Taylor Mac to Star in The Foundry's GOOD PERSON OF SZECHWAN at La MaMa, 2/1-24
Back to the Article
by BWW News Desk
Can we practice goodness and create a world to sustain it? This question, posed by Shen Tei, the good-hearted, penniless and cross-dressing prostitute of Bertolt Brecht's Good Person of Szechwan, is central to the work of The Foundry Theatre. The play's concerns, and the earmarks of the Foundry's new production, make it an ideal offering from the company, which is celebrated for creating memorable theatrical events while pursuing civic inquiry and social justice. The show, starring the singular Taylor Mac as Shen Tei, is directed by Lear deBessonet and features original live music by "indie rock vaudevillians" (SPIN) César Alvarez and The Lisps.
La MaMa will present the world premiere February 1-24, 2013 at the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 East 4th Street, NYC). Tickets are $35 for regular and $30 for seniors and students. They can be purchased by visiting La MaMa's Main Box Office at 74A East 4th Street, NYC, 212.475.7710 or www.lamama.org. The Ellen Stewart Theatre Box Office opens 1 hour and 30 minutes prior to curtain. Critics are welcome as of Tuesday, February 5 for an official opening on Wednesday, February 6.
In addition to Mac, the cast includes Lisa Kron as Mrs. Mi Tzu/Mrs. Yang, Annie Golden, Vinie Burrows and Mia Katigbak as The Gods; David Turner as Wang, The Waterseller; Kate Benson as Mrs. Shin; Brooke Ishibashi as The Woman; and Paul Juhn as Mr. Shu Fu. Two roles are still being cast. The creative team includes Anne Erbe (Dramaturg), Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Designer), Clint Ramos (Costume Designer), Matt Saunders (Set Designer) and Brandon Wolcott (Sound Designer).
In the comedic and complex Good Person of Szechwan, three gods descend from the heavens upon a poor district in the Szechuan Province in search of a truly good person. They discover Shen and reward her inherent goodness with money to buy a small tobacco shop but her attempts to rebuild her life are thwarted as the shop begins to fail because of her kindness. Forced to disguise herself so she can master the ruthlessness needed to survive the brutal world, Shen creates an alter ego named Sui Ta, a cousin who is a savvy businessman. The ambitious Sui soon pulls focus and Shen fades until it seems that Sui has murdered Shen. The play concludes with Sui on trial, where he reveals his true identity to the gods. But that one question remains for the audience to answer.
Taylor Mac (Shen Tei/SuiTa) is an Obie Award-winning playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, director and producer. His recent roles include Puck in A Midsummer's Night Dream at the Classic Stage Company and the title character in his play The Lily's Revenge at HERE and the American Repertory Theater. Mac has performed his work at The Sydney Opera House, San Francisco's MoMA and Opera, New York's Lincoln Center and The Public Theater, Stockholm's Sodra Teatern, The Spoleto Festival, The Bumbershoot Festival, The Time Based Arts Festival, Dublin's Project Arts Center, London's Soho Theater, and hundreds of other theaters, museums, music halls, cabarets, and festivals around the globe.
Upcoming projects include performing with Mandy Patinkin in a two-man show directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman called The Last Two People On Earth, An Apocalyptic Vaudeville, playing the Emcee in Cabaret at Playmaker's Repertory, a production of his new play Hir at the Magic Theater in San Francisco, and the creation/performance of a 24-hour concert of the history of popular music in the United States. For more information: www.taylormac.net.
Lear deBessonet (Director) is currently Resident Artist at The Public Theater. She is best known for creating large-scale and site-specific theatrical events pairing artistic excellence with community. She most recently conceived and directed On the Levee with Marcus Gardley, Todd Almond and Kara Walker for Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3; ODYSSEY at The Old Globe, a collaboration featuring professional artists with 180 San Diegans; Don Quixote, a community-based collaboration with Philadelphia homeless shelter Broad Street Ministry; and more.
Other credits include Monstrosity (13p), Takarazuka (Clubbed Thumb), Saint Joan of the Stockyards (PS122), Toshi Reagon's LINES (Joe's Pub), The Scarlet Letter (Intiman Theatre), transfigures (Women's Project), In the Dark Ages (National Opera & Ballet Theatre of Kazakhstan), Oliver! (NYU Experimental Theatre Wing), When I Was a Ghost (Guthrie Theater) and Death Might Be Your Santa Claus, performed at an abandoned bank near the NYSE. She received LMCC's first annual Presidential Award for Artistic Excellence alongside Mayor Bloomberg and Edward Albee in 2008. She is an alum of the Drama League Director's Project, the Women's Project Directors Lab, the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, a Jefferson Scholar and NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors.
César Alvarez (Composer/Musical Director) is a composer, lyricist, performer and writer. Most recently, his Civil War sci-fi musical Futurity, a co-commission of Walker Art Center, premiered at American Repertory Theater in 2012, directed by Sarah Benson. Alvarez's band, The Lisps, has released four albums and played hundreds of shows around the country since 2005. He is co-founder and resident composer of LA-based dance theater company Contra-Tiempo. He has presented work at Lincoln Center, The Stone, Roulette, Dixon Place, The Tank, Joe's Pub, HERE, The Zipper Factory, Dance New Amsterdam, Ars Nova, Walker Art Center, ASU Gammage, UCLA Royce Hall, Ford Amphitheater, RedCat, CounterPulse and more. Recent compositions include, 3 2's; or AFAR by Mac Wellman (Dixon Place), Full Still Hungry for Contra-Tiempo (Ford Amphitheater); Damned Beautiful for Helix Dance (Edinburgh Fringe). Alvarez was a Meet The Composer/Van Lier Fellow in 2004. He received a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin Conservatory and MFA from Bard College. He is currently a visiting artist in the Sarah Lawrence College Theater Program and a member of The Civilians 2012-13 R & D Group. He writes about music and theater at www.MusicIsFreeNow.org.
Lisa Kron (Mrs. Mi Tzu/Mrs. Yang)is a playwright and performer whose work has been widely produced in New York regionally and internationally. Plays include In The Wake (Lortel and GLAAD best play noms., Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist, included in the annual "Best Plays of 2010-2011"); Well (included in "Best Plays of 2003-2004" and produced on Broadway in 2006 in a production that earned two Tony Award nominations); 2.5 Minute Ride (Obie, L.A. Drama-Logue and GLAAD Media Awards); and The Verizon Play (recently premiered at the 2012 Humana Festival of New Plays). Other honors include Guggenheim, Lortel, Lark, Sundance and NEA/TCG fellowships, a Creative Capital grant, Helen Merrell and Alpert Awards. Kron is a founding member of the Obie- and Bessie Award-winning theatre company The Five Lesbian Brothers. As an actor she was most recently seen playing dance critic Walter Terry in Richard Move's Martha @... The 1963 Interview. She currently is working with composer Jeanine Tesori on a musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's graphic novel Fun Home that will premiere at The Public Theater next season. She will also be reviving 2.5 Minute Ride at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ this coming Spring. She is on the playwriting faculty of the Yale School of Drama and serves on the council of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Brooke Ishibashi's (The Woman) New York credits include Bumbug the Musical (Theatre Row), Instant Vaudeville by Jon Kern, Samantha Chanse & Clarence Coo (Second Generation, Victor Maog & May Adrales, dirs.), Takarazuka by Susan Stanton (HERE Arts Center & Clubbed Thumb, Lear deBessonet, dir.), The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G by Qui Nguyen (Vampire Cowboys & Ma-Yi, Robert Ross Parker, dir.), Happy Sunshine Kung Fu Flower by Matthew-Lee Erlbach (The Zipper, Ars Nova, The PIT & Comix, Darren Katz, dir.), Oklahoma! (Baayork Lee, dir.), Saturnalia by Yusef Komunyakaa (Music-Theatre Group, Daniel Fish, dir.). Concerts: Highline Ballroom, City Winery, Joe's Pub. Ishibashi is a singer/songwriter and co-founded the Playing For Change Foundation's NYC chapter (www.playingforchange.org). She writes and performs improv and sketch comedy. brookeishibashi.com
Paul Juhn (Mr. Shu Fu) is an actor and writer who has worked extensively in NYC and beyond. Credits includ: Takarazuka!!! (Clubbed Thumb), Vengeance Can Wait (PS122), after the quake (Berkeley Rep), SIDES: the Fear is Real (Mr. Miyagi's Theatre Company/Ma-Yi), wAve (Ma-Yi), White Chocolate (The Culture Project), The Importance of Being Earnest (La Jolla Playhouse), Mother Courage (Guthrie Theater). Founding member of Mr. Miyagi's Theatre Company and Suffolk Street Films. Film and TV: 30 Rock, SALT, Michael Clayton, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the award-winning short film Works of ART (Actor/Writer/Producer). MFA in Acting, University of California, San Diego. www.worksofartmovie.com
Annie Golden (one of the Gods) was discovered on the Bowery fronting a rock band and was cast by Miloš Forman as Jeannie in HAIR, the 1978 film. She is currently filming Orange Is the New Black, a new TV series for Jenji Kohan, the creator of Showtime's "Weeds." The series will air on Netflix in 2013. On and Off-Broadway she has appeared in Xanadu and created the role of Georgie Bukatinsky in The Full Monty; Sondheim's original Squeaky Fromme in Assassins, the Off-Broadway production at Playwrights Horizons, directed by Jerry Zaks; Ah! Wilderness, with Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards; On the Town; and Little Shop of Horrors, as Audrey. Films following HAIR include Twelve Monkeys; Baby Boom; Brooklyn Rules; Suddenly Seeking Susan; and I Love You: Phillip Morris, opposite Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. On the small screen: The 2-2; Law & Order SVU; Law & Order; Cheers; Miami Vice and Third Watch; She sang on Letterman with the house band as guest soloist, performs and as a member of Darlene Love's Christmas choir each year.
Anne Erbe (Dramaturg) is a dramaturg and independent producer. She is a former creative producer at the Foundry Theater and has frequently collaborated with Lear deBessonet. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama, where she is currently pursuing her doctorate.
Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Designer) is an award-winning (American Theatre Wing's Henry Hewes Design Award, Lucille Lortel, Obies) designer whose work has been seen off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater, Signature, NYTW, MTC, Atlantic Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Vineyard Theatre, Epic Theatre Ensemble, MCC, Page 73, St. Ann's Warehouse, Mint Theatre, Primary Stages, Naked Angels, Barrow Street Theater, Cherry Lane, New Georges, The Foundry, Theatreworks USA, The Play Company, Rattlestick and Soho Rep; and regionally, at the Goodman, Dallas Theater Center, Kansas City Rep, Chautauqua Theater, Syracuse Stage, Portland Center Stage, Madison Rep, Folger, Shakespeare Theater, Long Wharf and more. In addition, Micoleau has toured extensively in the U.S. and abroad with companies like The Acting Company, Dan Hurlin, Accinosco, WaxFactory, The Builders Association and Jam On The Groove. For more information, visit www.tylermicoleau.com.
Clint Ramos (Costume Designer) has received the American Theater Wing's Henry Hewes Awards twice and been nominated for many others like Lucille Lortel Award, TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, Craig Noel Award, Elliot Norton Award, Drama Desk and the NYTW Design Fellowship. Ramos designed the Obie-Award winning production of And God Created Whales for the Foundry Theater in 2000. More recent New York credits include sets and/or costume designs for The Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Roundabout, Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Signature Theater, Ma-Yi, NAATCO, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Women's Project, Soho Playhouse, Mint Theater, Red Bull Theater and many others. He has also worked extensively across the U.S. and abroad. For more information, go to http://clintramos.wordpress.com.
Matt Saunders (Set Designer) is a Barrymore Award-winning performer, scenic designer and artist. Saunders is a founding member and Associate Artistic Director of the Obie Award-winning experimental theater company, New Paradise Laboratories, handling both design and performance work. NPL productions include The Fab 4 Reach the Pearly Gates at New York's P.S. 122 and at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Prom, a co-production with the Tony Award-winning Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis; and BATCH, at the 2007 Humana Festival, Actor's Theatre of Louisville. Saunders has designed over eighty shows for the Walnut St. Theatre, the Arden Theatre Company, InterAct, Theatre Exile, 1812 Productions, Headlong Dance Theatre, Pig Iron, People's Light and Theater, Yale Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, the Wilma Theater and more. Saunders holds an MFA in Design from the Yale School of Drama, and is the Assistant Professor of Design for Swarthmore College's Department of Theater. For more information, go to www.mattsaunders.net.
Brandon Wolcott (Sound Designer) has composed music and designed sound for dance and theater at dozens of spaces around NYC and the U.S. He is the resident sound designer for CTown and The Woodshed Collective. Recent work includes sound design and original music for Henry V at Two River; Titus Andronicus at The Public; The Maids with Red Bull Theater; The Woodshed Collective's massive theatrical installation The Tenant at the West-Park Presbyterian Church; and sound design for Elizabeth Streb's Kiss the Air at the Park Avenue Armory and the immersive piece Balm in Gilead at Industry City. His music project, Smirk, has performed all over the world, including appearances at Unsound in Krakow, Mutek in Montreal and the Save Festival in Moscow. Wolcott has an upcoming release of post-classical music on Clown and Sunset Aesthetics.
The Foundry was established in 1994 to assemble and support a community of artists with revolutionary ideas for the theatre and the world in which it is situated. The Foundry commissions, develops, premieres and tours new theatrical works that invite audiences to visit unexplored landscapes of thought-works that employ the limitless forms that only live theatrical events can create.
Foundry productions have toured nationally and internationally and have been honored with nine Obie Awards and three Drama Desk nominations for "Unique Theatrical Experience."
Simultaneously, The Foundry hosts public Dialogues and community programs that bring artists together with other community stakeholders to formulate new questions for our changing times. Dialogues sometimes seed new commissioned works and/or function as research sites in the development of new commissions.
The Foundry has been recognized for its hybrid programming with TCG's national Peter Zeisler Award for Innovative Practice and Dedication to Freedom of Expression and for having twicebeen awarded the special Ross Wetzsteon Obie "creating cutting edge work and engaging artists in some of the thorniest issues of the world we inhabit."
Foundry productions challenge the power of live performance to provoke considerations of the social, political, and cultural discourses that inform our everyday lives. The company is drawn to elastic, unusual theatrical forms that arise out of and redouble the content of the play itself, which means that our commissions don't always result in "traditional" plays at the end of a development process. Each project explores the (im)possibilities of theatre, and The Foundry's body of work constitutes passionate argument for its limitless imaginative potential.
The Foundry is an ongoing performance of ideas, created by rigorous theatrical works, public dialogues and community programs, invites as many people as possible to consider what it means to be citizens of this world.
La MaMa is a remarkable arts institution with a worldwide reputation for producing daring work in theater, dance, performance art, and music. Founded in 1961 by theater pioneer and legend, Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has produced and presented more than 3,200 theatrical productions to date and is a vital part of the fabric of cultural life in New York City and around the world.
La MaMa provides a supportive home for artists and takes risks on unknown work. Artists such as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Blue Man Group, David and Amy Sedaris and other luminaries began their careers at La MaMa. International Artists introduced to America by La MaMa include Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban, Kazuo Ohno and, more recently, the acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre. La MaMa has been honored with more than 30 OBIE Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, and, in 2006, Ellen Stewart was recognized with a special TONY Award for Excellence in the Theater.