PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: AUGUST 22, 2016
CONTACT: Kate Brandt, email@example.com
PR CONTACT PHONE: 978-654-7595
BOX OFFICE: 978-654-4678
“45 PLAYS FOR 45 PRESIDENTS” OFFERS BOTH HUMOR AND INSIGHT TO KICK OFF MRT SEASON
227 years of American history in 2 hours
September 7 – October 2, 2016
Lowell, MA – Just in time for the general election, Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) offers offers a one-of-a-kind take on the epic sweep of American history with “45 Plays for 45 Presidents." In just two hours, through nearly every theatrical device imaginable, we see the highs and lows our country has hit over decades and centuries. With each commander-in-chief in the spotlight for two minutes, we experience not only their lives, but the distinctive American eras in which they served. And ultimately, we appreciate that our nation’s story is one that we all have written—and continue to write—every time we vote.
“45 Plays for 45 Presidents” runs approximately 2 hours, including one intermission. Performances are September 7 – October 2. Press performances are at 8:00 pm on Saturday, September 10 (Opening Night), and 2:00 pm on Sunday, September 11. All performances will be held at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, located at 50 East Merrimack Street in historic downtown Lowell. Tickets range from $70 - $26 and are on sale now at www.mrt.org or by calling 978-654-4678.
The evening ends with the audience voting on who the 45th president—and what the 45th play—will be; each audience will see either a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump play to close the show. MRT is partnering with Rock the Vote and Lowell Votes to encourage voter registration in the lobby.
About Play and its Creators
The Neo-Futurists, whose legendary “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” has been a staple of the Chicago theatre scene since 1988, first presented this presidential play in 2002, then called “43 Plays for 43 Presidents.” Four of its five writers were members of the troupe, which is renowned for an in-the-moment aesthetic and innovative, multi-modal storytelling. The writers—Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg—created the show not as a series of impersonations, but rather as a set of fully realized theatre pieces that explore the thoughts, feelings, triumphs, and failures of the individuals we have chosen to lead our country—as well as of their families, colleagues, and adversaries.
One of the playwrights, Andy Bayiates, is a Billerica native, who was born at Lowell General Hospital. He is credited as the "Founding Father" of the play for the major role he played in its creation.
MRT Artistic Director Sean Daniels has been directing the play every presidential election season since 2004, and returns to direct again here. When he directed the play in at Dad's Garage Theatre Co. in Atlanta, Georgia, Jimmy Carter attended (and really enjoyed the Reagan play) and subsequently invited the cast to perform at the Carter Center. Daniels later directed the play at Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky and Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, NY. Of the original Chicago production, Daniels recalls: “I thought it was so smart, and so well-done. How often do you get to see a full American civics lesson in less than two hours? To see the choices we’ve made as a country, over and over again?”
More About the Production
One thing Daniels loves about “45 Plays…” is that it keeps changing, as public perceptions of certain presidents evolve. This year, Barack Obama and George Herbert Walker Bush will both have their plays rewritten. “You find that we all share the same opinions about the first 16 presidents. Everyone loves George Washington… but suddenly when we talk about Reagan, everyone feels very strongly, one way or the other, about what it all means… One thing that’s exciting for me is that the writers have to continually update it, because public ideas change.”
Audiences at MRT’s production will be immersed in diverse storytelling approaches, both comical and serious: ballet, puppetry, personal narrative, prop-driven physical theatre, and Schoolhouse Rock-style musical numbers all converge into a cohesive whole. The set will use projection panels and light boxes scattered across the MRT stage, and costumes will be crafted to represent changing American fashion across the eras. Scene change music will transform as the show progresses to reflect the popular music of each president’s tenure.
Creative Team and Cast
The five-person cast includes Veronika Duerr (MRT’s “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” and “Home of the Brave”), Nael Nacer (MRT’s “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”), and Terrell Donnell Sledge (MRT’s “The Realness: a break beat play”), as well as newcomers Celina Dean and Aaron Muñoz.
Director Daniels is joined by a creative team that includes Wendy Seyb (Choreography), Michael Raiford (sets), Brian J. Lilienthal (lights), A. Lee Viliesis (costumes), Stowe Nelson (sound), and Ido Levran (projections programmer).
Tickets range from $70 - $26 and are available at www.mrt.org or by calling 978-654-4678. A senior discount is offered for 10% off adult ticket prices. Student tickets are $15. Group discounts are available for groups of six or more by calling 978-654-7561. $5 Night: Wednesday, September 7 at 7:30 pm. Patrons may purchase tickets for $5, cash only, at the Box Office between 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm. Limit 2 tickets per person. Lowell Night: Wednesday, September 14 at 7:30 pm. Lowell residents may purchase tickets for $10 at the box office from 4:30 pm-7:30 pm. Proper ID required, limit 2 per person. A Military Discount of $10 off per ticket (up to four tickets per production) applies to any performance for active duty, retired, veteran, and reservist members of the military.
MRT is thrilled to continue offering Free Child Care in the 2016-17 Season, at one performance of every show. Licensed professionals from Acre Family Childcare will provide activities for children (ages 0-10) of ticketholdersduring the 4:00 pm performance of “45 Plays for 45 Presidents” on Saturday, September 24.
As part of its Community Conversations series, MRT will host post-show panel discussions on three Wednesdays (September 14, 21, and 28) with representatives from Lowell Votes, a grassroots nonpartisan voter advocacy group, as well as students and teachers from the Social Studies department at Lowell High School. The discussions will look at civic engagement among local youth, and regional efforts to create a generation of young adults that are eager to assume a role in the ongoing authorship of American history.
On Wine Down Friday (September 9), the audience will be invited to enjoy a complimentary glass of wine in the lobby following the 8:00 pm performance with the cast and crew, as well as with the Western Avenue Studios Artists Association members whose work is currently on exhibit in the lobby. Post-Show Discussions will be held following select performances: in addition to the Wednesday Community Conversations, each Thursday Ask the Artists will provide an opportunity for the audience to hear directly from the people who created the show.
“45 Plays for 45 Presidents” has received financial support from production sponsor Enterprise Bank, as well as media support from media sponsor Merrimack Valley Magazine. Circle Health is the 2016-17 Season Sponsor. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979, and is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. MRT produces vibrant, contemporary plays that explore what it means to be alive today. A seven-show season runs from September through May in the intimate 279-seat Nancy L. Donahue Theatre. The company is known as a leader in producing new plays, especially world and regional premieres. MRT is one of 72 theaters nationwide (one of three in Massachusetts) with membership in LORT (the League of Resident Theatres).
MRT 2016-17 SEASON
“45 Plays for 45 Presidents” by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg, Directed by Sean Daniels
September 7 – October 2, 2016
“Abigail/1702” by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Directed by Tlaloc Rivas
October 12 – November 6, 2016
“Going to See the Kid” by Steven Drukman, Directed by Alexander Greenfield
November 30 – December 24, 2016
“The Making of a Great Moment” by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Directed by Sean Daniels
January 4 – 29, 2017
“Women in Jeopardy!” by Wendy MacLeod, Directed by Sean Daniels
February 15 – March 12, 2017
“Chill” by Eleanor Burgess, Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
March 22 – April 16, 2017
“My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” Conceived and performed by Charissa Bertels, Book and lyrics by Christian Duhamel, Music and lyrics by Edward Bell, Directed by Sean Daniels
April 26 – May 21, 2017
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre
(In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Box Office: 978-654-4678
(Headshots available now, PR photos available August 26, production photos available September 8.)
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