to performance research within a global orientation. The department provides a lively forum for faculty to integrate teaching and research, at the cutting edge of their areas of expertise.
LAUNCH PAD is a high tech lab for playwrights-in-residence, UCSB theater students, faculty and guest artists. Led by founding Artistic Director Risa Brainin, a new play is developed each year. The residency culminates in a Preview Production, a fully-realized production of a new play without the pressures of the commercial world; the play stays in previews throughout the run of the show, allowing the writer to continue revising as the piece evolves through performance. LAUNCH PAD is collaboration and experimentation in action.
Enid Graham is a writer and actress living in New York City. As an actress, her credits include numerous Broadway, off-Broadway and regional productions, a Tony award nomination, and many appearances on television and in films including The Sinner and Boardwalk Empire. Her most recent performance can be seen in the upcoming feature film, The Glorias, based on Gloria Steinem's memoir.