• Love in the Time of Twitter

    Kat Zukaitis
     | Mar 21, 2017
    The Siegel Cast

    Matthew Arkin, Amy Aquino, Ben Feldman​, Mamie Gummer and Dominique Worsley in The Siegel.

    Michael MitnickMichael Mitnick wrote Sex Lives of Our Parents (Second Stage Uptown, The Kennedy Center), Fly by Night with Will Connolly and Kim Rosenstock (Drama Desk-nominated for Best Musical, Playwrights Horizons, Dallas Theater Center, TheatreWorks), Ed, Downloaded (Denver Center Theatre Company, Washington Ensemble Theatre) and Spacebar: A Broadway Play by Kyle Sugarman (City Lights Theater Company, The Wild Project). His songs have been sung at Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, The Cutting Room and The Guggenheim. He is currently writing commissions for the Geffen Playhouse and Roundabout Theatre Company. His film work includes screenplays for The Giver and the upcoming The Current War with Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon (December 2017). In television, he wrote for the HBO show “Vinyl.” He has a BA from Harvard University and an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. Mitnick was born and raised in Pittsburgh.

    Two roads diverged. Ethan Siegel took one of them—and then, realizing that he’d made the biggest mistake of his life, hurriedly backtracked and found his way to Alice’s door, ready to sweep her off her feet and proceed to their happily ever after.

    There’s just one problem: Ethan Siegel’s change of heart comes two years too late. Two years after he and Alice broke up. Two years after she started dating someone else—someone she’s still in a relationship with. So when Ethan shows up out of the blue at Alice’s parents’ house to ask for her hand in marriage, they respond with a flat, “No.” But they’re a little divided on the value of Ethan’s Grand Romantic Gesture—and they are all too aware that living with the consequences of your decisions can be a tough pill to swallow.

    Alice would love to turn back the clock for different reasons: she was a major player in a political campaign that just lost, badly and unexpectedly, and she doesn’t have time to indulge her ex-boyfriend’s sudden sprint down Memory Lane. So Ethan Siegel is the last thing on her mind—but, then again, there’s something strangely appealing about his persistence and stubborn refusal to lose hope. Something that reminds her about the not-too-distant past, when she, too, was sure that her passion, intelligence and commitment could change somebody’s mind.

    As Ethan Siegel careens his way back into Alice’s life in SCR’s new play The Siegel, playwright Michael Mitnick reframes classic questions about love, choice and consequences, and how they play out in the age of Twitter and Tinder. “I wanted to write a Kaufman and Hart play about millennials,” Mitnick says, referring to the celebrated writing duo that won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for You Can’t Take It With You. Mitnick’s writing, brimming with sharp wit, eccentric characters and screwball humor, echoes Kaufman and Hart’s style; but his concerns are uncompromisingly contemporary.

    We live in a world that presents us with an ever-growing smorgasbord of options in life and love. For well-educated millennials, in particular, old expectations about where to live, what a career looks like, and when to settle down are… well, flexible. More choice—we generally agree—is a good thing; but as choices multiply, so do consequences, and it’s hard to think long-term in a world that insists on immediacy. “Things move faster, and that includes our rate of forming and dissolving bonds with other people,” says Mitnick, a millennial himself, “and we live with the effects.” What if, his play asks, there’s one person in the entire world who is absolutely, completely perfect for you—and you end up with someone else? What if searching for your soulmate distracts you from appreciating what you have now? What if it doesn’t really matter, and who you pick is ultimately less important than commitment and hard work?

    How do you make the hard choices, knowing that they might all be wrong—and how do you learn to live with the consequences regardless?

    There are some questions that linger, whichever path you take.

    Director Casey Stangl, fresh off the Theatre for Young Audiences world premiere of Flora & Ulysses, returns to SCR for this fun and fast-paced comedy that asks us to look again at how (and who) we love. Read more about Stangl’s recent work here.

    Designers include Michael B. Raiford (scenic); David Kay Mickelson (costumes); Elizabeth Harper (lighting); and Cricket S. Myers (costumes), with Roxana Khan stage managing.

    Mitnick, Stangl, and the team are joined by an all-star cast, including Amy Aquino, Matthew Arkin, Ben Feldman, Mamie Gummer, Devon Sorvari and Dominique Worsley. Catch their stories here.

    We asked playwright Michael Mitnick to take our pyramid challenge—a short interview perfectly suited for the pace of modern life. Here’s what he has to say about himself and his play, in exactly 55 words:

    In one word, what is your play about?

    In two words, why do you write?
    Bad judgment.

    In three words, what is your perfect date?
    Whatever she wants.

    In four words, who is your favorite writer and why?
    Mark Twain good dancer.

    In five words, what do you find funny?
    That which hurts the most.

    In six words, what do you wish for the characters in your play?
    You realize they aren’t real, right?

    In seven words, what did the first version of this play look like?
    Handwritten scroll written on toilet paper roll.

    In eight words, what happened during your best day of rehearsal?
    I found my retainer. I FOUND MY RETAINER.

    In nine words, what is your play about?
    My play is about 90 minutes RIP Edward Albee.

    In ​10 words, what should we expect from you next?
    Writing about what is weird, forgotten, ignored, misunderstood and arcane.

    Learn more about The Siegel and buy tickets.

  • Role Call: Meet the Cast of "A Doll’s House, Part 2"

    Tania Thompson
     | Mar 21, 2017

    Ibsen’s classic A Doll’s House ends with Nora leaving her family to make her way in the world. The door slams as she leaves. Playwright Lucas Hnath picks up the story 15 years later in A Doll’s House, Part 2—with a knock on that same door. Nora is back. But why? The four actors in the world premiere of Hnath’s play all are SCR veterans—with performances here spanning the past three decades.

    CochranNAME: ​Shannon Cochran

    ROLE: Nora
    Previous SCR appearance: System Wonderland (2007).
    TV & film includes: “The Office,” “Scandal.”
    Theatre includes: Bug (off-Broadway), Cabaret (recent Broadway national tour), August: Osage County (first national tour). 
    The book I read over and over: The Great Gatsby. It's such a transportive, delicious tale of longing, greed and discovering of identity. I also love the urgency and excess of the world of the 1920s.
    Where I got my passion for theatre: My parents were always great lovers of theatre and music and they were keen to pass along that passion to me and my brother from an early age. We were taken to plays at local theatres and the university where my mother taught. Our hi-fi stereo cabinet contained treasured LPs of musical soundtracks, as well as celebrated theatrical recordings of classic plays. It was a great introduction to live theatre.  
    If I came back as a person, it would be: The greatest baseball player in the world.
    My real-life hero is: My mother. She was a life-long English professor, writer and advocate for Native American culture and education. She passed on her great love for literature and curiosity for living to the many lives she touched.
    Greatest regret: Baking myself in the sun as a teenager, using only baby oil for a marinade.
    I laugh out loud at: A great pratfall.
    There’s a knock on the door. Open it? Not if you didn't call first. I'm from the South and that's just not good manners.

    GeisslingerNAME: Bill Geissingler

    ROLE: Torvald
    Previous SCR Appearance: A Fool for Love (1987).
    TV & film includes: “Grimm,” “Nowhere Man,” “NewsRadio,” PBS “American Playhouse,” Imaginary Crimes.
    Theatre includes:  More than 20 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Long Wharf Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe Theatre.

    MilgrimNAME: Lynn Milgrim

    ROLE: Anne Marie
    Previous SCR appearances: Rest, The Trip to Bountiful, The Heiress, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Bosoms and Neglect, The Countess, Death of a Salesman, Pygmalion.
    TV & film includes: “Southland,” “Franklin & Bash,” Save the Date, “As the World Turns,” Employee of the Month.
    Theatre includes:  Otherwise Engaged (directed by Harold Pinter); Bedroom Farce (directed by Sir Peter Hall); Charley’s Aunt; the international tour of Brighton Beach Memoirs (directed by Gene Saks).

    ValeNAME: Virginia Vale

    ROLE: Emmy
    Previous SCR appearances: Future Thinking, The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois.
    TV & film includes: “The Mysteries of Laura,” No Extras, “Don’t Talk in the Kitchen Presents.”
    Theatre includes:  Barefoot in the Park.
    Best books: I read a lot of books now, sometimes so fast I can’t remember if I read them or not. I am sure there are a few I have read twice--I am literally turning into my Dad!
    A defining moment for me in theatre: I remember years ago performing for a group of people in a hospital in New York City. The group I was in performed various Shakespeare pieces and songs for terminally ill patients. At the end of one of our performances, a gentleman approached us and thanked us. He said that for the last hour that we were performing, he forgot how sick he was. That was a huge defining moment for me. I still get goose bumps about it.
    If I came back as an animal, it would be: A pampered pooch. I have two chiweenies, Oliver and Lola, and I wouldn’t mind their life!

    Learn more and buy tickets.

  • Seven Questions With Playwright Lauren Yee

    Tania Thompson
     | Mar 21, 2017
    Lauren Yee

    Playwright Lauren Yee.

    Coffee shops are ​where you'll most likely find playwright Lauren Yee at work. Probably some in Costa Mesa. Her latest play—Cambodian Rock Bandis part of the 20th Pacific Playwrights Festival, April 21-23, 2017. This new work is a commission out of South Coast Repertory’s CrossRoads Initiative, a program that brings artists to Orange County for residencies and to be inspired by what they find.

    “I love the white noise of coffee shops,” she says. “Plus, if I'm sitting at a coffee shop, there's nowhere else to go. I need to have a relative din in the background. I read my dialogue under my breath and a public place covers this up. It's a counterintuitive idea, but it works for me.”

    Writing from home? Yee has a firm “no” for that. “There are so many distractions—I literally begin to clean my home before I start writing!”

    We had a few more questions for Yee. Read on.

    What story did you read in secret as a kid?
    I can't remember any books I had to read in secret, though I was a voracious reader constantly reading something. But I DID have a tiny tiny tv in the stereo in my room, that I use to secretly watch the late night “Masterpiece Theater” specials.

    When did you know you wanted to be a playwright?
    I always knew that I wanted to be a writer, but it was probably around high school that I found playwriting as the form my writing took. I fell in love with how collaborative it is. Writing can be lonely—and I loved how much theatre and playwriting require other people to make it happen and that every time you do it, it's a different beast.

    What play changed your life?
    Adam Bock's Five Flights was my first "new" play. I'd of course seen plays in school, but this show was the first time I saw what a new play could be, how the form could be manipulated, what theatre was capable of. A really formative play and production for me.

    How does SCR’s approach to play development support your work?
    South Coast Repertory is very collaborative about how it approaches dramaturgical feedback. The literary team at South Coast is huge compared to many other theatres of the same size. There's a lot of intellectual firepower and I actually enjoy hearing from a lot of different voices in my process.

    What inspired Cambodian Rock Band?
    CrossRoads fundamentally changed how I approach playwriting and how I encourage others to view their playwriting process. It was amazing how deeply and how quickly I was able to jump into vastly different worlds during my research phase of the CrossRoads commissioning process.

    Basically, I spent two weeks delving into the culture of Orange County, able to investigate any aspect of life in the county that I was interested in. And so, of course, I crammed all my interests into just two weeks; we did research for about 12 hours a day, on everything from video gaming to Asian food courts to urban planning in Irvine. I didn't know yet what my play was going to be about, but the freedom to look into whatever I want in Orange County was absolutely freeing and thought-provoking. It is that so rare that I clear two weeks from my schedule and say, "Okay, I will go wherever the research leads me." I came out of that research time with material enough for five plays.

    At first, I thought we were getting so much access [in the community] and face time because the requests were coming from South Coast Rep. But then I realized these organizations had no idea what South Coast Rep was, and that this kind of deep research is something that we're all capable of—I'd just never put aside the time to do so. It is something I can and should be doing in my everyday life.

    During my two weeks in residence, it became incredibly clear that my play was going to be about the Cambodian music scene, even if I didn't realize it at the time. Dengue Fever—the band I collaborated with—happened to be playing in Long Beach while I was there. There also happened to be an all-day Cambodian music festival that we attended. And, my last day of research ended with dinner and dancing at 2 a.m. in Long Beach, because we got a last minute invite for a fundraiser for Cambodia Town. It's such a strange way to think about it, but the play chose me.

    Coffee or tea?
    Oh definitely tea. I can't do the caffeine in coffee. It makes me angry. Tea I can sling back all day long.

    What are you binge-watching?
    I lean towards the non-fictional tv shows, it feels like a break to me from narrative. My husband is the opposite, so we're always trying to find the best compromise.

    Learn more about the Pacific Playwrights Festival and buy tickets

  • Role Call: Meet the Cast of "The Siegel"

    Tania Thompson
     | Mar 14, 2017

    A mix of SCR veterans and actors making their debut here are featured in Michael Mitnick’s The Siegel. This comedy follows Ethan Siegel, who is in love. Tonight he's going to ask Alice's parents for permission to marry her. Timing is everything, though, and Alice is reeling from working on a lost election—not to mention that she and Ethan broke up two years ago and she’s seeing someone else. But Ethan is undaunted. Here’s a bit about the cast, including some stories about ‘the-one-who-got-away’.

    Aquino,-AmyNAME: Amy AquinoPrevious SCR Appearances: A Feminine Ending
    TV & Film Includes: “Bosch,” “Brooklyn Bridge,” “Glee,” “Being Human,” White Oleander, Lazarus Effect.
    Theatre Includes: The Heidi Chronicles, Twelfth Night, The Underpants.
    Book Read in Secret as a Kid: Can’t say I had a secret book. But I did play solitaire for hours with round cards.
    Knew She Would Be an Actor When: I was pre-med, majoring in biology in a school with no theatre program, but ​then I realized that I was spending 80% of my time doing theatre. I knew I needed to give it a shot or I'd always regret it. I moved to New York, took classes, auditioned for tiny shows and for drama schools and, after three tries, was admitted to Yale School of Drama.
    Literary Hero: Dorothy Parker.
    Laugh Out Loud Funny: Animals communicating their emotions; political satirist Andy Borowitz.
    Latte or Tea: LATTE. SOY LATTE! Every morning, first thing. Even brought a machine to SCR.
    Story About the One Who Got Away: I didn't start looking for my life partner until later in my life, and I found him pretty quickly when I did start looking. We've been married more than two decades.

    Flashback: I was crazy in love with my first boyfriend in college. He was beautiful, sweet, made me laugh, made me feel attractive for the first time ever. When he broke up with me, he felt so bad that he continued come over and hang out with me; ​and he didn't have the heart to tell me he was actually seeing somebody else. When I was finally informed by a mutual friend, I confronted him with such vehemence that he went out into the snow in his bare feet and for the next two years he wouldn't eat with his girlfriend in the dining hall for fear of my seeing them and being upset. I did not go gently!

    Flash Forward: I saw him years later and made dinner for him and his new girlfriend.We never would have made it as husband and wife, and I haven't seen him in decades, but he still has a fond place in my heart. I guess you never do forget your first love.

    Arkin,-MatthewNAME: Matthew ArkinPrevious SCR Appearances: All the Way, The Whale, The Prince of Atlantis, Our Mother’s Brief Affair.
    TV & Film Includes: Margot at the Wedding, Second Best, An Unmarried Woman, “Aquarius,” “NCIS,” “Medium,” “Law & Order” franchise, “All My Children.”
    Theatre Includes: Dinner with Friends, Rounding Third, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Sight Unseen.
    Book Read in Secret as a Kid: None. My parents let me read whatever I wanted. Never felt the need to hide anything in that regard.
    Knew He Would Be an Actor When: After practicing law for five years. I always say, “My worst day as an actor is better than my best day as a lawyer.”
    Literary Hero: Atticus Finch. I made the mistake of thinking that he was the man he was because he was an attorney.
    Laugh Out Loud Funny: Really, really stupid jokes, and climate change deniers.
    Latte or Tea: Come on...Gotta be black coffee. Maybe with a shot of bourbon in it.
    Story About the One Who Got Away: There's no way I'm going there. I'm in a relationship, and I want to keep it.

    Feldman,-BenNAME: Ben Feldman Role: Ethan Siegel
    TV & Film Includes: “Superstore,” “Mad Men,” “Silicon Valley,” “A to Z,” “The Mindy Project,” Between Us, Friday the 13th.
    Theatre Includes: The Graduate.
    Book Read in Secret as a Kid: Fortunately, I didn't grow up in the Dead Poets Society, so there was no obligation to keep literature secret.
    Knew He Would Be an Actor When: Getting cast in the smallest part in a senior one-act in high school after being ignored by the drama teacher my entire freshman year. Incidentally, the drama teacher's name was Tom Bogar.
    Literary Hero: Hedwig.
    Laugh Out Loud Funny: When other actors break character to laugh.
    Latte or Tea: Black coffee.
    Story About the One Who Got Away: I married her.

    Gummer,-MamieNAME: Mamie GummerRole: Alice
    TV & Film Includes: “The Collection,” “Manhattan,” “The Good Wife,” “Emily Owens, MD” Ricki and the Flash, The End of the Tour, Cake, Echo Park.
    Theatre Includes: Ugly Lies the Bone, Mr. Marmalade, Uncle Vanya, The School for Lies, The Autumn Garden, Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
    Book Read in Secret as a Kid: I don't recall ever having to keep reading a secret. ​It was more likely the opposite.
    Knew She Would Be an Actor When: Seeing Natasha Richardson in Cabaret.
    Literary Hero: Brave Irene (William Steig)
    Laugh Out Loud Funny: Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer.
    Latte or Tea: Matcha
    Story About the One Who Got Away: Nobody gets away from me.

    Devon-SorvariNAME: Devon Sorvari TV & Film Includes: “The Mentalist,” “Gilmore Girls,” “ER,” Hellraiser.
    Theatre Includes: The Graduate, Ah Wilderness, Fathers and Sons, The School for Scandal, Inherit the Wind, Hamlet, Cyrano de Bergerac.
    Book Read in Secret as a Kid: I had my face glued to a book almost all the time, couldn't have kept it a secret if I tried. Total bookworm. (There's another answer to this, but it's a bit risque...)
    Knew She Would Be an Actor When: As far as I remember, I was born like this. I put on plays in the back yard. I got my Equity card when I was 11. I guess "decisions" didn't come into it until I had to decide whether to stick with it through thick and thin, especially when it was thin more often than not. So...yesterday. Today. Probably tomorrow. I still haven't found anything that brings me nearly as much joy, so I keep deciding "yes."
    Literary Hero: Surprisingly hard question! I think it's the WRITERS I really admire. But in general, I look up to characters who are flawed but courageous. Who overcome their own fears and limitations. Who speak their minds and follow their own passions. Who struggle with right and wrong and mostly choose right. Massive bonus points if they can also fly.
    Laugh Out Loud Funny: Big fan of British comedy. Cats doing ... anything. The crazy stuff that comes out of people's mouths when they're improvising. Witty stuff. Dark stuff.
    Latte or Tea: Ohmygod, TEA. Here's a good tea video.
    Story About the One Who Got Away: The brilliant Anne Gee Byrd was asked in a Los Angeles Times interview what she had learned about life over 60. She replied, "That the party wasn't anywhere else." I try to live by that, even when it means having to beat romantic ideas out of myself with a stick. I also think the ones who deserve to be there are the ones who ARE there...so if people got lost somewhere along the way (or ran off) - the heck with 'em. The rest I'm keeping for my imaginary anthology of sad poetry. :-)

    Worsley,-DominiqueNAME: Dominique Worsley TV & Film Includes: “APB.”
    Theatre Includes: Tug of War, Foreign Fire, Accidentally Like a Martyr, Tartuffe, Grand Concourse, Animal Farm.
    Book Read in Secret as a Kid: I had a super secret collection of “Babysitter's Club” books for some odd reason in elementary school.
    Knew He Would Be an Actor When: I was 15 and watched three hours of behind the scenes footage from X-Men. I fell I love with the craft after seeing Hugh Jackman audition and rehearse.
    Literary Hero: Paul Atreides of Frank Herbert's “Dune.”
    Laugh Out Loud Funny: People slipping on ice.
    Latte or Tea: Latte
    Story About the One Who Got Away: After a four-year relationship, she broke it off. I tried for a while to get back together, with no success. After a few months, I resolved to move on and then I got a call from her wanting to meet for coffee to talk. I decided not to go. She's now in another relationship and recently informed me her reason to get coffee at that time was to try and get back together.

    Learn more and buy tickets.

  • A Wild Ride Through the O.C. in Search of the Perfect Orange

    Tania Thompson
     | Mar 13, 2017

    On, Friday, March 10, 2017, the three-person cast of Orange by Aditi Brennan Kapil, earned cheers—and perhaps even a few tears—during the play’s touching and delightful journey discovery. Audience members kept pace with the off-kilter thrill ride through Orange County with Leela (a teen from India), Priti (Leela’s rebel O.C.-based cousin) and Gar (Priti’s boyfriend). Leela is a unique woman on the autism spectrum.

    Kapil’ central character of Leela (portrayed beautifully by Pia Shah), and the host of other characters creatively brought to life by Anjali Bhimani and Karthik Srinivasan brought authenticity to the story. Two of the three actors spent time growing up in India and one, while O.C.-raised, is part of the county’s vibrant Indian community.

    As the applause faded, the conversation kept going as the First Night celebration moved to Ela’s Terrace—resplendent with orange florals and citrus arrangements that popped against vibrant turquoise linens at the Cast Party on Ela’s Terrace at SCR. With a nod to O.C., the buffet stations were decorated with wooden surfboards and tall white lanterns.

    Guests sampled Indian-inspired hor d’oeuvres such as curry chicken salad on endive leaf, with toasted almonds and scallion; and chive buckwheat blinis with ginger crème fraiche and orange caviar.

    Two playfully named buffet bars (Priti and Gar’s Beach Buffet” and “Leela’s Snack Station”) had equally tasty offerings, such as grilled fish tacos with crisp corn tortillas, with citrus slaw, lime crema and tapatio sauce; cumin and mustard seed potato croquettes with apricot chutney; and chapati crisps and vegetable crudités with vegetable raita.

    Partygoers were tempted by citrus butter cupcakes, with mascarpone and orange zest, and even something straight out of a beach party (petite s’mores skewers, with vanilla bean marshmallows.

     From the bar, the play-inspired signature cocktail for the evening—“Orange County Crush”—blended Tito’s Handmade Vodka, orange juice, triple sec and Sprite.

    First Nighters and their guests will long remember how their county came to life on the stage.

    The Fimianos were taken with the experience of Orange, saying, “We were impressed with the acting—especially the actors who played multiple roles—loved the message about autism and had fun with all of the O.C. references.”