112th: The Upstairs Play Series Presents Rents and Catcall
The Upstairs Play Series is hosting the first in a series of play readings in the upstairs event space *wink wink* of Book Culture on 112th on Friday, April 20th at 7pm. Booksellers Emily Featherman and Madeline Pages started this series to bring together their worlds of literature and theater and to provide a free, inspiring space for our community to access new plays and performance pieces.
From the producers of The Upstairs Play Series:
We're very excited to announce that we've chosen our first play, Rents by Katherine Burns. We were hooked by her concept and her nuanced, thoughtful writing. The play explores the question of what children owe their parents, and what parents owe their children. We've also chosen a director, Zoe Clayton. She's an awesome fit, and as things get rolling we'll have more updates for you all! Here's some background info about our very cool new additions to the team. Like/visit our Facebook page to stay in the know, read more about the origins of the series, and about us producers/booksellers, Emily Featherman and Madeline Pages.
We'll also be starting off the evening with a shorter dramatic reading of an Ugly Duckling Presse chapbook, Catcall by Holly Melgard. I discovered this gem one day browsing our small press section and found out it was written for performance, so here we are! I hope it connects and informs our main play, as both pieces deal with the idea of ownership over another person and body. More about Catcall and its amazing author below.
Rents is a play about what children owe parents, and what parents owe children. It asks whether previous generations push us forward or hold us back.
I started to write this play because I was noticing the spectacular collapses of several middle-aged lives—some of them parents—at a time when my friends and I were just starting to embark on the journey of building lives that we hoped would eventually look more of less like theirs. We were working hard in school, doing our best to establish ourselves at work, and endeavoring to create stable and lasting relationships. It was hard to watch parent after parent being abandoned or abandoning a partner, reliving traumas, and questioning their lives’ work. These overwhelming reversals meant that friends became home base, ports in the storm, and the places of deepest stability.
This play was most recently workshopped at the Dennis and Victoria Ross Foundation in February 2018.
About the Playwright -
Katherine Burns grew up in New York City and has been performing and writing her whole life. She attended Bard College for a year before transferring to NYU Tisch School of the Arts/Stella Adler Studio of Acting, from which she graduated in 2015. At Bard and NYU Katherine studied acting, fiction writing, and art history. Since graduating, Katherine has continued to perform in addition to working within the literary and production sides of theater. She has served as the Literary Manager at Rosalind Productions and is currently the Assistant at Jean Doumanian Productions. After spending the last six years reading plays, she felt that it was time to try writing one.
About the Director -
Zoe Clayton is a multidisciplinary theatre artist. She has worked at The New Group on both Buried Child (Dir: Scott Elliott) and The Sensuality Party (Dir: Danya Taymor). While there, she assisted playwright Sam Shepard on early iterations of his last work. Her original puppetry and movement piece, Enfantine, premiered internationally at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial as a juried selection.
She is the Artistic Director of Paint Theatre, which aims to make the experimental accessible for all audiences and artists.
She is the Associate Producer of On 1 Condition, an incubator for new dance hosted by Dixon Place.
Directing credits: Mind Games (O1C at Dixon Place), Unification (O1C at Dixon Place), Blink (O1C at Dixon Place), A Blue Brown Forest (Dixon Place), Infinite Canary (CMU), Gruesome Playground Injuries (CMU), Boxed In (Pittsburgh CAPA), Enfantine (2015 Prague Quadrennial)
Carnegie Mellon University, BFA Directing. https://www.zoeclayton.com/ @painttheatre
Catcall is a poem in which a voice catcalls a guy passing by in a public place. Written for performance, the voice alternates between speaking directly to this guy and speaking indirectly about him within earshot.
About the Author - Holly Melgard is the author of Catcall (Ugly Duckling Presse), the Poems for Baby trilogy, The Making of The Americans, BlackFriday, Reimbursement (Troll Thread) and Cats Can’t Taste Sugar (Gaus PDF). Along with Joey Yearous-Algozin, she’s co-authoredLiquidation, White Trash (Troll Thread) and Holly Melgard’s Friends and Family (Bon Aire Projects). She’s performed her poems and soundworks at such sites as the Kelly Writers House, New York Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. Her writing has appeared in l’Officiel Art, 6x6, and the Best American Experimental Poetry 2015 anthology. A founding editor of Troll Thread press, she’s also co-curated the Segue Reading Series and co-edited P-Queue and Slightly Westliterary journals. Having just completed her PhD dissertation “Poetics of Ubiquitization: Textual Conditions of and for the Ubiquitous Computing Age” in the Buffalo Poetics Program, she is currently designing and co-editing Troll Thread press, teaching writing at CUNY, and living in Brooklyn, NY.
About the Director - Zoe Clayton will be directing this piece as well!