Ars Nova presents
A world premiere of a commissioned play

Dr. Ride’s
American Beach House 

by LIZA BIRKENMEIER 
Directed by KATIE BROOK

 

OCTOBER 21 – NOVEMBER 23, 2019

 

ABOUT THE SHOW

It’s 1983, the evening before Dr. Sally Ride’s historic space flight. Hundreds of miles from the launch, a group of women with passionate opinions and no opportunities sit on a sweltering St. Louis rooftop watching life pass them by. Their uncharted desires bump up against American norms of sex and power in this intimate snapshot of queer anti-heroines.

 


 

LEARN MORE

  • Read the unanimous reviews HERE
  • Read a program note from Founding Artistic Director Jason Eagan
  • Read interviews with playwright Liza Birkenmeier from BroadwayWorld and Culturebot
  • Read an interview with actor Marga Gomez from TDF

 


 

 

 

 

Liza Birkenmeier is Ars Nova’s 2019-20 Tow Playwright-in-Residence

Ars Nova presents
A world premiere of a commissioned play

Dr. Ride’s
American Beach House 

by LIZA BIRKENMEIER 
Directed by KATIE BROOK

 

OCTOBER 21 – NOVEMBER 23, 2019

ARS NOVA AT GREENWICH HOUSE
27 BARROW STREET

 

 

The New York Times – CRITICS’ PICK

 
A REVELATION.

It took me a while to understand that the reaction I was having to “Dr. Ride’s American Beach House,”… wasn’t bewilderment but its shy cousin, pleasure. Once I did, I couldn’t stop grinning, partly because Liza Birkenmeier’s play is so witty and partly because it’s so weird. Both are welcome these days.

Here, Birkenmeier is exploring the power women achieve when they make themselves the subject of their stories instead of the object…  If most plays of liberation involve trite slogans and metaphorical pickets, it’s bracing to see one that’s a drama instead of a diorama.”
– Jesse Green

 

Time Out New York – CRITICS’ PICK

⭐⭐⭐⭐
“A specific and evocative depiction of identity and power at a crossroads — of who can reach for the sky, and who gets left behind.”
– Adam Feldman

 

NY Magazine/Vulture

“Luscious. Funny. Erotic. The play itself just keeps soaring up and up and up.”
– Helen Shaw

 

TheaterMania

“A giant leap for both woman and womankind.”
– Zachary Stewart
 
 

Theasy – BEST BET

“Sweetly surprising.”
– Linda Buchwald
 
 

The Reviews Hub

“A rare jewel of a play.”
– Alithea Howes
 
 

New York Stage Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Subtly Poignant. Discerning and Di
sarming.”
– Michael Sommers

 

New York Theater

“Witty and playful.”
– Jonathan Mandell

 

This Week In New York

“Poetic. Very funny and bittersweet”
– Mark Rifkin

 

Curtain Up

“Birkenmeier’s play probes what it means to live authentically.”
– Jacob Horn

 

Ars Nova presents
A world premiere of a commissioned play

Dr. Ride’s
American Beach House 

by LIZA BIRKENMEIER 
Directed by KATIE BROOK

 

OCTOBER 21 – NOVEMBER 23, 2019

ARS NOVA AT GREENWICH HOUSE
27 BARROW STREET

Scenic Design KIMIE NISHIKAWA
Costume Design MELISSA NG
Lighting Design OONA CURLEY
Sound Design BEN WILLIAMS
Production Stage Manager ALEX H. HAJJAR

 

Featuring SUSAN BLOMMAERT, MARGA GOMEZERIN MARKEY, KRISTEN SIEH 

 

ABOUT THE TEAM

 

LIZA BIRKENMEIER (Playwright) is a recent alum of Play Group at Ars Nova. Her work has been developed at Dixon Place, University Settlement, Playwrights Realm, The Public Theater, CATCH, City Theatre, NYSAF and elsewhere. Her newest collaboration with director Katie Brook, ISLANDER, will premiere at NYTW Next Door in 2020. She is a MacDowell Colony and Yaddo Fellow. MFA Carnegie Mellon. Liza Birkenmeier is Ars Nova’s 2019-20 Tow Playwright-in-Residence.

 

KATIE BROOK (Director) is a theater director focused on collaborations with living playwrights, designers and composers. The work she creates with her company, Televiolet, has been presented at venues in New York City and beyond, including The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, Boom Arts and Abrons Arts Center. Islander, her new devised work in collaboration with Liza Birkenmeier, will be presented at NYTW’s Next Door in 2020, supported by New Georges.

 

SUSAN BLOMMAERT (Norma) NYC: Grease (Broadway), The Metal Children, Mary Rose, Phaedra (Vineyard Theatre), Measure For Pleasure, Fucking A (Public Theatre), Reckless, Blue Window (Production Company). Regional: 4000 Miles (A.C.T.), Phaedra Backwards (McCarter Theatre), The Year of Magical Thinking (Weston Playhouse), Black Snow, Ubu Rex (Yale Rep), Under Milk Wood, Street Scene (Williamstown Theatre). Film: The Kitchen, John Wick 3, Doubt, United 93, Kinsey, Pet Sematary, Edward Scissorhands. TV: The Blacklist, Elementary, Louie, Mozart in the Jungle, The Good Wife, The Sopranos, The X-Files.

 

MARGA GOMEZ (Meg) is the writer/performer of thirteen solo plays including Latin Standards (Under The Radar Festival, Public Theater), Pound (Dixon Place), Lovebirds (LaMama ETC), Los Big Names (Puerto Rican Traveling Theater). Her acting credits include The Vagina Monologues with Rita Moreno and Vicki Lawrence, and a guest role on Sense8 (Netflix). She’s often not remembered in Guiding Light (CBS) as Prisoner Number Three, shortly before it got cancelled. Her website is margagomez.com.

 

ERIN MARKEY (Matilda) is an actor and writer/composer of live, often music-driven plays and performance works. Recent original works are Singlet (The Bushwick Starr), Boner Killer (Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater) and A Ride On The Irish Cream (Abrons Arts Center). They are currently working on a new piece, Little Surfer, commissioned by The Public Theater through the New York Voices program. Markey appeared on the most recent seasons of HBO’s High Maintenance and TruTV’s At Home with Amy Sedaris.

 

KRISTEN SIEH (Harriet) is a founding member of The TEAM, with whom she has co-written and performed in five new plays including RoosevElvis (The Royal Court, A.R.T., etc.).  Other credits include: The Band’s Visit (original Broadway cast), Fortress of Solitude, February House (The Public Theater), Men on Boats (Playwrights Horizons), Iphigenia in Aulis (CSC), Twelfth Night (Pig Iron), ERS, Half Straddle, The Foundry, Banana, Bag & Bodice, etc. TV: HBO’s upcoming The Plot Against America, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Boardwalk Empire, etc.

 

KIMIE NISHIKAWA (Scenic Design) is a Japanese scenic designer based in NYC. Recent credits include: Ain’t No Mo (The Public Theater); The Light (MCC); Mobile Unit: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Public Theater); Hello, From the Children of Planet Earth and The Revolving Cycles Truly And Steadily Roll’d (The Playwrights Realm); Tin Cat Shoes (Clubbed Thumb); Henry VI (NAATCO). Regionally, her work has been seen at Kansas City Rep, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Long Wharf Theatre, Marin Theatre Company. MFA: NYU Tisch. kimienishikawa-design.com

 

MELISSA NG (Costume Design) is a New York-based costume designer. NYC: The Bitter Game (UTR, The Public), three girls never learnt the way home (Cherry Lane), King Philip’s Head (Clubbed Thumb). Regional: The Carpenter (Alley Theatre), The Chinese Lady (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre), The Cake (Asolo Rep), Lettie (Victory Gardens), The Burn (Steppenwolf). She teaches Theater Design at the NYU-Playwrights Horizons Theater School. Proud member of USA829, Wingspace Theatrical Design. BA: University of Chicago, MFA: UC San Diego.

 

OONA CURLEY (Lighting Design) is a lighting and scenic designer. Recent credits in NYC at BAM, Vineyard, Ars Nova, The Atlantic, Public/UTR, The Flea, NYTW Next Door, La MaMa, JACK and The Cherry Lane. Recent regional credits at Long Wharf, Guthrie, Trinity Rep, Arden Theatre, Opera Philadelphia, Curtis Opera and Cosmo of Las Vegas. Nominee: Princess Grace Award. Recipient: Lotos Foundation Prize, J.S. Seidman Award for Design Excellence, Weston Award for Design and the Zonta Award for Theatre Arts. MFA NYU Tisch. oonacurley.com

 

BEN WILLIAMS (Sound Design) is an actor, sound designer and director. He has worked with Elevator Repair Service for 15 years and is a founding member of minor theater with Julia Jarcho. Other frequent collaborators include Christina Masciotti, Lily Whitsitt, Suzanne Bocanegra, Kate Benson, Sibyl Kempson, Julie Atlas Muz, The Wooster Group and NYC Players. Awards for sound design: OBIE, Lortel, LADCC. benwilliamsdotcom.com

 

ALEX H. HAJJAR (Production Stage Manager) Broadway/Tour: blast! Japan 2019, Les Misérables, The Realistic Joneses, After Midnight Off-Broadway:  Head of Passes (The Public Theater), Aubergine (Playwrights Horizons),  Mother Courage (CSC), Relevance, Georgia McBride, YEN, The End of Longing (MCC), Big Love (Signature), This American Life (BAM), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (TFANA), Belleville (NYTW), We Are Proud to Present a Presentation… (SoHo Rep), Melancholy Play (13P). Regional: Frost / Nixon (Bay Street Theater), Ether Dome (Hartford Stage), The Roommate, February House, My Name is Asher Lev, The Train Driver (LWT), Little Shop of Horrors, 2 Pianos 4 Hands (Peterborough Players).

 

ARIELLE GOLDSTEIN (Assistant Stage Manager) Select Credits include: Broadway: Groundhog Day The Musical. Off- Broadway: Red Hills (En Garde Arts); 20th Century Blues; Head of Passes (The Public Theater); Gloria, Indecent, This Land Was Made (The Vineyard Theatre); The Legend of Georgia McBride (MCC Theatre). REGIONAL: The Piano Lesson, An Opening in Time, Reverberation, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Somewhere, The Underpants, Macbeth and La Dispute (in rep), Twelfth Night, Man in A Case (with Big Dance Theatre), etc. (Hartford Stage Company); Merchant of Venice, Cymbeline, Candide, All’s Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare Theatre Company). Proud member of Actors Equity Association.

 

 


 

BEHIND THE SCENES

Photos from our first rehearsal Meet & Greet with the full cast and creative team of Dr. Ride’s American Beach House, and a rooftop excursion with the cast, playwright & director.

Meet & Greet Photos by HanJie Chow | Rooftop Photos by Danny Bristoll

Ars Nova presents
A world premiere of a commissioned play

Dr. Ride’s
American Beach House 

by LIZA BIRKENMEIER 
Directed by KATIE BROOK

 

 

A Note from the Founding Artistic Director

After cutting the ribbon last spring with the world premiere of The Mad Ones’ critically acclaimed Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie, we’re excited to be back at Greenwich House and shining a spotlight on our Tow Playwright-in-Residence, Liza Birkenmeier.

We first met Liza in the fall of 2013, during her interview for our emerging writers group, Play Group. Her sly humor, fierce mind, infectious curiosity and fascination with offbeat corners of human existence made that conversation as fascinating and joyful as the experience of reading her plays. She has the kind of wry wit that gets you laughing — and then leaves you thinking, hours later, about the ideas embedded in the jokes. Her plays, while wildly different from one another, are uniformly intelligent and compassionate, making space for smart women and overlooked outsiders to hold our focus.

Dr. Ride’s American Beach House, which we commissioned in 2016, depicts the lives of four women who would never make it into a typical hero’s narrative; marooned on a St. Louis rooftop, they lead seemingly small lives boxed in by foiled aspirations. But they are also quick-witted, passionate, complex, repressed. With layers of queer identity unfolding like small seismic shocks, the play takes place at a time in history when Dr. Sally Ride was celebrated for being the first American woman in space, all while she carefully guarded her personal life, including her deep attachment to her former girlfriend, Molly Tyson. (Dr. Ride would not come out publicly until she chose to name her partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, in her obituary.) 

We’re incredibly proud to bring forth Liza’s work, supported by this talented creative team and exceptional cast (each a formidable creative force in their own right). We are also so grateful to The Tow Foundation for supporting Liza’s residency and this world premiere, Off-Broadway debut!

On behalf of our entire board and staff, thank you for being part of the Ars Nova community!

 

 

 

Jason Eagan
Founding Artistic Director