Backstage Blog

Season 15 Announced!

Seven Shows Ranging from Classic Comedy to World Premiere

Do you remember when you were fifteen years old? Everything was exciting, emotional and life or death. That’s exactly like our 15th season, without all those annoying “changes”.  Here at Cygnet, in the last fifteen years, we’ve learned to push boundaries, explore the new, and stay relentlessly passionate. Join us, because when you’re fifteen the best is yet to come!

2fade61d-bfcf-4e78-a144-1253754ef9e1Season XV: 2017 – 2018
List of Plays

Animal Crackers
July 5 – Aug. 13
Book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind
Music and Lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby
Directed by Sean Murray
Music Direction by Terry O’Donnell
Hooray for Captain Spaulding! When a celebrated painting goes missing from Mrs. Rittenhouse’s fancy house party in honor of African explorer Captain Spaulding, her guests set out to find the thief in a series of madcap antics and exploits. Based on the original Marx Brothers Broadway hit and film classic, this adaptation of Animal Crackers is an outrageous, rollicking, laugh-out-loud musical comedy, complete with audience participation! Featuring a cast including Josh Odsess-Rubin and Bryan and Katie Banville.

“Delicious…A nonstop riot – a profusion of puns, gags, and hysteria with only an occasional pause (or maybe, gasp) for breath.” – The Washington Tribune

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
Aug. 30 – Sept. 24
By Paul Zindel
Directed by Rob Lutfy
This Pulitzer Prize-winning lyrical drama tells the story of a wounded family unraveling at the age of innocence and at the age of no return.  Life in the 1960s with Beatrice, an embittered single mother, resembles a hell more than a home for her two daughters.  But Tillie, the youngest, finds her own way to connect to the world with resilience and hope. Tillie — keeper of rabbits, dreamer of atoms, true believer in life, hope, and the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds.

“The play itself is one of the lucky blooms; it survives, and is beautiful.” —NY Times.

The Legend of Georgia McBride
Oct. 11 – Nov. 12
By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Sean Murray
San Diego Premiere
He’s young, he’s broke, he’s just found out his wife is going to have a baby, and now Casey has lost his gig as an Elvis impersonator. When his club brings in a drag act led by Miss Tracy Mills, Casey is given the opportunity to trade one sequined outfit for another. This music-filled comedy celebrates finding your voice and singing your own song.  Featuring San Diego favorite David McBean.

“A stitch-in-your-side funny first-rate production full of sass and good spirits.” –The New York Times
“A highly-entertaining, genuine crowd pleaser.” — Hollywood Reporter

 A Christmas Carol
Nov. 29 – Dec. 24
Adaptation & Lyrics by Sean Murray
Original Score by Billy Thompson
Directed by Sean Murray
Musical Direction by Patrick Marion
Cygnet Theatre invites you to start your own family tradition with one of ours. This season welcomes the return of the holiday classic adapted from Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of hope and redemption. Featuring original music, creative stagecraft and puppetry, and live sound effects. Step into a Victorian Christmas card for a unique storytelling experience that is sure to delight the entire family!

“Critics Pick” in 2014 & 2015 – San Diego Union Tribune

The Last Wife
Jan. 17 – Feb. 11
By Kate Hennig
Directed by Rob Lutfy
West Coast Premiere
This contemporary re-imagining of the compelling relationship between Henry VIII and his last wife, Katherine Parr, is a witty and powerful examination of sexual politics and women’s rights. It’s a high stakes game of chess, with Henry’s offspring, Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward as pawns.

“The show is stimulating… Surviving a tyrant was far from her only achievement. – The Chicago Tribune

A Little Night Music
Mar. 7 – Apr. 22
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed by Sean Murray
Cygnet is thrilled to revisit one of its favorite musicals. Desirée Armfeldt has always captured the hearts of men. When both of her lovers—and their wives—show up for a weekend in the country, a tangled web of love and desire lead to humorous and heartbreaking revelations. Sophisticated, literate and stylish, but also disarmingly warm, funny, charming and very human. Featuring the hit song, Send in the Clowns and starring Karole Foreman, Sandy Campbell, David Humhrey, and Sean Murray.

“sumptuous and triumphant production” –SD Union-Tribune (2008 review, original mounting)
Critics Circle Winner – Outstanding direction of a musical, Sean Murray

The Wind and the Breeze
World Premiere
May 16 – Jun. 10
By Nathan Alan Davis
Directed by Rob Lutfy
Sam, the legendary, undisputed, greatest emcee in Rockford, IL, plans to rest on his laurels all winter and, if possible, stake out an early spot to watch the Independence Day fireworks -but his closest mentees and their outsized dreams challenge him to a battle he can’t win. The Wind and the Breeze explores the politics of place, the unspoken expectations of friendship and what happens when we choose to stand our ground on shifting sands.

 “Because ultimately what makes it soar is Davis’ uniquely lyrical script, and its thematic veracity and original authorial voice floats us past fleeting new-play issues.” -LA Times
“I wish that other playwrights…could be as skillful as Nathan Alan Davis.” -DC Theatre Scene

Tickets and new subscriptions will be available for purchase on March 1st. 

Director Insight: Rob Lutfy

Director Rob Lutfy on Bad Jews…

Running Jan. 12 – Feb. 12, our Bad Jews director Rob Lutfy shared a a few of his thoughts on this savage comedy about faith and family.  

Rob Lutfy directs Bad Jews

Rob Lutfy directs Bad Jews

First things first, I am not Jewish–lets get that out of the way. When I first saw a production of this play I was surrounded by Jewish people, we talked after the show in the theatre, and then into the lobby until we were kicked out, and then into the parking lot where someone finally said, “hey want to go into this bar for a drink.” Good theatre starts a conversation. Great theatre ignites debate, albeit hopefully friendly. Igniting debate is a pillar of Cygnet’s mission.

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Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon

All people are born with some cultural, ethnic, or religious inheritance. What they choose to do with that inheritance is up to them. More often than not, what happens is that different members of a family feel differently about their shared legacy, which makes for a lot of painful interactions. The “bad” member is all in the eye the beholder.

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Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon

The mantra of all Holocaust memorials is “Never forget.” The characters in this play are millenials and the last generation that will know a Holocaust survivor. It seems fewer young people know about what happened than preceding generations, and what they do know is less detailed. That’s probably inevitable, but it’s very painful nonetheless. I would never call it an “issue play.” The play is exploring many sides of a complicated issue. It deals with the legacy of history and how we live authentically in the present in relationship to the past.

I would like our audiences to take away these questions:
Does your family have certain traditions that you carry with you in your own life? How do you keep the memory of loved ones alive? In what ways do you honor their memory? Does faith play a role in your life, and if so, why?

Bad Jews runs Jan 12 – Feb 12, 2017.  Buy tickets HERE. 

The Bad Jews Glossary

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It’s amazing how many Jewish words have entered mainstream American language. From chutzpah to kibbitz to nosh to shlep, we often use them in our daily conversations. Still, there might be Hebrew or Yiddish words or references in Bad Jews that may not be familiar to every theatre-goer. Here is a handy list. Learn them (we won’t ask you to pronounce them) and make Bubbe proud.

ABRAHAM FOXMAN: A Jewish American lawyer who served as the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League from 1987 to 2015 as currently the National Director Emeritus.

ALIYAH: A Hebrew word that means to “go up.” While originally it referred to ascending to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Feasts, today it has come to mean the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel. Aliyah, simply stated, is the ingathering of the exiles from the four corners of the earth — it is the immigration of Jews back to their ancestral homeland.

ANTI-SEMITE: Someone who has or shows prejudice toward the Jewish people as a religious, racial, or cultural group.

CHAI: The chai (pronounced like the English greeting, “hi”) is a popular Jewish symbol that many Jews, young and old, traditional and liberal, recognize and understand. Literally translated, chai means “live,” “living,” and/or “The living God.” Related to the traditional Jewish toast l’chayim, “to life,” the chai is a reminder to value the time you have on earth: do not simply exist, but work, struggle, laugh, cry, smile, and love.

The chai also carries numerological meaning since the word’s two letters (Chet and Yud) add up to 18, thus making 18 a lucky number as well as a spiritual number. Guests at Jewish weddings often give gifts of money in multiple of 18, symbolizing a gift of luck or long life. Similarly, some Jewish people wear chai necklaces for good fortune, and as a cultural symbol that connects them to the living Jewish tradition.

HAIFA: The largest city in Northwestern Israel.

HILLEL: The largest Jewish campus organization in the world that connects students at more than 550 colleges and universities across North America and around the world.

HORA: A group dance that is common at Jewish celebrations such as weddings and bar mitzvahs.

HOWARD ZINN: A Jewish American historian, playwright, and social activist who wrote more than twenty books, including his best-selling and influential A People’s History of the United States.

JOADS: An extremely poor family of migrant farm workers featured in the novel The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck.

PASSOVER: A Jewish festival commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

SEDER: A Jewish ritual service and ceremonial dinner for the first night or first two nights of Passover.

SHOFAR: An ancient musical instrument made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal, used for Jewish religious purposes.

SHIKSA: An often disparaging term of Yiddish origin used primarily in North American Jewish culture to describe a gentile (non-Jewish) girl or woman.

SHIVA: A traditional period of mourning in Judaism that lasts on week for the immediate family

SLICHA: A Hebrew word that means, “excuse me,” or “sorry.”

TALMUDIC: A central text of Rabbinic Judaism.

ZEALOT: Originally, the Zealots were members of a fanatical sect that arose in Judea during the first century a.d., which sought to incite a rebellion against the Roman Empire and expel it from the Holy Land. Today is commonly used to describe a person who has very strong opinions about something, and tries to make other people have them too.

 

Director Insight: Jennifer L. Nelson

Our August Wilson plays, Seven Guitars & King Hedley II, began rehearsal in this month.  Director Jennifer L. Nelson answered a few questions about August Wilson’s work and why these two plays performed in rep are so unique.  Performances begin September 28th, 2016!

Jennifer L. Nelson   Photo by Fern Seiden.

Jennifer L. Nelson
Photo by Fern Seiden

What draws you to August Wilson’s work and is there any specific way you will approach these plays? How do you feel these two works intersect and relate to each other?  Wilson exploded onto the scene bringing a fresh theatrical lens through which to view the portrayal os the African American experience. Particularly his portrayals of African American men provided a fresh 360 degree perspective on the inner lives of characters we may only have seen in lesser light. He gave us not only their humor and frustration but also the yearning, caring, humor and poetic pathos we might have only seen under lesser light—if at all. Because of the range of his characters, his plays expanded the range of audiences–particularly drawing more African Americans to the theatre, a feat which in itself was worthy of major note.

The two plays in the Cygnet rep are joined through a unique view of two generations of the same family. Although all but one of his plays take place in the same neighborhood, none of the others incorporate characters who have appeared in another play (though some are mentioned but not seen). It’s an exciting challenge to think of how to mine the context for familial continuity.

How do you feel about directing a Rep? What are the challenges & opportunities? I’ve not done a Rep like this before but the challenge is attractive and daunting. Somewhere I picked up this saying: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” I feel secure enough in my work up to now to look forward to stepping into a new-ish way of working. One reassuring factor is that Wilson’s métier provides enough structure and shape to provide a solid base.

What did you look for in actors?  I particularly looked for actors with enough readily available experience and versatility to be adept at changing roles. Much of my early career experience was in performing and teaching improvisational theatre so I will bring some of that into the rehearsal process to help everyone become comfortable with the process. The cast is not only talented and delightful to work with and I am confident they will be a joy for audiences to see!

Learn more about SEVEN GUITARS & KING HEDLEY II here. Then book your tickets!

Hedley Guitars image

 

The Kids of Gypsy

It wouldn’t be Gypsy without the kids! We asked our cast of talented kid actors a few questions about the show and their own background in acting.

Fun Fact: There are two separate casts that perform on alternating nights.  They selected names for themselves - “The Moostache Cows” and “The Gypsy Fives”.

Version 3Gabriella Dimmick,  Age 10, Baby June

Hometown: La Mesa
What other shows have you performed in? The Sound of Music at SDMT and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe plus some free baby photo contest
What are you most excited about? Dancing and singing in the show.
What is your dream Broadway role? Annie in Annie
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Bets Malone
How did you get involved in theatre? I was in The Nutcracker at the Civic Theatre when I was 4!
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I want to grow up to be a famous inventor.

Emily_Bautista_headshotEmily Sade Bautista, Age 11, Baby Louise

Hometown: Chula Vista
Is this your first professional theatre experience? I was in How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe last year.
What are you most excited about? Getting to know the cast and learning from them. I cannot wait to be on stage!
What do you like most about the show? I like Mama Rose’s attitude and songs. And my Uncle Sam costume!
What is your dream Broadway role? Eliza from Hamilton
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Lin-Manuel Miranda and Idina Menzel
How did you get involved in theatre? I love music and acting and I asked my parents to sign me up to audition for a show.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? On the day I was born, my Dad had the #2 song on the Billboard charts. I was given a record plaque as a memory from the label.

Claire Scheper Headshot CygnetClaire Scheper, Age 12, Baby Louise 

Hometown: Crown Point
Is this your first professional theatre experience?  I was in White Christmas at SDMT for several seasons.
What are you most excited about? The cast and artistic team.
Had you seen any productions of Gypsy?
I haven’t but I love the songs and music.
What is your dream Broadway role? Elpaba in Wicked
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Beth Malone
How did you get involved in theatre? Through my friends and vocal coach.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I am weirdly and freakishly strong.

IMG_1081Matthew Garbacz, Age 11, News Boy

Is this your first professional theatre experience? I was in Les Miserable with Theatre Royal.
What are you most excited about? Meeting new people and doing work with a new company.
Have you seen any productions of Gypsy? Never seen!
What is your dream Broadway role? One of the boys in Matilda.
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Matthew Morrison
How did you get involved in theatre? My brother Luke always went to rehearsals and I had to come along.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I like Jazz music.

DSC_1423Sophia Dimmick, Age 12, Balloon Girl

Hometown: La Mesa
Is this your first professional theatre experience? How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe and South Pacific at The Welk
What are you most excited about? Being in a Cygnet production and wearing balloons on my costume.
What do you like most about the show? I have watched the movie and love all the quirky musical numbers Rose thought up.
What is your dream Broadway role? Glinda in Wicked
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Robert Townsend
How did you get involved in theatre? I was in The Nutcracker in at the Civic when I was 6 and then cast in a Junior Theatre show.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I have been playing the harp since I was 5.

Hourie_Klijian_2016_071Hourie Klijian, Age 12, Balloon Girl

What other shows have you performed in? I was in Les Miz at Lamb’s and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe
What are you most excited about? Working with so many talented people.
What do you like most about Gypsy?  I love the score.
What is your dream Broadway role? Milly in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Steve Blanchard
How did you get involved in theatre? My voice coach encouraged it.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I love ABBA!

Giovanni Cozic may2016Giovanni Cozic, Age 10, News Boy

What other shows have you performed in? I was in Up Here at La Jolla Playhouse and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe
What are you most excited about? To be in a show where I work with adults and a new theatre. And I can walk to rehearsal!
Had you seen any productions of Gypsy? No but I read the script and love Mama Rose.
What is your dream Broadway role? Bruce in Matilda
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Lin-Manuel Miranda
How did you get involved in theatre? My brother was involved so I quit soccer and got involved in theatre instead.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I love history and love to cook.

Catalina_Zelles_headshotCataline Jewel Zelles, Age 8, Baby June

Hometown: Oceanside
What other shows have you performed in?
How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe and Fiddler on the Roof at The Welk|
What are you most excited about? Working with Sean Murray and Cygnet. Also, I hope to get to twirl the baton.
Have you seen any productions of Gypsy? I’ve seen the movie and I love the music.
What is your dream Broadway role? Matilda, Elpaba, Tracy Turnblad.
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Idina Menzel
How did you get involved in theatre? I was in the tour of Beauty and the Beast when I was 2. My Dad, Mom and Nana were in it!
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I love Shakespeare and won Best Actres at SD Shakespeare Festival the last 3 years.

JJosh_Bradford_Headshotosh Bradford, Age 12, Newsboy, MC

Hometown: Vista
What other shows have you performed in? I was in Wizard of Oz, Tommy and Music Man and Moonlight and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe
What are you most excited about? Making new friends
What is your dream Broadway role? Gabs, Next to Normal
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Jonathan Groff
How did you get involved in theatre? I have two brothers who are also professional actors.

Scotty Atienza - headshot 1Scotty Atienza, Age 12, Newsboy

Hometown: Chula Vista
What other shows have you performed in? Les Miz, Festival of Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe
What are you most excited about? Working with Cygnet
What is your dream Broadway role? The Phantom
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Johnny Depp
How did you get involved in theatre? Christian Youth Theatre
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I can do multiple accents.

Actor Q&A: Ro Boddie

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same four questions about themselves and their characters. Here is what actor Ro Boddie said about himself, and his character, Con.

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Ro Boddie

Ro
Occupation: Actor
Hobbies: Playing Guitar, meditating, physical fitness and watching Marvel 3D movies.
Favorite Saying: “Keep it sexy.”
Things I Love: Spicy food, making people laugh, Funk music and San Diego weather.

Con

Con

Con
Occupation: Unemployed
Hobbies: Dreaming of Nina, laughing with Nina, loving Nina and always wanting…Nina.
Favorite saying: “Actually, actually”
Things I love: The unconventional, the overlooked and undervalued things in life. Anything old school. Breaking boundaries and, of course, Nina.

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Ro Boddie (Con) and Brian Rickel (Dev)

Check out what the rest of the cast said and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th.

Actor Q&A: Jacque Wilke

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same four questions about themselves and their characters. Here is what actor Jacque Wilke said about herself, and her character, Mash.

Jacque Wilke

Jacque Wilke

About Jacque:
Occupation: Pilates and Cycling instructor
Hobbies: Hiking, Photography, Poetry
Favorite Saying: “Don’t stop, get it get it.” -Ice Cube
Things I love: Family, Craft Beer, Nature, Live Music, Theater

Mash

Mash

About Mash:
Occupation: Part Time Cook
Hobbies: Drinking, long walks, writing, playing the ukulele, baking
Favorite Saying: “If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed” -Sylvia Plath.Things I love: Con. That is it, that is all.

Stay tuned for the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th.

Jacque Wilke (Mash) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Jacque Wilke (Mash) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Actor Q&A: Brian Rickel

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same four questions about themselves and their characters.  Here is what actor Brian Rickel said about himself, and his character, Dev.

Brian Rickel

Brian Rickel

About Brian:
Occupation: Professor, Actor, Property Manager
Hobbies: Local breweries, photography, smoking meat, traveling
Favorite Saying: “We’re all just seeking beauty in this messy-ass world.”
Things I love: Mandi, local craft beer, BBQ (the southern meaning….not grilling outdoors in nice weather), the theatre, teaching, performing, the sun going down in my backyard, cooking for friends, my niece’s and nephew’s laughter, did I mention local beer?

Dev

Dev

About Dev:
Occupation: Tutor
Hobbies: Walking by the lake, reading, bird watching, relationship counseling, making beer
Favorite Saying: “Just get to know her. You’ll get it.”
Things I love: Mash, beer, teaching, the moon reflecting off of our lake, reading, Con, hearing my kids play, pie.

Stay tuned for the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th.

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Brian Rickel (Dev) and Ro Boddie (Con)

Actor Q&A: Karole Foreman

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same questions about themselves and their characters.  Here’s what Karole said about herself, and her character, Emma.

Karole Forman

Karole Forman

About Karole:
Occupation: Actor, Singer, Writer
Hobbies: Gardening, Knitting, Sewing, DIY Home projects
Favorite Saying: “You can hide inside a character, but acting is about exposing who you are. And I’m never sure if I’ve done a good job.”–Don Cheadle, actor
Things I love: My amazing husband, guinea pigs and other small animals, traveling, good food, dancing, my family, my close friends, my profession

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Emma

About Emma:
Occupation: Famous Actress
Hobbies: Shopping, shoe collecting, badminton, pilates
Favorite Saying: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”—Winston Churchill and
“Don’t give away your art for free.”— Herself
Things I love: ART & ARTISTS, Doyle Trigorin, my profession, a good massage, my personal trainer, my hairdresser, Sterling Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Cannes

Karole Foreman (Emma) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Karole Foreman (Emma) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Stay tuned for profiles on the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th!  Get tickets HERE.

 

Stupid F**king Bird Vs. The Seagull

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“The original work is just a jumping off place or an inciting incident for my own personal explorations.” Aaron Posner

If you think you need to know anything about Chekhov’s The Seagull before seeing our production, we’re happy to say that’s bulls#!t. If you have, fantastic. You’ll pick up on connections with the original work.

We asked director Rob Lutfy to share some thoughts on how to understand Aaron Posner’s Stupid F**king Bird through the lens of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull.

Chekhov was radical, revolutionary and exciting…100 years ago: Imagine sitting in the audience at the Moscow Art Theatre at the turn of

Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov

the 20th century and seeing The Seagull for the first time. You would have seen actors actually feel the emotions they are expressing and seen a production with an actual rehearsal process. Today this seems like a standard, but Chekhov created a paradigm shift in drama (theatre and film/TV) that it still pertinent today.

Read between the lines: His characters often think what they do not say, their unspoken thoughts have come to be called “subtext.” His relationships are unvarnished, his characters (as in real life) say less and mean more. What covers our embarrassment? Our Fear? Our excitement? He is representing people as they really are–examining eternal questions about love, death and of life in the space of a raindrop.

Our pain is f**king hilarious: Chekhov considered The Seagull to be a comedy because he had an amused view of human weakness. When the play opened it felt like a trick to most audiences. People didn’t know what was meant to be taken seriously and what was funny; Chekhov redefined those terms. In doing so, his plays often provoke “laughter through tears.”

Chekhov reads The Seagull with the Moscow Art Theatre company

Chekhov reads The Seagull with the Moscow Art Theatre company

Chekhov puts offstage the obvious moments of crises: He writes about the epic moments in our domestic lives. How important our day to day is to the inertia of our life. It is the build up to the big moments that define us. The famous director Stanislavsky, who worked with Chekhov, calls this “inner action.”

Chekhov fan or not, we think you’re going to enjoy Stupid F**king bird!  The show runs May 19 – June 19, 2016.  Buy tickets HERE.