Monday, February 19th at 7pm
A FAMILY BUSINESS
by Chris Thorpe
directed by Kate Middleton
Cast: Stephen Heskett, Yeauxlanda Kay*, Seth Shelden, and Laura Standley
stage manager: Kate August
TheatreLab, 357 W. 36th St., NYC, 10018
After a chance meeting with a disarmament expert, playwright Chris Thorpe fell into the world of nuclear treaty negotiation, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the ordinary people who are trying to achieve the extraordinary outcome of complete nuclear disarmament. Based on conversations with organizations and individuals involved in those negotiations, including ICAN, the Nobel Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the play is partly a story about the what the people on either side of the nuclear debate are like, partly a conversation with the audience about how, and if, we find the space to talk about disarmament in our own lives.
Chris Thorpe/Playwright is a writer and performer from Manchester, UK. His work is produced worldwide, and has dealt with topics as diverse as the psychology of the climate crisis (Always Maybe The Last Time and What Do You Want Me To Say, for the Royal Court), cognitive bias (Confirmation for China Plate, with Rachel Chavkin), human error (The Oh Fuck Moment with Hannah Walker) and Iranian pop music/cultural hierarchy (Things Hidden Since The Foundation Of The World with Javaad Alipoor, for Sydney International Festival and HOME Manchester). Currently he is touring two pieces about the world of nuclear treaties and disarmament - A Family Business, and a solo show, Talking About The Fire - produced by China Plate, directed by Claire O’Reilly and developed with Rachel Chavkin.
Kate Middleton/Director is the Founding Member and Artistic Director of Ground UP Productions since 2005, producing over 28 full scale productions, new plays readings, and educational outreach programs in NYC . She is a proud member of SDC and has directed the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway new musical, The People vs. Mona, which The New York Times called, "Good-natured, down-home fun," Variety said was "A hootin' good time," and The New York Innovative Theatre Awards nominated for "Best Production of a Musical". She has also directed Rubber Ducks and Sunsets, T.S. Eliot and the Women, in association with NYU's Department of International Studies, and was the AD of Ground UP's Lobby Hero and Burn This. She has directed all productions of Ground UP’s The UnderGround Project, including The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek (Best Direction by The Independent Weekly's "Best of…”), The Collective, Letter From Algeria, Three Days of Rain, and Almost, Maine. KateMiddletonActress.com.
Seth Shelden/Chris Off-Broadway theatre credits include I’ll Say She Is (New York Times Critics Pick), The Honeycomb Trilogy (The Guardian’s “Top 10 Theatre of 2015”), and Asymmetric (Time Out New York Critics Pick); regional credits includes Disgraced (Cape Fear Regional Theater) and Jack and Jill (with Ground UP; Best Actor, Indy Week); and film credits include Leave Keys in Car (Best Shorts leading actor; AMC’s ShortsHD). In real life, Seth is the General Counsel and United Nations Liaison for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition working to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. See http://icanw.org/seth_shelden.
Laura Standley/Vero is Associate Professor of Theatre at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA). She holds a BA in Theatre from University of Central Oklahoma and an MFA in Acting from University of California, Irvine. An actor, director, choreographer, and sound designer, most recently, she helped create Release with Sara Katzoff and Amy Brentano for Second Street in Pittsfield MA, a devised work based on the dreams and stories of a group of formerly incarcerated women. Laura teaches a wide variety of theatre courses, including all levels of acting and directing. She is a trained intimacy choreographer who advocates for new, safer methods of staging intimate scenes. She started her directing career with Ground Up Productions in NYC, where she collaborated on The Shape of Things (starring Kate and Seth!), Burn This, Lobby Hero and The People Vs. Mona. For Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, her production of Kate Hammill’s Sense and Sensibility won Broadway World’s honor for Best Ensemble. As an actor, she has been fortunate to perform with many companies including HERE Arts Center, Shakespeare Theatre New Jersey, Shakespeare Orange County, Long Beach Playhouse, and Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park. Favorite roles include Electra in Electra, Gertrude in Hamlet, and The Witch in Into the Woods. Laura is fascinated with the theatre experience. Her goal is to create dynamic, movement-based performance for the stage that impacts the common good.
Stephen/James has appeared on stages throughout New York, most frequently at The Brick Theater in shows including Switch to Kill, Blvd De Paris, BrainExplode!, Raising Cane, Galactic Girl, Blood Brothers Presents, Spacemen From Space, The Ninja Cherry Orchard, and The Magnificent Ambersons. At FringeNYC: Sick City Blues, Down the Mountain, and Theater of the Arcade. Other NY roles include: Abbie in Mac Rogers’s critically-acclaimed Sovereign directed by Jordana Williams, Len in Ecstasy (“a scene-stealing portrayal” -NY Times), Ray in Alexandria, Stanley in The Birthday Party at T. Schreiber Studios, Laertes in Hamlet, and Clifford in Side Man. On screen, Stephen has appeared in several 48-Hour Film projects and the sitcom pilot Shut Up, Astoria! by Guy Olivieri. www.stephenheskett.com
Yeauxlanda Kay/Layla has performed at The Public Theater, Lincoln Center, Cherry Lane, Manhattan Theater Club, Classical Theater of Harlem, and The National Black Theatre Festival. Her first solo play, Untitled & Unfinished, was in The Aspen Comedy Festival. She aired on The Peabody Award-winning, HBO Def Poetry Jam, (seasons 3 & 4). She was one of eight poet/actors to be in residence at Kennedy Center. Her solo play BIBLE STUDY FOR HEATHENS was nominated for a NYIT award for Best Solo Performance. She is the creator and host of THIS COULD BE US BUT YOU KEEP VOTING REPUBLICAN podcast, (PANDORA, APPLE, SPOTIFY). She is the voice of “Salome” for Gideon Media’s podcast series ALMELEM. Her current play, Marie, GODDAMN MARIE! a Magical Realist, Absurdist, Dark Comedy, Horror story about creole and black women and girls in 1870s New Orleans will have a staged reading March 18th 2024 in the Estrogenius Festival. https://www.estrogenius.nyc/ In Spring 2023, she was accepted to Juilliard for Acting and Playwriting through the Extension Program.