We are thrilled to announce that Ruth Margraff is a client of the Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency
“Ruth Margraff is a playwright with a singular voice whose work pushes boundaries... challenging any expectations we might bring” ~The Brooklyn Rail (NYC)
“Ruth Margraff is a powerful voice in contemporary American theatre”
~The Telegraph (Calcutta INDIA) ~
“Ruth Margraff has the mentality of Thomas Merton eating alive William S. Burroughs...a savage imagination and a very sweet affect”~NPR's All Things Considered: Rebellion in Regional Ranks
“Ruth Margraff is shaping the future of American theatre…a warrior riding the vanguard of New Wave opera...She travels everywhere, like an electrifying idea...”
RUTH MARGRAFF (librettist/lyricist/playwright) has been called a leader in new American opera for her “audaciously original" (Moscow Times) use of lyric language that provide Fulbright Foundation: New Opera (Athens, Thessaloniki, Paros & Crete, GREECE), etc. etc. “layer after layer of richly textured emotion...and imminent danger” (Dallas Morning News). Critically acclaimed for writing martial arts operas Deadly She-Wolf… and a Voice of the Dragon trilogy with the late composer Fred Ho for the Apollo, Guggenheim Museum, LaMama, Brooklyn Academy of Music she enjoyed commercially successful tours through Columbia Arts Management, Inc. to 33 cities in 2003 with support from ICM Artists and the World Music Institute. Ruth’s Night Wind from Afghanistan for the play SEVEN, has toured the world since 2008, introduced in 2010 by Hillary Clinton with Meryl Streep at the Broadway Hudson Theater. And her Café Antarsia Ensemble created PREVIOUSLY BLUE (Dah Teatar, Serbia; 7Stages, Atlanta; Coe College/ Marquis Series, Dows Theatre, Iowa; Links Hall); THREE GRACES, WELLSPRING and JUDGES 19: BLACK LUNG EXHALING which have toured all over the US and: internationally: Azerbaijani National Theater and International Mugham Center (Baku, AZERBAIJAN), Bibliotheca Alexandrina International Summer Festival (Alexandria, EGYPT), Cairo Jazz Club (Cairo, EGYPT), Accidental Festival/Institute for Contemporary Arts (London, UK), Festivalul International de Teatru de la Sibiu Festival, National Theater of Cluj Euphorion Studio (Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca, ROMANIA); Novaja Drama Festival/Moscow Art Theatre/Golden Mask, Club B2 and Bolshoi Zal (Moscow, RUSSIA); BELEF/Beogradski Letnji Festival, Dah Teatar/Rex Centre (Belgrade, SERBIA); Festivale des Concerts a l'Anglicane Holy Trinity de Lakefield (Montreal, QUEBEC); Junction Arts Festival Centerstage (Toronto, ONTARIO), Karantena Performing Arts Festival (Dubrovnik, CROATIA); PreGlej Na Glas!/Wax Factory (Ljubljana, SLOVENIA); Artemovszk 38 Flagship/Danube River and Trafó-Kortars Muveszetek Haza (Budapest, HUNGARY); Pøíští Vlna-Next Wave Festival, Rock Café Praha, Klub v Jeleni (Prague, CZECH REP); Skek Café (Amsterdam, NL) Rebetiko Music Festival/Melina Mercouri Hall, Hydra International Arts Festival (Isle of Hydra, GREECE); Municipal Library for Mayor of Paros (Isle of Paros, GREECE); Finikas Taverna (Isle of Crete, GREECE); Aymakent, Hotel Uyan (Istanbul, TURKEY); etc. with awards from American Composers Forum, TCG/International Theater Institute, Trust for Mutual Understanding of New York, Arts International, JPMorgan Grant for Small Ensembles, Meet the Composer Global Connections.
Recent work includes her FANTASY ISLAND FOR DUMMIES (lowcut daydream too near, too near) premiering Sept 29-Nov 5, 2016 at Trap Door Theater, following her acclaimed 2012 production of ANGER/FLY devised also with director Kate Hendrickson (Chicago). She developed her new opera THE PASSION OF LEYLA with an NEA Artworks commission at San Jose Stage Company this summer; and her LOCKET ARIAS with Nautilus’ Rough Cut new opera series and Opera on Tap (Minneapolis/St. Paul); FLEUR DE LYS for the Union Stockyards Ballroom/Great Plains Theater (Omaha), THE ELEKTRA FUGUES 2016 Varna International Theater Festival with Peculiar Works Project (Bulgaria); WILD RICE and FLIGHT for choreographer Peggy Choy at UW/Native Nations Summit Fluno Center (Madison); ANNE UNDER PARIS SKIES for Jason Phelps' 2014 Feast of My Heart at Salvage Vanguard Theater (Austin); and “All Of This” for a 2014 US/Russia playwrights' exchange curated by Ksenia Dragunskaya at Boyarskiye Palaty (Russia). Ruth has received awards from Rockefeller, McKnight, Jerome, NEA, TCG, TMUNY, NYSCA, IAC, Fulbright foundations, and is also published by Innova Records, Dramatists Play Service, American Theatre, Theater Forum, Performing Arts Journal, Playscripts, Inc., Backstage Books, Autonomedia, New Village Press, NoPassport Press, Lexington Books/Roman & Littlefield. She’s a member of Theater Without Borders, League of Professional Theater Women, Red Tape Theater, a New Dramatist and Playwrights’ Center alumnae, a Chicago Dramatist playwright emeritus, and Professor and Chair of the Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. www.RuthMargraff.com
~The Austin Chronicle~
WHY THIS CHICANO IS MAKING 'BRUJOS,' A WEB SERIES ABOUT MAGICAL QUEER PEOPLE OF COLOR
BY RAQUEL REICHARD • NOVEMBER 18, 2016, LATINA
It’s been a difficult year for LGBTQ Latinxs. In June, the community was hit with the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history when a gunman charged into Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on Latin night, killing 49 people and injuring dozens more – most of whom were Latinx. More recently, the country elected Donald Trump, a candidate who centered his campaign on anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant rhetoric and proposals, and his running mate Mike Pence, arguably the biggest political opponent of LGBTQ rights of our time, as the next president and vice president, respectively.
Overcoming these atrocious moments of hate takes power and resilience – qualities Ricardo Gamboa wants to emphasize in queer and trans people of color in his upcoming web series, Brujos.
The show, which debuts on January 20, the day Trump-Pence take office, is about LGBTQ grad school students who are also witches and are battling the descendants of early U.S. colonists, who happen to be witch-hunters.
According to the Chicago native, New York-living Mexican-American, Brujos is both a reclaiming of the mystical knowledges of our ancestors and a statement about the magiain every queer and trans person of color.
Ahead, Gamboa, 35, talked with us about the show, his experience with brujería, why media representations of LGBTQ people of color are so essential and more.
How would you describe Brujos?
It’s a queer of color web series comprised of 12 seven-minute episodes, and each one corresponds with the signs in the Zodiac cycle. The show follows four gay Latino doctoral students as they try to survive a witch-hunt led by the straight, white wealthy male descendants of the first New World colonizers.
Where did the idea behind Brujos come from?
It came from my own research and from growing up Mexican, where alternative ways of knowing and magic are part of your everyday culture. But it also came from asking questions, like what makes it possible to regulate people’s bodies and why do we see queer people as health hazards. What queer and trans people of color see in the media seldom reflects our reality. And when we do see ourselves represented in media, it reinforces values of dominant culture, using affluence, for example, as ways to affirm and represent non-normative people. People of color, queer folks and working-class people are grossly underrepresented in media, and so a lot of the show is comprised of testimonies from queer men of color, my own academic research and my own experience with brujería. I’m trying to make something that is invested in social change and entertainment.
How have you, personally, been influenced by brujería?
It’s something I always grew up with. As I got older, I just thought, well, that’s a folklore, shit my grandmother believes. Then when I went through my first major heartbreak, it hit me really hard, and I went to see a therapist. But that made too much sense for me, so I went to a psychic and tarot reader, and everything they said, down to the day and hour, happened. There’s something about heartbreak. It makes you emotionally raw and open, and that helped me to accept these other things, like my connections to brujería and toward psychic intelligences.
This, at its core, seems to be a series about LGBTQ friendships and relationships, particularly among queer people of color. Why is this representation so important?
Brujos is so important. It’s not just about gay Latinos. The cast includes a lot of women of color and trans people of color. It was important for me to create media that looks at the intersection of these identities and how these identities shape and affect each other and create forms of community across different movements for social change. Also, you do see relationships and intimacy. In mainstream media, we see the same tropes about people of color and queer people, you know, someone will get AIDS or will be beaten up and killed or participates in some aspect of street criminality. I didn’t want to continue to limit our imagination. If we don’t see alternative imagery, we can’t imagine alternatives to dominate social relations and structures.
Read the full interview
New Pilot in Chicago This Month: Actor Elizabeth Laidlaw and Playwright Mia McCullough are teaming up to co-direct and co-produce the pilot THE HAVEN
From Screen Magazine
New Pilot in Chicago This Month
November 11, 2016 by Mike McNamara
"There is a new pilot gearing up to shoot in Chicago this month, helmed by two celebrated stalwarts of the city's renowned theatre community. Actor Elizabeth Laidlaw and playwright Mia McCullough are teaming up to co-direct and co-produce the pilot THE HAVEN, shooting this month and eyeing an early 2017 release.
"THE HAVEN is based on my experiences working at a domestic violence shelter," explained co-director McCullough. "I always knew it was a killer vehicle for a series --- a TV show has never been set in a shelter before --- but before ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK came out I wasn't really sure it was marketable. Thankfully OITNB proved that people will watch a show that features mostly women and people of color. I know it sounds like a potentially depressing topic, but there is a whole lot of hilarity and weirdness going down at a DV shelter."
As for what this pilot could mean to Chicago and to McCullough/Laidlaw... "We love that so many shows are shooting in Chicago now, but nothing is written or produced here, and Chicago actors are mostly used as day players," commented McCullough. "We have unbelievably talented artists here, and we want to stop the talent migration to the coasts by employing actors, writers, and directors from Chicago in Chicago. In this day and age, there's no reason why everything needs to happen in LA. It's a matter of proving that it can be done, and hoping others will follow in our footsteps."
"I've always felt that it's important to tell stories about women and their struggles, and THE HAVEN gives us the opportunity to employ so many artists. We're really excited to have a predominantly female crew for the pilot, as well as the cast. And four of our six actors are people of color."
McCullough closed with a look back at the historic happenings this past Tuesday, "After the election results this week, it feels that much more important for us to tell these stories, to validate the experiences of the disregarded in our society. So while I'm demoralized by the election results, I'm really proud of what we're doing."
THE HAVEN plans to film throughout the Chicagoland area, primarily in the neighborhoods of Andersonville and Lincoln Square as well as the neighbor to the north, Evanston."
To support THE HAVEN with your generous donation as they head into production, please click here. And as always, I'll keep you posted!
Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, www.midwestfilm.org. Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at www.findmac.com.
From HowlRound by Rachel Bykowski
"I had the pleasure of viewing the Chicago Dramatists’ world premiere production of American Beauty Shop by Dana Lynn Formby, directed by Megan Shuchman and Chicago’s Oracle Theatre’s world premiere of good friday by Kristiana Rae Colón, directed by Tara Branham. Both plays featured an all-female cast and unapologetically shouted our truths...
Formby stated, “I wrote a play with all women in honor of the women who raised me.” American Beauty Shop is about a woman named Sue who is trying to send her daughter, Judy, off to MIT and keep her beauty shop, The Sugar Shack, afloat. During the play, Sue is in the process of patenting a new hair product that is sure to put The Sugar Shack back on the map. Complications strike when Judy finds out she is pregnant. What follows is a well-balanced and thoughtful argument about the pros and cons of the daughter getting an abortion or choosing to raise the baby. In the end, American Beauty Shop shows the importance of taking control of your life and being allowed to make your own choices...
Colón’s good friday, asked: who is truly to blame for violence against women? This play did not mince words. Colón unrepentantly used her play to blatantly indict the patriarchy (and the men and women who support it) for the vicious attacks on women’s bodies and the popular acceptance of rape culture. The play takes place during a college campus shooting where a group of women lock themselves in their women’s studies class for safety. The fear that no one will believe a college woman’s sexual assault story forces one woman to take matters into her own hands and send a message to all the men across her campus. The production reveals the raw and painful truth these rape survivors must endure. The performance is filled with sounds of gunfire, props toppled over, the set smeared with blood, and the actresses baring their hearts and souls onstage. At the performance I attended, at the end of the play, the actresses took their bows then immediately formed a large circle, hugging and comforting each other. This was not because the play had done damage to them, but because the play had revealed a truth about womanhood that is often buried too deep in our hearts for words to comprehend...
Plays like good friday and American Beauty Shop need to find more theatres willing to produce them across America. If the men in our field and in our audience are resolute in creating a more level playing field, then they will need to embrace our anger and support us by listening and believing in our stories. In order to change the dismal non-parity nature of the American theatre, each experience must be represented on the stage as well behind the scenes in administrative positions. We need to produce more plays by women of the LGBT community, genderqueer, women of color, and women with disabilities. Most importantly, though, we as women must lead by example and listen to each other."
Peninsula Players presents...
June 13 – July 2, 2017
A world première comedy-drama, in reverse by Steven Peterson
Romance, marriage, family – told in reverse! Ed Brooks is an actuary and considers himself the most boring man in the world. He and his loving wife Barb, an enthusiastic sales leader for Bonnie Bay Cosmetics who drives a purple Cadillac, attend a baby shower for their daughter Tabitha, due in four days. At the shower is her husband Lyle (in the middle of developing a killer app called Whozit) and their close friends Avery and Richard, who are engaged to be married. The highlight of the party is to be the “Baby Shower Bombshell,” a sealed envelope Ed has brought telling them whether it’s a boy or a girl. The envelope is opened and the surprising news within jolts the party guests. Being the kind of guy nobody notices actually helps as Ed takes us backward in time to show us how he has tried to rescue his beloved daughter from an unhappy marriage. The Actuary is about family, it’s about love and it’s about a man who discovers that, perhaps, he is not so boring as he thought.
Ticket Prices:$38, $41 & $44.
Show Times:8PM Tuesday – Saturday and 7:30PM on Sunday except July 2nd at 4PM.
There is a reading of "good friday"
by Kristiana Rae Colón
Wednesday, November 16th in New York
at 100 Washington Sq East, Rm #120 from 6-8pm.
To Be Woke
A Review of good friday at Oracle Productions
"Sure to be on the short list of outstanding Chicago plays this year, Kristiana Rae Colón’s “good friday” is a provocative examination of our culture of complacency. It widens the scope of brutal patriarchal influence to include the very group most susceptible to its effects: women. Its production at Oracle Theatre, with its immensely talented and predominantly female cast and crew, is the very definition of “woke.”...
Bearing witness to this truly breathtaking play is like watching an exercise in polemics become conscious of and begin to question itself. “good friday” is fiercely intellectual yet that intelligence is rooted deep within the playwright’s mastery of dramatic structure and her utter command of language. Colón’s play is forceful but not insistent..." Kevin Greene, Newcity Stage
“Broken Fences” Explores Urban Cultural Divide While Showcasing Goals and Talent of the NiA Company
“Broken Fences” by Steven Simoncic Explores Urban Cultural Divide While Showcasing Goals and Talent of the NiA Company Review by August Krickel
At one level, Broken Fences is a touching and straightforward account of two young families coping with issues of identity: who they are, who they want to be, and how they may or may not be defined by where they live. At another level, the play is a cautionary and somewhat didactic tale of the perils of gentrification, i.e. the process where affluent professionals - often white - move to inner-city neighborhoods, driving up property values and therefore property taxes, and driving out working class families - often African-American - who have lived there for generations. While Steven Simoncic's script sometimes gets sidetracked, the play is an opportune vehicle to showcase the strengths, talents, and goals of the NiA Theatre Company, Columbia's intentionally nomadic, multi-ethnic theatrical troupe.
April (Heather McCue) still wears Nirvana t-shirts and colors her hair pink in her 30's; her husband Czar (Nathan Dawson) sports tattoos, a bushy beard, a mustache with carefully-curled tips, and hair closely-cropped on the sides, enabling him to pull the rest up into man-bun while he does yoga. These visual cues instantly define this expectant couple as both hipsters and yuppies before they ever speak a word of dialogue. We know this couple – if they lived in Columbia, rather than the play’s Chicago setting, we’d know where they drink $7 craft beers, which indie movie theater they attend, and from which farmers’ market they purchase organically-grown vegetables. Rejecting the homogeneity and privilege of the suburbs, they buy a newly remodeled home in an area where corporate chains and their customers are squeezing out the already struggling residents. Hoody (Darion McCloud) lives next door with his fiancé "D" (Ericka Wright) in the family home where he was raised, and where his troubled friend Esto (Tristan Pack) and restless, entrepreneurially-minded brother Marz (Zach Woods) periodically turn up. Both couples try to reach out to each other, and, left on their own, might overcome cultural barriers to forge some bond. Thanks to new development and homes being "flipped," however, a tripled property tax bill threatens Hoody's already strained-finances, and he and D face the imminent danger of losing their home. Czar and April meanwhile begin to find crack pipes and gang graffiti in their backyard.
Director McCloud anchored the play on opening weekend, stepping in to play Hoody at the last minute, and found nuance, meaning, and eloquence in a simple blue-collar worker's words. McCue mined the emotional depths of a self-described "B-cup, B-student" who assumed assorted personas as a way to rebel and to attract attention, only to find unexpected potential fulfillment as a wife and mother. Pack faced a tough challenge portraying a small-time street hustler unable to transition into mainstream society, but the actor handled the character's rage and frustration nicely without falling into stereotype. Dawson is one of those dependable actors who can morph into almost any type of character, from Tom Cruise’s cocky lawyer role in A Few Good Men at Workshop a few years ago, to the eccentric British naturalist Stapleton – a role played once by no less than William Shatner – in Chapin’s recent Hound of the Baskervilles; he was quite convincing as Czar, a decent guy who is uncomfortable with conflict he neither sought nor anticipated. Ericka Wright played D with fire and sass, juggling the character's resentment of April's overtures of friendship with her realization that April is just trying to help.
Many of the actors also deliver monologues, dropping some of the accents and mannerisms of their characterizations, and revealing the inner thoughts of their characters directly to the audience. While these speeches are delivered with passion and sincerity - especially by McCue - I felt these detracted from the natural flow of the play's narrative, as did a couple of awkward scenes of comedy intended to mock some of the characters’ cultural differences. The core story would be a decent plotline of under two hours, but the monologues and comic relief added an additional - and I feel unnecessary - 30 minutes, although the cast nevertheless performed these scenes proficiently. McCloud's direction was crisp, creating naturalism and credibility. The curtain-free, bare stage of the CMFA ArtSpace can pose a huge obstacle to verisimilitude, and McCloud has wisely opted for simple props - a few chairs, tables, and doors - that are enhanced by natural blocking and movement. One never cares about the absence of an actual set because the actors command the audience's attention throughout. Only the fence that separates the two family's yards is mimed, making a statement in its own way: the sole barrier between the neighbors, and their respective cultures, is in their minds - and in ours. Broken Fences tackles important issues in a believable and relatable manner, providing ample acting opportunities for the cast, and causing the audience to think – a long-time goal of The NiA Theatre Company, which takes its name from the Swahili word for “purpose.”
The Realization of Emily Linder, by Richard Strand is the third seriously funny new play in a row at the Rep by nationally acclaimed author Richard Strand. Once again he handles life, death, and family with great humor, love and respect.
Emily Linder, a retired French Professor claims clairvoyance. She predicts the exact day and evening of her death. To the consternation of her two grown daughters she also dictates strange and specific funeral plans. The result is both hilarious and moving.
“Linder” is a story about growing old, about breaking old habits, about renewing the mind and recharging life.
Resident Scene Designer and Director, Harry Wetzel, is the director of “Linder.”
8:30 P.M. Thursdays and Fridays
3 P.M. & 8:30 P.M Saturdays
2 P.M. & 7:30 P.M. Sundays.
General Admission for all seats, all performances is $17 for advance sales; $20 for door sales. For ticket availability call the Box Office 313-868-1347.
Contact: Kelly Pino
Detroit Repertory Theatre
13103 Woodrow Wilson
Detroit, MI 48328
Ph: (313) 868-1347
"Caged by Life, Cowed by Death"
A Review of Chagrin Falls at The Agency Theater Collective
by Irene Hsiao
"...Mia McCullough’s 2001 play “Chagrin Falls” makes clear that the emphatic intensity of country life emerges from its propinquity to death. Residents of the titular Oklahoma town have two options for industry: slaughterhouse or prison. As young prison guard Thaddeus (Cody Lucas) notes, “I can either keep people in cages or kill cows. I never met a cow that did me wrong.”
...Under Sommer Austin’s direction, The Agency Theater Collective presents a production that punches. Every resident of Chagrin Falls seems like they were born behind the bar of Irene’s motel. The relationships are intense and temporary as romances, fraught with untidiness and loss, dark as the guts we pretend not to see and claim not to have."
The Agency Theater Collective at The Den Theatre, 1333 North Milwaukee, (773)680-4596, $28. Through December 11.
Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency, Inc.
Representing writers since 1928.