Every day is opening night.

Epic Theatre Ensemble Announces Cast and Creative Team for “Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play”

Rick Miramontez / Jon Dimond / Jaron Caldwell
rick@oandmco.com / jon@oandmco.com / jaron@oandmco.com
(212) 695-7400




NEW YORK, NY – New York’s OBIE Award-winning Epic Theatre Ensemble (Zak Berkman, Melissa Friedman, Ron Russell, Founding Executive Directors) today announced the cast and creative team for the New York premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play (In The Next Room… or the vibrator play) and directed by Mark Wing-Davey (The Singing Forest). The cast will include Brendan Averett, Polly Noonan, Daniel Pearce, Alex Podulke, Keith Reddin, Godfrey L. Simmons Jr., T. Ryder Smith, Felix Solis Jr., Kate Turnbull and Nicole Wiesner.

Scenic Design will be by Allen Moyer, Costume Design will be by Gabriel Berry, Lighting Design will be by David Weiner, Sound Design will be David Van Tieghem and Fight Direction will be by David Anzuelo.

Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play begins previews April 27 and runs through May 30, 2010. Opening night is set for May 12, 2010. The production will be performed in the site-specific environs of the Irondale Center, a converted Sunday School inside the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (85 South Oxford Street) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Hailed by The New Yorker’s John Lahr as “extraordinary” and full of “verve and daring”, Ruhl’s three-play cycle will be the centerpiece of an unforgettable Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play Festival, a series of performances, panel discussions, workshops, and education programs highlighting the intersection of art, politics, sexuality, and religion.

Inspired by the historic festivals where everyday citizens came together to elevate their communities by staging the death and resurrection of Christ, Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play transports audiences first to 16th century England, where Queen Elizabeth threatens to shut down a small town's production; then to Nazi Germany, where Adolf Hitler's arrival at the famous Oberammergau Passion Play influences the lives of its cast and finally to Spearfish, South Dakota in 1984, as a local production becomes a campaign stop for a famous actor-turned-President running for re-election. Mark Wing-Davey will return as director following his highly acclaimed productions of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play at the Goodman Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre, but will be re-envisioning the play for this site-specific New York premiere.

Tickets are available by visiting Epic’s website at www.epictheatreensemble.org.

Epic Theatre Ensemble is an OBIE, Lucille Lortel, and OTTO Award-Winning artist-run company. Founded in 2001 to create theatrical events Off-Broadway and in the New York City Public Schools that inspire vital dialogue about social issues, Epic is best known for their premieres of No Child… by Nilaja Sun, Palace of the End by Judith Thompson, and Hannah and Martin by Kate Fodor, as well as their groundbreaking Shakespeare Remix after-school program that received a 2009 Coming Up Taller Award from First Lady Michelle Obama at a White Ceremony this past November.


Brendan Averett (Carpenter 1) Recent credits in Chicago include The Ballad of Emmet Till, Passion Play (both at Goodman Theatre), Blithe Spirit (The Gift Theatre Company) and Twelfth Night (Noble Fool Theatricals). Other credits include Lennie in Of Mice and Men (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Saint Louis Repertory; Cincinnati Entertainment Award nomination); A Midsummer Night's Dream; Measure for Measure; The Brothers Karamazov; Guys and Dolls; The Donnellys: Sticks and Stones; The Swanne, Pt. III; and Count of Monte Cristo (Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada); and various work at A Noise Within and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Los Angeles. Brendan was also seen in R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet and is currently working in post-production on his first short film, Thursday.

Polly Noonan (Village Idiot, Violet) has worked on Sarah Ruhl’s plays for ten years, including the premieres of Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Helen Hayes nomination), Passion Play: a cycle in three parts (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes nomination), Eurydice (Madison Rep), Melancholy Play and Orlando (Piven Theatre Workshop). Other credits include: Eurydice, Brilliant Traces and American Voices (Piven Theatre Workshop); Orlando (Actors’ Gang); Melancholy Play (the Echo), Methusalem and Accidental Death of An Anarchist (New Criminals); and new works at Sundance, the Geva Theatre Center, New Dramatists, Soho Rep, REDCAT and Playwrights Horizons. Polly was a member of the Piven Theatre Workshop’s Young People’s Company and a founding member of the New Criminals. She attended Vassar College and SAIC. Polly first worked at Steppenwolf as part of the New Plays Lab, where she directed the workshop and the premiere of Goodbye Stranger by Carrie Luft. Film credits include: Novocaine, High Fidelity, Arizona Dream and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. If you like music, check her out on the cover of the Lemonhead’s album It’s a Shame About Ray or listen to her random phone message (track 11) on Lovey. She lives in New York City.

Daniel Pearce (Visiting Friar, Visiting Englishman, VA). New York theatre credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Broadway), King Lear, Measure for Measure & Henry V (NYSF), A Mother, A Daughter and a Gun (Dodger Stages), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Irish Repertory Theatre), Loves’ Fire (Acting Co./Public) and Romeo and Juliet (New Victory). Regionally he has been seen at the Geva Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, George Street Playhouse, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Guthrie, the Long Wharf and Pittsburgh Public Theatre. He toured nationally with the Acting Company for their 97-98 season playing Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and traveling to London to perform Loves’ Fire at the Barbican Centre. Film work includes the upcoming movies Salt and An Invisible Sign of My Own. Daniel also played the lead role in the film Clowns and was featured in Godzilla. TV appearances include “Law and Order,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “Queens Supreme,” “The Dave Chapelle Show,” “All My Children,” and “As the World Turns.” MFA from NYU. BA from SUNY New Paltz.

Alex Podulke (Machinist, German Officer, Young Director). New York: Flesh and the Desert, SPF; Romeo and Juliet, Public Theater NYSF; Cyrano de Bergerac, Metropolitan Opera; Corleone, NY Fringe Festival. Regional: Seattle Rep, Betrayal; Pioneer Theater, Touch(ed), The Heiress, Enchanted April; Shakespeare Theatre Company; Titus Andronicus; Portland Center Stage, Pride and Prejudice; Jungle Theater, Hapgood; Theatre Garage, Exit the King. Others. Six seasons at the Guthrie Theater. Alex’s one-man show DNA and the Dancing Fool has been produced in MN and CA.
Film and TV: Welcome to Cosmos, Guiding Light. Alex is a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Keith Reddin (Director) is the author of the plays Life and Limb, Rum and Coke (which had its world premiere at Yale Rep in 1985), Highest Standard of Living, Life During Wartime, Big Time, Nebraska, Brutality of Fact, Black Snow (produced at Yale Rep in 2006), The Innocents Crusade, Almost Blue, Synergy, All the Rage, Can’t Let Go, and Frame 312. He also wrote the screenplays for It’s the Rage and The Alarmist, based on his plays, as well as the television movie The Hearts of Justice. As an actor, he has performed in productions on and off Broadway, and at regional theatres around the country. His film appearances include Lolita, The Doors, Reversal of Fortune, Crossing Delancey, and Big. Mr. Reddin is a graduate of Northwestern University and Yale School of Drama.

Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. (Carpenter 2) is a professional actor who has been championing and shepherding new scripts and adaptations toward production for more than 15 years. Most recently, Godfrey was a Producing Artist and lead teaching artist with Epic Theatre Ensemble, where he appeared in the world premiere of A More Perfect Union, Widowers' Houses (which Godfrey co-adapted with Ron Russell), A Hard Heart, Einstein's Gift, as well as workshops of Beauty on the Vine and Einstein's Gift. Currently he is co-creating the documentary theatre project, Dispatches From (A)mended America, which examines the hopes, fears and dreams of the American South during the month leading up to President Barack Obama's Inauguration. In addition to Epic, Godfrey was also a company member for two years at People's Light and Theatre Company, where he worked with PLTC's award-winning New Voices program and performed in such classics as Antigone, Peter Pan and Our Town. Godfrey's acting credits include: Off Broadway and NY Theatre: The Old Settler with Leslie Uggams (Primary Stages, Audelco Award for Best Supporting Actor), Betty's Summer Vacation (Playwrights Horizons, Obie Award for Best Play), Fast Blood (Lark Play Development Center), Free Market (Working Theatre), Ice Island (Melting Pot Theatre), Mel and Gene (Lincoln Center Directors Lab), Leader of the People (New Georges), The African Company Presents Richard III and The Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show (Henry Street Settlement). Regional: A Raisin in the Sun and Blues For An Alabama Sky (Syracuse Stage), Home (Round House Theatre), A Raisin in the Sun, The Grapes of Wrath, Antigone, and The Comedy of Errors (Schwarz Center for Performing Arts) Antigone, Our Town, Romeo and Juliet and Peter Pan (People's Light and Theatre Company), Spunk (Barrington Stage), The Old Settler (TheatreWorks). Member of Lark Playground. Director: Epic's Bridge Project with Automotive HS, Romeo and Juliet; Vivian X at Cornell's Risley Theatre. Television: All My Children, As the World Turns, Law and Order, NYPD Blue and Third Watch. Films by Mark Harris (Katrina, Constance, Bloody Mary, Manhole IV), Audrea Topps (Raw Intensity, Hard Candy) and Christina Kotz-Cornejo (The Appointment). He has taught acting on the university level at Cornell University and Marymount Manhattan College.

T. Ryder Smith (Queen Elizabeth/Hitler/Reagan) has appeared frequently in avant-garde theatre works, including world-premiere pieces with Richard Foreman, David Greenspan, Charles L. Mee, and Sarah Ruhl. T. appeared with Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths in the Broadway revival of Equus. He shared a 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Cast as a member of the 3-actor/50-role Off-Broadway play Lebensraum, by Israel Horowitz, and was nominated for a 2001 Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Solo Performer for Glen Berger’s Underneath the Lintel. In 2007, T. took part in a collaboration with artist/activist Paul Chan, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, and the public-arts presenters Creative Time to perform Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot in the outdoor areas of New Orleans which had been most devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Film and TV work includes playing “The Trickster” in the cyber-horror film Brainscan, opposite Edward Furlong and Frank Langella, the experimental feature film Horrible Child, Marie Losier’s experimental short film The Ontological Cowboy, shown at the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and supplying the voices of Baron Ünderbheit and Otto Aquarius on the cartoon TV series “The Venture Bros.” He also voices the character of “Sander Cohen” in the popular videogame BioShock. He recently appeared in Happy Tears.

Felix Solis (Pontius the Fish-Gutter) credits include School of the Americas, Our Lady of 121st Street and In Arabia We'd All Be Kings directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman (all at LAByrinth Theater Company, member); Salome with Al Pacino, Marisa Tomei, David Strathairn, and Dianne Wiest (The Actors Studio, member); Havana Is Waiting (Cherry Lane Theatre); and Union City New Jersey, Where Are You? opposite Rosie Perez (Ensemble Studio Theater, member). Regional credits include Passion Play (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes Award nomination, Best Lead Actor), Anna in the Tropics (Arena Stage); The Cook (Hartford Stage); Dreamlandia (Dallas Theater Center); and Cloud Tectonics (Merrimack Repertory Theatre). His film and television credits include The International with Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, The Forgotten, Empire, End of the Spear, all three current “Law & Order” series, “Damages,” “The West Wing,” “Oz,” and “Third Watch.”

Kate Turnbull (Mary 1) is an Associate Artist with Epic Theatre Ensemble. New York: Far Away (New York Theatre Workshop); Anatomy of Touch (Joint Stock Theatre Alliance). Regional: The Matchmaker (Centerstage); Doubt (Portland Stage Company); Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing, Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Restoration Comedy (The Old Globe). TV: “Guiding Light.” Education: The Old Globe/University of San Diego (MFA).

Nicole Wiesner (Mary 2) stage credits include Shining City directed by Robert Falls (Goodman Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company), Passion Play directed by Mark Wing-Davey (also at the Goodman), Great Men of Science directed by Tracy Letts (Lookingglass Theatre Company) and Phèdre directed by JoAnne Akalaitis (Court Theatre). Ms. Wiesner is artistic associate of Chicago's Trap Door Theatre, where she has appeared in countless productions, including the title roles in Nana, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant and Alice in Bed. She can be seen in Catherine Sullivan’s films Ice Floes of Franz Josef Land and The Chittendens (Tate Modern) and in her theatre pieces in Chicago, New York, Lyon (L’Opéra de Lyon) and Dijon.

Sarah Ruhl's (Playwright) plays include The Clean House (Susan Smith Blackburn Award, 2004, Pulitzer Prize finalist, Pen Award), Melancholy Play, Eurydice, Late: a cowboy song, Orlando, Demeter in the City (NAACP image award nomination), Passion Play (Fourth forum freedom award, Kennedy Center), Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Helen Hayes Award), and In the Next Room (or the vibrator play). Her plays have been performed at Lincoln Center Theater, Second Stage, Playwrights Horizons, the Goodman Theater, Yale Repertory Theater, Woolly Mammoth, Berkeley Repertory Theater, the Wilma, Cornerstone Theater, Madison Repertory Theater, Clubbed Thumb, and the Piven Theatre Workshop, among other theaters across the country. Her plays have been translated into German, Polish, Korean, Russian and Spanish, and have been produced internationally in Canada, Germany, Latvia, and Poland. Sarah received her M.F.A. from Brown University, and is originally from Chicago. She is the recipient of a Helen Merrill award, Whiting Writers' Award, PEN/Laura Pels award, and a Macarthur Fellowship. She is a proud member of New Dramatists and 13P.

Mark Wing-Davey (Director) is the chair of the MFA Graduate Acting program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He directed the UK premiere of Passion Play by Sarah Ruhl (parts I & II) at the Tristan Bates Theatre prior to its productions at the Goodman Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre, and most recently directed Craig Lucas’ The Singing Forest for The New York Shakespeare Festival/The Public Theatre. Mr. Wing-Davey first came to prominence in the United States with his highly acclaimed, award-winning production of Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest, winning a 1992 OBIE Award for Outstanding Director of the year. Other US and UK credits include Owners by Caryl Churchill (New York Theatre Workshop); The Lights by Howard Korder (Lincoln Center Theatre Company) which received seven Drama Desk nominations including Best Director; Angels In America by Tony Kushner (American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco), winner of the Bay Area Critics Circle Award as Best Director; Oleanna by David Mamet (Seattle Repertory Theatre); Shakespeare’s King Lear (NYU); The Castle by Howard Barker (NYU); The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); Mongrel’s Heart by Mikhail Bulgakov (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh); Silence, Cunning, Exile by Stuart Greenman (New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre); The Beaux’ Stratagem by George Farquhar (Berkeley Repertory Theatre) for which he received a Bay Area Critics Circle nomination for Best Director; Shakespeare’s Troilus & Cressida (New York Shakespeare Festival, Delacorte Theatre in Central Park); the world premiere of Greensboro by Emily Mann (McCarter Theatre Company) and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Nottingham Playhouse in England. In 1996, Mr. Wing-Davey directed the U.S. premiere of Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, which was nominated for six 1997 Drama Desk Awards including Best Director. Amongst numerous roles on TV and the stage from Shakespeare to sci fi, from the National Theatre to the Joint Stock Theatre Group, Mark played the eccentric yet sexy Zaphod Beeblebrox in Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” (BBC radio and television); and made a somewhat marginal appearance on “Absolutely Fabulous” as Edina’s accountant; he appeared with Steve Buscemi in the film The Grey Zone, made by Tim Blake Nelson, one of the original NYC Mad Forest alumni. He has recently voiced Fangio, the changeable bartender in Robert Rankin’s Brightonomicon, Mike Clode the theatre/movie director in Frederic Raphael’s radio sequel to his original Glittering Prizes – Fame and Fortune, and the villain Ghis for the computer game Final Fantasy XII.

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