Welders World Premiere Explores The Power Of Memory, Storytelling, And What Keeps Us Connected To Our Past And Our Homelands

The Welders -- Washington's premiere playwrights collective devoted exclusively to developing and producing new work -- are launching their next production, In This Hope: a Pericles Project conceived by Hannah Hessel Ratner. It runs November 8 through December 2 at Spooky Action Theatre.

In This Hope is part play, part ritual and led by an all-female/multi-cultural ensemble. There are many stories passed on since antiquity -- being forced to flee a homeland, journey over the sea, discover love, and experience great loss -- that still resonate to this day, across the world. Each night, with Shakespeare's epic Pericles as the launching point, the performers will join with audiences to revel in the power of memory and storytelling for a singular, communal evening. The production searches the past to reveal a connective truth that lives completely in the present moment.

Dramaturg Hannah Hessel Ratner approached her opportunity as Lead Producing Playwright as a chance to incorporate her skills in a new way. On her process she shares: "The job of a Dramaturg is usually to support the creative vision of the generative artists. The Welders have from the beginning supported my ambition to create a work that places the Dramaturg as the leading generative artist. What has resulted is a process that has been structured by the story of Pericles, my own interest in breaking down theatrical walls, in partnership with a team of artists who believe that theatre can build deep empathy and joy in the connection between actor and audience."

New York based director Anna Brenner will direct. Anna is the founder and artistic director of Other Shore, where she develops and directs her own plays and leads social justice groups in creating documentary theater. Anna is thrilled to be making her Washington DC debut with The Welders, and comments, "I sensed immediately that this company emboldens artists and connects audiences in unique ways, thanks to their generous encouragement and support, and love for theater and its potential. I've found that one of Hannah's superpowers is the ability to ask hard questions with a degree of optimism that enriches and connects those around her. This project aims to make visible her values."

The trio of Environmental Designer Colin K Bills, Costume Designer Pei Lee and Sound Designer Roc Lee have approached the process dramaturgically, creating questions alongside creative solutions and investing themselves into the unique process.

This will be the first play developed with The Welders' new Creative Producer. Reflecting on the developing work, Laley Lippard says "I had the rare opportunity to be involved in the first weekend-long workshop for In This Hope which included an incredible collaborative team of performers, devisers, designers, and artistic consultants. The open invitation to dive deep into the heart of the choices we make for love and the painful consequences when those choices require us to abandon our home is a necessary and profound act."

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