A fun week of Yank! press in Manchester, UK. I love seeing the cast on TV, looking all sexy and talented.
And it was most excellent to get to write a piece about the creation of the musical for Attitude magazine...and then to talk about its current relevance with Drew Tosh on Canal St! Shaping up to a very exciting run! For direct links:
Yank! on BBC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqsZeIk6UIE&sns=fb
Yank! in Attitude: http://attitude.co.uk/the-new-musical-which-explores-gay-love-in-world-war-ii/
Yank! in Canal St: http://canal-st.co.uk/news/drew-tosh-chats-to-david-zellnik
And even more excited that I got to spend 5 days with them as they started rehearsal for our March 9th opening!
Not only is this cast as talented and soulful as you could wish for, I am pleased to report that their American accents are spot on too :) They truly get the show, in no small part due to supremely talented director James Baker, choreographer Chris Cuming, music director James Cleeve, and so many others. Thanks to producers Katy Lipson, Ben Miller, and Will and James at the Hope Mill Playhouse for making our UK debut happen! Gonna be a very special production.
For more about the production and the cast, read here!
I post this joyous news at a dark moment in America, just after a unfathomable election. It can be hard to know the value of a musical in these times, and yet I truly believe stories about our diverse lives and histories, full of exuberance and heartbreak and community, must matter. As director James Baker says there perhaps has "never a more relevant time to announce the European Premiere of the musical Yank!"
So much fun and such an honor to be a part of this! My play, "Politics in Bed" was inspired by a headline picked randomly from a jar, with actors and a director given to me that night. The headline? "Israel releases 12-year-old Palestinian girl from jail" The play? Written from 11pm Saturday to 10am Sunday. (Secret weapon: 2am notes from in-house dramaturg Jordan Schildcrout.)
It was an exhausting, incredible, and completely thrilling experience. Beautifully directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh and lovingly acted (and quickly memorized!) by Mike Crane, Francis Benhamou, and Chilean/Palestinian actor Constantino Nino Marzuqa Giacaman. An experience I won't soon forget with a theatre company I adore.
"On Monday evening, an actor held a script and quietly recited lines on an ascending elevator. He wasn’t doing last-minute preparation for an audition—he was participating in Noor Theatre’s 48 Hour Forum. It was the 48th hour, almost curtain time, and haste was just the name of the game. For the event, which took place at the Lark Play Development Center on May 16 and 17, 5 playwrights, 5 directors, and 20 actors turned news headlines about the Middle East into 15-minute plays in two days.
Founded in 2010, Noor Theatre has a mission to develop and produce work by American artists of Middle Eastern descent. But the 48 Hour Forum, now in its second year, brings together a group of playwrights, actors, and directors from a variety of backgrounds: This year’s writers were Kara Lee Corthron, David Zellnik, Leila Buck, Laith Nakli, and Clare Barron..." - Allison Considine
Great to wake up to two lovely reviews! Couldn't be more proud of this one.
Willamette Week: "When a playwright and a theater click, you can feel it. David Zellnik and Defunkt met in 2014 with Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, exploring the AIDS era, disability and Marxism together in a sweet and comedic way. The romance continues with Defunkt's world premiere of The Udmurts... It's hard to resist enjoying the lazy seduction of a shining, virginal gay boy by a smooth-talking, trust-fund dude and his fierce, thieving girlfriend. They pass a joint around the pullout couch bed with rainbow afghan in the apartment filled with eclectic treasures, or junk, depending on your eye for Max Ward's set design. Then the seduction turns sinister, to edgeplay with sexual violence and straight-up scams. This play elegantly shifts between vulnerability, violence, arousal and betrayal, raising the question "Who can be trusted?" - Jess Drake __________________________________________ Oregon Artswatch: "...The end of the world is coming, and we are privy to it by pictures of ragged-boned and starving Polar bears on ice drifts, heat waves that creep in before the Spring equinox, and the mountains of paper-printed conclusions that say we’ve gone too far too be comfortable with the near future. Will we struggle and fight to survive, or dance in ecstasy during the last moments of humankind? The Udmurts, directed by Andrew Klaus-Vineyard, raises the question, can we do both?"- Christa Morletti McIntyre
A play that means a lot to me, being given a top-notch, world premiere production at the Defunkt Theatre Company In Portland, Oregon!
If you're in Portland you must come!
The Udmurts By David Zellnik Directed by Andrew Klaus-Vineyard May 13- June 18 2016
Nate…………….Samson Syharath Mrs. Huff………..Jane Geesman Clem…………….Steve Vanderzee Rain……………..Andrea White Boris…………….William Wilson
DESIGN AND PRODUCTION TEAM: Production Manager: Sarah Armitage* Stage Manager: Jake Turner Scenic Design: Max Ward Lighting Design: Vanessa Janson Sound Design: Jesse Holt Costumes: Jon Miller Props: Nichole Meehl PR and Outreach: Matthew Kern* Defunkt Theatre Executive Director: Sarah Armitage* Poster Design by Aldo Perez *Defunkt Theatre Core Group
So excited to be included in this stellar group of artists as part of Noor Theatre Company's "48 Hour Forum."
Noor is an amazing theatre company doing absolutely vital work (they are New York's only theatre representing voices of the Middle Eastern diaspora.) I have no idea what I'll write - it depends at the news the day we all meet, 48 hours before the audience sees it!
Please come! @The Lark 311 W 43rd St, 5th Floor. Tickets available here. ------------------ From Broadway World: "News is Fast. Theatre is Slow. Not this Time! Immigration, ISIS, civil wars, stump speeches, domestic policy. Current events run the show at 48 Hour Forum, where a diverse roster of artists will rise to the challenge of spinning our most talked about news events into humorous, incisive "theatrical op-eds." Five playwrights, five directors, and a company of New York's hottest actors gather over 48 hours in a race to create theater as fast as a news cycle. This year's artists include playwrights Clare Barron (Obie winner, You Got Older, Page 73); Kara Corthron (AliceGraceAnon, Irondale Center); David Zellnik (Drama Desk nomination, Yank!, York Theatre); Leila Buck (In the Crossing, Culture Project, Women's Center Stage); Laith Nakli (Shesh Yak, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); directors Pirronne Yousefzadeh (That High and Lonesome Sound, Humana Festival of New American Plays); Carlos Armesto (Artistic Director, Theatre C); and actors Christina-Maria Oliveras (Here Lies Love, The Public Theater) and Aysan Celik (JUÁREZ, A Documentary Mythology, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater/Theater Mitu).
Always a joy to hear Yank! doing well in the world - so proud of the whole team at the Manatee! If you're in Florida, buy your tickets now!
From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune "It’s rare but pleasant to discover something totally different on the stage of the Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theatre in the Manatee Performing Arts Center. But “Yank!” a musical love story, certainly stands apart from the more traditional fare that has filled the intimate theater space in the last three years.In some ways, “Yank!” is fairly traditional itself. It’s a charming and moving musical about U.S. Army soldiers who fall in love but try to hide their feelings from others during basic training in World War II, and how their efforts to protect themselves take them on different paths during a time of severe discrimination against gays..." -Jay Handelman
From the Bradenton Herald "But the aspect of the show that leaves the most indelible impression is the music. Composer Joseph Zellnik* and his lyricist brother David have packed the show packed with tuneful and immediately engaging songs that set the era and give the show the feel of a classic American musical. "Yank!" has 21 musical numbers, including reprises, and there's hardly a bad one in the bunch..." -Marty Clear (*** corrected spelling)