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City Speaks: Working with a Cultural Consultant on We Are Among Us

May 7th, 2019

City Speaks: Working with a Cultural Consultant on We Are Among Us

By Kristina Bylancik, Literary Intern

Stephen Belber’s new play We Are Among Us, beginning performances at City Theatre on May 11th, follows Laura, a military contractor working to reestablish herself after her time in Afghanistan. Investigative journalist Shar challenges this when she arrives, dredging up buried stories from Laura’s time overseas. In doing so, Shar drags Afghan immigrant Khadija into the mix while trying to confirm her suspicions of what really may have happened to Khadija’s father when he was brought in for questioning by the U.S. military.

By investigating what can happen in a warzone and Khadija’s experiences in America, this play brings with it the chance to also examine Afghan cultural intricacies that a Pittsburgh audience might not be immediately familiar with. In order to ensure that these were handled carefully and that the play itself was representing Afghanistan and Khadija’s experience accurately, We Are Among Us brought on a cultural consultant for the duration of the development and rehearsal process. City Theatre reached out to Literacy Pittsburgh through the City Connects Initiative to find someone who could fill this role. Through Literary Pittsburgh, City was put in touch with the Pittsburgh branch of No One Left Behind, an organization that helps Afghan and Iraqi combat allies resettle safely in the United States. Through this, City was connected with Noorulhaq Fazly. Noorulhaq was born and raised in Herat, Afghanistan. He earned a law degree from Herat University and worked for several years with the United States government, focusing on human rights. He moved to Pittsburgh with his family in 2016 and has since been working on a degree in Computer Science.

Noorulhaq’s work on the production began several months ago when he was invited to a workshop of the play hosted at City in December. There, he provided preliminary feedback and commented on the script as it currently stood. Following this, he shared notes with director of New Play Development Clare Drobot, director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, and playwright Stephen Belber. These notes included any cultural issues that Noorulhaq had identified within the script or other inaccuracies he noticed. Noorulhaq also spoke with Costume Designer Sarita Fellows about her design decisions. This began a collaborative, open relationship in which Noorulhaq was regularly invited to provide his feedback on how Afghanistan and the Afghan people were being represented in the play.

Since those initial meetings, Noorulhaq has been in the rehearsal room frequently, particularly whenever Stephen has new pages relevant to Noorulhaq’s personal expertise. When questions arise, the room often turns to Noorulhaq to have him explain how a situation would play out in Afghanistan. These questions often revolve around interpersonal relationships within an Afghan family or between an individual and the world around them. One area in particular that Noorulhaq has been especially helpful with is in explaining how Khadija and her neighbors would view the Taliban activity in their village and how that might impact their relationship with American forces. Noorulhaq’s illumination of this area led playwright Stephen Belber to make an adjustment to the script that now gives the audience a more accurate representation of the world that Khadija, and other Afghan people, come from.

Noorulhaq had not served as a cultural consultant for a production before this, but it is clear to him and everyone in the room that his perspective and advice are truly indispensable. Having someone from the specific region depicted in the play allowed the production team to more deeply explore, and more accurately portray, the characters and their lived experiences. Without this, the production team would be left to do research on their own, and this often depends on unreliable sources. I had the chance to speak with Noorulhaq and he shared why he feels the role of a cultural consultant is so essential, “I think that that’s the key, to have somebody from that region… otherwise, you are depending on online research and online media and Youtube that are not really realistic. They do not show the true culture. The most important thing is, if you have somebody from that region, it helps a lot avoid any cultural mistakes that may be exposed.” These “cultural mistakes” can be things like how a character feels, how they are behaving or speaking, and general information about how this world functions.

This play shows an important, new perspective on the Afghan experience during the war and it is important not only for the Pittsburgh community, but all United States communities to hear. In our interview, Noorulhaq highlighted the prevalence of Afghanistan’s presence in the U.S. media cycle: “Afghanistan, in 2001, appeared every day on the magazine headlines in the United States. If it wasn’t every day, it was every other day, and people talking, and some people have a misunderstanding about the situation. They think that the Afghans were having the Taliban or bad guys continue the war.” This dangerous misunderstanding has led to “a reduction of the people and the country.” It was not until later, as Noorulhaq explained, that people came to understand that the Afghan people were not responsible for the actions of the Taliban, but rather that they too were victims of Taliban attacks, a story that We Are Among Us helps to tell.

Noorulhaq hopes that this production will open up more honest conversations about the reality that many Afghan civilians faced during the war and the struggles they continue to face as refugees in the United States, “As much as [Americans] know about the cultural features, you know, Americans know about Afghan culture, people, and their tradition, that helps the Afghan community to adjust better, to make friends, to live peacefully, to not be afraid of each other.” Although this play only focuses on the life of one woman in Afghanistan and her immigration to the United States, it gives the audience the chance to identify with the Afghan civilian and immigrant experience. We Are Among Us shows us that we need to reach out and communicate with one another so that we can better understand each other’s stories and experiences. It gives us an opportunity to look beyond the harmful stereotypes perpetuated often by the United States media and better understand the human experience and the true toll of conflict.

No One Left Behind Pittsburgh: http://nooneleft.org/pittsburgh/

An Evening Out at City Theatre

February 15th, 2019

Two members of our partner organization Strong Women, Strong Girls attended our performance of WHERE DID WE SIT ON THE BUS? last weekend. They describe their evening out together below. 

Last Thursday, as a professional woman and college mentor pair, we had the opportunity to attend the first ever SWSG Evening Out to have dinner together and view City Theatre’s showing of the play Where Did We Sit on The Bus? As soon as we heard about the event, we knew we had to apply. Three of our favorite things are art, good local food, and mentoring. We couldn’t think of a better combination than the SWSG Evening Out! We were so excited when we found out we were selected, and were anticipating our night together for weeks.

We knew going into the evening that we share a lot of common interests, as Pat is a Duquesne pharmacy professor and Maggie is a Duquesne Speech-Language Pathology student. We share a passion for helping others through healthcare, and found out that we have much more in common during our evening out together. Before the show, we had a truly phenomenal meal at Café du Jour, just a couple blocks away from the beautiful City Theatre. We both love local restaurants, and are adventurous eaters. This gorgeous hole-in-the-wall French eatery was perfect for our pre-show dining. As we made our way through a cauliflower appetizer, pork loin and short rib, we discussed everything from our favorite dog breeds, trips to the theater, and our journeys as strong, self-sufficient women. We watched the chefs prepare everything from scratch right in front of us, and the owner even came over to greet us and take this photo of us as we shared a slice of warm pecan pie.

When we arrived at the City Theater, we were greeted warmly by Joel Ambrose, City Theatre’s director of patron services, who welcomed us as guests of Strong Women, Strong Girls. We were struck by the cozy, community-like environment of the theater. It seemed very modern and progressive, but with a rich history. And we love any theatre with a built-in snack bar! We were both surprised that we had never been to City Theater before, considering how close it is to Duquesne, and how much we both love going to shows. We were ushered into a traditional black-box theater- one of the best ways to watch a show. Black-box shows are so intimate, and because the actors play to all sides of the theater, it creates a very three-dimensional and high energy experience.

And high energy it was! Brian Quijada is the mastermind and only actor behind his hip-hop autobiography, Where Did We Sit on the Bus? He thoroughly amazed and entertained us for the entire show. Quijada’s performance was the epitome of a one-man show. He effortlessly recorded his own acapella backing tracks live, right in front of our eyes. With no set other than a chair and his mixing board, Quijada filled up the entire theatre with his story, his voice, and his music. He told his own personal narrative of growing up Latino in a black-and-white America. His powerful story combined with his multi-faceted talent made for a thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable evening. Quijada’s story brings up an important point about the identity questions children of minority racial and ethnic groups face when growing up. It connects perfectly to how we should approach diversity in the mentoring space. It reminded us to consider that our elementary school girls are still forming a cultural identity of their own, and how important it is to provide them with role models from many different backgrounds. We loved having an evening out together to learn more about each other, visit two beautiful local establishments, and reflect on an America full of strong identities and strong women.

City Theatre presents WHERE DID WE SIT ON THE BUS? Written and Performed by Brian Quijada

December 17th, 2018

City Theatre presents  WHERE DID WE SIT ON THE BUS?

Written and Performed by Brian Quijada

January 19 – February 24, 2019

“An explosion of energy, comic verve, playful sexiness, raw emotion and irresistible storytelling.”

-Chicago Sun Times

Pittsburgh, PA (December 10, 2018) –  City Theatre is thrilled to announce the details of the third show of the season: Where Did We Sit on the Bus? written and performed by Brian Quijada. Where Did We Sit on the Bus? stages a hip-hop autobiography about growing up Latinx in a world that categorizes everyone in black and white. It is directed by Chay Yew, Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theater, in Chicago, and will run in the City Theatre Lester Hamburg Studio Theatre, January 19 – February 24, 2019. Tickets are on sale now.

Where Did We Sit on the Bus? was originally produced at Teatro Vista/Victory Gardens in Chicago, directed by Mr. Yew. The Off-Broadway run at Ensemble Studio Theatre was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards in 2017.

“Where Did We Sit on the Bus? encapsulates our 2018/19 season theme of ‘your world, our stage’,” says Director of New Play Development, Clare Drobot. “We’re thrilled to bring Brian Quijada and Chay Yew to Pittsburgh with a production that’s both timely and immensely engaging.  It’s a joy to watch Brian’s story unfold and see the magic of what one performer and a laptop can do. In addition to featuring a tour de force performance, the play’s themes of family, heritage, and an artist finding his voice will deeply resonate with our community.”

In a continued effort to better serve the community, City is continuing Pick-Your-Price-Previews: tickets start at just $5 (plus fees) to all performances January 19- 24. See details at CityTheatreCompany.org. This offer may not be combined with discounts.

About Where Did We Sit on the Bus?:
With pulsing rhythms and original rhymes set to a live, looped soundtrack, Brian Quijada stages a hip-hop autobiography about falling in love with performance, the power of family, and growing up Latinx in a world that categorizes everyone in black and white.

Where Did We Sit on the Bus? is directed by Chay Yew. The cast includes Brian Quijada. The production team includes Chay Yew (scenic design), Diane D. Fairchild (lighting design), Brian Quijada (sound design/composer), Liviu Pasare (projection design), and Taylor Meszaros is Stage Manager.

WHERE DID WE SIT ON THE BUS?

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
January 19 – February 24, 2019

Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.

Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and/or 7:00 p.m.

Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.

Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and/or 9:00 p.m.

Sundays at 2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times, please visit CityTheatreCompany.org or call 412-431-2489.

PRESS & OPENING NIGHT
Friday, January 25, 2019 – 8pm

SPECIAL EVENTS

Pick-Your-Price-Previews Performances January 19 – 24
Tickets starting at just $5 online, plus fees; purchase tickets in advance at CityTheatreCompany.org, by calling 412-431-2489, or in-person at the box office. Subject to availability.

Greenroom: Art & Afterparty Friday, February 1 at 8:00 p.m.
Join the cast and artistic team for a party in the Gordon Lounge following the performance. Complimentary house wine, Penn Brewery beer, and light snacks will be provided. Tickets are $30 for the evening with promocode GREENROOM.

Pay-What-You-Want Saturday, February 2 at 1:00 p.m.
A block of tickets is reserved for audience members to name their own price at this performance.

ACCESSIBLE PERFORMANCES:
ASL Interpretation Tuesday, February 19 at 7:00 p.m.
Open Caption & Audio Description Sunday, November 18 at 2:00 p.m.

BOX OFFICE INFORMATION:
412.431.CITY (2489) or CityTheatreCompany.org
Tickets start at $29

DISCOUNTS:
Under 30: Reserve $15 tickets in advance for performances except Opening Night and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m.; rush tickets may be available at those performances. Must present ID to receive Under 30 pricing.
Seniors age 62 and older: $24 rush tickets may be purchased at the box office beginning two hours before curtain, based on availability.
Groups of ten or more: Contact Joel Ambrose at 412.431.4400 x286.

WHERE:
1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side)
Port Authority bus routes: 48, 51, 54, 81, 83

PARKING:
Patron parking is available in the lot across from the City Theatre entrances for $9, subject to availability.

ABOUT CITY THEATRE:

Founded in 1975, City Theatre is in its 44th season as Pittsburgh’s home for bold new plays. Located in the historic South Side on its four-building cultural campus, the company produces a season of regional and world premieres, including the upcoming The Burdens by Matt Schatz and We Are Among Us by Stephen Belber; its renowned Young Playwrights Festival; a season-long reading series of new works in progress; and the annual Momentum Festival. City Theatre’s mission is to provide an artistic home for the development and production of contemporary plays of substance and ideas that engage and challenge a diverse audience. With an annual average operating budget of $2.75 million, City is the largest performing arts organization not located in Pittsburgh’s downtown Cultural District and is a constituent and core member of the League of Resident Theaters (LORT), Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and the National New Play Network (NNPN). Marc Masterson returned as Artistic Director in July, after a 18 year absence, to join Managing Director James McNeel as co-leaders of the organization.

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City Theatre presents PIPELINE By Dominique Morisseau

September 27th, 2018

City Theatre presents  

PIPELINE

By Dominique Morisseau

October 27 – November 18, 2018

Winner of the 2018 Obie Award for Playwriting

Pipeline is an emotionally harrowing, ethically ambiguous drama that raises barbed questions about class, race, parental duty, and the state of American education.” – Variety

Pittsburgh, PA (September 26, 2018). City Theatre is thrilled to announce the details of the second show of the season: Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau. Pipeline is a powerful and poetic chronicle of injustice that exposes the cracks in our education system. It is directed by City Theatre’s Artistic Producer, Reginald L. Douglas, and will run on the City Theatre Main Stage, October 27 – November 18, 2018. Tickets are on sale now.

Pipeline premiered at the Lincoln Center Theatre in New York City in June 2017 and was heralded as “a powerful, passionate, and intelligent new play” by The Village Voice.

“I am so excited to be directing Pipeline and welcoming the great Dominique Morisseau back to City Theatre and Pittsburgh,” said Mr. Douglas. “Pipeline showcases Dominique’s unique ability to tackle big political questions about race, class, and the school-to-prison pipeline in a deeply personal, poignant way that sparks dialogue and connection. The play asks how does someone hold onto hope in a culture that often seems set out to destroy it, and that question feels especially urgent and timely to me as an African American artist. How do we break down and break through the barriers that divide us to better understand and uplift one another? Our production hopes to spark that conversation, making for a quintessential City Theatre experience.”

Pipeline features an original score written by local students in the 1Hood Media Academy and creative support from the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama and Point Park University Conservatory of Performing Arts.

“This project hit home for me,” said Treble NLS of 1Hood Media. “My father is a product of the school to prison pipeline, and that’s the main reason we don’t have the relationship I wish we had. That made catching a vibe really easy when it came to creating cause the vibe came from such a personal place.”

City Theatre deeply believes in theater’s power to foster dialogue and compel audiences to investigate the world around them. In this spirit, every performance of Pipeline will be followed by a 10-minute long conversation. These facilitated conversations will allow audiences of all backgrounds to engage with the themes of the play in a safe space and learn from and listen to one another, in the hope of building connections and community amongst diverse Pittsburghers. Inspired by Dominique Morisseau’s artistic activism and the play’s Black female protagonist, these conversations will be moderated by local Black female community leaders. City Theatre is pleased to announce the following women as moderators for the performances: Anna Hollis, Erin Perry, Tracy Edmunds, Christiane D. Leach, Deesha Philyaw, Dorie Taylor, Edda L. Fields-Black, Heather Hopson, janera solomon, Janis Burley Wilson, Kendra Ross, Keyva Clark, Kilolo Luckett, Lynne Hayes-Freeland, Shaunda McDill, Staycee Pearl, Taliya Allen and Tye Clark (1Hood Media), and Tiffany Sizemore Thompson and Cheryl Kleinman (Education Law Center).

Additionally, in an effort to better serve our community and to eliminate economic barriers to entry, City is continuing Pick-Your-Price-Previews: tickets start at just $5 (plus fees) to all performances October 27 through November 1. See details at CityTheatreCompany.org. This offer may not be combined with discounts.

About Pipeline:
When Omari is suspended from a prestigious – and mostly white – private school for an explosive incident with a teacher, his mother sees her dreams for him vanish before her eyes. Dominique Morisseau (Sunset Baby, 2015) returns to City Theatre with this powerful and poetic chronicle of injustice that exposes the cracks in our education system.

Pipeline is directed by Reginald L. Douglas. The cast includes Khalil Kain, Nambi E. Kelley, Gabriel Lawrence, Sheila McKenna, Carter Redwood, and Krystal Rivera. The production team includes Tony Ferrieri (scenic design), Andrew David Ostrowski (lighting design), Dominique Fawn Hill (costume design), Zachary Beattie-Brown (sound design), 1Hood Media (composer), Adam J. Thompson (Projection Design), Clare Drobot (dramaturg), and Patti Kelly is Production Stage Manager. New York Casting: Pat McCorkle, CSA & Katja Zarolinski, CSA, McCorkle Casting Ltd.

About Dominique Morisseau: Dominique Morisseau was named one of Variety’s Women of Impact in 2017-18. Her work includes Skeleton Crew, Paradise Blue, and Detroit ’67, a three play cycle collectively called The Detroit Project; as well as Sunset Baby. She is the recipient of the Steinberg Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, an Obie award, among others.

 

PIPELINE

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
October 27 – November 18

Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.

Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and/or 7:00 p.m.

Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.

Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and/or 9:00 p.m.

Sundays at 2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times, please visit CityTheatreCompany.org or call 412-431-2489.

PRESS & OPENING NIGHT
Friday, November 2, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Pick-Your-Price-Previews Performances October 27 – November 1
Tickets starting at just $5 online, plus fees; purchase tickets in advance at CityTheatreCompany.org, by calling 412-431-2489, or in-person at the box office. Subject to availability.

Post-Show Talkbacks Sunday, November 4 & 11, following the 2:00 p.m. performances
Hosted by Director of New Play Development Clare Drobot, this talkback discussion will feature the cast in conversation about the play’s themes.

Greenroom: Art & Afterparty Friday, November 9 at 8:00 p.m.
Join the cast and artistic team for a party in the Gordon Lounge following the performance. Complimentary house wine, Penn Brewery beer, and light snacks will be provided. Tickets are just $30 for the evening with promocode GREENROOM.

Pay-What-You-Want Saturday, November 10 at 1:00 p.m.
A block of tickets is reserved for audience members to name their own price at this performance. Call the box office to check on availability.

ACCESSIBLE PERFORMANCES:
ASL Interpretation Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 p.m.
Open Caption & Audio Description Sunday, November 18 at 2:00 p.m.

BOX OFFICE INFORMATION:
412.431.CITY (2489) or CityTheatreCompany.org
Tickets start at $29

 

DISCOUNTS:
Under 30: Reserve $15 tickets in advance for performances except Opening Night and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m.; rush tickets may be available at those performances. Must present ID to receive Under 30 pricing.
Seniors age 62 and older: $24 rush tickets may be purchased at the box office beginning two hours before curtain, based on availability.
Groups of ten or more: Contact Joel Ambrose at 412.431.4400 x286.

WHERE:
1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side)
Port Authority bus routes: 48, 51, 54, 81, 83

PARKING:
Patron parking is available in the lot across from the City Theatre entrances for $9, subject to availability.

ABOUT CITY THEATRE:

Founded in 1975, City Theatre enters its 44th season as Pittsburgh’s home for bold new plays. Located in the historic South Side on its four-building cultural campus, the company produces a season of regional and world premieres, including the upcoming The Burdens by Matt Schatz and We Are Among Us by Stephen Belber; its renowned Young Playwrights Festival; a season-long reading series of new works in progress; and the annual Momentum Festival. City Theatre’s mission is to provide an artistic home for the development and production of contemporary plays of substance and ideas that engage and challenge a diverse audience. With an annual average operating budget of $2.75 million, City is the largest performing arts organization not located in Pittsburgh’s downtown Cultural District and is a constituent and core member of the League of Resident Theaters (LORT), Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and the National New Play Network (NNPN). Marc Masterson returned as Artistic Director in July, after a 18 year absence, to join Managing Director James McNeel as     co-leaders of the organization.

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Timeline of Female Revolutionaries

September 25th, 2018

by Emma McIntosh, Literary Intern

 

Lauren Gunderson’s The Revolutionists dramatizes the political experiences of four forward-thinking and incredibly influential women from the French Revolution. Although their stories took place centuries ago, there is something in the narratives of these female revolutionaries that continues to resonate from generation to generation. This is especially true today in the face of the #MeToo movement and the consistent increases in the number of women in high-ranking positions year after year. It is critical to take the time to consider the women who came before us, who in many ways built the foundation for women to be able to take charge. There have been female revolutionaries of all ages, all ethnicities, all races, and all religions, and they each fought for what they believed in their own ways.

Therefore, let’s not limit ourselves to thinking that Marie, Olympe, Charlotte, and Marianne (a fictional character, but still a combination of several real female revolutionaries from the Caribbean) were unique cases. Instead, let’s take a brief tour through history with a timeline of important revolutionary women, each of whom made her own impact around the world. You’ll find that some are much more well-known than others, but it is more important than ever to consider the voices left unheard and to hear the stories left untaught.

Related image   Joan of Arc (1412-1431)

As a teenager, Joan of Arc began to see visions of Christian saints telling her to take up arms and fight for France against the English. She listened to these visions and sought out the French court to convince them to allow her to fight. The royal court supported Joan’s holy cause and she was given armor and her own troops, ultimately winning a critical battle at Orleans in 1429. However, Joan was captured by English forces a few years later and burned at the stake for heresy and witchcraft at the age of 19.

 

Image result for mercy otis warren Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814) 

During the American Revolution, Mercy Otis Warren hosted political salons in her home, which came to be known as “One Liberty Square.” These salons created a setting for people fed up with the British rule to come together and air their grievances. Warren was also a writer, responsible for a number of political plays, poems, and a three-volume work called History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution.

 

 Image result for sanite belairSanite Belair (1781-1802)

Sanite Belair was a freedom fighter and revolutionary during the Haitian Revolution. In her fight for Haiti’s independence, Belair became a sergeant and later a lieutenant. She also led the Haitian army alongside her second husband General Charles Belair, but there are accounts from both the French and Haitian sides that she was the true leader of the troops, much more so than her husband. Nonetheless, when both Belairs were captured by the French and sentenced to die, Charles Belair was awarded a military execution (being shot) while Sanite was to be beheaded instead, because she was a woman. She demanded to be shot instead so that she could die a soldier’s death, as she believed she deserved nothing less. Her legacy as a critical asset to the revolution remains ever-present in Haiti, as evidenced by the Haitian banknote for the “Bicentennial of Haiti” which features her image.

 

 

Related image Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

At the age of 26, Susan B. Anthony began to fight for equal pay for female teachers. She toured the country with fellow suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton advocating for the right to vote. Anthony eventually founded a women’s rights newspaper known as The Revolution, as well as the National Women’s Suffrage Association. While she died before the passage of the 19th Amendment, through which women were granted the right to vote, in 1872 she was arrested for voting illegally and refused to pay the $100 fine for doing so.

 

 

Image result for harriet tubman Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)

Born into slavery in 1820, Harriet Tubman liberated herself by escaping from Maryland to Pennsylvania. Soon after, she returned to free her family, ultimately, leading hundreds of slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Tubman was also the first woman to lead a military expedition rescuing slaves in South Carolina during the Civil War. She spent the rest of her post-war life fighting for women’s suffrage in New York.

 

Image result for emmeline pankhurst Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928)

A leader of the women’s suffrage movement in Britain, Emmeline Pankhurst did not limit herself to non-violent activism. In fact, after forming the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1898, Pankhurst was often arrested for her group’s use of arson and vandalism during their protests. Although her methods may have been controversial, resulting in a total of 12 arrests in 1912 alone, Pankhurst made her intentions very clear when she stated, “we are here not because we are lawbreakers; we are here in our efforts to become lawmakers.”

 

Image result for constance markievicz Constance Markievicz (1868-1927)

Constance Markievicz was an Anglo-Irish Countess, suffragette, socialist, and revolutionary nationalist. She took on a position of leadership in the Easter Rising of 1916, during which she wounded a British sniper. She was placed in solitary confinement and sentenced to be executed. However, Markievicz was ultimately pardoned because of her gender, even though she supposedly told the court, “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me.” After her release from jail, she became the first woman ever elected to the British House of Commons, and yet she rejected the position and continued to strike, protest, and risk imprisonment in her fight for Irish independence.

 

 

Image result for qiu jin Qiu Jin (1875-1907)

A poet and revolutionary leader, Qiu Jin went out of her way to combat the patriarchal Beijing society in which she lived, despite the fact that she herself came from a great amount of wealth and privilege. She enrolled herself in college and when she returned to Beijing two years later, she did so with newfound skills in swordplay, cross-dressing, and bomb-making. Giu Jin also set up a school for young revolutionaries and created the Chinese Women’s Journal. Ultimately, she met her demise when she was tortured and executed for attempting to overthrow the Qing government.

 

 

Image result for petra herrera Petra Herrera (birth unknown, died 1917)

During the Mexican Revolution, Petra Herrera disguised herself as a man by the name Pedro and established herself as a strong leader and soldier. Herrera and the other soldaderas (female soldiers who went into combat with men) often faced gender discrimination despite them having proved themselves time and again on the battlefield. When Herrera wasn’t giving proper credit for her accomplishments during the second battle of Torreón in 1914, she left the forces of Pancho Villa and created her own all-female brigade composed of over 400 women. Herrera would go on to become a spy for one of the primary leaders of the Mexican Revolution. During this time, she was shot by a group of drunken men while working as a bartender, eventually dying from her wounds.

 

                                                                                                                                                     

Image result for lakshmi sahgal Lakshmi Sahgal (1914-2012)

Fondly nicknamed Captain Lakshmi, Indian independence revolutionary Lakshmi Sahgal commanded an all-female regiment dedicated to ending British rule in colonial India. The Rani of Jhansi Regiment, which was named after another Indian female revolutionary, was one of only a few all-women combat regiments during World War II.  Sahgal was an officer of the Indian National Army and later on in life she became the Minister of Women’s Affairs.

 

 

Image result for sophie scholl Sophie Scholl (1921-1943)

Sophie Scholl was a German revolutionary and active participant in the fight against the Nazi Party and a founding member of the underground resistance group known as The White Rose. Scholl’s activism was brought to an end when she and other members of The White Rose were arrested after handing out copies of an anti-Nazism leaflet titled The Manifesto of the Students of the Munich. Scholl was convicted of treason and executed by guillotine in 1943.

 

Image result for corazon aquino Corazon Aquino (1933-2009)

After the assassination of her husband, a Philippine senator Benigno Aquino Jr., Corazon Aquino took matters into her own hands protesting the  continued rule of autocrat Ferdinand Marcos. Her non-violent movement in honor of her husband’s death gained strong support from the people as well as the military, and Aquino ultimately was elected President after Marcos’s consequent resignation. During her presidency, Aquino went to great lengths to fight for democracy, and she even ratified a constitution that limited the power of the president, a true testament of her dedication to the Philippines as a democratic country.

 

Image result for angela davis Angela Davis (1944-present)

Political activist and member of the Black Panther Party Angela Davis was a Most Wanted Fugitive of the FBI before she was even 26 years old. As a young person she was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the American Communist Party. She also attempted to rescue three of her fellow Black Panthers from jail, a failed endeavor that resulted in the death of a federal judge. Davis subsequently went into hiding, but was caught and acquitted wrong doing in 1972. Davis continued to teach at different universities in California, despite then Governor Reagan’s distaste for her and her political affiliations. Davis was a professor at University of California, Santa Cruz, until she retired in 2008. Now, she lectures at different universities around the country and served as  a speaker and honorary co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington D.C.

 

Image result for phoolan devi Phoolan Devi (1963-2001)

Phoolan Devi, most well-known as the “Bandit Queen,” is a prime example of a victim taking back her own agency, by usinga strategy of combating violence with violence. After her birth in rural Uttar Pradesh India, Devi was abused for many years by several different high-caste men, and she took it upon herself to find a way to fight back against the system that hurt her so much. In 1981, Devi returned to a village where she had previously been gang-raped by high-caste bandits. There, she led a gang of her own bandits to murder more than 20 men. Devi spent 11 years in prison, but soon after being released she was elected to Indian Parliament.

 

 

Image result for esraa abdel fattah Esraa Abdel Fattah (1978-present)

Widely known as “the Facebook Girl,” Esraa Abdel Fattah is so much more than a social media user – her activism via the platform of Facebook has actually landed her in jail. Abdel Fattah created a Facebook group in 2008 in support of an Egyptian textile workers’ strike. In addition, in 2011, she documented her experiences as a leader in the January Revolution and protests in Tahrir Square, posting her experiences on Facebook and Twitter. Her use of social media for political activism allowed for her strikes and protests to gain traction across Egypt and the world, bringing Egyptian politics to the forefront of national news. Abdel Fattah ultimately assisted in the overthrow of the Mubarak government and she was consequently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

 

 

Image result for tawakkol karman Tawakkol Karman (1979-present)

Tawakkol Karman is a mother, a Yemeni human rights activist, chair of Women Journalists Without Chains, and the first Arab woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In spite of her dedication to peaceful protest, she has still been arrested multiple times. Between the years of 2007 and 2011, Karman made a point of protesting every week outside of Sana’a University, fighting for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Sources

https://www.history.com/news/revolutionary-women-america-world

http://www.whizzpast.com/10-intriguing-female-revolutionaries-never-history-class/

http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2057714,00.html

https://bust.com/feminism/14010-10-badass-female-revolutionaries-you-probably-didn-t-learn-about-in-school.html

City Theatre begins 44th Season with historical comedy THE REVOLUTIONISTS

August 21st, 2018

City Theatre to begin 44th season with a historical comedy from America’s most produced contemporary playwright:

THE REVOLUTIONISTS
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Jade King Carroll
September 8 – 30, 2018 City Theatre Main Stage

“Women’s stories are stripped of myth and misogyny and portrayed honestly and with electrifying truth.” DC THEATRE SCENE

Pittsburgh, PA (August 20, 2018) – City Theatre launches its new season with an all female cast and creative team for the Pittsburgh premiere of America’s most produced playwright from 2017, Lauren Gunderson, and her hysterical and historical comedy, The Revolutionists. While set during France’s Reign of Terror (1793-94), it is a timely treatise for the United States today as it celebrates four badass women out to change the world.

“Over these past few years Lauren Gundersdon has become a red hot voice in the American Theatre,” said City’s newly appointed Artistic Director Marc Masterson. “We are thrilled to introduce her to Pittsburgh with this wildly theatrical, smart, and funny take on ‘badass women’ of the French Revolution. The play speaks to our own historical moment with insight and relevance, fun and frenzy.” Masterson commissioned Ms. Gunderson’s first nationally renowned play, I and You, while at South Coast Repertory.

About The Revolutionists:

Liberté, égalité… sororité! It’s the French Revolution and heads will roll – including playwright Olympe de Gouges’ and her muses: assassin Charlotte Corday, Caribbean freedom fighter Marianne Angelle, and the one-and-only Marie “Let Them Eat Cake” Antoinette. In this irreverent comedy, these women hang out, murder Marat, and try to beat back the extremist insanity in 1793 Paris. This grand and dream-tweaked play is about violence and legacy, art and activism, feminism and terrorism, compatriots and chosen sisters, and how we actually go about changing the world. It’s a true story. Or total fiction. Or a play about a play. Or a raucous resurrection…that ends in a song and a scaffold.

The Revolutionists is a play that time travels but lands solidly in this very moment; and I couldn’t be more honored and excited to have this story at this time at City Theatre,” said playwright Lauren Gunderson. “For a play about art, voice, crisis, protest, women, humanism, and friendship to get the kind of riveting, vivid production only City Theatre can offer is a dream for me. I think the historical figures my characters are based would be pretty damn proud too.”

City Theatre’s production of THE REVOLUTIONISTS is directed by Jade King Carroll, who returns to City Theatre after helming the acclaimed Sunset Baby by Dominque Morisseau in 2015.The cast includes local favorites Daina Michelle Griffith (The White Chip, The Last Match at City Theatre), Moira Quigley (City Theatre Main Stage debut), and Drew Leigh Williams (City Theatre Main Stage debut). New York-based Shamika Cotton, recently seen in last year’s Citizens Market, returns to City Theatre. The badass all-woman design team features Anne Mundell (scenic), Susan Tsu (costumes), Nicole Pearce (lighting), and Fan Zhang (sound). City Theatre Director of New Play Development, Clare Drobot, is dramaturg for the production.

About Playwright Lauren Gunderson:

Lauren M. Gunderson is the most produced playwright in America of 2017, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award, the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, she is also a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the U.S. including South Coast Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful And Her Dog!), Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The O’Neill, The Denver Center, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire and more. She co-authored Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley with Margot Melcon, which was one of the most produced plays in America in 2017. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You, Exit Pursued By A Bear, The Taming, and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists (The Revolutionists, The Book of Will, Silent Sky, Bauer, Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). Her picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon was released from Two Lions / Amazon in May 2017. LaurenGunderson.com and @LalaTellsAStory

City Connects Production Partner: Strong Women Strong Girls

In highlighting the play’s themes of women’s leadership, City Theatre will partner with Strong Women, Strong Girls on the production, highlighting their work in the Pittsburgh community. Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) is a multi-generational mentorship organization that connects professional women, college women, and elementary school girls. They champion the aspirations and promote the potential of girls from under-resourced communities through innovative mentorship programming.

Pick-Your-Price-Previews: September 8 -13

After a successful pilot last year, City Theatre continues its new ticketing initiative that ensures that price not serve as a barrier to attendance. During the preview performances of The Revolutionists, patrons can purchase tickets at a price of their choosing online, over the phone, or at the box office. Any price can be named in-person or over the phone (just mention “Pick-Your-Price-Previews”); online sales start at $5 and increase incrementally. Subject to availability; phone and online fees apply.

MORE ABOUT ‘THE REVOLUTIONISTS’

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: September 8 – September 30, 2018
Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.
Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and/or 7:00 p.m.
Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and/or 9:00 p.m.
Sundays at 2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.
For a complete listing of show times, please visit CityTheatreCompany.org or call 412-431-2489.

PRESS & OPENING NIGHT
Friday, September 14 at 8:00 p.m.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Post-Show Talkbacks: Sundays, September 16 and 23, following the 2:00 p.m. performances. Hosted by Director of New Play Development, Clare Drobot, post-show talkbacks encourage audiences to engage with the artists behind the performances.

Greenroom: Art & Afterparty: Friday, September 21 at 8:00 p.m. Join the cast and artistic team for a party in the Gordon Lounge following the performance featuring special guests, free beer and light bites. Tickets are just $30 for the evening with promocode GREENROOM.

Pay-What-You-Want: Saturday, September 22 at 1:00 p.m. A block of tickets is reserved for audience members to name their own price at this performance. Walk up sales only, beginning two hours before curtain. Call the box office to check on availability.

ACCESSIBLE PERFORMANCES:
ASL Interpretation
Tuesday, September 25 at 7:00 p.m.
Open Caption & Audio Description Sunday, September 30 at 2:00 p.m.

BOX OFFICE INFORMATION:
412.431.CITY (2489) or CityTheatreCompany.org
Single Tickets start at $29.
Six-play subscriptions still available and start at $150.

DISCOUNTS:
Under 30:
Reserve $15 tickets in advance for performances except Opening Night and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m.; rush tickets may be available at those performances. Must present ID to receive Under 30 pricing.
Seniors age 62 and older: $24 rush tickets may be purchased at the box office beginning two hours before curtain, based on availability.
Groups of ten or more: Contact Joel Ambrose at 412.431.4400 x286.

WHERE:
1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side) Port Authority bus routes: 48, 51, 54, 81, 83

PARKING:
Patron parking is available in the lot across from the City Theatre entrances for $9, subject to availability. Additional metered parking is available surrounding the theater (note: meters now extend until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays).

10TH STREET BRIDGE DISRUPTION
Work continues on the 10th Street Bridge, which is closed to traffic heading south from downtown (outbound) requiring alternate routes to the South Side, including Second Avenue and Forbes Avenue to the Birmingham Bridge, Second Avenue to the Hot Metal Bridge, and Smithfield Street Bridge to West Carson Street. Allow for additional travel time as there is no late seating at City Theatre due to the nature of the venues.

ABOUT CITY THEATRE:
Founded in 1975, City Theatre enters its 44th season as Pittsburgh’s home for bold new plays. Located in the historic South Side on its four-building cultural campus, the company produces a season of regional and world premieres, including the upcoming The Burdens by Matt Schatz and We Are Among Us by Stephen Belber; its renowned Young Playwrights Festival; a season-long reading series of new works in progress; and the annual Momentum Festival. City Theatre’s mission is to provide an artistic home for the development and production of contemporary plays of substance and ideas that engage and challenge a diverse audience. With an annual average operating budget of $2.75 million, City is the largest performing arts organization not located in Pittsburgh’s downtown Cultural District and is a constituent and core member of the League of Resident Theaters (LORT), Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and the National New Play Network (NNPN). Marc Masterson returned as Artistic Director in July, after a 19 year absence, to join Managing Director James McNeel as co-leaders of the organization.

Review: Nomad Motel

May 25th, 2018

Pittsburgh in the Round | By Eva Phillips
May 25, 2018

Nomad Motel is an engrossing story that deftly balances the intensely personal resentments and sorrows experienced within families and the far less accessible difficulties and hardships experienced by those in situations of nomadic living.”

<Read the full review at Pittsburgh in the Round>

Announcing City Theatre’s Next Artistic Director

May 24th, 2018

New Play Pioneer
MARC MASTERSON
Named City Theatre Artistic Director

Nationally recognized arts leader and director
returns to Pittsburgh’s home for new plays

Pittsburgh, PA. (May 24, 2018) Under the leadership of Board President Beth Newbold and Managing Director James McNeel, the City Theatre Board of Directors has concluded an extensive national search, naming Marc Masterson the new Artistic Director of the region’s largest theater dedicated solely to new plays. Masterson brings decades of experience and an award-winning national presence as a champion of new works, having served as the artistic director of South Coast Repertory Theatre (2011-2018) and Actors Theatre of Louisville, home of the internationally acclaimed Humana Festival of New American Plays (2000-2011), two of the most distinguished arts institutions in the nation. He was City Theatre’s producing artistic director from 1981-2000.

Masterson’s field-wide contributions to the contemporary theater landscape reflect City Theatre’s core values: his body of work exemplifies a career-long commitment to diverse programming, robust community engagement and education initiatives, and gender parity across production teams. He will begin his new role at City Theatre on July 1, 2018.

“For decades City Theatre has built a reputation as one of the finest mid-sized theatres in America. I love the audiences in Pittsburgh, the friends and colleagues I have there, as well as the strong sense of community in the city itself,” said Masterson. “I couldn’t be more thrilled about the future.

“Coming into a season that has already been planned by the excellent City Theatre staff, my first task will be to get to know the current organization, the changes that have occurred in Pittsburgh since I left, and to work with James McNeel and the Board on planning for the future. We will continue to build on City’s engagement in the community, working with local artists as well as some of the finest theatre-makers in the country for a vibrantly diverse repertoire,” he concluded.

“Marc has an exemplary track record of artistic excellence, fundraising, community engagement and commitment to new plays,” said City Theatre Board President, Beth Newbold. “We are fortunate that he has chosen to bring his experience and expertise to City Theatre, to lead our organization into a new era. On behalf of the board, I am very excited to welcome Marc to the team, and cannot wait to see the work that emerges from the company with James and him at the helm. It will propel us forward to increased local and national recognition as a leader in new play development.”

“The appointment of Marc Masterson at City Theatre is tremendous news for the arts and for the city as a whole. It’s partly a homecoming to celebrate: during Marc’s first stint at City, he was an artistic force—not only a champion of the theatre, but an important leader in our cultural community,” said Janet Sarbaugh, Vice President, Creativity Programs, The Heinz Endowments. “But this is more than a homecoming; given the breadth of Marc’s career since Pittsburgh, his national profile, and his knowledge of American theatre, we are lucky indeed to have attracted him back to Pittsburgh.”

“I think City Theatre has made an inspired choice to have Marc back to the organization. He has consistently been an adventurous artistic leader, programming successful seasons at some of our nation’s most high profile theatres; seasons that have been truly diverse and exciting in the rich array of artists represented in making groundbreaking, important work,” said Michael John Garcés, Artistic Director of LA’s Cornerstone Theater Company and Vice President of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).

“When I say diverse, I mean it in every sense of the word: aesthetically diverse work that challenges audiences to see a wide range of plays that bridge disciplines and subvert expectations, and that represents the work of all Americans, reflecting the true richness of our nation,” continued Garcés. “And he’s a terrific artist himself, willing to take real risks, and succeeding in those risks far more often than not.  I count him as a mentor and a friend, and look forward to seeing what City does in this new chapter!”

As artistic director at South Coast Repertory, Masterson has produced dozens of world premieres, including A Doll’s House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath, Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, Mr. Wolf by Rajiv Joseph, and Office Hour by Julia Cho. As artistic director at Actors Theatre of Louisville, he produced the world premieres of Elemeno Pea by Molly Smith Metzler, Maple and Vine by Jordan Harrison, and Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo, and many others. Masterson has developed hundreds of new works, many of which have transferred to some of the leading theatres in the country, including the Public Theater (New York), Manhattan Theatre Club, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and The Goodman, as well as Off-Broadway and Broadway. Recent directing credits include Shakespeare in Love, All the Way, Going to a Place Where You Already Are, Zealot, Death of a Salesman, Eurydice, and Elemeno Pea at South Coast Rep; Hand to God at the Alliance Theatre; Byhalia, Mississippi by Evan Linder at the Contemporary American Theater Festival; As You Like It for the Houston Shakespeare Festival; and The Kite Runner at Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Cleveland Play House.

Marc’s community-focused new play development initiatives include the creation of the DIALOGUE/DIÁLOGOS project at South Coast Rep, a two-year bilingual theatre project to gather and tell the stories of the Santa Ana Latino community, as well as the ongoing CrossRoads Commissioning Project, which brings playwrights to Orange County to engage with the area’s diverse communities through exploratory residencies. City Theatre’s current world premiere production of Nomad Motel by Carla Ching was originally a CrossRoads Commission issued by Masterson.

In 2017, Masterson was honored with the 2017 Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theater Outstanding Leadership Award, for his commitment to creating a programming stream that reflected the diverse populations of Southern California.

He served as producing artistic director of City Theatre in Pittsburgh for 20 years and was co-founder of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance (now known as the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, or GPAC).

City Theatre’s search for a new artistic director was conducted over six months, with a seven member committee comprised of board members, community leaders, McNeel, and led by Newbold. Stephen Richard of Management Consultants for the Arts provided counsel.

ABOUT CITY THEATRE:
Now completing its 43rd season, City Theatre is Pittsburgh’s home for bold new plays. Located in the historic South Side, the company produces a season of regional and world premieres, including, this year, Citizens Market by Cori Thomas and an NNPN rolling World Premiere Nomad Motel by Carla Ching. City Theatre’s mission is to provide an artistic home for the development and production of contemporary plays of substance and ideas that engage and challenge a diverse audience. Operating with an annual budget of $2.8 million, City is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Groups (TCG) and the League of Resident Theatres (LORT).

The 2018-19 season was curated by Artistic Producer Reginald L. Douglas and Director of New Play Development Clare Drobot. It begins on September 8, 2018 with The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson.

###

‘Nomad Motel’ explores family, inclusion and understanding

May 23rd, 2018

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | By Christopher Rawson
May 22, 2018

“What feels freshest is the skillful way the play reveals itself. […] Katie Lynn Esswein… ably combines vulnerable and tough. Christopher Larkin is luminous.”

<Read the full review at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette>

Advocate’s Experience As A Homeless Child Partly Inspires Play At City Theatre

May 22nd, 2018

90.5 WESA | By Bill O’Driscoll
May 22, 2018

One character, a teen-aged girl named Alix, was inspired by a real person Ching interviewed: Jennifer Friend. Back in the 1980s, Friend and her three siblings grew up with both parents. But her father, a tech entrepreneur, and her mother, a pre-school teacher, lived in financially precarious circumstances. Often, a rent-by-the-week motel was the best they could do. Sometimes, the family simply slept at friends’ houses until other arrangements could be made.

<Read the full article at 90.5 WESA>