ABOUT THE PLAY
The Things That Were There is a memory play and a meditation on loss. Set on the occasion of a celebratory dinner, the play dramatizes the events and relationships of a family over many years. Past incidents are recalled and, at times, re-lived. Certain scenes begin again with slight or significant variation as a means of investigating family relationships through a continually shifting leans, exploring the tragic and comic potential of events and interactions.
The Things That Were There is a new play by award-winning playwright and performer David Greenspan (Strange Interlude, I’m Looking for Helen Twelvetrees at Abrons Arts Center), directed by Lee Sunday Evans (Dance Nation at Playwrights Horizons, [PORTO] at WP Theater and The Bushwick Starr) to be presented by The Bushwick Starr and Abingdon Theatre in October 2018 at The Bushwick Starr.
THE PLAY’S BEGINNINGS
The title, The Things That Were There, is taken from a line in Gertrude Stein’s lecture, Plays. She describes writing plays in a manner akin to a landscape painting – in which, without dramatizing action or event, she puts into her plays “the things that were there” – referring to the trees, birds, hills, fields and people she observed in the French countryside.
Unlike Stein’s plays, The Things That Were There dramatizes the events and relationships of a family over many years as past incidents are recalled and shared across the dining room table. Author, David Greenspan, has utilized one of Stein’s techniques: “beginning again.” He sometimes, literally, begins a scene again – it is replayed with a variation of dialogue and event. In one version a young woman dies of cancer; in another version she lives; Early in the play her father has had a decades-long drinking problem; later in the play he has long been sober.
A NOTE FROM DAVID
The Starr and Abingdon have come on board as co-producers, and our fundraising goals are in concert with my personal commitment to produce the play on an Equity contract. An AEA Mini contract enables us to offer the actors and creative team an equitable wage in addition to health and pension benefits. This is why we need your help! We are so close to being fully funded with only $6,000 left to raise.
Crowdfunding is new for me. I’m not even on social media. But when Artistic Director, Noel Allain, expressed interest in this play I purposely held onto it for a production at the Starr. The highly diverse programming of contemporary theater for which the The Bushwick Starr is valued makes it an ideal setting for what I hope audiences will find a quiet, poetic play.
I have been operating on different theater planes for years, which means sometimes I have to take the lead self-producing certain work I want to share. I hope you’ll consider sharing this one with me.
With a $70K budget, we have been able to get most of the way there through the Starr commission, Abingdon’s support, and some amazing individual donors. If you can help in this homestretch, your help will go towards paying people, especially the incredible actors on an AEA contract: Evander Duck, David Greenspan, Caitlin Morris, Cesar J. Rosado, and Mary Shultz.
WHO WE ARE
The team beyond Lee includes Carolyn Mraz (Scenic & Costume Designer), Barbara Samuels (Lighting Designer), Ann Marie Dorr (Production Manager), John Del Gaudio (Producer), and Madeleine Goldsmith (Associate Producer).
David Greenspan has been a distinctive presence on the New York stage for almost three decades. Over the years, he has appeared in works by such playwrights as Terrence McNally, Richard Foreman, Sarah Ruhl, Mac Wellman, and Adam Rapp, and last season he appeared at The Bushwick Starr in Milo Cramer’s Cute Activist. Greenspan has also appeared in his own plays, most notably Dead Mother, She Stoops to Comedy, Go Back to Where You Are, I’m Looking for Helen Twelvetrees, his adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey and his solo plays The Argument and The Myopia; performed solo renditions of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude, Barry Conners’ The Patsy, Gertrude Stein’s lecture Plays, a program of two Stein lectures and a playlet Composition…Masterpieces...Identity. He has received Guggenheim, Lortel and Fox fellowships, Alpert, Lambda Literary, and Helen Merrill Playwriting awards. He is the recipient of six Obie Awards, including a 2010 Obie for Sustained Achievement.
LEE SUNDAY EVANS
Lee Sunday Evans (Director) is an Obie Award winning Director + Choreographer. Production credits include: Dance Nation by Clare Barron (Playwrights Horizons), [PORTO] by Kate Benson (The Bushwick Starr/Women’s Project), HOME by Geoff Sobelle (BAM Next Wave), Farmhouse/Whorehouse by Suzanne Bocanegra (BAM Next Wave), Miller, Mississippi by Boo Killebrew (Dallas Theater Center), The Winter’s Tale (Public Theater, Mobile Unit), Bull in a China Shop by Bryna Turner (LCT3), Caught by Christopher Chen (Play Co.), Macbeth (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), Wellesley Girl by Brendan Pelsue (Humana Festival), D Deb Debbie Deborah by Jerry Lieblich (Clubbed Thumb), A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks... by Kate Benson (OBIE Award - New Georges/Women’s Project), The Play About My Dad by Boo Killebrew (59E59), God’s Ear by Jenny Schwartz (Juilliard), Family Play (1979 to Present) by CollaborationTown, The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht with original music by Nicholas C. Williams. Her work has been presented/developed at: Baryshnikov Arts Center, Sundance Theater Lab, BAX, CATCH, LMCC, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, Juilliard. Lee received the 2017 SDC Breakout Award, and the 2016 Susan Stroman Directing Award from The Vineyard Theater.
Risks and challenges
This play is happening and we couldn't be more excited. Your help will ensure that it happens at a level where we can realize a collaborative vision.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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