• PHOTOGRAPH 51 by Anna Ziegler SEPTEMBER 26-28, 2014

    London, 1953. Scientists are on the verge of discovering what they call the secret of life: the DNA double helix. Providing the key is driven young physicist Rosalind Franklin. But if the double helix was the breakthrough of the 20th century, then what kept Franklin out of the history books? A play about ambition, isolation, and the race for greatness.



    “Critic’s Pick! What playwright Anna Ziegler has achieved in her intriguing portrait of the British scientist Rosalind Franklin is a remarkable balance of scientific subject matter and theatrical storytelling. Franklin’s role in the discovery of DNA’s double helix—the only woman among a raft of male scientists—is here made clear in a play that glows with intelligence and humanity. This is a complex story filled with complex characters that Ziegler tells with clarity and economy. It’s a pleasure to be in the presence of such assured writing. She gives full weight to Franklin’s achievement without allowing the play to become a feminist tract or turning Franklin’s thieving male cohorts and competitors into dyed-in-the-wool villains. This tale of a lone, wondrous woman amidst a casual conspiracy of men makes for compelling theater.” — Backstage

    “Among the many virtues of Anna Ziegler’s…satisfying “Photograph 51″ is the refusal to soften the woman at its center, the British scientist Rosalind Franklin, by making her anything other than formidably, even self-sabotagingly, intelligent…[The play] offers multiple insights into the sad and honorable secrets of one particular life.” — The New York Times

    “A real discovery…A taut, terrific play…As in the best of historical fiction, it turns figures of the past into complex, multidimensional characters and shows how much the course of events was shaped by their intersecting personalities…Watson’s book about this discovery has been hailed as one of the 20th century’s great works of nonfiction, demonstrating that really good writing can make a seemingly dry subject gripping. Ziegler has done the same with “Photograph 51,” and this production shows what beauty can be found when outstanding writing and acting intertwine like strands of DNA.” — The Pioneer Press

    “An illuminating kind of theatrical X-ray… In Ziegler’s taut yet graceful script, a fine choice by [Seattle] Rep, Franklin’s passion for science also shines through, as does the agility of her inquiring mind…Photograph 51 neatly coils a scientific detective story around a rumination on how sexism, personality and morality can impact collaboration and creativity…It honors Franklin by painting her as a complete person, with flaws and sterling attributes, and by evoking the thrills and risks of scientific pursuit itself.” — The Seattle Times

    “[Photograph 51] masterfully opens up the events leading up to the discovery of the structure of DNA—a fascinating and important story that explores the risk of giving up everything for career, and the complicated process of opening the heart.” — CityArts (Seattle)

    “A powerful new play…Ziegler has produced a witty and poignant account of the controversy surrounding DNA’s discovery.” — Nature

    “An electric journey of suspense…Compelling drama [with an] emotional wallop. Who knew biophysics could have you on the edge of your seat?” — The Minneapolis Star Tribune

    “Bracingly intelligent” — The Boston Globe

    “Editor’s Pick!…[A] smartly crafted history play…The reflections that gradually color the play deal with the eternal human mystery of why people act as they do — the very stuff of drama, of course.” — The Washington Post


    Photograph 51 was commissioned and produced by Active Cultures Theatre in Maryland, where it was directed by Mary Resing. It went on to the win the 2008 STAGE International Competition for the best script about science and technology (judged by John Guare, David Auburn and David Lindsay-Abaire, along with two Nobel Laureates). The play was subsequently produced at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, directed by Simon Levy, The Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC, directed by Linsay Firman, and Theater J in Washington DC, directed by Daniella Topol. The Ensemble Studio Theatre production was remounted in the 2011 World Science Festival in NYC, where James Watson, Donald Caspar and Raymond Gosling discussed the play in a panel following one of the performances. It is published by Dramatists Play Service. Photograph 51 had developmental readings/workshops at The Manhattan Theatre Club, The Cape Cod Theatre Project, Epic Theatre Ensemble and the Rattlestick Theatre. It has been recently produced at Vermont Stage, Nora Theater Company, and the English Theatre of Berlin.


    Anna Ziegler’s plays Photograph 51, A Delicate Ship, Dov and Ali, Another Way Home, The Minotaur, BFF, Novel, Evening All Afternoon and Life Science have been, or will be, produced at theaters including: Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Magic Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Georges, Theater J, DR2 (W.E.T.), The Cherry Lane (Playwrights Realm), Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep, SPF, The Fountain Theater, English Theatre of Berlin, Theatre503 (UK), Synchronicity Theatre, JET, Vermont Stage, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Chester Theatre and Nora Theatre Company. Commissions: Manhattan Theatre Club, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Virginia Stage, Lark/Signature Theatre Chinese Playwriting Series Adaptation, and New Georges. Awards: STAGE award, Weissberger Award (finalist), Edgerton New American Play Award, Douglas T. Ward Playwriting Prize, NYIT Award Nomination for Best Short Play (2011, 2012).

  • WRECKS by Neil LaBute NOVEMBER 21-23, 2014

    Can someone honestly love a person whom they have deceived for thirty years? This is the central question behind WRECKS, Neil LaBute’s foray into the dark side of human nature. Meet Edward Carr: loving father, successful businessman, grieving widower whose world has been shattered by the death of his beloved JoJo. Through his grief, he picks through his past and pieces together a story of his life, like the wrecked cars he so lovingly restores. In this concise powerhouse of a play, LaBute limns the boundaries of love, exploring the limits of what society will accept versus what the heart will desire.


    Critically acclaimed playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute has earned a reputation for writing characters who are selfish, mean, misanthropic and misogynistic. His films include In the Company of Men and Your Friends & Neighbors. His plays include “The Mercy Seat”, “Some Girls” and “Fat Pig”. The New Yorker’s John Lahr says his plays are “complex and unnerving,” and that “there’s no playwright on the planet who is writing better.” Lahr also says “LaBute does not trivialize darkness but treats it with proper awe…he gets inside the emptiness of American culture, the masquerade of pleasure and the evil of neglect.”



    “Superb and subversive…A masterly attempt to shed light on the ways in which we manufacture our own darkness. [Wrecks] offers us the kind of illumination that Tom Stoppard has called ‘what’s left of God’s purpose when you take away God.’” – The New Yorker

    “Whether you gasp or merely sigh wearily will depend on your familiarity with, and fondness for, the prolific Mr. LaBute’s bleak moral vision of humankind. (Gasp or sigh, you’re still likely to think, “Well, he’s done it again.”) The quality definitely varies in Mr. LaBute’s ever-expanding body of work, which promises someday to rival in volume that of Joyce Carol Oates and includes screenplays (“In the Company of Men”), as well as dramas (“Fat Pig,” “The Mercy Seat”). But he cannot be accused of inconsistency of attitude.” – The New York Times

    “Wrecks,” directed by its author and previously staged in Cork, Ireland, fits squarely in the mold of the meatier monologues of “bash: latter-day plays,” with which Mr. LaBute made his promising theatrical debut in New York in 1999. Like them, “Wrecks” presents an ostensibly straight-and-narrow soul — in this case, a newly bereaved widower reflecting on his long and happy marriage — whose inner self has at least one nasty twist that emerges in measured installments.” – The New York Times

    WRECKS is a tasty morsel of a play…The profound empathy that has always informed LaBute’s work, even at its most stringent, is expressed more directly and urgently than ever here.” – USA Today

    WRECKS is bound to and identified by its shock value, but it must also be cherished for the moment-by-moment pleasure of its masterly portraiture. There is not an extraneous syllable in LaBute’s enormously moving love story.” – Newsday

    “LaBute’s . . . cruel wit and chronicles of immoral moralizers have made him, arguably, the most legitimately provocative and polarizing playwright at work today.” – New York

    “A tough-minded writer.” – The Washington Post

    “LaBute . . . continues to probe the fascinating dark side of individualism . . . [His] great gift is to live in and to chronicle that murky area of not-knowing, which mankind spends much of its waking life denying.” – The New Yorker

    “A playwright [with] an unparalleled ear for dialogue.” – The Journal News

    “LaBute, who has made a specialty of tracking the more insidious varieties of male psychopathology in such films as “In the Company of Men” and plays such as “Fat Pig” and “Some Girl(s),” presents us with an unusual case study in “Wrecks.” The drama — which had its world premiere in Ireland in 2005 with Harris originating the role he later reprised at New York’s Public Theater — lays bare the psyche of a guy whose entire being has been warped by a colossal secret.” – The Los Angeles Times



    Wrecks was commissioned and produced by the Everyman Palace Theatre in Cork, Ireland. The play was a part of the city’s Capital of Culture program in 2005. It made its American debut at the Public Theater (in an extended run) in New York City in 2006. Both productions starred Ed Harris and were directed by LaBute. The plot centers around a man coming to terms with the death of his wife, and the dark secret that brought them together.




    Theatre includes: Bash: Latter-Day Plays (Douglas Fairbanks Theatre, Almeida Theatre); The Shape of Things (Almeida Theatre, Promenade Theatre); The Distance from Here (MCC Theatre, Almeida Theatre); The Mercy Seat (MCC Theatre, Almeida Theatre); Filthy Talk for Troubled Times (MCC Theatre); Fat Pig (MCC Theatre, Trafalgar Studios); Autobahn (MCC Theatre); Some Girl(s) (Gielgud Theatre, MCC Theatre); This is How it Goes (Donmar Warehouse, The Public Theatre); Land of the Dead/Helter Skelter (Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Bush Theatre); Wrecks (Everyman Palace Theatre, The Public Theatre, The Bush Theatre); In a Dark Dark House (MCC Theatre, Almeida Theatre); The Break of Noon (MCC Theatre, Geffen Playhouse); Reasons to be Pretty (MCC Theatre, Almeida Theatre); In a Forest, Dark and Deep (Vaudeville Theatre, Profiles Theatre); The Heart of the Matter (MCC Theatre); Woyzeck – adaptation (Schauspielhaus Zurich); Things We Said Today (Profiles Theatre, Sala Beckett); The Furies/The New Testament/Romance (59E59); The Great War (Ensemble Studio Theatre); Taming of the Shrew – additional scenes (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Short Ends (Open Fist Theatre); Lovely Head (Spoleto Festival-Italy, Fringe Festival-Madrid, La Mama); In The Beginning (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Theatre Row); Miss Julie – adaptation (Geffen Playhouse); Reasons to be Happy (MCC Theatre); Good Luck (In Farsi) (59E59); Over The River And Through The Woods (Planet Connections Theatre Festivity); Pick One (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Young Vic); One Day Like This (American Academy of Dramatic Arts); Here We Go ‘Round The Mulberry Bush (59E59); I’m Going To Stop Pretending That I Didn’t Break Your Heart (Venice Biennale); The Money Shot (MCC Theatre); All The Ways To Say I Love You (Young Vic); Happy Hour (La Mama) and the up-coming production of The Way We Get By (Second Stage).

    Film includes: In the Company of Men; Your Friends & Neighbors; Nurse Betty; Possession; The Shape of Things; The Wicker Man; Lakeview Terrace; Death at a Funeral; Some Girl(s); Some Velvet Morning; Dirty Weekend; Tumble (short); After-School Special (short); Sexting (short); Denise (short); Double or Nothing (short); Bench Seat (short); Sweet Nothings (short); BFF (short); It’s Okay (short).

    Television includes: Bash: Latter-Day Plays (Showtime); Full Circle (Directv); Ten X Ten (Directv) and the upcoming Billy & Billie (Directv).

    Fiction includes: Seconds of Pleasure (Faber & Faber).



    In SINKHOLE, a couple (Mark and Jane) have recently moved to Los Angeles with their two young boys. Jane was held at gunpoint when returning home one afternoon and was almost killed. Seeking help, she calls Mark’s sister (Sofi) and her husband (Jerry). The play begins shortly after Sofi and Jerry have arrived to L.A. from NYC. Jerry, a police officer with the NYPD, freely gives his advice to Mark and Jane when they stop to talk to Sofi and Jerry before heading off to bed: to buy a gun. After a long night, everyone has revealed their dark secrets and the gaping holes in their lives are all too apparent. By the end, the characters find themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum regarding one of the most controversial issues in America today.


    SINKHOLE is Anne Marie Cummings’ most recent play, written in four weeks during the summer of 2013. Cummings held two private readings of the play in Ithaca, NY. Invited guests engaged in long discussions about the themes running throughout. Everyone in attendance shared similar personal experiences as those written about or they shared the experiences of someone they knew who had gone through something similar. Cummings’ play, INDIA AWAITING, ran Off-Broadway in 2005 at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in New York City. Since then she has written a handful of plays that have had a number of readings in the Big Apple.


    The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca (RTI) will be holding their second annual fundraiser benefit on Thursday, December 4th at 7pm at Cinemapolis, located at 120 East Green Street in downtown Ithaca.

    In celebration of their fifth season, RTI will present Anne Marie Cummings’ (Founder & Artistic Director of RTI) new play, SINKHOLE. The dark comedy is directed by Cummings and stars Brenda Aulbach (as Jane), Moira Haupt (as Sofi), Chris Nickerson (as Jerry), and Jacob White (as Mark). Stage directions will be read by Deb Simon. To start the evening, Hank Roberts will perform a 10-minute cello solo. Tax-deductible tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased online at www.thereaderstheatre.com or in advance, in-person at Cinemapolis.

    In SINKHOLE, a couple (Mark and Jane) have recently moved to Los Angeles with their two young boys. Jane was held at gunpoint when returning home one afternoon and was almost killed. Seeking help, she calls Mark’s sister (Sofi) and her husband (Jerry). The play begins shortly after Sofi and Jerry have arrived to L.A. from NYC. Jerry, a police officer with the NYPD, freely gives his advice to Mark and Jane when they stop to talk to Sofi and Jerry before heading off to bed: to buy a gun. After a long night, everyone has revealed their dark secrets and the gaping holes in their lives are all too apparent. By the end, the characters find themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum regarding one of the most controversial issues in America today.

    For The Readers’ Theatre’s first annual fundraiser, the not-for-profit theatre company presented a performance reading of a new play: SHOULD’VE, by Roald Hoffmann. Said Cummings: “Since I began The Readers’ Theatre with one of my plays – EXTREMES – I thought it would be nice to celebrate another important marker – the fifth season – with one of my new plays as well, a play I wrote two summers ago and have been revising since.”

    Cummings explained that the themes running through SINKHOLE are similar to those of other plays she’s written, breaking free. “SINKHOLE is about how far people are willing to go in order to feel safe. It’s also about four characters trying to free themselves from the confines they find themselves in,” she said, adding, “And for more than a decade I’ve paid close attention to the issues of our country’s ongoing debate surrounding guns. SINKHOLE doesn’t offer solutions; it provides a glimpse into the conversations that many people and families are having today.”

    The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca is a 501©3 not-for-profit organization and a NYS registered charity. The $50 per-person ticket price for the fundraiser benefit is considered tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


  • CHATROOM by Enda Walsh FEBRUARY 27 - March 1, 2015

    A transcendent dramatic exploration of some of the most pressing issues online and in the real world today. The sense of freedom that comes from being faceless and nameless can be exhilarating, can make you more daring than in your everyday interactions with people.

    Six people (all ages and sexes) never meet each other, they just communicate via the internet. Conversations range in subject from Britney Spears to Willy Wonka to suicide. Jim is depressed and talks of ending his life, and Eva and William decide to do their utmost to persuade him to carry out his threat. From this chilling premise Enda Walsh has forged a funny, compelling and uplifting play which tackles some of the issues of online life head-on and with great understanding.


    “Walsh’s zippy, often funny dialogue certainly put the chat into Chatroom and his story of rebels without a cause is emotionally engaging.” – The Stage, UK

    “An impressive number of themes…handled in commendably non-dogmatic style…a triumph.” – London Evening Standard

    “Chatroom, by Irish playwright Enda Walsh, is a masterpiece of wit, relevance and poignant emotion. One of the most thrilling enjoyable evenings I’ve had in the theatre.” – Sunday Times

    “A powerful tale of manipulation and bullying that takes place entirely in a chatroom online.” – The Guardian


    CHATROOM was first seen as part of the Shell Connections series at the National Theatre in London in 2005.


    Enda Walsh (born 1967) is one of Ireland’s most successful contemporary playwrights. Winner of the 1997 Stewart Parker and the George Devine Awards, he also won the Abbey Theatre Writer in Association Award for 2006 and two Critic’s Awards and a Herald Archangel Award (2008). His plays, notably DISCO PIGS, BEDBOUND, SMALL THINGS, CHATROOM, NEW ELECTRIC BALLROOM, THE WALWORTH FARCE, PENELOPE, and MISTERMAN have been translated into more than 20 languages and have had productions throughout Europe and in Australia, New Zealand, and the US. He has written two radio plays, with FOUR BIG DAYS IN THE LIFE OF DESSIE BANKS for RTÉ winning the PPI Award for Best Radio Drama (2001) and THE MONOTONOUS LIFE OF LITTLE MISS P for the BBC commended at the Berlin Prix Europa (2003). His commissioned work includes plays for Paines Plough in London, the Druid Theatre in Galway, the Kammerspiele in Munich and the Royal National Theatre’s Connections Project in London. He participated in the Bush Theatre’s 2011 project Sixty Six, for which he wrote a piece based upon a chapter of the King James Bible. He has written the musical ONCE, an adaptation of the Oscar-winning film ONCE, which appeared off-Broadway in December 2011 and January 2012 and transferred to Broadway from March 2012 and to London’s West End from March 2013: it has won numerous awards, including eight Tony Awards and a Grammy Award and has recently been nominated for six Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical. His new play BALLYTURK premiered at the forthcoming Galway Arts Festival (July 2014) and will star Cilian Murphy, Stephen Rea and Mikel Murfi.

  • H20 by Jane Martin MAY 8-10, 2015

    After arriving to the City of Angels, an aimless man catapults to movie stardom and into Hollywood“s sleazy celebrity culture. Banking on his fame (and name), he is soon selected to appear on Broadway in Hamlet. Given full casting approval, he embarks to New York City to seek out his Ophelia and encounters his muse and his match —a young evangelical Christian woman set on getting the role…and saving his life. From the reclusive, madcap world of Jane Martin comes this drama/comedy/lovestory about self-destruction, notoriety, and the dark journey to purity and salvation.


    “At turns powerful, tragic, romantic, amoral, unself-conscious and self-obsessed, this complex one-act drama and its two passionate yet oddly distant characters tumble down through the circles of a Dantesque, or perhaps even an existential hell without ever quite grasping the reasons why … This play is so moving and effective, so completely and entirely unforgettable.” – Washington Times

    “The dialogue in this drama is crisp, realistic, incisive, and seems to emanate from the very soul of each character. The play itself veers wildly from hilarity to tragedy, as laughter quickly changes into tears and as terms of endearment quickly lead to violence and alienation.” – Washington Times

    “It will leave you dealing not only with your feelings about the characters, but also reconsidering art, life, and The Meaning of It All.” – Broadwayworld.com

    ““Yes, H2O is a masterpiece and will surely be performed, difficult as it is, throughout the Christian/Hollywood world … Martin’s H2O embodies America and its Culture War in the 21st century. In fact, H2O is this nation’s Culture War writ large, or should I say small, lying embedded in its two-person sadomasochistic love triage. Who will live and who will die? And can one survive without the other?” – The Maryland Theatre Guide



    H20 premiered at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in West Virginia, in 2013.


    Jane Martin, a Kentuckian, first came to national attention for Talking With, a collection of monologues premiering in Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 1982 Humana Festival of New American Plays. Since its New York premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club in 1982, Talking With has been performed around the world, winning the Best Foreign Play of the Year Award in Germany from Theatre Heute magazine. Her other work includes: Vital Signs, Cementville, Keely And Du (Pulitzer Prize nominee; 1994 American Theatre Critics Association Best New Play Award), Jack And Jill (1997 American Theatre Critics Association Best New Play Award), Anton In Show Business (2001 American Theatre Critics/Steinberg Principal Citation), Mr. Bundy, and Flaming Guns Of The Purple Sage. Good Boys premiered at the Guthrie Theater in 2002. Flags was co-produced by Guthrie Theater and Mixed Blood in 2004, and her most recent work, Sez She, premiered at Illusion Theatre in April 2006.


    A word about the playwright. John Jory has directed other Jane Martin plays previously. Intriguingly, however, no one, apparently, has ever met Ms. Martin. In part, this has led to persistent rumors that she is, in fact, Mr. Jory’s alter ego. Mr. Jory himself steadfastly will not say.

    The situation here is not without precedent. Elusive novelists like J.D. Salinger come to mind, but his existence has at least been clearly documented. More mysterious are “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” author B. Traven, who claimed to have been born in Chicago but was likely the German-born Pole Otto Feige; or that favorite novelist of academia, Thomas Pynchon who possesses a full biography on Wikipedia and elsewhere without, apparently, ever having endured a confirmed sighting in the wild.

    This writer actually wrote a doctoral dissertation on Traven, who died, apparently under that name, in Mexico in 1969, a country where he became an esteemed citizen yet was rarely if ever seen. Pynchon, on the other hand, has long been rumored to be the alter-ego of Salinger himself. That’s a good story, save for one thing: Mr. Pynchon continues to publish esoterica even though Salinger departed this earthly sphere quite some time ago.

    With regard to the persistent John Jory/Jane Martin rumor, we’re essentially satisfied to leave it alone, even though solving the puzzle might be regarded in some circles as a journalistic coup.

    The elusive Traven, who hid out for years at least partially for political reasons (he was a genuine anarchist), routinely turned away all interview requests, insisting that readers could know him through his books. Perhaps this also reflects the attitude of the playwright who authored “H2O.”

    If Jane Martin or “Jane Martin” wishes to be known only through her work, so be it. Sure, it would be swell to be able to solve the mystery. But why obsess on that when we can obsess on this author’s wondrous new play instead?

    special thanks from the Contemporary American Theatre Festival

    Jon Jory served as the producing director at Actors Theatre of Louisville for thirty-one years, during which time he directed over 140 plays and produced over 1300. Mr. Jory is recognized as a chief innovator and initiator for the American theater during a crucial era of its growth. Throughout his career, Mr. Jory has devoted his energy to the rebirth of the regional repertory and to excellence in all facets of production, but especially to the encouragement of new writers and the production of new American plays. Mr. Jory is himself a published playwright. He now teaches theater at the University of Seattle. Mr. Jory has been responsible for developing the internationally lauded Humana Festival of New American Plays, the SHORTS Festival and the Classics in Context Festival. Through his work at Actors Theatre, he has brought new plays to festivals all over the world. Plays from Actors Theatre directed by Mr. Jory have been seen On- and Off-Broadway, on national television, and in 15 regional theaters in the United States. Mr. Jory has directed and taught in Greece, Canada, Bulgaria, Australia, Hungary, Israel, Ireland, Yugoslavia, Poland, Egypt, and Syria. As a result of these efforts, he and Actors Theatre have received the Margo Jones Award twice for the production of new plays, the Shubert Foundation’s James N. Vaughan Memorial Award for Exceptional Achievement and Contribution to the Development of the Professional Theatre, Carnegie Mellon’s Commitment to Playwriting Award, and a Special Tony Award for Achievement in Regional Theater. Mr. Jory was an honored recipient of the American Theatre Association’s Award for distinguished Service to Theatre, the National Theatre Conference Award, The Southeastern Theatre Conference Distinguished Career Award, and the Milner Person of the Year Award.

  • Past Seasons Video Montage

  • 2010-2011 Season

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    EXTREMES by Anne Marie Cummings

    Extremes tells a compelling story about how investors are attracted to too-good-to-be-true situations. Its themes address the incompetence of the SEC and the driving force of greed that motivates the financial industry. Frank, financial investor, sends Carla, a financial analyst and his lover, to work with his colleague in Japan to hide his financial shenanigans from the SEC and the public.Washington Post journalist, Sean, tracks Carla down to discover the truth about Frank and uncover the lies he feels the public ought to know.

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    TRUE WEST by Sam Shepard

    In True West, Austin is the over-achieving brother, house-sitting for his mother and working on a script he has sold to producer Saul Kimmer. When Lee, the older brother and a demented petty thief, drops in, all hell breaks loose. Lee “pitches” his own idea for a movie to Kimmer, who then wants Austin to junk his bleak, modern love story and write Lee’s trashy Western tale. Eventually, Mom comes home to interrupt her sons’ terrifyingly surreal encounter.

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    FAT PIG by Neil LaBute

    This provocative play tells the story of Tom, an eligible bachelor who falls for the bright, funny, and plus-sized Helen. Tom is overjoyed with his new relationship, but his snarky co-workers are less enthusiastic. Their cruel jabs force Tom to question his own values and the importance of conventional good looks.

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    BURN THIS by Lanford Wilson

    Burn This begins shortly after the funeral of Robbie, a young gay dancer who drowned in a boating accident. In attendance are his roommates, choreographer Anna and ad man Larry. Soon joining them in Robbie’s lower-Manhattan loft are screenwriter Burton, Anna’s longtime lover, and Pale, Robbie’s coke-snorting, hyperactive restaurant-manager brother from Montclair, New Jersey. In the face of their shared tragedy, the quartet attempts to make sense of their lives and reconsider their own identities and relationships.

  • 2014-2015 Season

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    EASY PREY, short film (45 minutes) by Anne Marie Cummings. Co-writers Effie Johnson and Evan Stewart Eisenberg

    Six characters tell their side of the story regarding one tragic bullying incident.

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    PHOTOGRAPH 51 by Anna Ziegler

    A funny and moving portrait of the unrequited life of Rosalind Franklin, one of the great female scientists of the twentieth century and her fervid drive to map the contours of the DNA molecule. A play about ambition, isolation, and the race for greatness.

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    WRECKS by neil labute

    Can someone honestly love a person whom they have deceived for thirty years? This is the central question behind WRECKS, Neil LaBute’s foray into the dark side of human nature. Meet Edward Carr: loving father, successful businessman, grieving widower. In this concise powerhouse of a play, LaBute limns the boundaries of love, exploring the limits of what society will accept versus what the heart will desire.

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    SINKHOLE by Anne Marie Cummings

    In SINKHOLE, a couple (Mark and Jane) have recently moved to Los Angeles with their two young boys (Ricky and Joey). Jane was held at gunpoint when returning home one afternoon and was almost killed. Seeking help, she calls Mark’s sister (Sofi) and her husband (Jerry). The play begins shortly after Sofi and Jerry have arrived to L.A. from NYC. Jerry, a police officer with the NYPD, freely gives his advice to Mark and Jane when they stop to talk to Sofi and Jerry before heading off to bed: to buy a gun. Things like open marriages, racism, and not knowing what to do when the rug has been pulled out from under you are discussed. After a long night, everyone has revealed their dark secrets and the gaping holes in their lives are all too apparent. By the end, the characters find themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum regarding one of the most controversial issues in America today.

  • 2013-2014 Season

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    COLLECTED STORIES by Donald Margulies

    In Donald Margulies’ play, COLLECTED STORIES, he returns to the themes of the creative process, this time focusing on two writers—one just starting out, the other a veteran—and the relationship that blossoms between them as the older mentors her student, shepherding her toward the first glimmers of success and acclaim. Beautiful, heartfelt, tightly written, Margulies shows us, in six sharp scenes, set in each of six years in his characters’ lives, the everyday moments that make up two lives, the small disappointments and smaller triumphs, the white lies and seemingly minor betrayals that mark a relationship.

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    GOD OF CARNAGE by Yasmina Reza

    A playground altercation between eleven-year-old boys brings together two sets of Brooklyn parents for a meeting to resolve the matter. At first, diplomatic niceties are observed, but as the meeting progresses, and the rum flows, tensions emerge and the gloves come off, leaving the couples with more than just their liberal principles in tatters.

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    SHOULD'VE by Roald Hoffmann

    The lives of Katie (a molecular biologist), her lover Stefan (a conceptual artist), and Julia (Katie’s stepmother), are fractured by the suicide of Katie’s father, Friedrich Wertheim, a German-born chemist. Wertheim blames himself for putting an easy way to make a neurotoxin into the hands of terrorists; but the motives for his action aren’t as simple as they might first seem. In 29 fast-moving scenes, there emerges a remarkable set of circumstances about Wertheim’s parents’ survival in Nazi Germany, and an ethical conflict between Katie and her father that is very deep. A play about the social responsibility of scientists and artists on one level, Should’ve is also about three people trying to resist the transforming power of death.

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    Betty and Bobby are sister and brother, but they have little in common. She’s a college professor with a prim demeanor, and he’s a carpenter with a foul mouth and violent streak. Betty has a history of promiscuity that Bobby won’t let her forget, and from their first taunting exchanges there are intimations also of the history between them. Yet on the night when Betty urgently needs help to empty her cabin in the woods—the cabin she’s been renting to a male student—she calls on Bobby. In this exhilarating play of secrets and sibling rivalry, which had its premiere in London’s West End in 2011, Neil LaBute unflinchingly explores the dark territory beyond, as Bobby sneeringly says, “the lies you tell yourself to get by.”

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    DETROIT by Lisa D'Amour

    Mary and Ben are a couple living in a nameless suburb outside a midsize American city. Mary works as a paralegal, but Ben has recently been laid off from his job as a loan officer at a bank. His Plan B is to start a website for people seeking advice about getting out of debt. As the play beings, Ben is getting ready to throw steaks on the grill for their new next door neighbors,
    Sharon and Kenny. As the action in this play unfolds, the quintessential American backyard party turns quickly into
    something more dangerous.

  • 2012-2013 Season

    poster art

    NO CHILD by Nilaja Sun

    No Child is a one-woman tour-de-force, is that of an idealistic young teaching artists who leads a class of rowdy Bronx 10th graders in a theatrical performance. A chameleonic Henderson will play 16 roles in this uplifting, and often funny play. She uses nothing but her flexible body and polychromatic voice to represent the characters that Sun created after spending nine years working in some of New York’s toughest schools. Henderson will play students, teachers, administrators, a janitor, a wand-wielding security officer who inhabit a big-city school fictionalized as Malcolm X High.

    poster art

    THE MERCY SEAT by Neil LaBute

    The Mercy Seat was among the first major theatrical responses to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Set on September 12, it concerns Ben, a man who worked at the World Trade Center but was away from the office during the attack, with his mistress, Abby, who is also his boss. Expecting that his family believes that he was killed in the towers’ collapse, Ben contemplates using the tragedy to run away and start a new life with his lover.

    Sight Unseen by Donald Margulies

    Sight Unseen is about Jonathan Waxman, superstar artist, who, just before his works are celebrated at an exhibition in London, journeys to the village where his former lover, Patricia, lives with her British husband. In Patricia’s cold, remote house, Jonathan discovers an early painting of Patricia that he’d done when they were young lovers. In scenes that dart from past to present and back, the characters are forced to deal with questions of anti-Semitism and the sadness of lost love.

    poster art

    OLEANNA by David Mamet

    OLEANNA provoked fierce debates about sexual harassment and gender politics. Written during the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas sexual harassment scandal, this play, about a female student accusing her male professor of sexual impropriety, divided audiences between those who were angered by the student and what they perceived as fabricated sexual harassment charges leveled by her as a tool to gain power, and those who sympathized with the student, angry instead at the play’s image of a scheming woman as an attack on the right of women to defend themselves from improper sexual advances.

    poster art

    K2 by Patrick Meyers

    K2 is about two American mountain climbers, Taylor and Harold, who suffer a treacherous fall that leaves them stranded on an icy ledge at 27,000 ft on K2, the world’s 2nd highest mountain peak. Harold suffers a broken leg, and Taylor desperately devises to recover a lost rope; their only hope to pull themselves to safety. As chances for survival grow dimmer, the men are forced to confront their greatest fear; their own mortality. When Taylor’s attempts to rescue the second rope fail, and the desperation of their situation can no longer be denied, the bond between the two men is put to the test.

  • 2011-2012 Season

    poster art

    FROZEN by Bryony Lavery

    Frozen addresses very important issues that affect communities all over the world: the disappearance of a child and its repercussions. The play unfolds as a counterpoint of three voices. Nancy is the mother of Rhona, a 10-year-old who disappears on her way to her grandmother’s house nearby in a British suburb. Agnetha is an American in London to research her thesis titled, “Serial Killing: A Forgivable Act?” Ralph is a tattooed drifter who becomes a dominant figure in both women’s lives.

    poster art

    A STEADY RAIN by Keith Huff

    At the center of A Steady Rain is the changing relationship between two men: Denny is a blustering family guy with skewed notions of domestic and professional honor, and Joey is a more inhibited, slightly priggish bachelor. Under interrogation lamps, the two deliver alternating accounts of the high voltage chain of events that jeopardized their friendship and careers. The result is a difficult journey into a moral gray area where trust and loyalty struggle for survival.

    poster art

    ART by Yasmina Reza

    In Art, three long-time friends’ relationship is suddenly tossed into crisis when one of them, indulging his penchant for modern art, buys an expensive white painting, which creates an ongoing debate over the value of the painting. Emotions run high and the conflict escalates to the point of nearly destroying long-standing friendships.

    poster art

    UNCLE VANYA by Anton Chekhov (the David Mamet Adaptation)

    In Uncle Vanya, a retired professor and his beautiful young wife return to the country estate left by his deceased first wife to find themselves, along with the other characters, overwhelmed by the stagnant inevitability of the rituals of their lives and class. Today, people of all ages can appreciate this beautiful and poetic play by identifying with the main character. Vanya is a man who has worked hard his entire life, a man who feels he cannot live another day doing what he loathes for very little, a man who pines for true love (not the unrequited love he is familiar with), and a man who realizes he could lose everything he has worked for because of the fragility of his circumstances.

  • Past Speakers

    For our first four seasons, The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca matched professors from Ithaca College, Cornell University, and professionals from the community to the plays we produced to give free 15-minute talk-backs to our audiences. The talk-backs were designed to delight and inspire listeners by connecting audiences to the ideas that energize playwrights. During the question and answer period following the talk-backs, audiences had an opportunity to have a dialogue and share their experiences with one another. Starting with our fifth season, we introduced something new to audiences at our new location – CINEMAPOLIS, Ithaca’s only independent movie theatre: On screen Skype interviews with the playwrights. Following the interviews, audience members have an opportunity to mingle with the cast and director in the lobby at Cinemapolis.

    2013-2014 SEASON

    NYS Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton GOD OF CARNAGE, by Yasmina Reza

    Title of Talk-Back: "Bullying And What Our Community Can Do About It."

    Richard Polenberg from Cornell University GOD OF CARNAGE, by Yasmina Reza

    Title of Talk-Back: "The History of Bullying in America."

    City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick and Ithaca Police Department Chief, John Barber GOD OF CARNAGE, by Yasmina Reza

    Title of Talk-Back: "Bullying And What Our Community Can Do About It."

    Alexi Zentner, Author of Touch and Writing Professor at Binghamton University COLLECTED STORIES, by Donald Margulies

    Title of Talk-Back: "On the Mentor-Mentee Relationship"

    Jeanne Mackin, Author and Writing Professor at Ithaca College COLLECTED STORIES, by Donald Margulies

    Title of Talk-Back: "On the Mentor-Mentee Relationship"

    Shawn Goodman, Author of Something Like Hope COLLECTED STORIES, by Donald Margulies

    Title of Talk-Back: "On the Mentor-Mentee Relationship"

    2012-2013 SEASON

    Svante Myrick, City of Ithaca Mayor NO CHILD, by Nilaja Sun

    Title of Talk-Back: “Overcoming Obstacles in the American Education System”

    Stephanie Wiles, Director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University SIGHT UNSEEN, by Donald Margulies

    Title of Talk-Back: “Art and Commerce”

    Peter Rothbart, Electroacoustic Composition Professor at Ithaca College THE MERCY SEAT, by Neil LaBute

    Title of Talk-Back: “Composing Music for The Mercy Seat”

    Rebecca Golding, Ithaca Psychologist THE MERCY SEAT, by Neil LaBute

    Title of Talk-Back: “9/11 and the Psychology Behind Escape”

    Vivian Relta, Coordinator of the Cornell Interactive Theatre Ensemble OLEANNA, by David Mamet

    Title of Talk-Back: “Listening to Be Heard or Listening to Be Right”

    John Suter, Nonprofit Organization Management OLEANNA, by David Mamet

    Title of Talk-Back: “Listening to Be Heard or Listening to Be Right”

    Richard Polenberg, Marie Underhill Noll Professor of History at Cornell University OLEANNA, by David Mamet

    Title of Talk-Back: “History: The Mamet/Clarence Thomas Connection”

    Anne Marie Cummings, Founder and Artistic Director of The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca OLEANNA, by David Mamet

    Title of Talk-Back: “A Director Prepares: Examining Complex Characters”

    Todd Miner, Former Executive Director of Cornell Outdoor Education K2, by Patrick Meyers

    Title of Talk-Back: “Being at High Altitude”

    Gail Holst-Warhaft, Cornell University Professor in the Departments of Classics, Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Studies K2, by Patrick Meyers

    Title of Talk-Back: “Silence and Nature”

    2011-2012 SEASON

    Carolyn Peterson & Edward Vallely, Former City of Ithaca Mayor and Former Chief of the Ithaca Police Department FROZEN, by Bryony Lavery

    Title of Talk-Back: “When Children and Adults Go Missing: How the Community Can Help”

    Richard Polenberg, Marie Underhill Noll Professor of History at Cornell University A STEADY RAIN, by Keith Huff.

    “The Facts Behind the Fiction: Chicago Police and Jeffrey Dahmer”

    Frank Robinson, Former Director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University ART, by Yasmina Reza

    Title of Talk-Back: “What is Art?”

    Bruce Levitt, Professor in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Dance at Cornell University UNCLE VANYA, by Anton Chekhov

    Title of Talk-Back: “Understanding Adaptations”

  • Past Sponsors

    Corporate Sponsors

    • Alternatives Federal Credit Union
    • Cornell University
    • Fraternal Order of Eagles, #1253
    • Roald Hoffmann
    • Ithaca Bakery
    • KIONIX, Inc.
    • Josh and Kristi Lower
    • Mighty Yoga
    • Silk Oak
    • Tompkins Trust Company

    Supporting Sponsors

    • Acting Out New York
    • Alternatives Federal Credit Union
    • AMBER Alert
    • Barnes and Noble, Ithaca
    • Buffalo Street Books
    • Center for Transformative Action
    • Cinemapolis
    • Cornell Outdoor Education
    • Dream Catalyst
    • Eastern Mountain Sports
    • Elisa Sciscioli
    • Finger Lakes ReUse
    • Former Mayor Carolyn Peterson
    • GreenStar
    • Ithaca Bakery
    • Ithaca College Writing Department
    • Lincoln Street Diner
    • Mayor Svante Myrick
    • McNeil Music
    • Red Feet Wine Market & Spirit Provisions
    • State of the Art Gallery
    • Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service
    • Sustainable Tompkins
    • The Ithaca Police Department
    • The Multicultural Resource Center
    • The Nines
    • Tompkins Connect Young Professionals
    • Trumansburg Rotary Club

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