Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Meet Playwright Rajiv Joseph at Cleveland Play House on April 2; Joseph’s MR. WOLF Runs April 2-24

Rajiv Joseph. Photo by Lia Chang

Rajiv Joseph. Photo by Lia Chang

Playwright Rajiv Joseph and his director Giovanna Sardelli on the set of his new play, "Describe the Night" at the Shubert Theatre in New York on November 21, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Playwright Rajiv Joseph and his director Giovanna Sardelli on the set of his new play, “Describe the Night” at the Shubert Theatre in New York on November 21, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Cleveland Play House’s Centennial Season continues with MR. WOLF, an intense and compelling drama about faith, hope and healing. Written by Cleveland native Rajiv Joseph, the production explores the complex family dynamic between parents and the missing child with whom they have recently been reunited. MR. WOLF will take place in the Outcalt Theatre from April 2 – 24. Tickets range in price from $20-$90 each. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com. Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist for Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Cleveland audiences may remember Mr. Joseph as the co-screenwriter of the 2014 Cleveland-based film Draft Day.

MR. WOLF will be directed by Mr. Joseph’s frequent collaborator, Giovanna Sardelli (CPH’s The Whipping Man), and will serve as the centerpiece production of the 2016 New Ground Theatre Festival, CPH’s annual showcase of new theatrical works.

The cast features Juliet Brett, Rebecca Brooksher, Todd Cerveris, John de Lancie and Jessica Dickey.

“Rajiv Joseph’s MR. WOLF contains extraordinary writing about faith, belief and survival” stated CPH’s Artistic Director Laura Kepley. Kepley continued, “One of the strengths of theatre is that it lets us experience the unimaginable and the terrifying without us actually getting hurt. It allows us to compassionately imagine other human being’s lives by putting ourselves into their shoes and experiences. MR. WOLF empathetically shows us the incredible resilience of the human spirit. I know audiences will leave this production feeling very full and I am delighted that Rajiv Joseph’s extraordinary play is a part of our 100th Season.”

MR. WOLF deals with unimaginable circumstances. In the blink of an eye, in a matter of seconds, your whole world could change. For Michael, it happened when his daughter Theresa went missing. For Theresa, it was when she was found. MR. WOLF tells the story of a family’s desperate and determined attempt to heal each other and rebuild their world. MR. WOLF is a hauntingly beautiful and mysterious tale of adaptation and survival.

MR. WOLF CAST:

JULIET BRETT (Theresa) is making her Cleveland Play House debut. She was most recently seen off-Broadway in Desire, a collection of plays adapted from Tennessee Williams’ short stories, by playwrights such as Beth Henley, John Guare and Rebecca Gilman. Other New York credits include What I Did Last Summer at the Signature Theatre and Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian at The New Group with Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and Bill Pullman. Film credits include Mistress America, A Most Violent Year and Admission. On the web, Juliet plays Amy in Redheads Anonymous. Television credits include Law & Order, Deadbeat and CSI:NY. Instagram and Twitter: @JulietBrett

REBECCA BROOKSHER (Julie) New York credits include: The Real Thing (Roundabout Theatre Company), Loot (Red Bull Theater), Dying City (Lincoln Center, Lortel nomination Best Actress), Love’s Labor’s Lost (The Public Theater), The Scariest (Bleecker Street Theater) and White People (Atlantic Stage 2). Recent regional credits include: Golden Age (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), She Stoops to Conquer and Twelfth Night (McCarter Theatre Center), Monster at the Door (Alley Theatre), Period of Adjustment and Anna Christie (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey) and All My Sons (Barrington Stage Company). TV: Elementary, Love Monkey, Ugly Betty, The Confession; recurring roles on Happyish, The Good Wife, Canterbury’s Law and One Life to Live. Film: Cold Souls and The Muse. Juilliard graduate (Group 34).

TODD CERVERIS (Michael) has toured Cleveland, and many other cities, in the national tours of Twelve Angry Men, Spring Awakening and War Horse. New York credits include the Broadway productions of South Pacific and Twentieth Century, as well as the Off-Broadway premieres of Almost, Maine, Southern Comfort, The Butcherhouse Chronicles, Somewhere, Someplace Else and Dick In London. Regional experience includes Arena Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Portland Stage and Actors’ Theater of Louisville. Film & television credits include Allegiance, One Bad Choice, White Collar, Nurse Jackie, One True Thing, Living and Dining and Law & Order. He joined London’s Actors Touring Company in Iphigenia: A Rave Fable at the Euripides Now! Festival in Greece and is co-author and lead performer of The Booth Variations (NYC/Edinburgh Festival Fringe). His work as a writer/director for The Woods, providing creative content for non-profits, has received three national Telly Awards, two ADDY awards, and a PRIME award.

JOHN de LANCIE (MR. WOLF) Mr. de Lancie’s film credits include, in part: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, The Fisher King, The Onion Field, Taking Care of Business, Fearless, Multiplicity, Women on Top, The Big Time, Reign on Me and Pathology. John has appeared in numerous television shows including; The Librarians, Torchwood, Breaking Bad, West Wing, Star Trek and Legend. He has been a member of American Shakespeare Company, The Seattle Repertory Theatre Company, South Coast Repertory, Mark Taper Forum and The Old Globe. In the world of music, Mr. de Lancie has performed with most of the major symphony orchestras in America, Canada and Australia. He was the host of the L.A. Philharmonic “Symphonies for Youth” as well as writer/director of “First Nights”, a concert series at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Mr. de Lancie was co-owner, with Leonard Nimoy, of Alien Voices; a production company devoted to the dramatization of classic Sci-Fi. Mr. de Lancie has directed a number of operas as well as produced the Netflix documentary on the wonderful phenomenon of Bronies. John is an avid sailor, having recently completed a 12,000 mile voyage of the South Pacific in his own boat.

JESSICA DICKEY (Hana) is an award-winning actor and playwright most known for her one woman show The Amish Project, which opened at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater to great acclaim from audiences and critics alike and continues to be produced around the country, just completing a run at Guthrie Theatre. Selected recent acting credits include Sam Hunter’s play Pocatello at Playwrights Horizons, the Broadway production of Wit, Proof at McCarter Theatre Center, Hit The Wall at Barrow Street Theatre and the Bekah Brunstetter premiere of Miss Lilly Gets Boned with Studio 42. On television she was recently seen on Shades of Blue, The Big C, Law & Order and the Lifetime movie Amish Grace. She is a proud new member of the exclusiveNew Dramatists (a playwright residency in NYC) and a board member of The New Harmony Project. jessicadickey.com

MR. WOLF CREATIVE TEAM:
RAJIV JOSEPH (Playwright) is the author of the Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and was also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. His other plays include Guards at the Taj, The North Pool, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper and The Lake Effect. His plays have been translated and produced world-wide. Rajiv has written for television and film and is the librettist for the upcoming opera, Shalimar the Clown, adapted from the novel of the same name by Salman Rushdie, which will have its premiere at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2016. He has been awarded artistic grants from the Whiting Foundation, United States Artists and the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. Rajiv is a graduate of Cleveland Heights High School (class of ’92) and he received his B.A. in Creative Writing from Miami University and his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

GIOVANNA SARDELLI (Director) is happy to return to CPH where she directed the critically acclaimed production of The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez. Sardelli is an award-winning director who has worked on numerous plays by Rajiv Joseph (over 10 productions) including the recent West Coast Premiere of his play Guards at the Taj which was selected by TheatreMania as one of its Favorite Regional Productions of 2015. Sardelli has also directed world premieres of plays by Theresa Rebeck, Lynn Rosen, Joe Gilford, Jeff Augustine, Lauren Yee and Zoe Kazan among others. She has worked Off-Broadway at Cherry Lane Theatre, Second StageTheatre, Vineyard Theatre, The Playwrights Realm, Women’s Project Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre and Roundabout Theatre Company. She has directed numerous productions for Dorset Theatre Festival, where she is the Resident Director, Barrington Stage Company, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, The Old Globe, Hartford Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Hudson Stage Company, San Francisco Playhouse and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Sardelli works extensively with new plays and has been part of The Lark Play Development Center since it was first formed. She has also developed plays at the Sundance Theatre Lab, The O’Neill Theater Center, Playwrights’ Center, New York Stage & Film, Ensemble Studio Theatre and many other places. Giovanna spent several years on the faculty of the Dance Department and the Graduate Acting Program of NYU, the program from which she received her MFA. She is also a graduate of their Director’s Lab. Though she is based in NYC, Sardelli is the Director of New Works for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.

The Design Team for MR. WOLF also includes: TIM MACKABEE (Scenic Designer), AMY CLARK (Costume Designer), GINA SCHERR (Lighting Designer), DAN KLUGER (Sound Designer and Composer), WIGS AND WHISKERS (Wig Design). The Stage Manager for this production is JOHN GODBOUT.

MR. WOLF Special Events – All FREE:
Behind-the-Scenes: A Visit with MR. WOLF Playwright Rajiv Joseph on April 2 from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Cleveland Heights native Rajiv Joseph and the author of MR. WOLF is a nationally recognized playwright (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Lake Effect) and co-screenwriter (Draft Day). Join us as we get a unique opportunity to gain perspective into Rajiv’s life and how it has shaped his art. Rajiv is a proud Clevelander, and his insights will make you glad to see that this locally grown award-winning playwright “has done good.” RSVP at www.clevelandplayhouse.com.

TalkBacks: MR. WOLF April 10 from 4:30 – 5 p.m. April 12 from 9 – 9:30 p.m. April 17 from 4:30 – 5 p.m. Stay after the show to continue the conversation our plays start! TalkBacks offer the chance to interact with the cast and CPH Artistic Staff in an open and lively Q&A about the play and the questions it raises.

Pre-Show Conversations begin 45 minutes prior to the start of each performance.

Cleveland Play House, recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award and founded in 1915, is America’s first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates its centennial while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to present World Premiere of Jack Perla and Rajiv Joseph’s Shalimar the Clown, June 11 – 25 

Click here for more articles on Rajiv Joseph.

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

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