The Hard Problem

21640869_10154903688452997_3654990160686137979_o“Tell me where is fancy bred, Or in the heart, or in the head?”

-William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Master playwright Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem at Quantum Theatre should move to the top of playgoers’ must-see shows list through November 19.

Cognitive vitality reverberates in spaces of the Energy Innovation Center where Quantum presents the second production of its 27th season. Artistic Director Karla Boos has again matched content to setting, creating another intriguing experience for her audience on the edge of the Hill District, overlooking Downtown Pittsburgh. A revived education and technical center, the venue is well matched for this regional debut. The views are a bonus, so jump in for a few dynamic hours with another top-notch Quantum ensemble, this time directed by rising American director Rachel M. Stevens.

In Stoppard’s tradition of intellectual plays like Arcadia, The Hard Problem (premiered at London’s National Theatre in 2015) awakens drowsy thought processes in another stellar Quantum production through this third Stoppard script for the company and one that any theater fan should see.

It’s notable that this Stoppard play has a strong woman at its core. Hilary operates in a workplace that may feel familiar as gender dynamics and competition plays out. Hilary Matthews, a bright young psychologist, is at the heart of the action. Her curiosity about her work and life choices arouse empathy for don’t we all ask the same kind of questions? She is lured to work at the leading Krohl Institute for Brain Science not only livelihood but the “the hard problem”: how do we justify consciousness if humans are truly composed of matter and chemical reactions. If there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness?

Alex Spieth is superbly engaging as Hilary who is nursing a private sorrow and a troubling question at work, where psychology and biology meet. She’s natural and open. We are never fearful for her–more apt to cheer her on. She prays and researches, ultimately asking if science and faith coexist? How does altruism coexist with egoism? What is stronger and which motivates an individual? Stoppard explores it all, so fasten your seatbelt for a ride through all those things that fill our brains with wonder, questions, and–dare we say it–emotion. You’ll take the questions from his adroit dialogue with you, just as Hillary does.

Hilary’s pursuit of the answers puts her at odds with her supervisors and mentor as she explores options in both research and relationships. Steven’s describes it as “the journey to find where our hearts live beyond our brain”, as she says she identifies with Hilary’s “twinkling optimism about the way the world functions.” This becomes the very source of Hilary’s challenges at work, as it inherently may be for many women.

Stephanie Mayer-Staley’s smart scenic design envelopes the audience. A cluttered, winding path loaded with the stuff of life, work, and attics lead to a three-quarters playing space. Our amassed consciousness is physicalized off stage while the stage area is a clean, crisp clinical setting enhanced by clever projected silhouette and formulas. Making one’s way to and from the theater playing area and banked seats, it’s impossible to avoid discarded objects like an antique adding machine, old lamps, and stacks of boxes filled with only God knows what.

On stage, lighting by Andrew Ostrowski and intriguing projections bring the mostly white and metal set elements to life. Pulsing shadows of the characters suggest the heartbeats and synergies of life. Projected code runs across on the floor at moments, adding to the movement and color that make the effects themselves something to ponder.

Stevens places every character on stage and within the audience from lights ups through final curtain, balancing the clinical setting with this reassuring touch. As actors watch from the edge of the action, their detached observation provides both a stronger connection both among the ensemble members and the audiences. Stevens guides each character’s journey through Stoppard’s rich dialogue, their motivations resonating within this exciting new venue and into a greater societal context.

Spike is Hilary’s tutor and lover. They mess around and talk a lot about Hilary’s work and the workplace politics. While Spike catches her praying at bedtime, their disagreement about the existence of God sheds some light on Hilary’s faith. She admits she’s praying for a miracle.

As Spike, Andrew William Smith displays an appealing versatility in his second Quantum appearance. He’s sweetly supportive as a charming lover who throws on Hilary’s robe, but progresses to tipsy cad at work celebrations. He’s passionate about Hilary on several levels but grows jealous of her success.

Ken Bolden is Leo, burdened with hiring, supervision, along with his research. He brings Hilary and tries to look out for her even though some research missteps. Bolden delivers another substantive and thoughtful Quantum performance, revealing that Leo has a bigger heart than his first scene might suggest.

Vinny Anand’s Amal is a super smart and well-off yuppie careerist who breaks into the institute in spite of Leo’s thoughtless job interview in the men’s room. He’s fairly ruthless and pays dearly when Jerry calls him on unethical behavior.

Co-workers Julia and Ursula are a couple, providing a rare glimpse of domestic stability and loyalty. Daina Michelle Griffith returns to Quantum as Ursula with a strong and nuanced performance. As onsite Pilates instructor Julia, Fredi Bernstein, injects physical energy to balances all that thinking especially when Hilary join her for a workout and shares a secret.

As the talented young researcher Bo, Claire Hsu draws a strong portrait of an ambitious team member who has a lot to learn.

Randy Kovitz as the institute’s head Jerry operates fiercely in support of his business and personal success while he has a softer scene with his young daughter Cathy, portrayed by Grace Vensel, a 7th-grade student at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School. She’s already a pro. Her focused and thoughtful performance is lovely as she observes, questions, and mirrors Hilary’s curious smarts.

At the play’s end, a resilient and hopeful Hilary exits through that lighted pathway of clutter. Then the audience follows. And we think her miracle may indeed happen.

Read more about director Rachel M. Stevens in our pre-production interview. You might want to visit the Energy Innovation Center online or just be surprised when you arrive at 1435 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh (15219) where this is ample free parking in the Center’s lot.

The Hard Problem runs through November 19, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm. For details on plays, venues, special events, and tickets, visit Quantum Theatre at quantumtheatre.com

Fall Preview 2017

Fall Logo

A Letter from the Editor,

Our dear readers, we’ve made it through another summer season! After 40 reviews and 14 features this summer, we’re ready to dig out our sweaters, put on the kettle and continue to keep you up to date with everything local theater. We’ve got some pretty big things coming up for us in the next three months and we can’t wait to share it with you! In addition to everything in this Preview, we’ll also be giving you the scoop on Bricolage Production Company’s latest Immersive Encounter Dodo , The Pittsburgh Playwrights upcoming season, checking in with off the WALL, and  giving you Part 3 of our coverage of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival.

There is plenty to keep us busy this fall and we don’t want you to miss a thing! We would love to hear from our readers and follow along with your autumn theater adventures so keep in touch with us on our FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Email List and by using the hashtag #FallwithPITR.

If your theater or business would like to feature any advertising on the website for any of the upcoming content this busy season, don’t forget to reserve your spot well in advance! Please don’t hesitate to contact us at about rates and packages at info@pghintheround.com.

Here’s to looking forward to another busy Fall season,

Mara E. Nadolski
Editor in Chief, Pittsburgh in the Round


 

Let’s start off with our Top 5 productions we’re looking forward to this Fall!

quiet#5: All Quiet on the Western Front – Prime Stage: Prime Stage Theatre is known for their productions of shows adapted from literature and this season opener holds true to their nature. Prime Stage honors veterans and those serving our country by partnering with Soldiers and Sailors Hall for this US premiere of the classic World War I novel by Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front opens at the New Hazlett Theatre November 4.

Tickets and more information can be found here. 

rj-431x500#4: Romeo and Juliet – PICT Classic Theatre: After bringing us productions of Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice in previous seasons, PICT is taking on one of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies this season with their 100th show! The classic tale of two star-crossed lovers and their clashing families comes to life in a new location at the famous Fred Rogers Studio at WQED in Oakland. PICT has chosen the 1930’s in New York’s Little Italy as the setting for this rendition of Romeo and Juliet which officially opens Saturday, October 21st. For tickets and more information click here. 

Attack Theatre's presentation of "Assemble This" at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh. © Martha Rial 2/17/2010

#3: Some Assembly Required – Attack Theatre: In their 23rd season opener, Attack Theatre will be performing another round of original performances in their second production of Some Assembly Required. In this unique series, dancers tow the line between dancing, visual art, music, and even a bit of improv. This show requires input from the audience as to where the performance will go next, thus creating unique  performances with each show. Some Assembly Required opens at Contemporary Craft in the Strip District September 21. Tickets and more information can be found here.

DODO-1-880x420#2: Dodo – Bricolage Production Company: Bricolage’s latest immersive theatre adventure partners with the Carnegie Nexus initiative to bring us a sensory-based experience that brings together art and science while exploring public spaces. Held in the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History in Oakland, adventurers will embark on an experience that navigates through behind-the-scenes areas normally off limits to traditional museum visitors! Adventures being October 13 – find more information here. 

21055136_10155550641940797_7827704986490740316_o#1: Unhinged – Cup-a-Jo Productions: On the heels of their production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf inside an actual home, Fringe Festival veterans Cup-a-Jo brings us a new undertaking with Unhinged. Part haunted house, part immersive experience, the highly experimental project promises to have something for everyone. Unhinged starts performances October 13 in an empty bowling alley in Etna. Cup-a-Jo advises we keep a close eye on their Facebook page for ticket links and performance updates.

Next stop on your Fall Preview tour is 5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Fall, click here to learn more!

Mark Clayton Southers brings a little history into the mix with his one-act play The Homestead Strike of 1892 in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the clash between steelworkers and mill owners, opening September 15. Find out more in Yvonne’s article here. 

The New Hazlett Theatre will be starting up their 4th Community Supported Art Performance Series on October 26! See what they’re up to this season here. 

The Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Artistic Director Ted Pappas will be starting his final season there this year. Yvonne sat down with him to get the scoop on what he’s envisioning this season! Click here to read more!

Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks is at it again this year with Henry V, find out more about their 13th season here. 

Quantum Theatre may be in the middle of their run of Red Hills but how much do you know about Rachel Stevens, the director of their next production The Hard Problem? Check out our latest installment of our Artist Spotlight series here. 

See what else the Steel City has to offer this year with a few season previews of City Theatre from Brian, the Pittsburgh Opera from George, and the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center from our High School Correspondent Emily!

The Pittsburgh New Works Festival is already in full swing, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this year’s preview with Part 3 coming soon!

In case you missed it, check out our 2017 Collegiate Preview too!

We were pretty busy this summer, you might have missed a show or two. Don’t worry, here are some highlights from Summer 2017:

Annie at the Paliside Playhouse

Big Fish by Front Porch Theatricals

Cloud 9  by Throughline Theatre Company

Little Shop of Horrors at Comtra Theatre

Mr. Burns by 12 Peers Theater

Spamalot at Stage  62

Avenue Q by the Alumni Theatre Company

The Liar  by Kinetic Theatre

Seussical the Musical at the Apple Hill Playhouse

Pippin at The Theatre Factory

One Man, Two Guvnors at Little Lake Theatre

Sweeney Todd by the Pittsburgh Festival Opera

Artist Spotlight: Rachel M. Stevens

6-2It’s only Tom Stoppard and the question of the root of human consciousness, but rising American director Rachel M. Stevens eagerly takes on The Hard Problem for Quantum Theater. The Wallingford, PA, native puts her life and theater chops to work at a point in her career trajectory that seems just right. Her journey is taking her between New York and Pittsburgh and Stevens is enjoying the ride.

Growing up in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, Steven became fascinated with theater from first playing “make believe” with her brother and following his path through school plays (debuting as Gretel in The Sound of Music at age 5) to college and grad school.

“I come from a very tight, small supportive family,” says Stevens. “My grandparents lived down the street from us–me, my brother Marcus and mother and myself. When my brother was seven he asked for a little sister” and she became his “biggest fan”.

Her commitment for further study in theater was confirmed when she came to Pittsburgh to see his work at Point Park University and she wound up in the MFA program in musical theater. Stevens was initially on stage in school and college projects, but the concept of directing clicked for her.  

“I always wanted to be in charge of how the time machine was built and our environments…I loved creating concepts that elevated the storytelling.” She went on to earn her MFA in New York at the Actors Theater Drama School at Pace University.

The show her brother was working on at PPU was the musical Floyd Collins at PPU, which Stevens would herself stage in Pittsburgh along with The Spitfire Grill for Front Porch Theatricals’ 2016 season.

“It was a great experience. I loved the company’s family,” she says, likening the close-knit company to the appeal of her early theater experiences.

Front Porch fell between her earliest regional stints as an assistant director at City Theatre and for two world premieres–most recently, the Broadway hit musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 as well as The Bandstand, a new musical debuted at Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey.

“Stoppard’s hard to resist,” Stevens confirms. “Arcadia was one of the most mesmerizing experiences I’ve had in the theater.”

And Quantum is a truly comfortable match for Stevens. The Hard Problem is the stuff of which Artistic Director Karla Boos has built Quantum with its production history distinctively characterized by choices of plays and venues vary significantly from those of other regional companies.

“My relationship with Karla is fairly new, “ says Stevens, but “we are very kindred spirits.”

Stevens was still awaiting final word on the venue for this Stoppard play when we spoke to her in early August and the location is still to be announced as this story is posted. But the mystery for her creative team adds to the anticipation of yet another unforgettable audience experience for Quantum fans.

Quantum describes the play as: “Bristling with intellectual energy and wit…exploring the complexities of consciousness, and the nature of belief.”

The Hard Problem had its premiere at London’s National Theatre in 2015, and Quantum presents its regional premiere.

Stoppard introduces Hilary, a young neuroscientist who questions the source of consciousness at the same time she’s working through some personal sadness and loss. She and her colleagues raise all the hard questions that will keep audiences members’ own brain cells working through Stoppard’s adroit dialogue gymnastics. Like Arcadia, this script promises to awaken those drowsy thought processes to consider the questions of science through characters whose lives represent the human experience while they consider technology’s role in understanding the mind.  

Stevens considers it “the journey to find where our hearts live beyond our brain,” noting that she identifies with Hilary’s “twinkling optimism about the way the world functions.”

As rehearsals begin on September 26, Stevens has prepared through her intuitive process–reading and rereading the text while alternately her personal work with production conferences and her own wedding to PPU alumnus Joey Scarillo in Pittsburgh in late August. She’s made the shift from wedding to production planning with a design team of colleagues she knows that includes Stephanie Mayer-Staley, scenic designer via Point Park University, and Andrew Ostrowski, the lighting designer who also lit her wedding.

Regarding her found space venue, “starting from scratch is scary,” Steven admits. But she’s up for the challenge. This director’s own journey on the location of this production is like that of Quantum audiences–surprise us and we won’t mind a bit as Stevens aims to “make this play soar off the page.”

She describes it as “finding where the audience’s heartbeat is in the play…I don’t think there is another company that can do that.”

Sure, Stoppard’s writing can seem dense, but she works to ‘distill it down the gorgeousness of the language.” Steven seriously admits, “I try not try to think about it too much.”

To get there, she describes her process as reading the text “like a story” about six times to date, “writing questions, underlining things”. She then asks “What is the scene really about?” and “What does the character really want?” And “what is the journey EACH of these characters is on?” As she begins working with her cast, they’ll travel to “find where their hearts really are.”

Quantum Theatre’s The Hard Problem continues its 2017-18 season, Oct. 27 to Nov. 19 on the 5th Floor of the Energy Innovation Center at 1435 Bedford Ave. Red Hills, runs through Sept. 10. Pittsburgher Gab Cody’s Inside Passage has its world premiere, March 2-25. For details on plays, venues, special events, and tickets, the Quantum Theatre, quantumtheatre.com.

Design team for The Hard Problem:

Stephanie Mayer-Staley, Scenic Design
Andrew Ostrowski, Lighting Design
Angela Vesco, Costume Design
Joe Spinogatti, Projection Design

Red Hills

19679103_10154706553307997_7852742964293851959_oMultidimensional, quasi-interactive plays are gradually becoming a phenomenon in theatre, in which evocative themes and transgressive or incredibly sensitive subject matter can be portrayed and explored with more efficacy, vitriol, and immersive sensorial touches that allow for greater intimacy. Moreover, the nature of multidimensional/interactive plays challenges the talents of the actors by trying their ability to maintain an aura of performatively while committing to the realness that is created by the disassembled fourth wall.

Quantum Theatre’s recent production of Red Hills is an exercise in this sort of theatrical staging, incorporating a multitude of elements, disciplines, provocations and narratives into a story of identity, memory and representation ensconced in the Rwandan genocide. Told through multimedia flashbacks, and intensive interpersonal dialogue, Red Hills tells the story of a David (Scott Atkinson) who is confronted with a letter from an individual from his past who challenges the veracity of the book he wrote chronicling his tumultuous time as a student in the Mirama Hills, wedged between Rwanda and Uganda in the former country’s most bleak chapter. The buildup to the play is phenomenally atmospheric: half of the audience is sent to meet God’s Blessing (Patrick Ssenjovu) and understand his back story, the other half (as I was) was ushered off to meet David, giving a lecture to introduce his potentially problematic memoir. Atmospherically, the opening bifurcation of the audience is a bit misguided, as the elemental intrusions disrupt the introductory narratives provided by the characters that are necessary to connecting the purpose of the plot. That being said, speaking for Atkinson—and Ssenjovu as well, I assume, given his performance throughout the majority of the show—performed admirably and enthusiastically in spite of the unpredictable conditions in which they were besotted. As a general assessment of the piece, a tremendous amount of praise should be afforded to the Atkinson and Ssenjovu, as their performances were simultaneously unwaveringly engaged with one another, and thoroughly committed to audience interaction. Much like their contending with the elements of their outdoor stage, the two men demonstrated versatility in terms of switching between one-on-one interplay, and unique audience conversations.

There is indeed much to be lauded about the production of Red Hills. The grit and realness of the set is incomparable relative to most stagings I have seen of late. Deceptively barebones, the well-sculpted dirt mounds, the derelict vehicles, the small, subtle props thrown here and there exquisitely capture the essence of the war-threatened environment as well as evoking the landscape of memories charred by the traumas of war, conflict and loss. Additionally, the physical set and the multi-media dimensions of the play (specifically the pre-filmed “memory” dialogues) are perfectly executed to coexist and interact with each other in a way that challenges and grips the audience. And while the script was a bit awkward at times, the fluidity of the dialogue was such—and the confidence of the actors was steadfast enough—that the clunkier parts of the play could be disregarded.

That all being said, it is vexing to take part in a play centering on a cataclysmic, emotionally fraught moment in history–one which very critically examines the essence of race, violence, memory, appropriation and potential harmony—from the perspective of two men, with a distinctly masculinized tone. Before seeming too tendentious, I should say that any narrative that focuses and brings to light this type of story, this period of time, is absolutely necessary, and should be valued for the important work it is doing. I certainly do not intend to rob the show of its fantastically conveyed message. However, it is challenging to sit through a play in which women are reduced to tertiary references or digital faces. While innovative, the play’s reduction of non-patriarchal or non-masculine voices is disheartening, given the incredible paucity of female perspective in the media that centers on this period of time. This is not to say the actors and creative team did not do a phenomenal job of working with their material. It is simply to implore that as a theatrical community, given the incredibly troubling times, we want for more in our theatrical representation.

Red Hills runs at Recycling Building on the corner of 32nd Street and Smallman Street through September 10. For tickets and more information click here. 

Collaborators

unnamed (11)Playwright meets tyrant. What could possibly go wrong?

In a former slaughterhouse behind Bakery Square, Quantum Theatre takes audiences into the world of John Hodge’s Collaborators. Certainly a Pennsylvania premiere, the production is one of few staged since Collaborators won the 2012 Laurence Olivier Award for best new play produced in Britain.

Some have asked why theaters didn’t produce this play about a Soviet dictator who advocates artistic censorship, fake news, and forceful control of his citizens back in 1938. In 2017, how can an American theater company resist sharing this unfortunately timely dark comedy now? And as audience members, you should not resist the urge to see Collaborators at Quantum through April 30.

In the hands of Pittsburgh master director Jed Allen Harris, Collaborators shines with terrifically satisfying laughter, tears, and truth. It’s not a menu just anyone can capably serve up. But just as one scene where the planked stage becomes a big dining table for all of the stellar cast suggests, Harris’ artistic team knows how to create a theatrical meal you’ll be telling your friends about.

A struggling but talented playwright merits the attention of Joseph Stalin, head of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party. The writer is strong-armed to write a play for the tyrant’s 60th birthday. While the premise is fictional, the “surreal fantasy” is based on the real experiences of Mikhail Bulgakov, a former physician who suffered censorship when writing for the Moscow Art Theater in the 1930s despite Stalin’s appreciation for his work. The play implies that the writer’s wife Yelena will be endangered if Mikhail does not comply.

Dana Hardy and Tony Bingham
Dana Hardy and Tony Bingham

In Collaborators, screenwriter Hodge (Trainspotting, T2) melds fact and fantasies in captivating and sometimes short scenes. Harris seamlessly moves the action through the entire playing space and there’s never a dull or unengaging moment. Indeed, Collaborators is that good.

More than even Bulgakov himself might ever have dreamt, Collaborators is both timely and chilling in these early months of 2017. This is a significant production in this Pittsburgh theater season. Well-matched to Collaborators, Harris employs what he loves about making theatre that invites us to imagine and be provoked–and maybe even to be moved to action. (See our interview with Harris). He’s recreates a story from the past century that uncomfortably resonates with the present. Expect to be both moved and changed by this visit to the paranoia and fear of Stalin’s historical rule.

Through his connection to his fan Stalin, Mikhail wrestles with his conscience even as he aims to survive with Yelena. What would happen if he and Stalin switched jobs becoming the collaborators of the title? In the imagined and dangerous game, would Mikhail find himself creating policy decisions while Stalin happily writes a play praising himself? When the Communist party line seems to hold more weight than free expression, Bulgakov confronts stunning realities as he begins to lose health friends, and what he once held as the truth.

As Bulgakov, Tony Bingham is the good guy manipulated by circumstances beyond his control–a sort of George Bailey, struggling to live a good life with integrity. Nimble and charming, Bingham draws a likeable hero who experiences the best and worst of times in a stand-out performance during which he is on stage much of the time.

Olivia Vadnais, Joe Rittenhouse, Nancy McNulty, John Shepard, and Ken Bolden
Olivia Vadnais, Joe Rittenhouse, Nancy McNulty, John Shepard, and Ken Bolden

Dana Hardy is Yelena, his smart and concerned spouse who sweetly cares about friends and neighbors. She is strong and supportive while her husband is swept into surreal dreams and an even more surreal reality. Hardy captures how one look out for a loved one while disguising the genuine concern about their serious condition. (It’s notable that Hardy and Bingham draw on their own marriage for their work on stage.)

It’s fun until someone gets hurt, so two of the most “evil” characters are indeed delightful. Ken Bolden relishes Soviet secret police officer Vladimir, a mean bully who later gleefully insites on staging the commissioned script; he’s that guy who’s always wanted to direct. Bolden shows off his lovely range in this delightfully nuanced and engaging performance.

A merry Stalin is portrayed by Martin L. Giles. Give Giles something as multifaceted and comedic as a dictator who sees himself a playwright for results are both oddly endearing and fascinating. Giles shifts from boyish delight at offering Vodka shots in his subterranean office under the Kremlin. He joyfully clacks on the typewriter then coldly explains his job with its ridiculously long bureaucratic title.

If Bingham’s scenes with Bolden are dramatic appetizers, those with Bingham and Giles are the main course–from the opening Keystone Cops style scene when Stalin chases Bulgakov with his typewriter to their underground meet-ups along the writer’s hapless path from hope to despair.

Tony Bingham and Martin Giles
Tony Bingham and Martin Giles

Joe Rittenhouse as Stepan, Vladmir’s silent and lurking henchman, is a scary presence, mostly watching the action through his shades. His very presence at times characters may think they are alone is eerily physicalized when Stepan moves a prop they need, for example.

The entire ensemble of 11 shines in multiple and important roles as colorful friends and colleagues who support the loving couple’s turbulent journey. There are several visits to doctors–one rather inept (or dishonest?) doctor and another seemingly more capable physician both played by John Shepard. Mark Stevenson marks a strong return to Pittsburgh stages after a long hiatus. Dylan Marquis Meyers, Nancy McNulty, Olivia Vadnais, and Jonathan Visser complete this accomplished and versatile cast.

Harris’ design team from his Quantum production of The Task (2010) makes wonderful choices for the bricked wall warehouse space found Quantum setting as all the design elements support the storytelling. Scenic designer Narelle Sissons sets central action on a raised rough stage with properties and chairs stashed underneath. Stalin’s office at one end and a chair mounted on the wall at the other end provide clever spaces and options Susan Tsu’s costumes are well suit the period with a splash of theatrical robes and masked headpieces for the Moliere play scenes. Well placed lights by C. Todd Brown establish both well-lit and dark spaces, with sound by Joe Pino.

Collaborators closes Quantum’s 26th season and runs through April 30 at 6500 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh (15206). Tickets are priced from $38 to $51. Varied special events and dining tips (including a dinner you may pre-order to enjoy onsite) are detailed on Quantum’s website.

Tips: Arrive early for lot parking or just find a convenient street spot. As temperatures vary, do dress in layers; the space can be chilly on some April evenings. May Quantum’s setting be as warm as the potential for this adventurous play programmed by Karla Boos, artistic director.

Photos by Heather Mull and Karla Boos.

Jed Allen Harris is at Home with Quantum for Collaborators

unnamed (11)These days, Jed Allen Harris says it takes a certain kind of script to draw him from the flexible confines of academic theater. He helped lay the foundation of today’s dynamic Pittsburgh’s theater community through his bold and risky work in the mid-1980s. It’s that kind of opportunity that lures him back to Quantum Theatre.

Karla Boos, Quantum’s artistic director, enticed Harris to return for John Hodge’s Collaborators. The playwright is known for the screenplay for Trainspotting (1996) from the Irvine Welsh novel, and the just released T2. The 2011 Olivier award winner had an acclaimed London run, but Quantum’s version is one of less than a half dozen productions in the US.

Now, Harris directs Collaborators on a rough-hewn stage in a warehouse space in Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood behind Bakery Square.  

Hodge’s “surreal fantasy” connects two historical figures–a former physician turned writer Mikhail Bulgakov, (1891-1940) and Russian dictator Joseph Stalin  (1878-1953).

Hodge asks: what if the novelist-playwright had been pressured to create a work in honor of Stalin’s 60th birthday?

Bulgakov’s works were banned and reviewed negatively by the state. But when he appealed to Stalin for permission to emigrate, the murderous ruler called him personally. Despite Stalin’s permission to continue work for the Moscow Art Theater, the playwright’s artistic range was stifled.J.Harris headshot

Hodge’s episodic script is in part inspired by Stalin’s documented admiration for Bulgakov’s work, but spins surrealistic scenes that Harris relishes bringing to life.

“It’s an unusual play,” Harris observes, “Karla is really the most adventurous programmer in the city. I immediately fell in love with the script.”

“To me, this play asks the question ‘How much do you sell your artistic soul and live with yourself–and be able to get to sleep at night’,” says Harris.

Perhaps the play resonates more with current events than anyone might have imagined when Boos invited Harris to stage it. Harris figures audience members will appreciate the relevance without his production imposing what people might think about Russia and its leaders.

Audiences might spot one moment in Harris’ production that intentionally references the present while the story is bound to stir up associations with recent US-​Soviet relations in the 21st century.

In Collaborators, the year is 1938, Bulgakov’s dreams disrupt his sleep in his Moscow flat. He wrestles with his conscience about his assignment to honor Stalin and also with the tyrant who threatens him with the typewriter.

“The play has so many different styles,” which was part of its appeal for Harris. There’s a silent movie style opening that moves quickly to intimate moments for the writer and his wife Yelena.

Bulgakov’s squelched play about Moliere is referenced when the French playwright’s appearance. Other surreal elements include one silent character who “makes things appear,” Harris chuckles as he imitates his staging in the space during our visit.

Harris most recently returned to Quantum in 2014 for the revolutionary farce Pantagleize. The design team with CMU roots that supported him for The Task in 2010 is back. Scenic designer Narelle Sissons also created the setting in the Gage Building for that production, which also featured costumes by Susan Tsu, lights by C. Todd Brown, and sound by Joe Pino. Harris calls it one of his most favorite productions ever.

Two actors already familiar to Harris lead a cast of 11.

“The three times I’ve worked with Tony Bingham have been at Quantum,” says Harris of his Mikhail Bulgakov. He says the role requires “a very delicate touch in many ways as he has to be part of the humor of the play and yet is a tragic figure.” Dana Hardy, who plays Yelena, also happens to be Bingham’s wife offstage. Their characters travel from despair to joy and back again.unnamed (10)

Harris says he knew Martin Giles would be the “perfect actor” to play Stalin “for his combination of cynicism, humor and presence.”

The ensemble is completed by Ken Bolden, Dylan Marquis Myers, Nancy McNulty, Joe Rittenhouse, Mark Stevenson, Olivia Vadnais, and Jonathan Visser.

Never shying away from the most complex and even controversial projects, Harris paved the way for the varied theater scene Pittsburgh boasts today. His Theater Express (founded 1976) featured many Carnegie Mellon alums in bold plays and musicals. Not everyone would have programmed Marquis de Sade’s Justine or Beckett’s Endgame, but Harris did. For more than 20 years, he worked with CMU alumnus Marc Masterson, founder of City Theatre..

“The joke was that my show was usually the least attended at City Theatre,” laughs Harris. He staged some 30 productions, crediting Masterson’s comfort with taking such risks for some of his own most memorable directing experiences.

In a 100-seat space provided by the University of Pittsburgh on Bouquet Street, City served up the kind of taut and compelling repertoire for which Harris is known. Some of his favorite productions there include the premiere of Marie Irene Fornes’ The Danube (“Still one in my top 10 of all times,” says Harris) and the unforgettable Pittsburgh premiere of Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, along with classics by American writers such as Tony Kushner (Slavs) at City on the Southside.

A protégé of Yale and CMU theater legend Leon Katz (1919-2017), Harris was a part of the Leon Katz Rhodopi International Theatre Laboratory in Smolyan, Bulgaria for six years. He revisited one of his favorite City scripts, Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class at Theatre Sofia, among his international projects.

While a stint at Bricolage first drew him back to the professional stage here in 2007.

As a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon Drama–where the educational experience outweighs commercial appeal–he says he gets his “theatrical jollies”. He has directed productions including Kushner’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and other large projects such as Nicholas Nickleby, co-directed with Gregory Lehane.

Harris invites the adventurous nature of audiences here, but warns, “As I’ve been doing for 40 years…” Well, you’ll have to experience Collaborators to complete his sentence.

(This writer isn’t saying how long we’ve known Jed and his work, just that we go “way back” and reminisced about Theater Express, a directing class at Pitt, costumes built for one of his City Theatre productions, and Jed’s unmistakable laugh!)

Collaborators, the final production of the company’s 26th season, is at Quantum’s unique warehouse venue behind Bakery Square at 6500 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh (15206). Lot and street parking surround the building. Do dress in layers–a cozy Quantum tradition–as temperatures and sunny days still vary in April.

The production runs April 6-30 with tickets at $38-$51. Details on additional events, nearby restaurant options or pre-ordering a dinner to enjoy onsite are at also on Quantum’s website.

Photos courtesy of Quantum Theatre

Theater Galas and Fundraisers in Pittsburgh this Spring

1960s audrey hepburn my fair lady

If you’re looking for a glamorous night out with dazzling entertainment, dancing, drinks and food, you’ve come to the right article. We’ve curated a little list of some of the best upcoming theater galas and fundraisers in Pittsburgh this spring that you’ll surely want to attend. Dust off your dancing shoes for a night to remember, all while supporting local organizations!

Q Ball 17, “Painting with Light” – Quantum Theatre
February 25 | Union Trust Building16836251_10154323174132997_2927994775148121712_o

Quantum Theatre hosts an annual event called the “Q Ball.” This year’s theme, “Painting with Light” involves live paintings from 19th century artists! There will be food from Black Radish Kitchen, drinks, art, dancing, and more creative surprises. Here’s what Quantum has to say about the event: “The Q Ball provides an opportunity for Quantum’s very imaginative artist friends to let their hair down and make a beautiful, wild party atmosphere filled with live performance. Add to that our tradition of transforming non-traditional environments, and I think you get a pretty special event! This year we’re inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite painters, because a play we’re making for next season intersects with them, so we’re building these marvelous ‘tableaux’ – live versions of the paintings people can step into.” The Q Ball promises to be a wild, imaginative evening. 

BUS – Bricolage Production Company
March 11 | August Wilson TheaterBUS: Bricolage's Annual Fundraiser

One of the most unique fundraisers in town is Bricolage’s BUS fundraiser. This is an adventurous mix of theater, VIP Gala, auctions, food, drinks, and community. The theater element truly stands out: bringing together some of Pittsburgh’s top theater artists to create original plays in just 24 hours! Yes- you can watch theater form and be performed all in one event!

Thoughts from Bricolage Artistic Directors,  Jeffrey Carpenter and Tami Dixon: “beyond a chair in the dark and mere suspension of disbelief, we have always preferred theater that was somewhat dangerous to behold. So when it came time to fashion a fundraiser that would fulfill our financial goals while maintaining our adventurous identity, the traditional route of live-auction-dinner-gala just wouldn’t do.”

Gala Cubana – Pittsburgh Festival Opera (formerly the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh)
April 22 | Pittsburgh Golf Club, Schenley Park

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more tropical to ease you out of winter, why not try “Gala Cubana” with the newly renamed Pittsburgh Festival Opera? This event is a “celebration of Cuban culture,” with food, drinks, dance (of course) and exclusive performances of the first Cuban opera in decades- Cubacan. Mingle with Pittsburgh Festival Opera organizers and tap your toes to Afro-Cuban melodies.

This is one of the most unique themes of the season, certain to transport you to a tropical, cultural paradise. Keep an eye on their website for tickets and more information!

Gods & Goddesses Gala – Pittsburgh Public Theater
May 5 | Wyndham Grand PittsburghFinal_online_Post_card-1

“The Public’s annual Spring gala has become a must-attend event for arts lovers, socialites, and party animals,” Pittsburgh Public Theater leader, Ted Pappas.

For a fanciful, glitzy ,and buzz-worthy event worthy of the gods, Pittsburgh Public Theater’s annual gala will sweep you off your feet. This traditional fundraiser is the highest of class. Tickets include cocktails, dinner, entertainment, and “The Public’s monumental flair” in the Wyndham Grand hotel.

40th Bash Gala and Auction – City Theatre Company
May 22 | Heinz Field East Club Lounge

To top off your classy theater party season, join in the “dancing and diversions’ at City Theatre! This fabulous event includes everything from cocktails to wine pairings and bidding on “extraordinary outings and adventures.” This isn’t any ordinary evening.

The event offers several tiers of sponsorship packages, from bronze to platinum. The packages include things like recognition in programs, reserved seating, acknowledgment at the events, and ticket vouchers for the upcoming season. Don’t miss this celebration of 40 years of galas!

Don’t get caught wishing you could have danced all night, when you certainly can with this glamorous line-up of galas and auctions this spring. Be sure to get out and support the Pittsburgh theatre community so they can continue to entertain you throughout the year.  

 

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

TheMan-WebheaderWe spend a lot of time as a culture romanticizing quirky iconoclasts, people who see the world just a little bit differently than us, in films, novels and plays. We spend considerably less time exploring the perspectives of those who actually see the world differently than the average person. There’s a clear (if unfortunate) reason for this: empathy is hard, and it’s easier to see Amelie in ourselves than it is to plumb the depths of working mental illness.

Originally written as an opera by Michael Nyman and based on a case study by Dr. Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is a play that follows a celebrated classical singer and college professor, Dr. P, who unknowingly suffers from an illness that contorts his perception of reality into crude shapes colored by memory. His brain is “like an identikit,” claims Dr. S, who personally visits the man’s home and explores his life to diagnose and assist his patient.

Kevin Glavin, Katy Williams, Ian McEuen
Kevin Glavin, Katy Williams, Ian McEuen

Produced by Quantum Theatre and directed by Karla Boos, this unique story of prosperity in a distorted reality is flavorful and humorous. This opera is a bittersweet celebration of a life of some detachment and confusion, granting its subject both gravitas and a necessary levity. Kevin Glavin as Dr. P is as stately, charming, and blissfully ignorant as Winston Churchill playing Mr. Bean. His sudden dalliances from reality feel real in a remarkable way, like the man couldn’t possibly understand what’s so strange about misinterpreting a painting of a field of wheat as a busy image of young people falling in love at a café.  Doesn’t everyone get confused about these things?

Dr. P is supported by Dr. S (Ian McEuen) and Mrs. P (Katy Williams), his wife. Ian McEuen’s Dr. S is charmingly, infinitely curious in his inimitably patient diagnosis, which I imagine is a difficult feeling to convey primarily through long, booming vocals. Katy Williams’ relatable vulnerability to Dr. S is a highlight. Her nervous dismissals and urgent concern over her husband’s condition may well remind those of us who have seen or lost loved ones to disease of unhappier times. Yet the rarity of her situation could make one’s imagination run wild with possibility, most especially once the doctor decides on a prescription.

All performers have enormous range and easily fill the admittedly small stage with life. In fact, with so little space to explore, the performers space onstage was carefully considered, resulting in the actors being largely immobile in spite of their volume of presence, not unlike lions pacing in cages.

Additionally, there is a mathematical perfection to the vocals here that I appreciated, as it further deepened the themes at the heart of the narrative.

An opera so equally academic and whimsical demands a certain magical quality, and Quantum’s production has a pleasant degree of whimsy. Like many contemporary opera productions, the stage is flanked by a big screen which projects the lyrics of each song. The backing screen is also used as a fun and sometimes unconventional tool, simply overlaying a series of paintings by Dr. P which shift slowly from photo-realistic portraits of people to abstractions and colors one moment, and displaying real-time GoPro footage of Dr. P’s medical examination the next.

Kevin Glavin and Ian McEuen
Kevin Glavin and Ian McEuen

The opera, however, is not truly from Dr. P’s perspective, no matter the use of form as metaphor for his experience. It is from Dr. S’ perspective, who bookends the story with spoken word monologues introducing us to and easing us out of the beautiful, skewed world of Dr. P. This is a matter of no small note. In spite of the lighthearted tone, this is an opera about a doctor with deep empathy for his patient, a man who does his best to enter and redraw his patients’ experience. This point of view gives the opera its warmth, without which could easily lead to its descent into some kind of hellish, Wes Anderson-esque Forrest Gump.

That The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat takes the form of an opera is a thing of beauty. The common complaint of the new opera attendee usually centers on the way opera treats simple conversation as a hefty endeavor, each syllable requiring patience and excavation. Here, the plot is not an excuse to utilize the historied form, but rather an explicit endorsement of it as essential. Dr. P is a man who lives in patterns whose career is in music; these things neatly intertwine. I won’t spoil any sense of discovery one could easily achieve in the opera, but to tell this story without the honest abstraction of its music would detach it further from reality as opposed to grounding it.

Quantum Theatre’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is heartfelt and idiosyncratic, an easy recommendation for those who’d like to explore new perspectives of the world both literal and artistic.

For tickets and more information, check out Quantum’s website here.

Photos courtesy of Heather Mull.

Winter Preview 2016

Snowflake 6
A letter from the Editor

To our beloved readers,

The countdown has begun; there are just 21 days left until the first day of Winter and we have put together a preview sure to prepare you for a holiday season of new and exciting theater experiences. Even though things start to slow down in the winter, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained during the cold, dark evenings as Pittsburgh’s warm theater community invites you to step in from out of the cold and catch a show. There is plenty of holiday themed fun and even a few new plays to choose from this Winter season!

Beyond this preview, stay tuned for continuous coverage of Pittsburgh theater. We will be checking in with local companies, some new to the scene and some seasoned veterans. We will also continue to introduce you to the people that make up Pittsburgh’s vibrant theater community through our artists spotlight series.

On a business related note, we are officially a legal entity (LLC) recognized by the government (AKA the IRS, OMG!). Remember, if you would like to sponsor the site or purchase advertisements on the site, contact info@pghintheround.com.

Again, we want to thank those of you that have and continue to support us through your donations to our previous fundraising campaign, your engagement with us, and simply being readers. Most importantly, we want to thank you for supporting local theaters and companies and helping the arts grow and thrive in Pittsburgh.

We would love to hear from our readers and follow along with your theater adventures so keep in touch with us on our FacebookTwitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #WinterwithPITR.

Happy holidays from all of us here at Pittsburgh in the Round, now get out there and enjoy some theater!

Mara E. Nadolski

 


Let’s start off with the Top 5 shows we’re looking forward to this winter!

#5 – Eugene Onegin by Undercroft Opera: Usually sung in French, 10 year oldOneginPoster Undercroft Opera will be presenting this Tchaikovsky masterpiece in Russian as a concert. Originally premiering in Moscow in 1879, this story of unrequited love and regrets was last produced in Pittsburgh by the Pittsburgh Opera in 2009. Undercroft, a company known for giving performers “opera-tunities”, brings many opera veterans to the stage in this one night only event. Last seen in the Pittsburgh Savoyards’ production of Gianni Schicchi,  Eugene Onegin will bring Ian Greenlaw and Katie Manukyan together on the stage once again. For tickets and more information, check out Undercroft’s website here. 

#4 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Cup-a-Jo Productions: On the heels of their innovative 404501_10150601331240797_648691161_nproduction of Titus AndronicusCup-a-Jo brings us another twist on an old classic. A not-so-fun night of drinks with new colleagues turns dark and disastrous in the late Edward Albee’s absurdist drama. Starring company founder Joanna Lowe and Brett Sullivan Santry, Cup-a-Jo will drag us into an immersive universe complete with signature live music and of course, cocktails. Literally set within a living room, this production will give audiences “ultimate uncomfortable voyeuristic experience” says Lowe. Dates and more details to come, but for more information about Cup-a-Jo, click here.

#3 – The Lion in Winter by PICT Classic Theatre: The classic Christmas tale of King Lion-Final-WebHenry II and his dysfunctional family weaves through politics, conspiracies, and ruthlessness. The cast includes Pittsburgh favorites like Karen Baum and Tony Bingham, even PICT’s Artistic Director Alan Standford graces the stage as Henry himself in the company’s third production in their new space at the Union Project in Highland Park. As always, PICT is “committed to the creation of high-quality, professional thought-provoking theatre of substance” and we’re confident this production will be no different. The Lion in Winter begins previews Thursday December 1, for tickets and more information click here. 

#2 – Lungs by off the WALL: In the second production of their Mainstage scaled_256series, off the WALL brings us more of the quick-witted dramas the company is known for with Duncan MacMillan’s Lungs. On a mostly bare set, no costume changes, and little accoutrements, Sarah Silk and Alec Silberblatt will force audiences to focus on the important themes of the text, rather than superfluous theatrics in this production. This two person drama takes us on a ride over the course of a relationship as they battle with questions about their families, their aspirations and each other. Opening December 2 at Carnegie Stage. For tickets and more information, click here. 

#1 – The Royale by City Theatre: City Theatre continues to uphold its mission YT17-Feature-The-Royaleto be Pittsburgh’s home for new plays with their January premiere of The Royale. Known for writing and producing television shows like Sons of Anarchy and Orange is the New Black, Marco Ramirez’s Broadway debut play The Royale is inspired by the true story of turn of the century boxer Jack Johnson. DeSean Terry plays Jay “The Sport”Jackson in this drama about fighting more than just the other person in the ring. Jackson has eyes on the heavyweight championship but with the racial tension of 1905 that might be easier said than done. The Royale runs on City Theatre’s Mainstage January 21 – February 12. For tickets and more information, click here.

While we’ve got you, check out our Top 5 Musicals you don’t want to miss here!

In the mood for something a little more festive? Claire rounded up the Top 5 Holiday shows for you here.

Throughline Theatre Company has gotten a new Artistic Director! Meet Sean Sears here.

Speaking of new things, check out one of Pittsburgh’s newest theater companies, Jumping Jack Theater.

Curious about something a little more than theater? Check out Jason’s articles featuring slowdanger and The Space Upstairs.

Even Attack Theatre is loosening some screws in their upcoming show Unbolted.

We’ve been pretty busy this fall too! In case you missed anything, here are some highlights of the last three months:

Between Riverside and Crazy at the Pittsburgh Public Theater

Three Days in the Country by Kinetic Theatre

The Music Man by Stage 62

12 Angry Men by the McKeesport Little Theater

How I Learned to Drive by the Duquense Red Masquers

Salome by the Pittsburgh Opera

To Kill a Mockingbird by Prime Stage Theatre

Giselle by the Pittsburgh Ballet

Barefoot in the Park by The Theatre Factory

Prometheus Bound: A Puppet Tragedy at the Irman Freeman Center for Imagination

Pride and Prejudice by Steel City Shakespeare

Trial by Jury & Gianni Schicchi by the Pittsburgh Savoyards

The River by Quantum Theatre

The Toxic Avenger at the Pittsburgh CLO Cabaret

 

The River

TheRiver-Webheader1I remember the first time in my life I asked a question that had no satisfactory answer. I was maybe, 11 and asked a buddy at school something about why other kids made such a big deal about school dances, or maybe why she never did her math homework or whatever.  Her answer was, “I don’t know man, why does anybody do anything?”

My mind was blown. Why does anybody do anything? I had been living in this world where, up to this point, the answer to “why” was usually “because the ocean is blue,” or “because it’s nacho cheese,” or “because I said so.” I’d never been confronted with the idea that if you ask enough questions, there’s nothing there. Suddenly no truth was for granted, and that included math homework.

The River, a play that is ostensibly about a guy who really wants a lady to go fly fishing with, is this feeling made manifest onstage and in more ways than one.  The play begins with a man, rushing excitedly in full fishing gear, violently waxing poetic about the vicious satisfaction achieved by catching. A woman enters – she is nonplussed. The man, alternately incredulous and impassioned, practically begs the woman to come along. She refuses, then feels guilty, then justified, then bashful. They are two performers making big choices, constantly, again and again.

In this opening scene, the play is something like the world’s most insane sitcom. The man (Andrew William Smith), is frantic in his fishy ecstasy – in terms of stage presence, he isn’t entirely dissimilar to the pulpy energy of a ’70s B-movie shaman, swaying from spot to spot onstage, gesticulating wildly. The woman (Diana Michelle Griffith), is equally filled with a caffeine-y, bubbly energy. Things, in short and bizarre moments, get tense. The woman moves a table, and it visibly gives the man pause. “I’m the girl who moved the table!” the woman exclaims, exasperated with herself.

Besides being completely and totally bewildering, The River is an unsettling space, with truths that give way to truer falsehoods, which give way to less than even that. Over time, a second woman (Siovhan Christensen) – or, maybe she should be the first? – returns after the first has left. Her onstage presence is completely different in every way, but she wears the clothes of the first woman.

The man, nor the play, will answer these questions. Most interestingly of all, neither will the characters. One character will recount something he or she said or did, and in such excruciating detail that no new character revelation or moment of self-discovery is not concluded with some uneasy ellipses.

It’s important to note that the question of “what?” isn’t really paramount to understanding The River. Sure, the play features shifts in the timeline of the man’s life with frequency, but knowing that is enough. It’s the “why?” we’re inside of here. This man is nothing if not off-putting when he describes the electricity of fishing, and its clear ties to his masculinity compound the sensation.

Adil Monsoor’s direction has given an otherwise ethereal play some (erratic) shape. Critical consensus of The River’s initial run commonly center around the play’s sense of ghostly artifice, and paint the experience as vague, yet menacing. Monsoor’s adaptation is less grim, largely in part of the sheer energy of his performers. These nameless protagonists don’t let moments hang in the air so much as they release the moments into the air, and swipe desperately towards whatever energy it is they’ve exerted.

This isn’t to say that the play has totally lost its arguably creepy vibe, so much as it’s been redirected. One memorable scene involving running water and a red dress is surreal to watch because, just for a few minutes, the world feels quiet, and intimate – but even here, a genuinely surprising outburst reveals the trap door we’ve been fooling ourselves not to notice.

Still, for a play that is more than anything about the artificial, it’s not inappropriate that Mansoor’s The River explores the 20-sided die of emotional extremity in these characters. We see in real time how one outburst of emotion directly reflects an equal and opposite emotion in the character. In some ways, it is like a sitcom, insomuch as it is the dark, ugly, and warm-blooded reflection of one.

This is not a show one walks out of blankly, listing the positive and negative traits of the night, remarking on its relative quality compared to other recent shows. An audience member’s ability to enjoy this will be directly reliant on their ability to enjoy sitting in that forever-loop of unanswerable questions that is as profound as it is meaningless, the same space I first discovered when I was 11, staring past the algebra lesson in front of me thinking about not doing my homework.

Special thanks to Quantum Theatre for complimentary press tickets.

The River runs along the Allegheny River in Aspinwall through October 30th. For tickets and more information, click here.