Looking back in order to inform the future.
Right now, our country is plagued by a health emergency and a human rights crisis. As we lead up to the 2020 election, the question JQA asks—of how politicians and the government as a whole do good and do better—is vital.
We are thrilled to be able to offer our art to you at this time. This is a new experiment for us. Given the option of theater online or no theater at all, Sam Woodhouse chose to explore the digital options. We followed strict health protocols with repeated testing of all involved. We shifted our early rehearsals online. We shifted from how to block for audiences in seats to how to block for the cameras. There were so many new things, so many obstacles, but also so much passion to share THIS play RIGHT now as we enter the voting season.
Some of the reasons we selected this play for our season include: the thought provoking conversations around our country’s creation; the reminder that our founders were just regular human beings like you and me; and the distinctive casting requirement of having actors of various ages, genders, and races play JQA and the other founding fathers and mothers of our country. It offered a larger context of the true diversity that makes America what it is.
We are also delighted to be working so closely with the playwright. We have long admired Aaron Posner’s (pictured at right) work, but this is the first play of his we have produced. He is an award-winning playwright, director, teacher, and former artistic director of two LORT theatres. His Helen Hayes award-wining play, Stupid Fucking Bird, was one of the ten most produced plays in the country in 2015. Other plays include Life Sucks and No Sisters (both re-inventions of Chekhov), District Merchants (inspired by The Merchant of Venice), Who Am I This Time? & Other Conundrums of Love (adapted from Kurt Vonnegut), The Chosen, My Name Is Asher Lev (adapted from Chaim Potok), Sometimes a Great Notion (adapted from Ken Kesey), and several more.
We commissioned Aaron to write a short companion piece for this play in the summer. Because our social and political climate has shifted so much this year, he used that opportunity to write a scene that, while still working within the framework of history, offered a response to those shifts. We all loved it so much, it ended up being added into the play instead of used as an additional engagement piece.
JQA is an American story as told by four incredible actors. I can’t wait to watch the final filmed product with you. I plan to look for the metaphorical light and darkness that comes into play through the lighting, the timelessness that the costumes evoke while still suggesting a passage of history, and the juxtaposition of the deconstructed flag with the various formal meetings rooms and various music styles.
This is a true labor of love, from us to you.
We hope you enjoy.
Danielle Ward, REP Literary Manager