Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Taylor Mac to star in new production of Orlando by playwright Sarah Ruhl

Taylor Mac plays the title role of Orlando in a Signature Theatre production featuring Janice Amaya, Nathan Lee Graham, Lisa Kron, Jo Lampert, and TL Thompson.

Signature Theatre announces the cast of Spotlight Resident Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, adapted from Virginia Woolf’s novel and directed by Will Davis. Once called “the longest and most charming love letter in literature,” Orlando was written by Woolf for her lover, Vita Sackville-West. The titular character’s adventures begin as a young man, when he serves as courtier to Queen Elizabeth. Through many centuries of living, he becomes a 20th-century woman, trying to sort out her existence.

This theatrical trip through space, time, and gender features Taylor Mac (A 24-Decade History of Popular MusicBark of Millions)—a visionary who’s no stranger to time traveling and irreverently breaking open the constraints of historical norms and musty moresin the title role. Mac plays Orlando, along with an ensemble of acclaimed, boundary-breaking performers, including Janice Amaya (Off-Broadway: Lunch BunchSHHHH), Nathan Lee Graham  (Broadway: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Film: Zoolander), Tony-winning Fun Home writer Lisa Kron (Broadway: Well; Off-Broadway: ​​Good Person of Szechuan), Jo Lampert (Off-Broadway: Joan of Arc: Into the FireHundred Days), and TL Thompson (Broadway: Straight White Men; Off-Broadway: Is This a Room?). The creative team is Will Davis (Director and Choreographer), Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic Design), Oana Botez (Costume Design), Barbara Samuels (Lighting Design), Brendan Aanes (Sound Design and Composition), Ann C. James (Intimacy Coordinator), Matt Carlin (Props Supervisor), and Kasson Marroquin (Production Stage Manager).

Will Davis, the director and choreographer recently appointed Artistic Director of Rattlestick Theater, describes Ruhl’s joyously elliptical adaptation of Woolf’s eons-ahead-of-its-time canonical novel as a “bid for liberation.” Davis envisions his production as an actor-operated “handmade spectacle” in which performers with distinct relationships to and journeys with gender create and erase, inhabit and leap across whole centuries onstage in real-time. The entirety of the Irene Diamond Stage will be a visible site of invention, giving actors in Davis’ athletic and choreographic staging the most possible space to traverse. The production aims to spark audiences’ own transcendent imaginations to cross constructed but stubborn societal thresholds—as performers vividly assemble new understandings of place, time, self, and community with the DIY props and set-pieces at their fingertips.

Says Davis, “One of the things the theater does, and one of the things a lot of folks—myself included—have done is we call something into being: we name it, then we become it. Of course, sometimes in conversations around gender, there’s a perceived binary of transformation, but it’s more complex than that: the novel and the play are about fumbling towards self and the divine chaotic nature of that. We’re trying to replicate that in the ‘handmade’ worlds performers create and recreate. Every environment that the audience will experience century to century or scene to scene, we will watch the ensemble build and then take apart. That’s part of the dedication to a bid for liberation and the dramaturgical imperative of queer place-making: define things on your own terms and then share that with others.”

Says Ruhl, “I’ve experimented a lot with how to stage literary language theatrically — for instance, using narration in a way that’s theatrical. Soliloquy, and talking to and telling stories to the audience in a very transparent way, feel like such natural parts of theater’s toolbox, and yet it’s really common for actors to be timid about addressing the audience! So it makes sense that the cast comprises a number of writer-performers, who are really adept at handling this kind of language. In A 24-Decade History, Taylor Mac talked to the audience all night long. I remember first seeing that show—and seeing some of Machine Dazzle’s costumes on display in the lobby—and thinking, ‘Taylor needs to be Orlando.’”                                                         

Orlando opens April 21. All performances take place at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W 42nd St) in The Irene Diamond Stage.

About the Cast
Janice Amaya

Janice Amaya (they/them) is an actor, theatermaker, and educator. Recent theater credits: Shhhh (Atlantic Theater Company), Mushroom (People’s Light Theater Co), Cartography (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Sally Forth (Lincoln Center), Tell Them I’m Still Young (American Theater Group), Your Hair Looked Great (Abrons Arts Center), As You Like It (Apocalyptic Artists Ensemble). Film: Patriot’s Day (Lionsgate, Dir. Peter Berg), Up North (Dir. Stefanie Abel Horowitz), Bound (Paralysis Productions). Janice is a Co-Director at Pipeline Theatre Company and a founding member of The Hummm. MFA, Harvard University and the Moscow Art Theater.


Nathan Lee Graham

Nathan Lee Graham is the originator of over 17 diverse and hilarious roles on stage and screen. Most notably, the films Zoolander 2, ZoolanderSweet Home Alabama, and Hitch. Television: The ComebackScrubsAbsolutely FabulousLaw & Order SVUBroad City, “Bernard” in the Fox comedy LA to Vegas! “Francois” on the CW show Katy Keene and currently “Draque Noir” on the Hulu series Woke. On stage: the original Broadway casts of The Wild Party and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. A 2017 Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for The View Upstairs. In 2016, the IRNE award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play for The Colored Museum. Also a Drama League nomination for the off-Broadway production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Wig Out! The 2005 Best Classical Album Grammy Award for Songs of Innocence and of Experience as a soloist. Nathan is a recipient of the HRC Visibility Award. He was recently seen in the film Theatre Camp.


Lisa Kron

Lisa Kron has been creating and performing theater since coming to NY from Michigan about a thousand years ago. She wrote the book and lyrics for the Tony Award winning musical Fun Home, and plays including In the WakeWell, and the Obie Award-winning 2.5 Minute Ride. Her acting credits include Well (Best Actress Tony nomination) and Good Person of Szechuan (Lortel Award). She’s a proud member of SAVE OUR STATES, a group of NYC based theater artists that’s been raising money for every election cycle since 2017 to build progressive power in state legislatures.  


Jo Lampert

Jo Lampert. Selected Off-Broadway: The Tempest (Shakespeare in the Park), Hundred Days (NYTW), Joan in Joan of Arc: Into the Fire (Public Theater, Lucille Lortel Award nom), Rimbaud in NY (BAM), New York Animals (New Ohio), Iphigenia in Aulis (Classic Stage Company), and Dance, Dance Revolution (Ohio Theater). Regional: Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Marie Antoinette (American Repertory Theatre/Yale REP), Prometheus Bound (A.R.T.), and The Last Goodbye (Williamstown Theater Festival). TV: HBO’s BETTY, Amazon’s Transparent (Musical Finale), Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, Hulu’s The Path.


Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac (Orlando) is an actor, playwright, performance artist, director, producer, and singer-songwriter. Judy (Taylor’s preferred pronoun but any will do) is a MacArthur “genius,” the first American to receive the International Ibsen Award, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, a Tony nominee for Best Play, and the recipient of the Kennedy Prize, the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Guggenheim, a Drama League Award, a NY Drama Critics Circle Award, two Obie’s, and two Bessies. Mac is the author of Joy and PandemicThe HangGary, A Sequel to Titus Andronicus; A 24-Decade History of Popular MusicHir; and The Lily’s Revenge; among many others.  Film includes: Whitman in the Woods (currently streaming on All Arts); the concert/doc of A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, (HBO, June of 2023). Judy’s most recent work, Bark of Millions, makes its premiere at the Sydney Opera House in the fall of 2023.


TL Thompson

TL Thompson was a series regular on the 4400 reboot and most recently co-starred in the short “Long Pork” by Iris Dukatt and Holding Back The Tide featured at NYC Doc Fest. TL is the narrator in the first and second season of Unlicensed by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cramer; “Ponyboy” by Eliot Duncan on Audible; and “Are You Listening,” an animated series aimed at helping teens navigate conflict. Theater credits: Broadway: Straight White Men. Off Broadway: Is This A Room? (Vineyard and International Tour); Lessons in Survival (Vineyard); Nervous System (BAM). Webseries: THESE/THEMS (OutFest/Youtube); Dinette Season 2 (NewFest). Short Films: “Wolf Tone,” “Flu$h,” “Friday Afternoon” (NYC Independent Film Festival), “Miles Away” (Chronic Insanity Edinburgh Fringe). Audiobooks: Thrust, Four Hundred Souls, Filthy Animals, This Book Is Not for YouUnpopular Vote.


About Signature Theatre

Signature Theatre is an artistic home for storytellers. By producing several plays from each Resident Writer, Signature continues its deep dive into their bodies of work. The Pershing Square Signature Center is a major contribution to New York City’s cultural landscape. The Center supports and encourages collaboration among artists, cultural organizations and local communities by providing free, public access throughout the space. In addition to its three intimate theaters, the Center features a studio theater, a rehearsal studio and a public café, bar and bookstore.

Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature Theatre is now led by Artistic Director Paige Evans and Executive Director Timothy J. McClimon. Signature’s Resident Playwrights include: Edward Albee, Annie Baker, Lee Blessing, Martha Clarke, Will Eno, Horton Foote, María Irene Fornés, Athol Fugard, John Guare, Stephen Adly Guirgis, A.R. Gurney, Katori Hall, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Samuel D. Hunter, David Henry Hwang, Bill Irwin, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Adrienne Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Kenneth Lonergan, Dave Malloy, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, Dominique Morisseau, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sarah Ruhl, Sam Shepard, Anna Deavere Smith, Regina Taylor, Paula Vogel, Naomi Wallace, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, Lauren Yee, The Mad Ones, and members of the historic Negro Ensemble Company: Charles Fuller, Leslie Lee, and Samm-Art Williams.

Signature and its artists have been recognized with Tony Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur “Genius” grants, and Lucille Lortel, Obie, Drama Desk, AUDELCO, and Artios Awards as well as the 50/50 Award for Gender Parity in Theatre, among many other distinctions. In 2014, Signature became the first New York City theater to receive the Regional Theatre Tony Award for its body of work and accomplishments as an institution. For more information, please visit signaturetheatre.org.

Queer Forty Staff

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