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‘From Orchids to Octopi’ at Central Square Theater beginning March 31

Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, Underground Railway Theater’s science theater initiative with MIT, presents the World Premiere of From Orchids To Octopi by award-winning playwright Melinda Lopez. Commissioned by the National Institutes of Health to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of On the Origin of Species, surprises erupt as a muralist’s work is derailed by hallucinations, pregnancy, and dinosaurs in this witty take on how we understand – or do not – the theory of evolution. Charles Darwin comments on it all. From Orchids to Octopi plays at Central Square Theater from Wednesday March 31 through Sunday, May 3.

Directed by Diego Arciniegas, From Orchids To Octopi will be presented March 22 – 23 at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD.

Melinda Lopez is a playwright and actress whose play How Do You Spell Hope? was produced by the Underground Railway Theater at Central Square Theater last season. Another of her plays, Sonia Flew, won the Elliot Norton Award for “Best New Play” and the IRNE for “Best Play” and “Best Production.” Sonia Flew has been produced at the Huntington Theatre, among other theatres nationwide, and also broadcast on NPR’s The Play’s The Thing! Her play Gary was produced at Boston Playwrights Theatre and Alexandros, a commission from the Laguna Playhouse, had its world premiere May 2008. Other award winning plays include God Smells Like a Roast Pig (Women on Top Festival, Elliot Norton Award- Outstanding Solo Performance), Midnight Sandwich/Medianoche, (Coconut Grove Playhouse), and The Order of Things (CentaStage, Kennedy Center Fund for New Plays). Ms. Lopez was the first recipient of the Charlotte Woolard Award, given by the Kennedy Center to a “promising new voice in American Theatre.” She has appeared on stage in regional theatres across the country, and works in film and radio, in addition to teaching theatre and performance at Wellesley College and playwriting at BU.

From Orchids to Octopi marks director Diego Arciniegas’ debut with the Catalyst Collaborative@MIT The Artistic Director of the Publick Theatre in Boston, most recently he directed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Humble Boy. Also an actor, Mr. Arciniegas most recently played Voltaire in Karen Zacharías’ play Lagacy of Light at the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, His work as an actor and director has received several IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards. He is a Senior Lecturer in Theatre Studies at Wellesley College. A native of Colombia, Arciniegas was educated at Williams College and trained in Theatre at the British and European Studies Group, James Wilson, Oxon., dir. Mr. Arciniegas is the narrator of the critically-acclaimed children’s audio book Mike Mulligan y su Maquina Maravillosa by Virginia Lee Burton, and has narrated a number of children’s stories and poems in English and Spanish.

Wesley Savick (Charles Darwin) is an actor, writer and director who directed and wrote the Underground Railway Theater production/adaptation of Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams which was seen at the Central Square Theatre, the first Cambridge Science Festival, and at the first World Science Festival in NYC last season. Savick has also directed several productions for the Nora Theatre including last spring’s On the Verge by Eric Overmeyer as well as Steven Berkoff’s The Secret Love Life of Ophelia and The Man Who by Oliver Sacks, Peter Brooks and Marie-Hélène Estienne. He has served as Artistic Director of the internationally acclaimed experimental company Theatre X in Milwaukee, Interim Artistic Director of the Drama League of New York’s Directors Project, Artistic Associate of Chicago’s Organic Theater and Resident Guest Director of the DARTS/Subaru Theatre in Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Savick has directed or acted in over 100 professional productions, almost all new works, including world premieres by Christopher Durang, Shel Silverstein, Derek Walcott, Howard Zinn and Robert Brustein. He has also written, co-written or adapted twenty produced plays, including Miss Margaret LaRue in Milwaukee, which premiered at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and an upcoming adaptation of Karel Capek’s RUR opening at MIT this January. Mr. Savick is the founding director of The National Theatre of Allston, a new company devoted to original, avant-garde political work and a tenured Associate Professor of Theatre at Suffolk University.

Debra Wise (Emma Darwin) is a founding member of Underground Railway Theater, and has served as Artistic Director since 1998. She has been involved in the collaborative creation of over 30 new works, as performer, playwright, director, and/or dramaturge. Wise is also Artistic Co-Director of Catalyst Collaborative@ MIT, a major new initiative pairing theater artists and world-class scientists. Wise has written several plays, including Home is Where>; Washed-Up Middle-Aged Women; and States of Grace and has helped create three commissions for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Wise has acted with other theater companies both in New York (original works with Julie Taymor and Elizabeth Swados) and in Boston (The Real Thing and Orson’s Shadow, New Rep; Brooklyn Boy, Speakeasy Stage Co.; Trust, Sugan Theatre), and is a regular guest artist with The Revels. She is also involved in a number of other arts initiatives, including educational programs.

Tom O’Keefe (Charles) is a film, TV and stage actor. For the theater he has acted in Measure for Measure (Shakespeare & Co.), Wordplay (Shakespeare & Co.), Humble Boy (Publick Theatre Boston), Nick in Questa (Court Theater, LA), Little Gentleman (Laurel Grove Theater Co.), Choice Words (Hollywood Court Theater), and Sin: A Cardinal Deposed (Hayworth Theater). In television O’Keefe has appeared in CSI, Criminal Minds, The Shield, ER, Rules of Engagement, and Drake and Josh. He has also appeared in films: A New Tomorrow, Avenging Angel, and Crash N’ Burn.

Kortney Adams (Emma) is an actor, director, and teaching artist in Boston. Recent projects include Voyeurs De Venus (Company One), Doubt (Gloucester Stage Co.), Almost, Maine (Village Theatre Project), The Trial of One Short-Sighted Black Woman… (Roxbury Crossroads Theatre), The Merchant of Venice (Publick Theatre), After Mrs. Rochester, for which she won an IRNE for Best Supporting Actress (Wellesley Summer Theatre) and the role of Barbara Demarco in the long-running hit Shear Madness.

Design team for From Orchids to Octopi includes David Fichter (sets & puppets), Heidi Hermiller (costumes), Kenneth Helvig (lighting), Bill Barclay (sound & composition), and Will Cabell (Master Puppeteer/Creative Technical Director).

Conversations with special guests, local academics from Harvard University and MIT, and the actors will follow select performances (see list below).

From Orchids to Octopi plays at Central Square Theater, 450 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, Wednesday, March 31 through Sunday, May 3. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM with matinees on Sundays at 2 PM. There will be three Wednesday evening performances at 7:30 PM, on March 31, April 7 and April 21. Tickets, priced at $35; $25 for seniors; $20 for students (valid ID required); and $15 for student rush (day of performance), can be purchased by calling (866) 811-4111, online at, or at the Central Square Theater box office. For box office hours, group discounts, and more info call (617) 576-9278 x213.

Compiled from the press release courtesy of Central Square Theater (website | profile | tag archive). Your source for news and information about Boston Theatre. Join our email list, follow us on Twitter @exploretheatre and become a fan on Facebook.

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