THE ARS NOVA PRODUCTION OF
UNDERGROUND RAILROAD GAME
30 JAN â€“ 17 FEB
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30 JAN – 17 FEB BE C K E T T T H E AT R E
‘IN-ALL-WAYS SENSATIONAL’ — The New York Times
C R E AT E D BY / Jennif er Ki d w e ll & Scott R. Sheppard with Lightning Ro d Sp e c i a l DIRECTION / Taib i Ma g a r CAST / Jennif e r Ki d w e ll Scott R. Sh e p p a rd PRODUCTION DESIGN / Til l y Gri m e s SCENIC DESIGN / Stev e n Du fa la LIGHTING DESIGN / Oona Cu rle y SOUND DESIGN / Mikaal Su la i m a n
FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHER / Ry a n Bou rq u e M O V E M E N T C O N S U LTA N T / Da v i d Ne u ma n n P R O D U C T I O N S TA G E MANAGER / Li s a McGi n n A S S I S TA N T S TA G E M A N A G E R / Na t a l i e Hr a t ko PRODUCTION MANAGER & TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / Br a n d on Whe a t LIGHTING & S O U N D S U P E RV I S O R / Sa m Ju hn ke O R I G I N A L LY D E V E L O P E D I N C O L L A B O R AT I O N / w i t h Sa r a h Sa nf ord
SPECIAL THANKS Ars Nova and the creators would like to thank the community of artists in Philadelphia and New York City who have graciously given their time and talent to develop this piece since 2013.
Malthouse Theatre presents The Ars Nova Production of Underground Railroad Game. The New York premiere of Underground Railroad Game was presented by Ars Nova (Opening Night Sept 26, 2016). Underground Railroad Game premiered in the 2015 Fringe Festival presented by FringeArts in Philadelphia, PA.
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What inspired Underground Railroad Game, and how did you develop it together? S: In Hanover, which is a small town in South Central Pennsylvania, USA, there’s a lot of reenactment culture and historical tourism because it’s near Gettysburg, the site of the bloodiest and most consequential battle of the American Civil War. There was a thematic unit for every grade, which for fifth graders was the Civil War. They decided that it was going to be a live action roleplaying educational war. One of the games we played was called the Underground Railroad game, in which teachers explained that dolls were going to stand in for fleeing slaves. The teachers split the class into two groups—the Union soldiers and the Confederate soldiers. If you were a Union student then you would earn points for each safe house you were able to safely transport a doll to. The Confederate students were out to catch you. Years later, the game started to resonate with me in a different way, revealing a lot of the unknown or latent cultural assumptions, blind spots, and racism rampant in my hometown. I told this story to Jenn when we were in Pig Iron’s School for Advanced Performance Training. The idea was to use this as a jumping off point to explore dares, games, and the ways in which competition can reveal
things about ourselves that we would normally protect, censor, or edit. The reality of a middle school and two teachers became central threads of the piece later on. J: One pivotal moment of research for us was attending the National Portrait Gallery in Philadelphia and watching a talk given by a federally funded historian/park ranger about the Underground Railroad. This white man spoke about the Underground Railroad and the conditions of slavery but had a very difficult time talking about Black people, stumbling over his words—‘slave…enslaved... Afro-American…Negro…’ he never landed on what to call Black people. So instead of us learning anything about the Underground Railroad, we learned what it was like to not be able to speak about a troubled history. It is amazing to me that I would walk out of a talk about the Underground Railroad thinking more about the white guy who was talking about it. We were doing an improv for two of our classmates one day that was not going well. We started playing around with the hilarity of this man, and that’s how we jumped to, ‘Oh let’s be teachers. Let’s teach about this.’
A Q&A WITH THE CREATORS
Q&A WITH JENNIFER KIDWELL AND SCOTT R. SHEPPARD
What are your thoughts on the Underground Railroad as a historical icon? Teacher Caroline refers to it as ‘a silver lining to the dark side of slavery.’ Do we tend to forget the origin of these historical icons and why they existed in the first place? J: People have been asking, ‘Why is this in the zeitgeist?.’ Part of the function of the piece is to say that it’s certainly convenient to talk about the entire system of slavery, spend a little time talking about how hard slavery was, and then say, ‘But there was this really great Underground Railroad and there were a lot of really helpful white people on it.’ I think that that’s bound in this—a lack of being able to reckon with the evil, the injustice, the perniciousness of the institution of slavery, and to shed light on this narrative of the white saviour. Because as long as that white saviour exists, we don’t have to fully deal with it. I think that the nation feels like an adolescent right now, and that’s why people have used the term ‘woke,’ because they’re thinking, ‘Wait, wait, I didn’t actually realise that all of the things that I’ve held to be true are A) not true for everybody and B) are wrong.’ And there are some people who say, ‘I will not look at things like that.’ I think that the mythos of the Underground Railroad helps assuage the brutality of actually reckoning with truth for those who need that salve. Read the full Q&A with the creators of Underground Railroad Game on our blog.
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CAST & CREATIVE BIOS
JENNIFER KIDWELL CREATOR & PERFORMER
SCOTT R. SHEPPARD CREATOR & PERFORMER
TAIBI MAGAR DIRECTOR
Jennifer is a performing artist. Recent projects include: Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed (Dan Hurlin), the Bessie-Award winning I Understand Everything Better (David Neumann/advanced beginner group), Antigone (The Wilma Theater), Fire Burns Hot, I Promised Myself to Live Faster and 99 Break-Ups (Pig Iron Theatre Company), Dick’s Last Stand (Whitney Biennial 2014), Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter (Robert Wilson/Toshi Reagon/Dr Bernice Johnson Reagon). Upcoming projects include: Geoff Sobelle’s House/ Home, Nichole Canuso’s Body of Text, Those With Two Clocks (with Pig Iron Theatre Company) and a duet with Thomas Graves. Jennifer is a Pig Iron Theatre Company member, a Wilma Theater Associated Artist, a Lightning Rod Special company member and a co-founder of JACK. Her writing has been published in movement research Performance Journal #45 and at hyperallergic.com. In 2013, Jennifer was awarded the TCG/ Fox Resident Actor Fellowship (with Pig Iron Theatre Company), naming Underground Railroad Game as her primary project. In 2015, she was awarded an Art and Change Grant by the Leeway Foundation. She was a 2016 Pew Fellow.
Scott is an OBIE Awardwinning theatre artist living in Philadelphia and New York City. He is a Co-Director of the Philadelphia-based theatre company Lightning Rod Special. Credits include: 99 Breakups, Period of Animate Existence, Gentlemen Volunteers (Pin Iron Theatre Company), Holden (George & Co.), Sans Everything (Lightning Rod Special) and The Stinky Cheeseman (Arden Theatre Company). Scott received a 2016 Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor for The Stinky Cheeseman. He was a recipient of the 2016 Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Performing Arts, a 2018 Artistin-Residence at Guild House and won the OBIE Award for Best New American Theatre Work for Underground Railroad Game. He is a proud graduate of the inaugural class at Pig Iron’s School for Advanced Performance Training.
Taibi is an OBIE Award-winning director. Directing credits include: Is God Is (Soho Rep, NYT Critics Pick) Master (The Foundry, NYT Critics Pick), Familiar (The Guthrie/Seattle Rep Co-production), Dry Powder (The Alley), We Are Proud to Present (The Guthrie) The Hunchback of Seville (Trinity Repertory). Upcoming projects include: Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap (Atlantic Theater Company) and Patrick and Daniel Lazour’s We Live In Cairo (A.R.T. Boston). She is a NYTW Usual Suspect, a recipient of a Stephen Sondheim Fellowship, an Oregon Shakespeare Festival Fellowship, a Public Theater Shakespeare Fellowship, the TFANA Actors and Director Project Fellowship and is an alumnus of Lincoln Center Directors Lab. Taibi has directed and taught at many academic institutions, including Juilliard, Fordham University, Brown University and New York University. She has a Master of Fine Arts from Brown University/Trinity.
Tilly is an English theatre designer based in New York. Design credits include: Small Mouth Sounds (Ars Nova, New York/National Tour), What We’re Up Against (WP Theatre) and The Government Inspector (Duke, New World Stages). In New York she has worked with companies such as Roundabout Theatre Company, The Atlantic, WP Theater, Red Bull Theater Company, Clubbed Thumb, Here Arts Centre, The Barrow Group, New Georges and La MaMa Theatre. Tilly’s work has been seen at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Wilma, Shakespeare Theatre DC, Goodspeed Opera, Two Rivers Theatre Company, Trinity Repertory Company, Pittsburgh Public and Westport County Playhouse. Tilly received a 2018 Lortel nomination for Best Costume Design, a Balsamo Grant for Immigrant Artists, an Irish Design Award, an Irish Times Theatre Award nomination and an Onstage Critics Award. She has a Master of Fine Arts from NYU Tisch School.
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STEVEN DUFAL A SCENIC DESIGN
OONA CURLEY LIGHTING DESIGN
Steven is a multidisciplinary artist and musician based in Philadelphia. He works primarily in collaboration with his brother Billy as The Dufala Brothers and has been working intermittently in dance and theatre as a designer for about 15 years. Steven has worked with Pig Iron Theatre Company, BalletX, Kate Watson Wallace/anonymous bodies, Geoff Sobelle and others. With Billy, Steven co-teaches sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and is represented by the Fleisher/ Ollman Gallery in Philadelphia. The Dufala Brothers have works presented in the West Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and many private collections.
Oona is a lighting and scenic designer from New York, specialising in new and devised work. Her work has been seen in New York (Ars Nova, Atlantic Theater Co., The Cherry Lane, The Flea, Joe’s Pub, JACK, La MaMa, The New Ohio, NYU/ Tisch), and in Philadelphia (The Arden Theatre, Curtis Opera, Opera Philadelphia, FringeArts, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Team Sunshine Performance Co.), and has travelled the US (Sharon Playhouse, Brown/ Trinity Rep, Chester Theatre, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Historic Asolo Theater). Oona earned her Master of Fine Arts from NYU/Tisch, where she received the J.S. Seidman Award for Design Excellence and was a nominee for a Princess Grace Award. Oona is an associate artist with the Bearded Ladies Cabaret in Philadelphia, and is a visiting professor of lighting design at Connecticut College.
CAST & CREATIVE BIOS
TILLY GRIMES PRODUCTION DESIGN
CAST & CREATIVE BIOS
MIKAAL SUL AIMAN SOUND DESIGN Mkaal is a Los Angeles based sound designer. He attended the University of the Arts and later studied the Jacque Lecoq approach to physical theatre at LISPA. Currently, Mikaal sound designs for film, theatre and dance. He has worked in the UK, Sweden and Saudi Arabia. His most recent collaboration was on Holoscenes, with Lars Jan of Early Morning Opera, at the London’s Burning event in conjunction with the Artichoke Trust. Salaam.
LISA McGINN PRODUCTION STAGE MANAGER
NATALIE HRATKO ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER
Lisa is a production stage manager. Recent credits include: Geoff Sobelle’s Home and The Object Lesson, Sleep (Ripe Time Theatre), Chimera and The Wholehearted (Stein|Holum Projects), This is Reading, Jacuzzi and The Light Years (The Debate Society), Eager to Lose (Ars Nova), How to Build a Forest (PearlDamour + Shawn Hall), Revolt. She said. Revolt again. and Winners and Losers (Soho Rep), Rememberer and Open House (Steven Reker), Forbidden Creature Virgin Whore, From the Spot Where We/You/I Stand (Stood) (Miller Rothlein Dance), You, My Mother (Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf), Card and Gift and Baby Screams Miracle (Clubbed Thumb), The Seagull and Ivanov (Chekhov at Lake Lucille), Temporal Powers and Donogoo (Mint Theater Company), The Room Sings, The Peripherals and Hot Lunch Apostles (Talking Band).
Natalie’s credits with Ars Nova include: The Lucky Ones, KPOP, The Wildness: Sky Pony’s Rock Fairy Tale, The Rise and Fall of Marcus Monroe, By the Water (with Manhattan Theatre Club), many ANT Festivals, Showgasms and Galas. Natalie toured as the PSM of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Other credits include: Oh, Hello! (Cherry Lane Theatre), Scenes From A Marriage (New York Theatre Workshop), In Your Arms (New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theater), Broadway Dance Lab, The Alvin Ailey School and Martha Graham Dance Company.
LIGHTNING ROD SPECIAL Lightning Rod Special is a Philadelphia-based devised theatre company, co-directed by Katie Gould, Mason Rosenthal, Scott R. Sheppard, and Alice Yorke. Exploding complex questions with precision and play. They make live performance from the ground up. lightningrodspecial.com
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ABOUT MALTHOUSE THEATRE
YOUR JOURNEY WITH MALTHOUSE THEATRE AWAITS. At Malthouse Theatre we collaborate with local and international artists to create inventive performances that cut to the core of the human experience. Theatre has the power to interrogate, disrupt and to be an agent of changeâ€” and we think it always should. At Malthouse Theatre, the work we produce explores the world personally, socially and politically. Based in a dedicated venue, The Coopers Malthouse in Melbourne, we are a home for live experiences that entertain and provoke a dialogue with and within audiences. Welcome to Malthouse Theatre. Page 10â€”11
ARTISTIC & PROGRAMMING
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Artistic Director & CO-CEO / Matthew Lutton
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Venue Manager / Aaron Rowlands
Executive Producer & CO-CEO / Sarah Neal
Box Office Manager / Allie Stapleton
Front of House & Events Manager / Anita Posterino
New Work Manager / Mark Pritchard
Box Office Team Leader/ Fiona Wiseman
Resident Artist / Declan Greene
Box Office Staff / Abbey Barnes, Simon Braxton, Paul Buckley, Emily Burke, Bronya Doyle, Lachlan Hywood, Mellita Ilich, Nicola James, Lucy Kingsley, Liz White
Front of House Staff / Gianni Agostononi, Ben Anderson, Mitchell Brotz, Kate Calton, Georgia Cam, Jai Cameron, Emma Corbett, Alice Dixon, Amy Dowd, Sophia D’urso, Mark Hoffman, Dirk Hoult, Ryan Jones, Kathryn Joy, Tom Kantor, Lara Kerestes, Mick Klepner Roe, Aly Loren, Hannah Mckittrick, Nicole Mckenzie, Abi Murray, Anita Posterino, Dom Simonelli, Lee Threadgold, Kenny Waite
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We acknowledge the Land and Songlines of the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin Nation.
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS Fiona McGauchie (Chair), Michael Kantor (Deputy Chair), Debbie Dadon AM, Andrew Myer, Jan Owen AM, Sue Prestney, Pamela Rabe, Nick Schlieper, Kerri Turner & Mary Vallentine AO.
SUPPORTERS & PARTNERS
OUR SUPPORTERS AND PARTNERS GOVERNMENT
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For partnership or donation enquiries, please call our Development Manager on (03) 9685 5162 or email email@example.com Page 12â€”13
CALLIOPE—MUSE OF POETRY—$50,000+ Mary-Ruth & Peter McLennan, Craig Reeves, Maureen Wheeler AO & Tony Wheeler AO URANIA—MUSE OF THE STARS—$25,000+ Andyinc Foundation, Annamila Fund, Bardas Foundation, Debbie Dadon AM, Carrillo Gantner AO CLIO—MUSE OF HISTORY—$10,000+ John & Lorraine Bates, Jennifer Darbyshire & David Walker, Michele Levine, Simone Lourey, James Penlidis & Fiona McGauchie & Family, Janine Tai, The Vera Moore Foundation, Anonymous (2) THALIA—MUSE OF COMEDY—$5,000+ Daniel Besen, Gjergja Family, Colin Golvan AM QC & Dr Deborah Golvan, Suzanne Kirkham, Richard Leonard & Gerlinde Scholz, Elizabeth & Donald McGauchie AO, The Pratt Foundation, Mary Vallentine AO, Moana Weir & Jordie van der Schoot, Anonymous (1) MELPOMENE—MUSE OF TRAGEDY—$2,500+ Dr Sian Fairbank, Rosemary Forbes & Ian Hocking, Linda Herd, Michael Kingston, Sue Prestney & Paul Glen, Elisabeth & John Schiller,
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THANKS TO OUR MALTHOUSE MUSES
Their dynamic slate of programs supports outside-the-box thinking and encourages innovative, genre-bending work. Dubbed by The New York Times as a ‘fertile incubator of offbeat theatre,’ Ars Nova blurs genres and subverts the status quo. With their feverish bounty of programming, they are the stomping ground and launching pad for visionary, adventurous artists of all stripes. By providing a protective environment where risk-taking and collaboration are paramount, Ars Nova gives voice to a new generation of diverse artists and audiences, pushing the boundaries of live entertainment by nurturing creative ideas into smart, surprising new work. Since their founding, Ars Nova has launched the careers of luminaries like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Liz Meriwether, Beau Willimon, Amy Herzog, Dave Malloy, Annie Baker, Bridget Everett and many more! arsnovanyc.com
ARS NOVA is FOUNDING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR / Ja son Ea g a n MANAGING DIRECTOR / Ren ee Blin kwolt A S S O C I AT E A R T I S T I C DIRECTOR / Em ily Shooltz GENERAL MANAGER / Ca sey York DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR / Ma c In g ra m PRODUCTION MANAGER / Jes Levin e MARKETING MANAGER / Sa ra h Ivin s MANAGER OF ARTISTIC PROGRAMS / Eric Shetha r INTERIM BUSINESS MANAGER / Ka te Weber DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR / Jillia n Rorrer A S S O C I AT E P ROD U C T ION M A NAG E R / Kris Opperm a n AU D I E N C E E N G A G E M E N T A S S O C I AT E / Ben Klein FACILITIES & OPERATIONS ASSOCIATE / Bria Woodya rd DEVELOPMENT A S S O C I AT E / Mira n da Handson E X E C U T I V E A S S I S TA N T / Ross Yoder
The Actors and Stage Managers employed in this production are members of Actors Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
The Director is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union.
United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 of the IATSE is the union representing scenic, costume, lighting, sound and projection designers in Live Performance. #UNDERGROUNDRAILROADGAME
A R S NOVA
ARS NOVA exists to discover, develop and launch singular theatre, music and comedy artists in the early stages of their professional careers.
— Time Out
ON A S2019 E S —— —
7 FEB – 3 MAR
Barbara fronts a pub rock band, captivating crowds with cutting wit, diabolical rage and unrepentant sexuality. She may be fun, she may be dangerous, and she may be speeding headlong towards a dead end. Starring Ursula Yovich (Heart is a Wasteland) and Elaine Crombie (Blackie Blackie Brown, Blaque Showgirls), Barbara and the Camp Dogs will electrify our Merlyn Theatre stage with soulful storytelling and high-octane rock ‘n’ roll. BY / Ursula Yovich Alana Valentine
DIRECTION / Leticia Cáceres
CAST / Troy Brady Elaine Crombie Ursula Yovich
Malthouse Theatre presents a Belvoir production. Indigenous theatre at Belvoir supported by The Balnaves Foundation. Presented in association with Vicki Gordon Music Productions. Proudly supported by Art Series Hotels and Victoria University.
WHAT’S UP NEXT
‘BLOW[S] THE ROOF OFF OUR COMPLACENCY’
& NE D E R SC EA H
In fifth grade, Scott played Underground Railroad to learn about slavery and the American Civil War. His classmates were divided into Union and Confederate soldiers—conveying dolls to safe houses around the school.
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The New York premiere of Underground Railroad Game was presented by Ars Nova (Opening Night Sept 26, 2016)
Program for Malthouse Theatre's production of Underground Railroad Game (2019).