Westport Country Playhouse will stage the World Premiere of "Oblivion," a provocative new play about parents and teenagers, and the gulf that often exists between them, by Carly Mensch, writer for Showtime's "Nurse Jackie" and "Weeds," and directed by Mark Brokaw, currently represented on Broadway with "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella." The coming-of-age comedy-drama runs from August 20 through September 8.
The Playhouse's second world premiere in as many seasons, "Oblivion" was commissioned by New York's Playwrights Horizons and received a developmental workshop at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company in late 2011. Now it's being given its first professional, fully staged production under the guidance of a director with considerable experience with new work.
"'Oblivion' is a stunning, thoughtful, gripping, and even funny play about a teenage girl, her best friend, and her two parents," said Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse's artistic director. "It's about the attempts by parents to come to grips with who their children really are as they grow up and begin to explore worlds over which the parents have zero control. It's one of the smartest plays I've come across in a long time, and it will move you and make you think. I'm thrilled to have director Mark Brokaw bringing this important new play to life on our stage."
Lamos noted that the Playhouse has a long history of supporting new writers and new plays. "It's one of the most important things we do---one of the things that keeps the Playhouse vital," he said.
Over its 83 seasons, the Playhouse has staged many World Premieres that have gone on to further success. Last season, "Harbor" by Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin premiered at the Playhouse, directed by Lamos. It is currently playing at New York's Primary Stages, again helmed by Lamos. In the past, "Butterflies Are Free" by Leonard Gershe premiered at the Playhouse, as did new works by Noel Coward, William Inge, A. R. Gurney, Billy Porter, and others.
"Oblivion," set in Brooklyn's Park Slope, tells of Pam and Dixon, who take pride in their progressive approach to parenting their 16-year-old daughter Julie. When Julie won't come clean to them about where she spent the past weekend, their open-mindedness crumbles. What could she possibly be hiding? Whatever the parents imagine, nothing can prepare them for the actual truth. The play looks at the surprising choices teenagers make---and the people they disappoint---when they forge their own way in life.
"I wanted to write a play about lying," said Carly Mensch, playwright. "I also wanted to write a play about the difficulty of parenting in the modern age."
Mensch added, "I would hope that audience members leave questioning their own blind spots and prejudices, and examining whether they think they're as open-minded as they say they are."
The play is appropriate for ages 13 and up due to some adult situations and language. Post-show salons open to the audience for discussion of the play will follow selected performances.
The "Oblivion" cast includes Katie Broad (New York's "Stop the Virgens," "The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side," "A Midsummer Night's Dream") as Julie; Johanna Day (Broadway's "Proof" - Tony and Lucille Lortel awards noms.; regional theater's "The Rainmaker" - Helen Hayes Award; "The Realistic Joneses" - Connecticut Critics Circle Award) as Pam; Aidan Kunze (New York's Barefoot Theatre, City Lights Youth Theater, Kidz Theater, and films "Rage," "Raising Helen") as Bernard; and Reg Rogers (Broadway's "The Royal Family" - Outer Critics Circle nom., "Holiday" - Tony and Drama Desk noms., Off-Broadway's "The Dazzle" - Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards) as Dixon.
Playwright Carly Mensch's other plays include "Now Circa Then" (Ars Nova, TheatreWorks), "All Hail Hurricane Gordo" (Humana Festival, Cleveland Play House) and "Len, Asleep in Vinyl" (2nd Stage/Uptown Series). Mensch has developed work at Playwrights Horizons, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Huntington Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, Marin Theatre Company, New York Stage & Film, Center Theatre Group, and Ars Nova, where she was the 2008 Playwright-in-Residence as well as a founding member of Play Group. She is currently working on a play for The Civilians' R&D Group and is a writer for Showtime's "Nurse Jackie." She wrote for three seasons on the Showtime original series, "Weeds." Mensch will be guest speaker at a Symposium at the Playhouse on Sunday, August 25, following the 3 p.m. matinee performance.
Director Mark Brokaw's Broadway credits are Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Cinderella," "The Lyons," "After Miss Julie," "The Constant Wife," "Reckless," and "Cry-Baby." New York premieres include works by Douglas Carter Beane, David Auburn, Lynda Barry, Eric Bogosian, Charles Busch, Julia Cho, Lisa Kron, Kenneth Lonergan, Craig Lucas, Nicky Silver, Paula Vogel, and Wendy Wasserstein. He also has directed regionally and internationally. Brokaw is the artistic director of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, and artistic associate of Roundabout Theatre Company.
The design and production team includes Neil Patel (Broadway's "Side Man," "'night, Mother," "Ring of Fire," "[title of show]," "Oleanna," "Wonderland") scenic design; Michael Krass (New Canaan native, 16 Broadway shows including "The Constant Wife" - Tony nom., "The Lyons," "Twelve Angry Men") costume design; Japhy Weideman (Westport Country Playhouse's "Harbor," "Old Wicked Songs"; Broadway's "The Nance" - Tony nom.) lighting design; Obadiah Eaves (Broadway's "The Assembled Parties"; BACC, Lortel, and Audelco Viv awards) sound design; Faye Armon-Troncoso, props master; Matthew Melchiorre, resident stage manager; Christine D'Amore, assistant stage manager; and Tara Rubin Casting.
Playing August 20 – September 8, the performance schedule for "Oblivion" is Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Special series feature Taste of Tuesday, Previews, LGBT Night OUT, Opening Night, Sunday Symposium, Open Captions, Literary Salon, Thursday TalkBack, Together at the Table Family Dinner, Playhouse Young Professionals, and Backstage Pass. A "Day for the Community" is planned for Sunday, September 8, with a specially priced 3 p.m. matinee.
Single ticket prices, starting at $30, are subject to change based on availability. Buy early for the best prices. Educators and students are eligible for 50% discounts. On the day of a performance, senior rush tickets are available at 50%. Flex Passes are also on sale, offering date flexibility and many subscriber-only benefits.
"Oblivion" Production Sponsors are Helen Lee Henderson, and Barbara and John Streicker. Production Partners are Neil and Sandra DeFeo Family Foundation, and Judy and Scott Phares.
Westport Country Playhouse's 2013 Season will continue with "Room Service," a madcap American farce about a producer and his ragtag bunch of actors who try to raise money for a Broadway show as they scramble to evade their hotel bill, written by John Murray and Allen Boretz, directed by Mark Lamos, October 8 – 27.
For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org, or by using the new Playhouse App or mobile website. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse) or get an insider's peek on The Playhouse Blog ( www.theplayhouseblog.org ).