360° Viewfinder: FEFU AND HER FRIENDS

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360° SERIES V I E W F I N D E R : FA C T S A N D P E R S P E C T I V E S O N T H E P L AY, P L AY W R I G H T, A N D P R O D U C T I O N

W W W . T FA N A . O R G

TA B L E O F CO N T E N T S The Play 3

A Note from the Director

4 Dialogues: "Plumbing is More Important Than You Think" by Alisa Solomon

The Playwright 9

Biography: María Irene Fornés


Dialogues: A Master Teacher Closes Her Eyes, by Migdalia Cruz

The Production 14 "If They Should Recognize Themselves" Lileana Blain-Cruz in Conversation with Morgan Jenness 23

Cast and Creative Team

About Theatre For a New Audience 27



Mission and Programs


Major Supporters

Notes Front Cover: Art by Milton Glaser, Inc. This Viewfinder will be periodically updated with additional information. Last updated November 26, 2019.

Credits Biography of María Irene Fornés provided by Abrams Artists Agency. Fefu and Her Friends 360° | Edited by Nidia Medina and Tatianna Casas Quiñonez | Copy-edit and Layout by Peter James Cook Literary Advisor: Jonathan Kalb | Council of Scholars Chair: Ayanna Thompson | Designed by: Milton Glaser, Inc. Copyright 2019 by Theatre for a New Audience. All rights reserved. With the exception of classroom use by teachers and individual personal use, no part of this Viewfinder may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Some materials herein are written especially for our guide. Others are reprinted with permission of their authors or publishers.


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Part II (In The Study) of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés. Left: Juliana Canfield (Christina) in Theatre for a New Audience's production, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein. Right: Gwendolyn Brown (Cindy) in the New York Theater Strategy original production at Relativity Media Lab, 1977, directed by the author. Photo: Rena Hansen.

Maria Irene Fornés has been called the “Mother of the Avant–Garde.” Before we knew what environmental theater was, perhaps before there was a name for it, she created a play, an event that asked the audience to move around in space. She transformed the traditional performer/audience dynamic…and in doing so, our relationship to time in the theater itself. There is no linear arc…there are circles and continuities and simultaneities…and isn’t that thrilling?! Fefu and Her Friends, originally conceived in a Soho loft, took place in several rooms that gave an intimate look at a group of women who were friends, lovers, intellectuals, human beings!—with a deep desire to understand their existence in all of its multi-faceted complexity. This experiment has inspired and influenced so many artists, and we can feel her impact across the theater landscape to this day. It’s an honor to direct the first Off-Broadway production of this play since its premiere in 1978… but even more so, it has felt like an invitation…an invitation to Fornés’ spirit of curiosity, of playfully rigorous questioning, of a deep and radical empathy that eschews any simplistic understanding of what it means to be alive. As Emma says, “Life is theater. Theater is life. If we’re showing what life is, can be, we must do theater.” - Lileana Blain-Cruz



Jennifer Lim (Cindy), Amelia Workman (Fefu), and Juliana Canfield (Christina) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

living room with sofa, coffee table, and chairs; stairs leading to another part of the house; French doors opening onto a terrace: the first things an audience sees on a stage presenting Maria Irene Fornés’ Fefu and Her Friends look entirely familiar. The play itself adheres to the Aristotelian unities of time, place, and action, as it takes place over the course of one day in a single setting, where a group of women gather to prepare for a fundraising event. Meanwhile, its title suggests a light boulevard comedy or even something childlike—fluffy and adorable.


exterior to confront what’s “slimy and filled with fungus and crawling with worms . . . another life that is parallel to the one we manifest.”

But underneath all that seems comfortably ordinary in Fefu, something inscrutable and odd is churning. From the barbed opening line of this ground-breaking drama, first presented in 1977, to its stunning enigmatic ending, Fornés upends the expectations the initial impressions set off. And, like her title character describing what it’s like to turn over a large rock, Fornés invites us to look beneath the “smooth and dry and clean”

When Fornés wrote Fefu—the fifteenth of some 40 plays she’d write in a career that spanned from 1961 to 2000—she was already a celebrated figure of the burgeoning Off-Off-Broadway movement. In 1965, for her breakneck-paced, 10-scene comedy, The Successful Life of Three, and for Promenade, her madcap existential vaudeville (with music by Al Carmines), she won the first of what would tally up to be nine Obie Awards


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That’s not to say that the play is gruesome. Rather, by putting on stage eight women chatting, working, gossiping, and philosophizing together— not to mention, breaking into a raucous water fight—Fornés presents a life, mysterious and teeming, that is parallel to the one we usually see. The women’s views of each other—and certainly of themselves—are often belied by what we observe.



for playwriting and directing. Never settling on a single style, Fornés constantly experimented, inventing new forms to explore the depths—and currents and shallows—of human feeling and entanglements. Fefu, which garnered Fornés' second Obie, is no exception.

one lovely moment in Fefu, for instance, two women discuss what it means to be swept off one’s feet. “I suppose,” says one, “the feet remain and the person goes off with the broom.” When her friend replies that there is no broom involved, she asks, “What does the sweeping?”

As with Fornés’ work generally, a description of Fefu’s basic action can hardly capture its enthralling strangeness, bristling emotion, and sense of surprise. These qualities rise out of a variety of dramatic innovations. For starters, there’s a beautiful matter-of-fact lyricism in Fornés’ language. Born in Cuba in 1930 and immigrating to the United States in 1945, Fornés wrote in English, but, as she once said in an interview with Maria M. Delgado, being bilingual gave her work an “off-center quality that is not exactly deliberate, but that I have not tried to change because I know its origin lies in the temperament and language of my birth.” In

Fornés’ characters can also be said to have an “offcenter quality.” Fefu herself, at whose New England country house the friends have assembled on a spring day in 1935, is compellingly outlandish. Brash, clever, and a little scary, she wields two traditionally masculine tools from time to time over the course of the play. One is a doublebarreled shotgun, with which she fires presumed blanks at her off-stage husband in a dangerous game the two play. (We never see him or any of the other men with whom he is engaged out on the lawn; we simply hear about them.) At other times, Fefu carries a plunger, with which she is fixing a clogged toilet somewhere in the house, at

Scene from the New York Theater Strategy original production of Fefu and Her Friends at Relativity Media Lab, 1977, directed by the author. Left to right (seated): Connie Cicone, Margaret Harrington, Gordana Rashovich, Gwendolyn Brown, Carolyn Hearn; (standing): Rebecca Schull, Joan Voukides, Janet Biehl. Photo: Rena Hansen.


"PLUMBING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK" once realistically and symbolically making sure that what we deem disgusting is kept under control. “Plumbing is more important than you think,” Fefu says. She means it literally, but we come to see how much, despite her show of audacity, she values decorum, laboring to stop up the effluent of women’s anguish and despair. Thinking of her with those implements, I’m always reminded of the oft-quoted dictum of the poet, theorist, and activist Audre Lorde, which she asserted in the late ‘70s, not long after Fefu’s debut: “[T]he master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support.” But Fornés, for her part, does dismantle the house—at least the house as it’s typically


constructed in well-made realistic plays. It’s not just that a thin mist of surrealism occasionally suffuses her world—Fefu’s friend, Julia, has been paralyzed by a gunshot though the bullet did not hit her; in the bedroom where we see her in the second act, dead leaves cover the floor though it isn’t autumn. Nothing announces or explains the uncanniness of these dramatic facts. They simply exist, the givens of the universe Fornés has so fully and tenderly imagined. In an interview with Bonnie Marranca, Fornés’ early champion and publisher, the playwright described Fefu as “a plotless play,” because it “doesn’t deal with the mechanics of the practical arrangement of life but deals with the mechanics of the mind, some kind of spiritual survival, a process of thought.” Her characters don’t embark on a journey, as in a traditional play, but her audience does.

Rebecca Schull as Fefu in the New York Theater Strategy original production of Fefu and Her Friends at Relativity Media Lab, 1977, directed by the author. Photo: Rena Hansen


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"PLUMBING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK" In Fefu’s second act, Fornés breaks the standard relationship between audience and performance, staging four scenes that take place in different parts of the house, literally in different parts of the theater. Divided into four groups, spectators move from scene to scene sequentially, with each group seeing them in a different order. As a result, not only do we sense a range of perspectives—similar to the varying views of the characters—we also return to the auditorium for Act Three with our perception altered. We have seen characters with new intimacy—and fellow audience members as well. No longer the barely acknowledged strangers sharing an armrest, the spectators near us have become more present to us. We become more self-conscious of


our role as observers. We might also marvel at the calibration that went into making the four scenes interlace so fluently, with some characters appearing in more than one of them; and wonder at the actors—especially the one playing Julia, who delivers a harrowing hallucinatory monologue in the bedroom—who must repeat their scenes four times in a row. The third act begins with one of Fefu’s friends, Cecilia, noting, “Well, we each have our own system of receiving information, placing it, responding to it.” She might be describing our own immediate experience of the play. Fornés, who died last year, never liked to talk about the intentions behind the stunning choices

Left: Scenes from the New York Theater Strategy original production of Fefu and Her Friends at Relativity Media Lab, 1977, directed by the author. Photos: Rena Hansen. Right: Helen Cespedes (Emma) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


"PLUMBING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK" she made as a dramatist. She wrote what welled up from her unconscious imagination—and, in her legendary, widely influential playwriting workshops, she taught students how to tap into that source. She also grabbed the sparks that flew from objects or situations she happened to find. Fefu’s second act, she often said, was inspired by the place where she was going to present the play: she simply liked the backstage rooms more than the stage area. Similarly, she accounted for Fefu’s references to the early twentieth-century figures, the feminist anarchist Voltarine de Cleyre and the pedagogical theorist Emma Sheridan Fry, by remarking that she had simply stumbled across their work. As for the play’s setting in 1935, she described a warm affinity for the period and an appreciation of its “pre-Freudian” quality—no tendency of people to assume and interpret some unstated meaning behind someone’s words. But, of course, Fornés was not as guileless as such disavowals might make her sound. Beginning her writing career (after pursuing painting for some years) at a time of social upheaval and in association with politically engaged fellow Off-Off-Broadway artists, she María Irene Fornés.


needed to insist that her plays not be misread as issuing from a programmatic effort to drive home some point. As a person, Fornés never distanced herself from her identity as a feminist, lesbian, and Latinx woman. But she didn’t want her plays to carry labels that might predispose spectators to make unwarranted assumptions about them—particularly at a time when “feminist theater” often meant “agit-prop.” In the period leading up to her writing Fefu, Fornés had attended a consciousness-raising group and had been one of the prime movers behind the Women’s Theater Council and New York Theater Strategy (along with, among others, Adrienne Kennedy, whose He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box premiered at TFANA last year), which supported female experimental playwrights. (According to a survey at the time, only 7 percent of plays produced in New York between 1969 and 1975 were written by women.) She was also consulting material from her own journals—her “folder of sufferings” as she put it—and listening to the artistically restrained yet passionate melodramatic boleros of the Cuban singer, Olga Guillot. She would “write a scene and see what came out of it,” she once told the scholar Scott Cummings, and then ““I would write another as if I were practicing calligraphy.” That is, as if one gesture led inexorably to the next in a creative process as mystical and revelatory as Fefu itself. Fornés entices viewers to plumb its depths—no plunger necessary. • ALISA SOLOMON is a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she directs the MA concentration in Arts & Culture. A longtime theater critic, political journalist, and dramaturg (most recently for Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field), she is the author of Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender (winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism) and of Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, an “editor’s choice” in the New York Times Book Review and winner of the Jewish Journal Book Prize, the George Freedley Memorial Award (Theatre Library Association), and the Kurt Weill Prize. Alisa was a theater critic and staff writer at the Village Voice (1983 – 2004), and has written for the New York Times, Nation, newyorker.com, The Forward, Theater, and other publications.


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aría Irene Fornés has been called the greatest and least known dramatist of our time. She’s written over 40 plays, won nine OBIE awards, and mentored thousands of playwrights across the globe. Off-Broadway’s Signature Theatre devoted its entire 1999-2000 season to her work, and her epic What of the Night? was a finalist for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize. Theater luminaries like Tony Kushner, Caryl Churchill, Paula Vogel, Lanford Wilson and Edward Albee have credited Irene as an inspiration and influence. “Her work has no precedents; it isn’t derived from anything,” Lanford Wilson once said of Irene. “She’s the most original of us all.” Paula Vogel contends: “In the work of every American playwright at the end of the 20th century, there are only two stages: before she has read María Irene Fornés and after.” But Fornés did not set out to become a playwright. After arriving in New York City from Cuba in 1945, she worked mostly in textiles and even traveled as a painter to Paris in the 1950s. Not until the 1960s did Fornes write what she considered to be her first real play—Tango Palace—which catapulted her into the vanguard of the nascent Off-Off Broadway theater movement and a downtown DIY aesthetic that continues to thrive today. Often referred to as the American theater’s “Mother Avant-Garde,” Fornés steadfastly refused to adhere to any rules or formulas in playwriting, choosing instead to follow her characters’ lead in order to better get at her core question: What does it mean to be a human being? As a teacher and director of the INTAR Hispanic Playwrights in Residence Lab in the 1980s, she mentored a generation of Latino/a playwrights, including Cherríe Moraga, Migdalia Cruz, Nilo Cruz, Caridad Svich, and Eduardo Machado. In 2005, while presenting Fornés with the Theater Practitioner Award at TCG’s conference in Seattle, Machado said: “She told us that we were going to change the theater, that we were going to create a world where Latino writers in America had a voice, and she willed it into all of us. And none of us would be here without her. She is the architect of how we create theater, how we teach, and the way we lead our lives.” Fornés died on October 30, 2018, at the age of 88, in Manhattan. María Irene Fornés. Photo © Ruth Fremson The New York Times / Redux.





María Irene Fornés (center) and members of the 1986 Hispanic Playwrights-in-Residence Laboratory. From left: Lorenzo Mans, Caridad Svich, Leo Garcia, Oscar Colón, Fornés, Migdalia Cruz, Nilo Cruz, Lorraine Llamas. Photo Credit: James M. Kent.


uthor's note: Words in italics are from transcriptions of exercises I typed for Irene from cassette tape recordings of her when I was her assistant at the Hispanic-Playwrights-inResidence Laboratory (HPRL) at INTAR, 1984.

me was much more than that. It was the ability to feel my pain, express it and make something ugly-beautiful from it. She taught me that to be an artist requires a bravery that allows you to write from your viscera. She taught me to stop hiding.

Close your eyes. Let your mind move freely from thought to thought. Take a deep breath in. And out. Another breath in. And out. October 30, 2019 was the first anniversary of the death of María Irene Fornés. And as one does when someone important is lost, I selfishly focused on my own pain. But what she truly left 10

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As I continue to write and hope to honor my ancestors, I realize what I miss most about my teacher is her honest voice about the aesthetics of theater. Not the stiff structure talk quoted from badly written how-to books, or the cringey triggering subject conversation that pollutes the writers’ workshops of today. I miss that person who would tell me with love—how much she hated some aspect of my work, or that where I placed a character’s favorite song, or their most

A MASTER TEACHER CLOSES HER EYES sacred object, mattered to the spiritual life of the play. She showed me how to express the deepest of emotions using poetic language to transform the mundane—into the profound. I want you to imagine a time when you were a child of ten or younger, when someone—perhaps a stranger—perhaps someone you knew—touched you or spoke to you, in a punishing way. This could have been a teasing or a beating—painful or playful. This could have been a confusing experience or a terrifying one. The first day I met Irene, she asked why I wanted to join her writers’ workshop. I told her I had two degrees in playwriting and still didn’t know how to write a play. “I know,” she said. “I read your play.” We laughed. But then I told her the real reason, because she was teaching it, and I knew she could teach me how to tell the truth—even if it killed me. She smiled wickedly and invited me to join. And so began my 34-year love/fear relationship with my mentor.


the Cuban, María Irene Fornés—and then the Nuyorican, Migdalia Cruz. That year, Irene’s workshop met three times a week, for four hours a day for seven months. A typical day would begin promptly with 30-45 minutes of physical exercise—a mash-up of Yoga, tai-chi and stretching, jumping, vocalizing. Then, once we were exhausted, she would begin a sensememory exercise to recall a specific emotion that included or occurred in or near or on a specific, physical, tactile element, like: a body of water, a warm bed, the feeling of light on your skin–a place you would recall from your past. A place you knew so well in your mind’s eye that you could taste, touch, smell, hear & see it. So that you could invite your characters into a place that was grounded in your memory. She would give María Irene Fornés.

Tr y to remember the feeling of those hands on your person— Or those words on your spirit. Where did they touch you? Was it a gentle touch or a brutal one? See the face of the person who inflicted this touch on you, clearly in your mind’s eye. When you have a clear picture in your head, open your eyes and describe that person’s face and hands in words on paper. And also, describe the incident. Look up when you are done. I joined Irene’s Hispanic-Playwrights-in-Residence Laboratory in 1984 at Max Ferrá’s INTAR—the first Latinx theater in NYC to produce plays exclusively in English by Latinx writers, which ranged from the Spaniard, Fernando Arribal, to F E F U A N D H E R F R I E N D S 11

A MASTER TEACHER CLOSES HER EYES us lines, objects, time of day, sounds and actions which she called elements. Sometimes we would pass among us crimes written on small pieces of paper, or names of people we despised. The secrets we shared would stay safe in the holy circle of our writing tables. Then we would imagine our characters entering the spaces from memory as we took ourselves out of the memory and left our characters there to undertake their own journey. At the end of every session, we would share out loud what we had just written. This was always a scary time. Reading fresh work is like cutting open a femoral artery without a tourniquet. Because then Irene could praise you or destroy you—right before a delicious lunch at the local Peruvian restaurant. As we accumulated scenes and monologues over time, we brought in actors to read the texts and continued to work in this way for months until we had our first drafts. Then the re-writing began.


Close your eyes again and think about the place where this incident occurred. When you can see this landscape clearly, open your eyes and write a description or draw a picture of this landscape. When you are done look up. [hand out a photograph from something that is on fire] Irene taught us through an oral and visual tradition that she reimagined and re-purposed for the writer. She had watched the actors at the Actors Studio going through sense-memory exercises and thought those exercises would be a wonderful way for the writer to reach into their memories and use them as part of their art, as a solid place for characters to land. And she collected hundreds of photographs and photo albums of families lost to antique store shelves to share with us and help us to find characters, atmospheres, actions in them to inspire us.

María Irene Fornés (far right) and members of the 1986 Hispanic Playwrights-in-Residence Laboratory. Photo Credit: James M. Kent.


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A MASTER TEACHER CLOSES HER EYES Look at this photograph closely. What do you see in this picture? Imagine that one of your characters enters the landscape of the photograph. How do they feel about being there—in the photograph?


Irene improvised her exercises. She spoke as things occurred to her. Sometimes everything fit perfectly and at other times we struggled to make sense of her words.

Do they see the woman in the photo or do they walk past her?

Another line: “He will not miss them.”

When you can see the characters clearly, begin a scene with this sentence:

But you always do. You will always miss her.

“He had a strong face.” Object: There is an object hidden under some rubble. This hidden object belongs to your character. Action: To heal a wound. It begins to snow. Another line: “What do you believe in?” María Irene Fornés outside the old INTAR Theatre on West 53rd Street, circa 1981. Photo credit: INTAR.

There is a question of a person hanging a picture or painting on the wall. There is a question of sweeping the floor. There is a question of hair being cut. For each of us, it was an immersive journey into the minds of our characters, with Irene as our guide into our memories and into our characters’ souls. Learning from Irene was learning how to access your unique voice and deepest emotions and create fictional worlds with authenticity. She taught us how to be. Coherence is not necessarily a goal. Let yourself go from one element to another freely. Be limber. Be fierce. Like Irene. • MIGDALIA CRUZ is a playwright, lyricist, translator, and librettist of more than 60 works that have been produced across the Americas, Europe, the Pacific Rim and the Middle East. She was writer-in-residence at Latino Chicago Theater Company, and was nurtured by María Irene Fornés at INTAR’s HPRL, Sundance, the Lark and New Dramatists. Migdalia has taught at Princeton, Yale, NYU, and several other colleges and universities, in addition to teaching the Fornés Playwriting Workshop through Notre Dame from 2016-2018. Next: Fur at NextDoor@NYTW/ Boundless 11/2019, Richard III for OSF’s PlayOn!Shakespeare @London’s Young Vic 11/2019, and Never Moscow @Kansas City Rep, 3/2020.

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Lileana Blain-Cruz, director of Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends.

During rehearsals for Fefu and Her Friends, Morgan Jenness— educator, dramaturg and former agent of María Irene Fornés—spoke with director Lileana Blain-Cruz.

happening?” And then, somebody said, “Oh, that interest, that awareness, that curiosity could lead you to directing.”

MORGAN JENNESS You have a kind of fabulous

MORGAN JENNESS You said this great thing

story about starting, right? You were at Princeton…. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ I was. I didn’t know much

about theater, but I was an English major and I loved text, so I started gravitating towards [the theatre and dance] communities. I was like, “What are these folks doing?” [Laughs] Acting was the easiest entry way, and so I took an acting class, but I was way more interested in the event as a whole. I always found myself being the person who was like, “What are we wearing? What are we doing? How do we decorate the room? What’s actually 14

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[about theatre]: “Everyone in a room with a lifegiving event.” That you were sharing an event that was giving everybody something more— LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Yes. Exactly. MORGAN JENNESS —which is interesting in terms

of the choices of what you’ve decided to direct so far. They have this kind of epic-ness, right? LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ It’s funny, the show that

made me decide that I wanted to be a director was actually Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls [Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow is Enuf],

INTERVIEW: LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ which was my thesis at Princeton. And so, for that to be happening now [at the Public Theatre], in addition to Fefu and Her Friends… it feels like there is this kind of energy in the air that feels very alive. MORGAN JENNESS So, once you did For Colored

Girls, you thought, “Yes, I really want to do this.” And that’s interesting, right? Because in both plays there is a group of women who are opening up. There’s not necessarily a plot, but there is that very alive experience in the room. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Exactly. We’re all in a

circle. There’s a sense of community; there's a sense of shared humanity; and there's a support in the women for each other. I thought, “Yes! Thank you for creating a space where women are just there in communion with each other and that is a whole universe.” That’s inspired me since then to keep exploring. MORGAN JENNESS So, when did you first come

across Irene Fornés?


LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ I was working on Gertrude

Stein’s Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, and I was like, “Who did she work with?” She worked with Al Carmines—she worked with Al Carmines on Circular Play. And I was like, “Who else has Al Carmines worked with? Oh, he worked with Maria Irene Fornés.” And then I read [Fornés’] Promenade, and I was like, “Oh my god. I don’t understand anything that’s going on, but I love it.” And then I read Fefu and Her Friends and my mind was blown, right? I’m always attracted to things that I don’t fully understand—that actually take multiple reads to get inside of. And I was really intrigued at the formal experimentation of it: what does it mean to divide people into different rooms? What’s actually happening between these human beings? And also, the sense of joy and mystery, pain and passion. She managed to give this group of women completely full lives inside of this universe. And that, for me, was really exciting. As a director, it’s like, “Well, how do you make this?”

Amelia Workman (Fefu), Ronete Levenson (Sue), Jennifer Lim (Cindy), Carmen Zilles (Cecilia), Juliana Canfield (Christina), Lindsay Rico (Paula), and Brittany Bradford (Julia) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

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MORGAN JENNESS It’s interesting that you say

MORGAN JENNESS She had a real sense of

“joy” because you talk about joy, even in pain. And that’s something that Irene also was really interested in: that you have the pain, but there's also a joie de vivre, a joy in that.

playfulness. And a real sense of inquisition, like, “Let’s see.” And it’s interesting because there's a lot of academic analysis of her, and of the plays, and that's so far from what she did to write them. They were people that she knew or that came to her in her mind, and she would write them down. The questions of her exercises were always “What do they do? What are they saying? You're feeling something—who’s a person who’s feeling the same thing?” It was always, “Character, character, character.”

LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ That’s the thing that I loved

about it. She put a water fight inside of this play! If there’s anything more joyful than a group of grown people throwing water at each other…. [Laughs] MORGAN JENNESS I think that’s something that

Michelle Memran’s film [The Rest I Make Up] also revealed to a lot of people: just what a sense of humor she had and how playful she was. She liked to tease.

LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Fornés has had such an

the film where she stood in the hallway and just started making up a song… I was like, “Somebody who speaks my language!”

influence on so many different theater-makers. There are theater-makers who don’t even realize how she’s had an influence. So part of me is really just excited that people are going to get to see that work. That, in some ways, is part of the celebration.

Amelia Workman (Fefu) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

We take for granted now that [audiences can be asked to] move through rooms. She had people moving through rooms decades ago!

LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Exactly. The moment in

MORGAN JENNESS I know, she was one of the

first since the Middle Ages. [Laughs] LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Literally. I’m so excited

for people to be like, “Oh, right, somebody was doing this before we decided that this was the cool thing to do.” And it came from a real human place, which is to put human beings in relationship to other human beings. MORGAN JENNESS There’s no Sleep No More

without Irene Fornés. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Hello! Exactly. There's no

Sleep No More, there's no Scenes from A Marriage without her having developed that. MORGAN JENNESS Talking about how crucial

casting is, this production is cast in a particular way. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ I was really dismayed because

I was speaking to an actress friend of mine and she talked about how, in grad school, there would be women who would love Fornés' work, and grab it and work with it in scene work... but that she, as a 16

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INTERVIEW: LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ black woman, didn’t think that it was for her. And I was like, “What are you talking about?” There's a misconception about who’s actually invited into those kinds of experiments. Who gets to experiment like that? Even for myself, I've always been interested in experiment, but I've sometimes felt slightly ‘outside’. So for me, part of the casting process is not only an awareness that these people also existed in 1935—black people existed, people of color existed—but that we’re also invited inside of that experiment, inside of those human beings, inside of these play worlds. MORGAN JENNESS So, there's kind of an

overlapping and collision of time and place? LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Exactly. And that, for me,


right? And saw that they would try to limit her and say, “This is only this,” as opposed to, “It contains everything.” I think she was wise in eschewing any attempt to limit the range and realm of the work. And in some ways, that reflects back to the world how they try to box people in. MORGAN JENNESS And what's interesting is,

in the last years of her active life, she was reembracing those groups. That’s what Letters from Cuba is all about. She was gung-ho specifically about supporting Latinas’ voices. She was interested in young playwrights in general, but she was very interested in that specificity, and that’s where she put a lot of her energy. I actually think she would love this [casting]. In terms of a next step for this play, and the

is also what it means to do it now. You have to investigate, what does it mean to be alive Brittany Bradford (Julia) and Helen Cespedes (Emma) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene right now? And so, for me, there is a kind of Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein. excitement of possibility in having a group of women—who, in 1935 New England, you would assume would be white—and have it played by a cast of different types of women. You're aware of what it means to be set in that place at that time, and [you] question those resources. MORGAN JENNESS It’s interesting because Irene,

in the beginning, wasn’t interested in exploring that. I was her agent for a few years at the end and talked to her about it, and she did not at first want to be known as a Latina playwright —or even a gay playwright. She wanted to be known as a playwright, and she was an integral part of that era, in that whole group with Sam Shephard and Edward Albee and Lanford Wilson. That’s what she wanted. And she felt that as soon as she identified herself—or allowed people to put her in this other box—that's where she would stay put. And she was savvy and she was ambitious, in the good ways of being ambitious. Aspirational. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Because she saw the way in

which the culture would try and categorize her, F E F U A N D H E R F R I E N D S 17



collision of the things that she was interested in, she would be totally down with this, even though it was not something that she did at the time. People might say, “Well, would she cast it this way?” Well, no, not then, perhaps, but that’s because she did not want to be put in the little boxes that people like to keep people in.

allegory. It’s very real, but it still has the epic-ness.

LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Exactly. And what’s crazy

She knew Claire Booth Luce wrote The Women around that time, and I think in a small way it was kind of a response to that—the way Shakespeare would respond to Marlowe plays. I think there was something that she responded to in that play, which is set, pretty much, in the same time.

is that that still happens now. And it’s why, for me as a director, I've always been interested in diversity in the kind of work that I do. From Gertrude Stein to Shakespeare, you know what I mean? Things like Fornés. It’s to not be limited in people’s imaginations. MORGAN JENNESS The classics are kind of open

now, nobody says, “Oh, well, you can’t have these people because that’s not realistic.” But, in a way, Irene is like that now. She always does this dance with

The whole setting, New England, 1935—what does that mean? The Depression, and the question of what is that particular feminism…. There's not that much specific reference to either New England or to the time period. In fact, they sort of sound ‘70s.

LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Which I think is kind of

a wonderful antithesis to the entire universe of that. The Women is all about women––but all they talk about is men. Literally, in all of the marketing, it was just about how these women were obsessed with men.

Helen Cespedes (Emma), Juliana Canfield (Christina), Ronete Levenson (Sue), Jennifer Lim (Cindy), and Brittany Bradford (Julia) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


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INTERVIEW: LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ And Fornés reverses that, and you have a group of women speaking so densely and incredibly about amazing ideas, about what it means be alive, what education is, how do we exist inside of this universe. And that, for me, is all so vibrant and alive. I was talking to [theatre critic] Alexis Soloski, and she asked, “Why is it that it still feels exciting when seven or eight women are on the stage together talking?” And yeah, it still feels rare, that the complexity of our existence is actually allowed to thrive. That our power and strength, it’s not from a place of weakness, but it’s from a place of density. That’s actually really tremendous. I keep thinking about this quote that Fefu has in the play: “And it’s as if a god once said, ‘If they should recognize themselves, the world would be blown apart.’” Oh my god! It’s so right, there’s tremendous power in women, and in a group of women together.


MORGAN JENNESS It makes me think of

intersectional feminism. Feminism for white women is a particular type of thing. But there’s another kind, where there’s both things going on: you’re a woman but also a woman of color. Even though that is not literally spoken about [in the production], it is implied as a layer. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Exactly. It’s another level

of existence on which they all have to operate. And there was a conscientiousness on my part about who Emma is versus who Julia is, and how their struggles look differently. Just as I think, in the play, there's a difference between how Paula can exist in the world based on growing up with means, versus how somebody like Emma or Cecilia can struggle more to live in a particular way. The other aspect I love about having an audience move around the space—and that was a big choice,

Lindsay Rico (Paula) and Carmen Zilles (Cecilia),in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

F E F U A N D H E R F R I E N D S 19

INTERVIEW: LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ to try to do it in this production, because it’s going to be 264 people and that’s a huge challenge—is how to maintain the intimacy of the scenes, but also get people into their bodies. Because I think that’s also something that’s really important inside of the work: there’s an awareness of the body. There's an awareness of how we exist in space. And in the same way that she doesn’t allow for any kind of easy categorization, when you're forced or asked to move around that space, then you realize that time doesn’t operate linearly, right? That there's a multiplicity of times as multiple people have conversations. And all of those things are actually happening simultaneously, and every audience member is going to have a different relationship to the show based on what room they start in and which one they end in… and that’s actually kind of amazing. That’s, in some way, how life works. When you’re at a party, you walk into one room and there's one experience happening, and you walk into another room and there’s another experience happening. And those two things are equal in terms of their experience, but they exist simultaneously. And that, for me, is really exciting to experience: to have a visceral experience of time, operating in different rooms. In an interview, Fornés describes this as “profeminine” as opposed to feminist. And I thought, that’s a really interesting distinction. And I think about the rooms that we operate inside of: the study, a place of learning; the kitchen, a place of sustenance; the bedroom, a place of intimacy; and who we operate with and who we see inside of those rooms, I think, can have meaning. MORGAN JENNESS And this garden is a tropical

garden, right? LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Yes. We’re keeping the

tropical [aspect]—that’s one of the design elements that was important for us. And we were like, “Hmm, we want wallpaper.” We want there to be kind of a vibrancy involved in each room. MORGAN JENNESS You have a really wonderful

history of collaboration with several designers. 20

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Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with your designers and design? LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ I love designers. [Laughs] MORGAN JENNESS Yeah. I can tell. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ And that’s another thing

that inspired me, reading about Fornés’ life, is that she started as a painter. And I was like, “Of course she did,” because she cares about image— MORGAN JENNESS And she studied in Provincetown. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ Oh my god. MORGAN JENNESS In her early 20s. Before she

wrote with Susan Sontag, she was studying art in Provincetown. Jennifer Lim (Cindy) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


working with designers because I think something that gets underrated in the theater sometimes is it’s potential as a visual art form. You literally have painting in 3D, and that, for me, has always been deeply important because it adds to the visceral-ness of the event. That is integral. And in reading about how she directed, she was aware of how a hand could rest on a couch— because that has meaning. And when you look at positioning, it can have power. She talks about how, in an Edward Hopper painting, “Right, she has to be sitting in a red dress to the left behind the window” so we can understand solitude and loneliness. We can read so many things inside of that because of that positioning. So, when I work with designers, we have a deep consciousness of the frame, but also how we can Carmen Zilles (Cecilia) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


invite the audience inside of that? How we can make them feel intensely whatever is happening inside of each scene? MORGAN JENNESS I want to go back to epic-ness:

that [Fornés' work] resonates outside the immediate, specific world. Irene would say, “Well, it’s not an allegory.” But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t resonate. You can have very real, very specific people, but in a way, that specificity is almost like defining the pebble as it drops into the pool: the more specific it is, the more it ripples out. The more specific it is, actually, the more universal it becomes. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ It’s funny, we were

working the other day in rehearsal on Cecilia in part three, and she’s speaking about how a cause of stupidity is the inability to distinguish between two different things. We were all vibrating right now with that means. In our desire to be part of a community, we’ve reduced our thinking to the lowest common denominator. And if we allowed for the differences between things, for those subtleties, then we could be more understanding; we could potentially know more. We wouldn’t allow the unusual in us to die. Right? So, the whole argument of that, which, yes, could specifically happen in 1935 as the rise of fascism is happening, can also happen in 2019— MORGAN JENNESS As the rise of fascism is

happening— LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ —as the rise of fascism is

happening— MORGAN JENNESS —all over the world. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ And that's what I mean by

the epic-ness of it: the way the ripple expands. This is a deeply human conundrum of how to actually live in the world and what happens when there are forces that are trying to dampen and control us, overwhelm us. F E F U A N D H E R F R I E N D S 21


strengthen your individuality, and still be inside of that. This is the big metaphor, right, of this country? The melting pot, where everybody melts into one thing. George C. Wolfe once said to me: “It's more of a gumbo.” And I love that, because in a gumbo, each thing that’s in that stew has its own flavor, retains it. But everything makes the pot. This country, we have tended in the past to have, like, one broth: things are added to it, but the broth remains the same. Rather than being flavored by all these things, which are completely retaining also their own flavor. LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ That’s beautiful.

Speaking of design and speaking of gumbos—[our costume designer] Montana [Levi Blanco] is really amazing at crafting characters through that kind of specificity. Yes, they're all a group of friends. Amelia Workman (Fefu) and Brittany Bradford (Julia) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


They're all living in the same universe, but Cindy is completely different than Christina, and they are both completely different than Sue. And Montana is really amazing at finding that specificity in the detail of their costumes and in their work, which I think Fornés’ also writes in. Like, Emma has a costume. She’s gotta dress. These are people who are aware of their visual representation. MORGAN JENNESS Is there anything else you

would like to communicate? LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ I guess that spirit of

openness, right? One of the things in the documentary that I was really moved by, both in terms of thinking about artistic process, but also I think as an audience member, is that she was like: “When you're in a situation where you don’t know what to do, don’t try to manage it or manhandle it. Just breathe, and meditate on it.” And that, for me, speaks to so much. “Stop trying to control things. Just be alive. Be present to each other.” And that’s actually so hard to do, particularly nowadays where we’re being pulled from all of these different sources; that actually active present-ness is such a rare gift. That’s actually what makes theater kind of important right now, that we’ve all agreed to be in the dark together and be present with each other, and be alive to another person’s humanity. And that, for me, is what's exciting about directing this play. It asks you, to the utmost, to be so present and alive. And that’s the deep work of it and what I’m so thrilled to invite people inside of. • This interview has been edited and condensed. A former Associate Producer and head of Play Development at the Public Theater, MORGAN JENNESS has served in dramaturgical capacities at theaters and developmental situations across the country for over three decades. Proud recipient of an Obie Award for Long Term Support of Playwrights and the prestigious LMDA Lessing Award, as well as a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award and the first Elsa Rael VintAge Award. Currently on faculty at Columbia, Pace and Fordham Universities. Was honored to represent Maria Irene Fornes at both Helen Merrill and Abrams Artists agencies.


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THE PRODUCTION CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM BRITTANY BRADFORD (Julia) Broadway: Bernhardt/Hamlet. Off-Broadway: Merrily We Roll Along

with Roundabout/Fiasco. Regional credits include Guys and Dolls (The Muny), Flyin’ West (Westport Country Playhouse), Family Resemblance (Eugene O’Neill), The Profane and Taming of the Shrew (Chautauqua Theater Company), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Ten Thousand Things Theater), Neighbors, Avenue Q and Next to Normal (Mixed Blood Theatre), Ragtime and Stick Fly (Park Square Theatre). Juilliard Grad, and Co-Founder of HomeBase Theatre Collective. www.brittany-bradford.com JULIANA CANFIELD (Christina) Off-Broadway theatre credits include Sunday (Atlantic Theater Company), The House That Will Not Stand (New York Theater Workshop), He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box (Theater For a New Audience), Zurich (Colt Coeur). Film/TV credits include “Succession” (HBO), “Y: The Last Man” (FX, upcoming), “Amazing Stories” (Amblin/Apple, upcoming), The Assistant (upcoming). BA: Yale College; MFA: Yale School of Drama. HELEN CESPEDES (Emma) Selected New York credits: The Cripple of Inishmaan (Broadway), Paul

Swan is Dead and Gone (Civilians), The School For Scandal (Red Bull), A Picture of Autumn (The Mint), and Couriers and Contrabands (Timeline). Regional: Williamstown, Old Globe, McCarter, Two River, Barrington Stage, Goodman, NYSF, Hartford Stage, Studio Theater, and Chautauqua. TV/Film: The Way I Remember It, "The Knick". Training: Juilliard. JENNIFER LIM (Cindy) BWAY: Chinglish (Theater World Award, IASNY Trophy for Excellence &

Drama Desk Nom). OFF BWAY: Usual Girls (Roundabout), Caught (PlayCo), Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb), The World of Extreme Happiness (MTC), The Urban Retreat (Public), The Most Deserving (Women’s Project), Golden Child (Signature), and YJLee’s Songs of The Dragons Flying to Heaven (HERE Arts). Recent TV: "Prodigal Son", "High Maintenance", "New Amsterdam", "Jessica Jones", "Instinct". Upcoming FILMS: Irresistible, Naked Singularity, and The Stand-In. MFA: Yale. Jenniferlimonline.com Jennifer Lim (Cindy), Juliana Canfield (Christina), and Amelia Workman (Fefu) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

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(Sue) Off-Broadway: Lascivious Something (Women's Project), Our Town (w/David Cromer), What Once We Felt (LCT3), Origin Story (Public Theater), Recent Alien Abductions (Play Co), Blood Play (Bushwick Starr), Stunning (NYTW). REGIONAL: Evocation…. (Humana), Our Town (w/ Helen Hunt), Bus Stop (IRNE Award - Actress), August: Osage County (dir. Sam Gold). TV/FILM: “House of Lies” (Tessa), “SVU”, “Possible Side Effects” (Showtime), Taking Woodstock (Ang Lee). Filmmaker/composer, Life Through a Lens (LA Reel FF Award- Best Short Doc). Graduate of Bard College. RONETE LEVENSON

LINDSAY RICO (Paula) is proud to be a part of such a

strange and historic play. Born and raised in LA, she now lives in Brooklyn where she acts, writes, and creates content. Theater credits: Emerald in Alligator (Sol Project/ New Georges), Isabella in Measure for Measure (Cal Shakes), and Tess/Shy in Song for a Future Generation (Williamstown Theatre Festival). She’d like to thank all of the women in the cast + Lileana and Montana xx. AMELIA WORKMAN (Fefu) Amelia is thrilled to undertake

her 4th collaboration with Lileana. Amelia's previous work has been seen at The Public, Ars Nova, Atlantic, Signature, Yale Rep. SohoRep., ClubbedThumb and The Booth on Broadway and the Goodman in Chicago. Amelia was a member of the original company of Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment. On TV Amelia has appeared on shows for HBO, Amazon, CBS, NBC and Warner Brothers.

Amelia Workman (Fefu) and Jennifer Lim (Cindy) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

(Cecilia) Off-Broadway credits include: Little Women (Primary Stages), Scenes from a Marriage (New York Theatre Workshop, dir. Ivo van Hove), Small Mouth Sounds (Signature Theatre, dir. Rachel Chavkin), Three Girls (Cherry Lane), Chimichangas and Zoloft (Atlantic Theater Company). Regional: Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls (Huntington Theater, dir. Liesl Tommy), Another Word for Beauty (Goodman Theatre). Film/TV: Bel Canto (starring Julianne Moore), Pimp (starring Keke Palmer and rapper DMX), ‘Blue Bloods’. She recently received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama. CARMEN ZILLES

LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ (Director). TFANA debut. Other projects: Girls at Yale Rep, Marys Seacole

at LCT3 (Obie Award), Thunderbodies and Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again at Soho Rep., The House That Will Not Stand and Red Speedo at NYTW, Fabulation, Or the Re-Education of Undine and The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Obie Award) at Signature Theatre, Pipeline at Lincoln Center, Henry IV, Part One at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Bluest Eye at The Guthrie, War at and Yale Rep., Salome at Jack, Much Ado About Nothing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Hollow Roots at the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater. She was a 2050 Artistic Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop, a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. 2018 United States Artists Fellow. MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama.


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ADAM RIGG (Scenic Designer) 2015 Princess Grace Award

and a three-time Henry Hewes Design Award nominee. Recent: Girls (Yale Rep), House That Will Not Stand (NYTW), Is God Is and Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. (Soho Rep.), Fabulation (Signature Theater), Continuity (MTC), Blue Ridge (Atlantic), Prism (LA Opera), Actually (Williamstown Theatre Festival and MTC), Henry IV Parts One and Two (OSF), and Breaking the Waves (Opera Philadelphia). Other credits include: The Public Theater, The Guthrie, Seattle Rep, Mark Taper Forum, REDCAT, Cincinnati Symphony, Opera Omaha, Berkeley Rep, MTC, A.R.T., and The Foundry Theatre. B.A.: UCLA; M.F.A.: Yale School of Drama. Upcoming: Norwegian National Opera, Theater An Der Wien, The Kennedy Center, Santa Fe Opera, Alliance Theater, and ArtsEmerson. adamriggdesign.com (Costume Designer). TFANA: He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box. Off-Broadway: A Strange Loop (Playwrights Horisons/Page 73), Ain’t No Mo’ (Public); Daddy (New Group); Fairview & Is God Is (Soho Rep); Fabulation, The Death of the Last Black Man, & In the Blood (Signature); The House That Will Not Stand, Red Speedo & Nat Turner (NYTW); Pipeline, Ghost Light, & War (Lincoln Center); Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise (The Shed); Eddie & Dave (Atlantic); The Last Match (Roundabout); O, Earth (Foundry). Awards: Special Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Henry Hewes Design, & OBIE. Training: Oberlin College & Conservatory of Music, Brown University & the Yale School of Drama. montanaleviblanco.com MONTANA LEVI BLANCO

Brittany Bradford (Julia) in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

JANE COX (Lighting Designer) Recent designs include the Broadway productions of Jitney, King Lear and

True West; the theatrical adaptation of Between the World and Me; the San Francisco Opera production of Marriage of Figaro, and the Broadway musicals Amelie and Color Purple. Jane is a member of the Monica Bill Barnes Company and is the director of the program in theater and the producing artistic director of the theater season at Princeton University. PALMER HEFFERAN (Sound Designer) Select credits include BROADWAY: The Lifespan of a Fact (Studio

54); Select OFF-BROADWAY: Sugar In Our Wounds, Important Hats… (MTC); Marys Seacole (LCT3); Seared, BLKS, Collective Rage, Charm, School Girls (MCC); Do You Feel Anger? (Vineyard Theatre); Wild Goose Dreams (The Public); Something Clean, Bobbie Clearly (Roundabout); Fabulation, Death of the Last Black Man… (Signature). AWARDS: 2019 Obie Award, 2018 Henry Hewes Award, 2018 Helen Hayes Award, 2018 Drama Desk nomination.

ANDREW DIAZ (Props Supervisor) is a Brooklyn-based set and props designer who has previously worked with

Walt Disney Entertainment, Roundabout Theatre Company, MCC Theatre, FleaTheatre, Vineyard Theatre, Signature Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Carnegie Hall, Classic Stage Company, Primary Stages, The Public, Theatre for a New Audience, Cherry Lane Theatre, and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, among others.

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JOHN C. MOORE (Production Stage Manager). TFANA Theater Debut. Off-Broadway: A Strange Loop

(Playwrights Horizons), Mrs. Murray's Menagerie (Ars Nova), Miles for Mary (Playwrights Horizons), Sunday (The Atlantic), Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future (Ars Nova), KPOP (Ars Nova), Sundown, Yellow Moon (Ars Nova/WP Theater), A Life (Playwrights Horizons), Log Cabin (Playwrights Horizons), Antlia Pneumetica (Playwrights Horizons), Marjorie Prime (Playwrights Horizons), The Christians (Playwrights Horizons). EGYPT DIXON (Assistant Stage Manager). TFANA: Julius Caesar, About Alice, The Winter's Tale, He Brought

Her Heart Back In A Box, Marcel and The Art of Laughter, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Servant of Two Masters, The Father and A Doll's House. Clubbed Thumb: The World My Mama Rasied. Queen's Theatre in the Park: To Kill a Mockingbird. Weathervane Theatre: Always... Patsy Cline, The Little Mermaid, Our Town, Spamalot and Chicago. JONATHAN KALB (Production Dramaturg) is Professor of Theater at Hunter College, CUNY, and TFANA’s

Resident Dramaturg. The author of five books on theater, he has worked for more than three decades as a theater scholar, critic, journalist, and dramaturg. He curates and hosts the theater-review-panel series TheaterMatters at HERE Arts Center and has twice won The George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. He has also won the George Freedley Award for an outstanding theater book from the Theatre Library Association. He often writes about theater on his TheaterMatters blog (at www.jonathankalb.com). BLAKE ZIDELL & ASSOCIATES (Press Representative) is a Brooklyn-based public relations firm representing

artists, companies and institutions spanning a variety of disciplines. Clients include St. Ann’s Warehouse, Soho Rep, The Kitchen, Ars Nova, BRIC, P.S.122, Abrons Arts Center, Taylor Mac, LAByrinth Theater Company, StoryCorps, Irish Arts Center, Café Carlyle, Peak Performances, Batsheva Dance Company, The Playwrights Realm, Stephen Petronio Company, The Play Company, and FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival. Theatre for a New Audience's production of Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


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JEFFREY HOROWITZ (Founding Artistic Director) began his career in theatre as an actor and appeared

on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theatre. In 1979, he founded Theatre for a New Audience. Horowitz has served on the Panel of the New York State Council on the Arts, on the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group, the Advisory Board of the Shakespeare Society and Artistic Directorate of London’s Globe Theatre. Awards: 2003 John Houseman Award - The Acting Company; 2004 Gaudium Award - Breukelein Institute; 2014 Alfred Drake Award - Brooklyn College; 2019 Obie Lifetime Achievement Award. (Managing Director) joined Theatre for a New Audience in 2003. She spent the previous ten years devoted to fundraising for the 92nd Street Y and the Brooklyn Museum. Ryan began her career in classical music artist management and has also served as company manager for Chautauqua Opera, managing director for the Opera Ensemble of New York, and general manager of Eugene Opera. She is a 2014 Brooklyn Women of Distinction honoree from Community Newspaper Group. DOROTHY RYAN

MICHAEL PAGE (General Manager) joined TFANA in 2013, where he has managed over 20 productions

at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Prior to TFANA Michael was the general manager of the Tony Award-winning Vineyard Theatre and the managing director of Off-Broadway’s Barrow Street Theatre where he managed the U.S. premiere of Nina Raine’s Tribes and David Cromer’s landmark production of Our Town, among many others. Michael sits on the Board of Directors for the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), is active with the Off-Broadway League, and is on the adjunct faculty at CUNY/ Brooklyn College’s Department of Theater.

Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Photo © David Sundberg/Esto.

Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage. Photo by Francis Dzikowski/OTTO.

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ABOUT THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE About Theatre for a New Audience Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, the mission of Theatre for a New Audience is to develop and vitalize the performance and study of Shakespeare and classic drama. Theatre for a New Audience produces for audiences Off-Broadway and has also toured nationally, internationally and to Broadway. We are guided in our work by five core values: a reverence for language, a spirit of adventure, a commitment to diversity, a dedication to learning, and a spirit of service. These values inform what we do with artists, how we interact with audiences, and how we manage our organization. Theatre for a New Audience Education Programs


Founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Horowitz Managing Director Dorothy Ryan General Manager Michael Page Director of Institutional Advancement James J. Lynes Finance Director Mary Sormeley Education Director Kathleen Dorman Director of Marketing & Communications Jennifer Lam Associate Producer / Director of the Studio Nidia Medina Associate Director of Development Barbara Toy Associate General Manager Kiana Carrington Theatre Manager Steven Gaultney Production Manager Zach Longstreet Assistant Production Manager Keaton Morris-Stan Box Office & Subscriptions Supervisor Allison Byrum Facilities Manager Jordan Asinofsky Marketing Manager Torrence Browne Institutional Support Manager Sara Billeaux Executive Assistant to the Artistic & Managing Directors, and Manager of Humanities Program Tatianna Casas Quiñonez Finance Associate Michelle Esposito Education Associate Philip Calabro Associate Facilities Manager Rashawn Caldwell Development Associates Richard Brighi, Allison Haglund General Management Assistant Molly Burdick New Deal Program Coordinator Tyler English-Beckwith House Managers Jonatan Amaya, Coral Cohen, Wednesday Sue Derrico Resident Director Arin Arbus Press Representative Blake Zidell & Associates Resident Dramaturg Jonathan Kalb Resident Casting Director Jack Doulin


Theatre for a New Audience is an award-winning company recognized for artistic excellence. Our education programs introduce students to Shakespeare and other classics with the same artistic integrity that we apply to our productions. Through our unique and exciting methodology, students engage in hands-on learning that involves all aspects of literacy set in the context of theatre education. Our residencies are structured to address City and State Learning Standards both in English Language Arts and the Arts, the New York City DOE’s Curriculum Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Theater, and the New York State Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts. Begun in 1984, our programs have served more than 135,000 students, ages 9 through 18, in New York City Public Schools city-wide. A Home in Brooklyn: Polonsky Shakespeare Center Theatre for a New Audience’s home, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, is a centerpiece of the Brooklyn Cultural District. Designed by celebrated architect Hugh Hardy, Polonsky Shakespeare Center is the first theatre in New York designed and built expressly for classic drama since Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont in the 1960s. The 27,500 square-foot facility is a unique performance space in New York. The 299-seat Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage, inspired by the Cottesloe at London’s National Theatre, combines an Elizabethan courtyard theatre with modern theatre technology that allows the stage and seating to be arranged in seven configurations. The facility also includes the Theodore C. Rogers Studio (a 50-seat rehearsal/ performance studio), and theatrical support spaces. The City of New York-developed Arts Plaza, designed by landscape architect Ken Smith, creates a natural gathering place around the building. In addition, Polonsky Shakespeare Center is also one of the few sustainable (green) theatre in the country, with LEED-NC Silver rating from the United States Green Building Council. Now with a home of its own, Theatre for a New Audience is contributing to the continued renaissance of Downtown Brooklyn. In addition to its season of plays, the Theatre has expanded its Humanities offerings to include lectures, seminars, workshops, and other activities for artists, scholars, and the general public. When not in use by the Theatre, its new facility is available for rental, bringing much needed affordable performing and rehearsal space to the community.

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Chair: Robert E. Buckholz Vice Chair Kathleen C. Walsh President Jeffrey Horowitz Founding Artistic Director Vice President and Secretary Dorothy Ryan Managing Director Executive Committee Robert E. Buckholz Jeffrey Horowitz John J. Kerr, Jr. Seymour H. Lesser Larry M. Loeb Audrey Heffernan Meyer Kathleen C. Walsh Josh Weisberg Members John Berendt* Sally Brody William H. Burgess, III Zoë Caldwell* Ben Campbell Robert Caro* Constance Christensen Dr. Sharon Dunn* Dana Ivey* Catherine Maciariello* Caroline Niemczyk Marc Polonsky Theodore C. Rogers Philip R. Rotner Mark Rylance* Daryl D. Smith Susan Stockel Michael Stranahan John Douglas Thompson* John Turturro* Frederick Wiseman* *Artistic Council

Emeritus Francine Ballan Dr. Charlotte K. Frank Jane Wells



Even with capacity audiences, ticket sales account for a small portion of our operating costs. The Theatre expresses its deepest thanks to the following Foundations, Corporations, Government Agencies, and Individuals for their generous support of the Theatre’s Humanities, Education, and Outreach programs.

The 360° Series: Viewfinders has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Viewfinder do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. A Challenge Grant from the NEH established a Humanities endowment fund at Theatre for a New Audience to support these programs in perpetuity. Leading matching gifts to the NEH grant were provided by Joan and Robert Arnow, Norman and Elaine Brodsky, The Durst Organization, Perry and Marty Granoff, Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia, John J. Kerr & Nora Wren Kerr, Litowitz Foundation, Inc., Robert and Wendy MacDonald, Sandy and Stephen Perlbinder, The Prospect Hill Foundation, Inc., Theodore C. Rogers, and from purchasers in the Theatre’s Seat for Shakespeare Campaign, 2013 – 2015. Theatre for a New Audience’s Humanities, Education, and Outreach programs are supported, in part, by The Elayne P. Bernstein Education Fund. For more information on naming a seat or making a gift to the Humanities endowments, please contact James Lynes, Director of Institutional Advancement, at 212-229-2819 x29, or by email at jlynes@tfana.org. Theatre for a New Audience’s productions and education programs receive support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Additional funding is provided by the generosity of the following Foundations and Corporations through either general operating support or direct support of the Theatre’s arts in education programs: PRINCIPAL BENEFACTORS

($100,000 and up) National Endowment for the Humanities New York City Department of Cultural Affairs The SHS Foundation The Shubert Foundation, Inc. The Thompson Family Foundation LEADING BENEFACTORS

($50,000 and up) Bloomberg Philanthropies Deloitte & Touche LLP The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust MAJOR BENEFACTORS

($20,000 and up) The Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation Sidney E. Frank Foundation Hearst The DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP Latham & Watkins LLP National Endowment for the Arts New York State Council on the Arts May and Samuel Rudin Foundation Inc. The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation Troy Chemical Corporation The Winston Foundation


($10,000 and up) The Howard Bayne Fund Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. Debevoise & Plimpton LLP The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Jean and Louis Dreyfus Foundation, Inc. Fiduciary Trust International Geen Family Foundation Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP Joseph and Sally Handleman Foundation Trust A Irving Harris Foundation Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti, LLP The J.M. Kaplan Fund King & Spalding LLP Kirkland & Ellis LLP Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison Select Equity Group, Inc. Sidley Austin LLP Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP The White Cedar Fund PRODUCERS CIRCLE— THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR’S SOCIETY

($5000 and up) Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP Axe-Houghton Foundation Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, NY City Council Discretionary Funding

Dorsey & Whitney LLP The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP Litowitz Foundation, Inc. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP Richenthal Foundation The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation Michael Tuch Foundation, Inc. PRODUCERS CIRCLE—EXECUTIVE

($2,500 and up) The Norman D. and Judith H. Cohen Foundation DeWitt Stern Group, Inc. Marta Heflin Foundation Lucille Lortel Foundation Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund PRODUCERS CIRCLE—ASSOCIATE

($1,000 and up) Actors’ Equity Association EMM Wealth Management Kinder Morgan Foundation The Grace R. and Alan D. Marcus Foundation Richmond County Savings Foundation

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