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Theatre on Fire Closes Out Season with ‘Act A Lady’


Theatre on Fire closes its fifth anniversary season at the Charlestown Working Theater with Jordan Harrison’s hilarious farce Act A Lady from April 16 – May 1, 2010.

When the men of a small Prohibition-era town decide to put on a play dressed in “fancy-type, women-type clothes,” the whole community is affected: gender lines blur, eyebrows raise, identities explode, and life and art are forever entangled. Act A Lady is a thoughtful and exuberant Midwestern fable about the woman in every man, the man in every woman and the power of theatre to uncover both. Accompanied by accordion.

Act A Lady premiered in 2006 at the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival. It was hailed as the festival’s “most uproarious comedy, a farce of outlandish proportions, [that] takes on and celebrates the art of theater itself…Part Waiting for Guffman and part Dangerous Liaisons.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) It was also recognized as “”a source of camp pleasures and a fount of social commentary” by American Theatre Magazine and “smoothly entertaining [and] imaginative” by Variety.

Jordan Harrison grew up on an island near Seattle. His play Doris to recently premiered at Playwrights Horizons and his play Amazons and Their Men was produced Off-Broadway by Clubbed Thumb. Mr. Harrison’s plays Act a Lady, Darlene Kid-Simple, and Fit For Feet premiered in the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and have been produced all over the country. His play Finn in the Underworld had its world premiere at Berkeley Rep under the direction of Les Waters. Mr. Harrison’s work has also been produced or developed at Actor’s Express, American Theater Company, Ars Nova, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, NYTW, Perishable Theatre, PlayLabs, Portland Center Stage, Seattle Rep, Soho Rep, SPF, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Mr. Harrison is the recipient of the Kesselring Fellowship, the Heideman Award, a Theater Masters’ Innovative Playwright Award, two Jerome Fellowships and a McKnight Grant from The Playwrights’ Center, a Lucille Lortel Fellowship, and a NEA/TCG Playwright-in-Residence Grant with The Empty Space Theatre. He has received commissions from Arden Theatre Company, Berkeley Rep/Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cypress Films, Guthrie Theater/Children’s Theatre Company, Playwrights Horizons, and South Coast Rep. His plays are published by Playscripts, Inc., Samuel French, Smith and Kraus, and Heinemann. A graduate of the Brown University MFA Playwriting program, Mr. Harrison is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and an Associate Artist with The Civilians. He has taught playwriting at Brown, The Playwrights’ Center, and SUNY Purchase. With Sally Oswald, he edits Play A Journal of Plays, dedicated to reinventing the life of plays on the page.

Act A Lady is the best kind of theatre,” says Artistic Director Darren Evans. “It’s funny without being trite, sweet without being saccharine, intelligent without being pretentious, and contains social commentary without being didactic. But the most important thing is: it’s great fun. I don’t think it’s possible to not enjoy this play – it’s such a good time.”

He continues: “What also excites me about this production is that it is pushing Theatre on Fire to grow. For reasons both aesthetic and budgetary, we tend toward spare productions that are light on tech, with the focus more on the acting and the script. Act A Lady requires elaborate costumes and make-up, a play-with-a-play set, live music and more. We’re stretching ourselves to bigger and better things with this play, and stepping out of our comfort zone, which can be frightening, but also adds electricity and adrenaline to the production. I think it’s a fitting way to celebrate the completion of our fifth season of taking audiences out of their comfort zone.”

Act A Lady features a cast of returning Theatre on Fire favorites and newcomers alike: Lisa Caron Driscoll, Craig Houk, Crystal Lisbon, Greg Maraio, Chelsea Schmidt, and Chris Wagner.

Compiled from the press release courtesy of Charlestown Working Theatre (website | profile | tag archive).

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