PlayMakers Is Proud To Present “We Are Proud To Present”

It might be the longest title in PlayMakers Repertory Company history.

PRC’s next mainstage production is (deep breath) “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915,” by Jackie Sibblies Drury – opening Wednesday, February 24, and running through Sunday, March 13.

The title is irreverent and comical, but it also refers to the troubling specter of colonialism and its aftermath – and fittingly, director Desdemona Chiang says the play too is wildly funny but also highly challenging. It’s about a group of actors in the present day, white and black rehearsing a performance piece about a little-known colonial genocide (which really happened); the actors are well-intentioned, of course, but along the way their own assumptions and prejudices come to the fore – with “powerful, surprising, and terrifying” results.

Desdemona Chiang spoke last week with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


“We Are Proud to Present” has played to rave reviews in New York; it’s making its Chapel Hill debut with PlayMakers.

Related special events include a discussion with the director and cast at Fearrington Village’s Granary Cafe on Monday, February 15, at 6 pm; an all-access performance with sign language interpretation and audio description on March 1; and free post-show discussions sponsored by the NC Psychoanalytic Society on March 12 and 13.

Visit the PlayMakers site for ticket information.

“Three Sisters” Arrive At PlayMakers, Say They’ll Reach Moscow Soon

It’s one of the most iconic plays of all time, and a new version of it is coming to Chapel Hill.

PlayMakers Repertory Company is staging Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters,” newly translated by Libby Appel, beginning Wednesday, January 20, and running through Sunday, February 7. The show will be directed by Vivienne Benesch, who recently took over from Joseph Haj as PlayMakers’ new producing artistic director.

“Three Sisters” is the story of Olga, Masha and Irina, sisters living in a provincial Russian town who yearn to move to Moscow but never quite seem to make it there. Benesch actually agreed to direct it even before she knew she’d be taking over as artistic director. “Life and art sometimes play the very best tricks on us,” she says. “I cannot think of a more perfect work to engage in at this moment than Chekhov’s vibrant meditation on the nature of time, love and our unexpected journey through life.”

Vivienne Benesch spoke with Aaron Keck on WCHL.


For a full schedule, information about related special events, and a link to purchase tickets, visit

“Highway 47″ Brings Family Drama To PlayMakers

It’s a family drama saga that’s half a century in the making, with roots going back almost 300 years.

Not quite your typical visit home for the holidays.

PlayMakers Repertory Company‘s PRC² series continues this month with “Highway 47,” a one-woman show written and performed by KJ Sanchez. Sanchez is the founding CEO of American Records and a voice actor who’s appeared on “Dora the Explorer” – but for this piece, she dug into her fascinating family history.

“Highway 47″ is about a family dispute, but that’s only the beginning – or, more accurately, the end. It’s a story that began in 1734, when settlers were granted land in New Mexico. (You may have seen some of that land yourself: all the middle-of-the-desert scenes from “Breaking Bad” were filmed there.) More than two centuries later, with all the descendants of those settlers still holding the deeds, a legal dispute broke out (with Sanchez’s father at the center) that tore families apart and lasted nearly 50 years.

After the dust finally settled, Sanchez set out to write the story. Interviewing major players on all sides (including people who’d been her family’s enemies for decades), she pieced together a play that explores the conflict while also examining her own relationship with her father.

“My mother asked me not to tell you this story until she was dead,” she says in the play.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck spoke with KJ Sanchez.


“Highway 47″ runs at PlayMakers from Wednesday, January 6, through Sunday, January 10. Shows are 7:30 pm every night in PlayMakers’ Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre, with an additional matinee show at 2 pm Sunday.

Visit for tickets.

Master Class: “Seminar” At PlayMakers

It’s a play about four young writers who sign up for a master class taught by a legendary novelist, as performed by four young actors who are currently studying under the man playing the writer. Hold on to your hats.

PlayMakers Repertory Company‘s 2015-16 mainstage season continues with “Seminar,” an acclaimed 2011 comedy by Theresa Rebeck. (Rebeck is the creator of the NBC show “Smash” and a former writer/producer for “NYPD Blue” and “Law and Order,” among many other credits; her plays have been compared favorably with Neil Simon’s.) It stars PlayMakers vet Ray Dooley as the aforementioned legendary novelist; Dooley is also the head of UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program, so he’s very familiar with the mentor role. (Though he says he doesn’t perform it in quite the same way as his character.)

The show opens on Wednesday, October 14, and runs through November 1 in the Paul Green Theatre on Country Club Road. It’s directed by Michael Dove, a Helen Hayes Award winner who serves as artistic director at the Forum Theatre in Washington, DC.

Ray Dooley spoke about “Seminar” with WCHL’s Aaron Keck this week.


For ticket information and a schedule of related special events, visit this page on

PlayMakers Opens Mainstage Season With “Disgraced”

Theater season has begun in Chapel Hill!

PlayMakers Repertory Company kicks off its mainstage season on Wednesday with “Disgraced,” a Pulitzer-winning comedy-drama by Ayad Akhtar about an upwardly mobile Pakistani-American lawyer who finds himself confronted with his Muslim heritage. “Disgraced” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013; it’s also won an Obie Award and a Tony nomination.

Shishir Kurup is directing PlayMakers’ production at the invite of former artistic director Joseph Haj. A member of Los Angeles’ Cornerstone Theatre Company, Kurup is a veteran of numerous films and TV shows and he’s performed and directed at theaters across the country, from New York to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Describing the play as a “roller coaster,” Kurup says it’s particularly timely for Chapel Hill, in the wake of the recent murders of three Muslim students earlier this year. Theater, he says – and especially comedy – offers a way for people and communities to confront deep-seated and difficult issues they otherwise might not be willing to engage.

Shishir Kurup spoke on Monday with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


The show runs through Sunday, October 4, with special events scheduled throughout the run. Visit for more details and ticket info.

“Guys And Dolls” Rolls Into PlayMakers

Sit down, you’re rocking the boat!

PlayMakers Repertory Company hit the stage this week with their Summer Youth Conservatory show, “Guys and Dolls.”

Featuring a cast and crew of middle and high school students from 14 different Triangle-area schools, “Guys and Dolls” is one of Broadway’s most iconic shows, with songs like the classic “Luck Be A Lady” and some of the most memorable characters in theater history.

It’s the annual show of PlayMakers’ Summer Youth Conservatory – which offers students a chance to learn the craft with some of the most accomplished theater stars in the Triangle. This year’s show is directed by Jeffrey Meanza, PRC’s associate artistic director and a veteran of numerous PlayMakers shows.

Meanza spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


“Guys and Dolls” opened on Wednesday and runs through Saturday, July 25. Get tickets and more info online at

PlayMakers 15/16 Season Features “Sisters,” “Sweeney”

PlayMakers Repertory Company has announced its 2015/16 season, highlighted by a Sondheim favorite, a Chekhov classic, and a round-the-world theatrical journey.

The season will open in September with Ayad Akhtar’s “Disgraced,” about a Pakistani-American lawyer who’s abandoned his Muslim roots. From there, highlights include Stephen Sondheim’s diabolical (and beloved) musical “Sweeney Todd” and the world premiere of a new translation of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” – a play that PlayMakers skewered just this year in Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike.” Associate artistic director Jeffrey Meanza describes the season as a journey around the world – from London to Russia to Africa and beyond.

Jeffrey Meanza spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.

For the full season lineup, visit

PlayMakers Travels “4000 Miles”

It’s one of the most acclaimed plays of the last three years – and it’s coming to Chapel Hill this weekend.

PlayMakers Repertory Company wraps up its 2014/15 mainstage season with the regional premiere of Amy Herzog’s “4000 Miles,” an Obie Award-winning play about an elderly woman who makes an unexpected connection with her grandson after he comes for (what turns out to be) an extended stay. Herzog’s play has won many honors: on top of the Obie Award for Best New American Play, Time Magazine named it the best new play of 2012 (musicals included) and it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Dee Maaske plays the grandmother in PlayMakers’ production. A longtime theater veteran, Maaske has spent 21 years with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and acted on three different continents. The director too is a special guest: Desdemona Chiang, a Seattle/San Francisco-based director whose work has appeared on stages nationwide. (Including PlayMakers: Chiang directed last year’s summer repertory production of “Hairspray.”)

Chiang spoke about the show with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


“4000 Miles” opened for previews on Wednesday. Opening night proper is this Saturday, April 4, and the show runs through Sunday, April 19 with shows at 7:30 Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2:00 matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available online at

PlayMakers Has “Trouble In Mind”

It’s been described as “one of the best plays about racism ever written” – and it’s coming to Chapel Hill beginning this weekend.

The play is “Trouble in Mind,” and it opens on Saturday, January 24, at PlayMakers Repertory Company.

Written in 1955 by Alice Childress, “Trouble” is a comic drama set behind the scenes of a racially integrated Broadway play – in which the lead actress, an African-American, must make a choice between giving up her values or giving up the role of a lifetime.

Childress herself faced a similar choice: “Trouble in Mind” was set to become the first play written by an African-American woman to be staged on Broadway, but Childress refused to rewrite the ending as her producers demanded. (It did run Off-Broadway in 1955.) In addition to writing “Trouble,” Childress was also a Tony-nominated actress, a member of Harlem’s American Negro Theater, and one of the first African-American women to direct a show Off-Broadway.

Kathryn Hunter-Williams plays Wiletta Mayer, the lead actress. (She also played Cassandra in PlayMakers’ production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” earlier this season, among many other PlayMakers credits.) Tony-winning Broadway actor Roger Robinson appears as Sheldon Forrester.

Kathryn Hunter-Williams spoke to WCHL’s Aaron Keck earlier this week.


Previews of “Trouble in Mind” began Wednesday. Opening night is Saturday, January 24, with curtain at 7:30. The play runs through February 8, with shows at 7:30 Tuesdays through Saturdays and at 2:00 Sundays. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (919) 962-PLAY or visit

PlayMakers Opens Season: Chekov, With A Twist

Head to PlayMakers Repertory Company this month and catch the opening play of its 2014-15 mainstage season: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” a Tony-winning comedy by Christopher Durang.

Inspired by the Russian playwright Anton Chekov, “Vanya” won the Tony for best play in 2013. PlayMakers’ production is directed by Libby Appel – who has not only directed all of Chekov’s plays in the past, but also translated five of his plays into English.

Julie Fishell – last seen at PlayMakers as Sara Jane Moore in “Assassins” – plays Masha. Fishell spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck earlier this week.

Previews began Wednesday. Opening night is Saturday, September 20, and the play runs through October 5. For showtimes and tickets, visit