About the Show
Part mystery, part Hollywood romance, Robert O’Hara’s stylish new play bridges time, space, religion and race to track a love affair that defies history’s harshest cruelties. It’s 1939. Hitler’s death camps flourished and Great Britain and France have declared war on Germany. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Gone with the Wind premieres amid star-studded decadence. Against the backdrops of a Southern plantation, a German concentration camp, Hollywood movies and Berlin cabarets, two stories mysteriously merge into one sweeping romance – and fate decides which souls survive and which must be sacrificed.
“AN UNDENIABLY VIBRANT PLAY. Pretty damn fascinating.”
– City Paper
“INSPIRED, ENGAGING... A tremendous team of actors.”
– Metro Weekly
“Antebellum is the best thing I have ever seen on the Woolly Mammoth stage…ASTONISHING, HORRIFYING AND ULTIMATELY HEARTBREAKING. The entire cast does beautiful work”
“BRILLIANT and COMPELLING. Woolly Mammoth's production of Antebellum has a quality that can be all too rare in theater: the ability to surprise you.”
“THIS WORLD PREMIERE FITS THE WOOLLY MISSION TO DEFY CONVENTION. A fantastically directed play that will hold you and keep you interested from its sheer audacity.”
This production is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
ROBERT O’HARA received an OBIE Award for his direction of In the Continuum at Primary Stage/Perry Street Theater, seen at Woolly Mammoth in 2006. His recent projects includes directing Tough Titty by Oni Faida Lampley (Magic Theater), directing the upcoming Brother/Sister Plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney (co-production by McCarter Theater and The Public Theater), writing Antebellum for its World Premiere at Woolly Mammoth, and completing a new play commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse. Robert wrote and directed the world premiere of Insurrection: Holding History at the Public Theater (recipient, Oppenheimer Award for Best New American Play; published by TCG and Dramatist Play Service). He has directed extensively around the world, had his plays produced internationally, and been an artist in residence at a variety of theatres and universities. He has written films for Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Jon Avnet, HBO, ABC, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, New Line/Fine Line Cinema, and Artisan Entertainment, and recently completed writing and directing his feature film debut, My Place in the Horror.
CHAY YEW has directed extensively around the country including The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Humana Festival, The Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, Goodman Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse, Empty Space, Portland Center Stage, Geva Theater Center, National Asian American Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre, Ma Yi Theatre Company, Highways Performance Space, Gala Hispanic Theatre, Singapore Repertory Theatre, Theatre Rhinoceros, Asian American Theatre Company, and Smithsonian Institute, among others. His opera credits include the world premieres of Osvaldo Golijov and David Henry Hwang’s Ainadamar (co-production by Tanglewood Music Center, Lincoln Center, and Los Angeles Philharmonic) and Rob Zuidam’s Rage d’Amors (Tanglewood). An alumnus of New Dramatists, he also serves on the Executive Board on the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. He is a recipient of the OBIE Award and Dramalogue Award for Direction.
TONY CISEK (Set Design)
COLIN K. BILLS (Lighting Design)
VALERIE ST. PIERRE SMITH (Costume Design)
MATTHEW M. NIELSON (Sound Design/Original Music)
JENNIFER SHEETZ (Properties)
JENNIFER MENDENHALL (Dialect Coach)
JOHN GURSKI (Fight Choreography)
CARLTON BYRD (Gabriel Gift) is making his Woolly Mammoth debut. He has performed Off-Broadway in Two Lives of Napoleon Beazely (Incumbo Theater Company), and Romeo & Juliet and Ain’t Supposed to Die A Natural Death (Classical Theater of Harlem). His other credits include The Baachae (International Theater Festival in Warsaw, Poland), Top Dog/Under Dog, A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White, The Baachae, Black Girl, and In the Blood (NYU, Tisch School for the Arts). He is a graduate of NYU and a 2007 recipient of a Ron Howard Fellowship Award. To those above and those by my side...thank you.
JESSICA FRANCES DUKES (Edna Black Rock) was recently seen in Unleashed: The Secret Lives of White House Pets at The Kennedy Center. Her regional credits include Starving (Woolly Mammoth), The Piano Lesson (Geva Theater/Indiana Rep), Spunk (Tribute Productions/African Continuum Theater Company; Helen Hayes Award nomination), Jitney (Ford’s Theater/African Continuum Theater), Insurrection: Holding History (Theater Alliance; Helen Hayes Award Ensemble nomination), and other productions at Studio Theatre, Horizon Theater (GA), The Kennedy Center, Theater Alliance, and Washington Stage Guild. She has a B.S from Frostburg State University and an MFA from Catholic University. Jessica currently teaches Fundamentals of Acting at Montgomery College and is a Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Member.
ANDREW PRICE (Oskar von Schleicher) has appeared locally at Washington Shakespeare Company, Catalyst Theater Company, Theater Alliance, Rorschach Theatre, Actors' Theatre of Washington, Studio Theatre 2nd Stage, SCENA Theatre, and The Kennedy Center (tour). Regionally he has appeared at The Williamstown Theatre Festival, Abingdon Theater Company, The New York Fringe Festival, and UTC #61's Eugene Ionesco Festival. Andrew is a founding member of the new play development group, The Inkwell, and is an associate producer of the inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival (2010). He resides in Los Angeles. He would like to thank Woolly, Chay, Robert, and his cast mates for such a wonderful experience.
JENNA SOKOLOWSKI (Sarah Roca) is happy to be returning to Woolly after having appeared in She Stoops to Comedy. She was most recently seen in Eurydice at Round House Theatre. Other credits include Grey Gardens, Ivanov,and Prometheus Bound (Studio Theatre), Fiddler on the Roof and Cinderella (Olney Theatre), Urinetown (Helen Hayes Award) and Allegro (Signature Theatre), Candida (Everyman Theatre), The Clandestine Marriage (Folger Theatre), The Rivals (Shakespeare Theatre Company), as well as numerous productions with Theatre of the First Amendment and Kennedy Center’s Theatre for Young Audiences. She earned her BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University. Ma and Pa, eternal thanks and Karl, zawsze.
NICK VIENNA (Ariel Roca) is very proud to make his Woolly Mammoth debut. A company member with Synetic Theater, he recently played Lord Capulet in their production of Romeo & Juliet, followed by playing Orsino in Twelfth Night at the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival. He is a former Acting Fellow with the Shakespeare Theatre Company where he performed in several productions, including The Beaux Stratagem, Titus Andronicus, and The Taming of the Shrew. Nick would like to thank his family for their support and Howard, Chay, Robert, and Woolly for this opportunity.
Click here to read the program notes.
Click here for notes from the rehearsal hall.
Washington Post article: 'Antebellum' Tensions Circa 1939
FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR:
“We are thrilled to keep building our relationship with Robert O’Hara, one of the great multi-talents in our field. Following his award-winning direction of In The Continuum, Robert returns to Woolly as a playwright with a provocative new work that unfolds on two continents during the momentous years leading up to WWII. Ambitious both in its style (inspired by the big Hollywood epics of the period) and its content (a sexual mystery crossing boundaries of race and gender), Antebellum is the work of a passionate artist who reaches for big ideas and big emotions, and always leaves his audience with much to ponder and debate.” -- Howard Shalwitz
FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT:
“I am overwhelmingly excited that Antebellum has found a home at Woolly. This play requires a fiercely imaginative, risk-taking theater to produce its World Premiere. The play holds a special place in my heart and in my career. It is a dangerous play set during a dangerous time, and yet it is a romance. The idea of this play came out of my experience visiting the occupied territories in Israel in 2002. A near-death experience there struck me with a new sense of the value of human life and what one’s love for it might have been like in the war-torn world of the late 1930’s. Antebellum is the play that I wrote after returning to the U.S. It envisions a dark past while being written in our dark present.” -- Robert O'Hara
Jessica Frances Dukes and Jenna Sokolowski, photo by Stan Barouh