Every day is opening night.

Epic Theatre Ensemble Announces Plans for “Passion Play Festival”

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


“ P A S S I O N P L A Y F E S T I V A L ”
“ S A R A H R U H L ’ S P A S S I O N P L A Y ”

NEW YORK, NY – New York’s OBIE Award-winning Epic Theatre Ensemble (Zak Berkman, Melissa Friedman, Ron Russell, Founding Executive Directors) today announced plans for an ambitious series of events surrounding the highly anticipated New York premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, directed by Mark Wing-Davey. The production of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play is the culmination of a six year conversation between Berkman and Ruhl about how to stage her wildly imaginative and powerful triptych in a way that echoes historic passion pageants in the contemporary context of 21st Century New York City.

Epic is thrilled to be partnering with a coalition of creative thinkers, art makers, academic institutions and Fort Greene community members to create the Passion Play Festival, which will surround this production with fun and fascinating events and activities that range from dance parties, concerts and free food, to family workshops, new play readings and Epic’s trademark Forum Series. The Passion Play Festival is an ever expanding and organic community endeavor, so please be sure to check www.epictheatreensemble.org often for up-to-the-minute programming and scheduling information. Reservations for all Passion Play Festival events should be made through emailing passionplaynyc@gmail.com.

The Passion Play Festival will be produced and promoted by an Epic-led Coalition of over 40 artists, arts groups, academic institutions and local community members. The Passion Coalition includes Above The Fold, ART/NY, Brave New World Repertory Theatre, Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, Culture Project, Flux Theatre Ensemble, Frank’s Cocktail Lounge, Gerald W. Lynch Theatre/John Jay College, Cara Greene, Irondale Ensemble Project, Lark Play Development Center, Lincoln Center Theatre, Long Island University, Vernice Miller/Sarah K. Simmons from ALATetc., New Georges, Nora’s Playhouse, NYU, Oberlin College Alumni Association, Playwrights Horizons & The Play Company (A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick), The Public Theatre, Ripe Time, Rising Circle Theatre Collective, SAVE, The Walter Thompson Orchestra, Waterwell, Wingspan Arts, 13P and many more to be announced.


March 27, 7:00 p.m. @ Irondale Center
Community Event – Passion Action
Produced by Vernice Miller, Sarah K. Simmons and Darci Fulcher of ALATetc., Passion Action tackles the “question of prayer” by bringing together members of the surrounding Fort Greene community with Epic Artists to exchange expressions of devotion (music, dance, theatre, food) and engage in a lively discussion. Includes sneak preview reading of a scene from Passion Play. (FREE)

April 3, 8:00 p.m. @ Irondale Center
Community Event – The Oberlin Obertones
Epic was co-founded by three alums from Oberlin College. Now Oberlin's premiere all-male a cappella group visits with their unique repertoire: from The Beatles to ballads to cartoon theme songs. (FREE)

April 5, 7:30 p.m. @ Irondale Center
Free Play Reading – The Flux ForePlay Series Part #1
Produced by Flux Theatre Ensemble, 16 playwrights re-imagine eight stories from the Old Testament as a precursor to their world premiere of August Schulenburg’s Jacob’s House.

April 6, 7:30 p.m. @ Irondale Center
Documentary Theatre – Dispatches From (A)mended America
Conceived by Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. and Brandt Adams of the investigative theatre, Above The Fold, Dispatches is a documentary play-in-development examining race and politics through the prism of the election of President Barack Obama. Based on Godfrey and Brandt’s interviews and experiences while traveling throughout the South during the month leading up to Obama's inauguration, Dispatches explores the hopes, misconceptions, fears and good humor of the American South. (FREE)

April 12, 7:00 p.m. @ Irondale Center
Free Play Reading – The Holy Mother of Hadley New York
New Georges presents a revival reading of The Holy Mother of Hadley New York by Barbara Wiechmann, directed by Rachel Dickstein, dramaturgy by Emily Morse. In this richly-imagined and lyrical play, the Holy Mother appears in the kitchen window of Agnes, a grieving young woman, and whispers that she’s coming for a visit. The news flies fast through Agnes’ upstate town. At the appointed time, the whole of Hadley walks up the hill towards a snowy parking lot, to await the arrival of the Virgin. New Georges (Angela’s Mixtape, God’s Ear) commissioned Hadley, and their production opened at the Ohio Theatre on September 10, 2001. Those who ventured downtown in the weeks that followed saw a play suddenly expressive of the moment: a play about sorrow and comfort, community and hope. For reservations, email info@newgeorges.org. (FREE)

April 13, 8:00 p.m @ Irondale
Free Play Reading – THE ICON SERIES Part #1
Three staged readings of ambitious, adventurous works by women playwrights whose themes, history and geography connect with Passion Play. Play #1: The Beard of Avon by Amy Freed, directed by Chip Brookes. (FREE)

April 16, 7:00 p.m. @ Barnes & Noble Tribeca (97 Warren Street)
Community Event – BOOKFAIR
Artists from the production and Epic Theatre Ensemble present excerpts of the soon-to-be published Passion Play (Theatre Communications Group) followed by a Q&A session. Guests receive vouchers so that a percentage of all purchases go to Epic’s education programs.

April 19, 7:30 p.m. @ Irondale Center
Free Play Reading – The Flux ForePlay Series Part #2

April 20, 8:00 p.m. @ Irondale Center
Free Play Reading – THE ICON SERIES Part #2
Play #2: The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman, directed by Claire Beckman produced in partnership with Brave New World Repertory Theater

April 29, 8:00 p.m. @ Location TBD
Free Play Reading – THE ICON SERIES Part #3
Play #3: The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window by Lorraine Hansberry, directed by John Gould Rubin

Events in May include readings of The Velvet Rut by James Still, Wider Than The Sky by Jessica Litwak, and The Fallen by Yasmine Rana, as well as two Passion Play inspired “sound painting” evenings with The Walter Thompson Orchestra, the opening of the Passion Play Gallery curated by the Irondale Ensemble, and an Arts & Human Rights Community Conference produced by Epic, Culture Project, John Jay College and The Lark Play Development Center.


Starting April 27
Pre/Post-Show Forums – The Word and Breaking Bread
Epic’s trademark Forum Series is being renamed The Word for the Passion Play Festival with numerous prominent guests already scheduled to appear including James Shapiro, Kathleen Chalfant, Chris Hedges, and Andre Henry/Matt Huett from Glad Tidings Tabernacle

Following Sunday performances Epic will be offering their Breaking Bread dinner and discussions where the audience joins artists from the production and Epic Theatre Ensemble for a meal and to talk about the play. Both Series are made possible in part by funds from the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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. The cast will include Hale Appleman, Brendan Averett, Polly Noonan, Daniel Pearce, Alex Podulke, Keith Reddin, Godfrey L. Simmons Jr., T. Ryder Smith, Kate Turnbull and Nicole Wiesner. Scenic Design will be by Allen Moyer & Warren Karp, Costume Design will be by Gabriel Berry & Antonia Ford-Roberts, Lighting Design will be by David Weiner, Composer will be David Van Tieghem, Movement Direction will be by Jim Calder, and Fight Direction will be by David Anzuelo.

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.

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