When we’re young summer was the time that you looked forward to the most and it always seemed like it would last forever. No matter what else was happening in the world or in our homes, our summer activities we’re our whole world and nothing could ever intrude on them. Decades far removed from today always seem much simpler when we look back on them however, beyond the apparent comfort of childhood and nostalgia, life was always more complex and unpredictable. “Tar Beach”, a new play by up and coming playwright Tammy Ryan explores three long gone summer days in the lives of Reenie, her sister Mary Claire and her friend Mary Francis in its world premiere at Luna Stage of West Orange, NJ running from April 18-May 9.
It is July 1977. Son of Sam is on the loose and New York City is in the midst of a brutal heat wave. Sixteen year old Mary Claire and her best friend Mary Francis start that day sunning themselves on the roof of an Ozone Park row house. Younger sister Reenie is searching for her lost Greek Mythology class project, while their parents are consumed by the battles of their troubled marriage. The boy crazy Mary Francis and Mary Claire hatch a plan to stay out all night, but an overstressed electrical grid leads to a city-wide blackout and a sudden loss of innocence. Plot of show (from www.lunastage.org/)
“The play is about the potency of memory and the healing power of familial love,” said director Cheryl Katz. “The play deals with issues of feminism and sexual harassment but it is rooted in something wholly universal: childhood memory, coming of age, and the cold hard truth that the world we live in is unsafe, and the only shelter we have is the love of our family,” she added.
The play came to the attention of Luna Stage from John Wooten, the artistic director of Premiere States in Union, NJ and Katz felt the play was a good fit for the theater company’s mission of fostering new works. “[John] had produced a number of Tammy's plays and felt that this one would be right for us at Luna. I was immediately taken by the story and the characters so we did a reading of the play in our reading series. I invited Tammy to workshop the play with us over the course of a week two summers ago, and then, we decided to produce the world premiere,” said Katz.
“Part of Luna's mission is to produce thought-provoking theatre that gives voice to emerging American playwrights. We look for work that we feel is illuminating and that will challenge our audiences. John Wooten was right. This play was for us. Tammy is a prolific and serious writer with a unique voice so I am thrilled to introduce her work to our audiences,” she added.
About the Playwright Tammy Ryan
(Bio courtesy of www.lunastage.org)
Tammy Ryan's plays have been performed across the United States at such theaters as The Alliance Theater Company, Florida Stage, Marin Theater, Dallas Children’s Theater, The Dorset Theater Festival, Stamford Theater Works and 29th Street Rep among others. In 2012 she won the Francesca Primus Prize from the American Theater Critics Association for her play Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods, which was featured at the National New Play Networks 2009 National Showcase of New Plays and premiered at Premiere Stages and Playwrights Theater of New Jersey. Soldier’s Heart, her new play about sexual assault in the military premiered at The Rep at the Pittsburgh Playhouse last season and received its New Jersey premiere this summer at Premiere Stages. Tar Beach, named a finalist for the Terrence McNally Playwriting Award, The Source Theater Festival and a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree was included in the 2014 edition of The List compiled by The Kilroys as "one of the most excellent new plays by female-identified authors of last year" and will have its world premiere by Luna Stage in April 2015. Ryan's plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. Dramatic Publishing Company and Playscripts. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. For more go to: www.tammyryan.net.
About Luna Stage
(Summary courtesy of www.lunastage.org)
The mission of Luna Stage is to produce thought-provoking theatre that gives voice to emerging American playwrights and re-examines contemporary and classic plays that speak to our times. As producer, educator and innovator, Luna Stage is committed to collaborating with artists of multiple disciplines and partnering with our community to illuminate the diverse perspectives of our society.
By Tammy Ryan
Directed by Cheryl Katz
World Premiere at Luna Stage
555 Valley Road, West Orange, NJ
Remaining shows: Thursday April 16, 2015 - 7:30 PM (Preview) - $25 for adults, $20 for seniors
Saturday April 18, 2015 - 8:00 PM
Sunday April 19, 2015 - 3:00 PM
Thursday April 23, 2015 - 7:30 PM (Talkback) - $25 for adults, $20 for seniors
Friday April 24, 2015 - 8:00 PM
Saturday April 25, 2015 - 8:00 PM
Thursday April 30, 2015 - 7:30 PM
Friday May1, 2015 - 8:00 PM
Saturday May 2, 2015 - 8:00 PM
Sunday May 3, 2015 - 3:00 PM
Thursday May 7, 2015 - 7:30 PM
Friday May 8, 2015 - 8:00 PM
Saturday May 9, 2015 - 3:00 PM
Saturday May 9, 2015 - 8:00 PM
Tickets: Regular shows $35 for adults, $30 for seniors. May be purchased through www.lunastage.org or call the box office Tues.-Fri.10am-3pm (973-395-5551).
Cast: Heather Benton, Alanna Monte, Emmanuelle Nadeau, Bart Shatto, and Emily Verla.
Production and Design: Production and Design: Erik Lawson (Sound Design), Brian Dudkiewicz (Set Design), Oliver Wason (Lighting Design), Deborah Caney (Costume Design), Liz Cesario (Production Manager), and Dan Viola (Stage Manager).