March 6, 2008

The Cry of the Reed - Cast

March 6, 2008


Award-winning Massachusetts playwright and Huntington Fellow Sinan Ünel ’s new play mixes a ripped-from-the-headlines plot with a unique family story.


The Huntington Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Sinan Ünel’s “The Cry of the Reed,” directed by Daniel Goldstein.

March 28-May 3, 2008


“The Cry of the Reed” plays at the Huntington’s Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston


$15-55. $25 for patrons 35 and under (online only with code 1723); $5 senior and military discount. $15 limited back row seats. $15 student rush tickets two hours before curtain.

BOSTON – An ambitious Turkish-American journalist eager for the next big story finds herself detained by Iraqi insurgents and embroiled in an international incident in the Huntington Theatre Company’s world premiere production of Sinan Ünel ’s “The Cry of the Reed,” playing March 28-May 3 at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts.

“Cry of the Reed,” directed by Daniel Goldstein who helmed the Huntington’s acclaimed 2005 production of “Falsettos,” was featured in the 2007 Breaking Ground Festival of new play readings. Ünel also was in the first group of Huntington Playwriting Fellows from 2004-2005.


Turkish-American photojournalist Sevgi Okan defies her editors to revisit war-torn Iraq. Though intent on staying safe while pursuing the next big story, Sevgi and her Canadian colleague Philip are detained by insurgents who question their motives, their faith, and their identities.

Determined to rescue both Sevgi and their failing relationship, her boyfriend Josh seeks out Sevgi's estranged expatriate American mother Ayla, living now in Turkey as a devout and worldly Sufi teacher with thousands of followers.

As Sevgi fights for her freedom, befriending her captors while bombs fall around them, Josh’s search leads to a deepening friendship with Ayla and her loyal servant. And when Sevgi’s increasingly desperate detention becomes international news, Ayla is called into action.

Playwright Sinan Ünel is an alumnus of the first class of Huntington Playwriting Fellows. His “Pathétique” and “The Cry of the Reed” were featured in the 2004 and 2007 Breaking Ground Festivals, respectively. His previous plays, ”Pera Palas,” “Tolstoy’s Den,” “Thalassa My Heart,” and “Three of Cups” have been produced around the world including at Lark Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Arcola Theatre, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, The Gate Theatre, Theater @ Boston Court, Open Stage Theatre, Austria’s Landestheater, Germany’s Theater Kosmos, Provincetown Theater Company, and Provincetown Theatreworks. He won the John Gassner Memorial Award and the Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, and his screenplay “Race Point” won first place in the 2001 New Century Screenwriting Contest. Ünel teaches at Boston’s Emerson College.

Director Daniel Goldstein has Huntington credits that include the award-winning 2005 revival of “Falsettos,” “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” and “Unknown Soldier,” a musical he co-wrote with Michael Friedman that will be read at the 2008 Breaking Ground Festival in April. Other credits include the world premiere of Beau Willimon's “Lower Ninth” at the Flea Theater, the Off Broadway musical “Walmartopia,” “Godspell” at Paper Mill Playhouse, which will transfer this fall to Broadway, “But I’m a Cheerleader” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and “Bathsheba Doran’s Living Room in Africa” at Gloucester Stage Company. Goldstein was associate director for the Broadway production of “All Shook Up!” and resident director for the first national tour of “Mamma Mia!” His one-person show “=celebration” has played off Broadway, New Haven, San Francisco, and the HBO Aspen Comedy Arts Festival.


In alphabetical order:

Amir Arison (Hakan/Kadir) appeared Off Broadway at Signature Theatre Company, Naked Angels Theater Company, MCC Theater, and more. Regionally, he has appeared at Oklahoma’s Lyric Theatre, D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Yale Rep, and Paper Mill Playhouse.

Lisa Birnbaum (Sevgi) has regional credits that include productions at Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C., Yale Repertory Theatre, and roles in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Anything Goes” at Williamstown Theatre Festival. An alumna of the daytime serial “The Guiding Light,” Birnbaum also is a 2007 Yale School of Drama graduate and a 2004 Tufts University undergraduate.

Sean Dugan (Josh) is a Boston actor who has starred in several American Repertory Theatre productions including “Three Sisters,” “Enrico IV,” “Antigone,” “Richard II,” “The Idiots Karamazov,” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan.” In addition to much Off Broadway work, he had a recurring role in the HBO series, “Oz.”

Laith Nakli (Tariq/Emir/Mumtaz) has significant film credits including “Arranged,” “The Visitor,” “Sadiq,” and “A Piece of America.” On TV, he’s been seen in “Third Watch,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “The Sopranos,” and “Rescue Me.” He also has appeared at the New York Arab American Comedy Festival.

Cigdem Onat (Ayla) is an international actress, director, and teacher who received a Drama Desk nomination and Theatre World Award for her work in “The Time of the Cuckoo” at Lincoln Center Theater, directed by Nicholas Martin. This Turkish native starred in a 2006 Turkish-American production of Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days” for Istanbul Theatre Festival and World Theatre Olympics.

Darren Pettie (Philip) appeared on Broadway in “Butley,” directed by Nicholas Martin. Other New York credits include work at Primary Stages, Playwrights Horizons, Atlantic Theater Company, Vineyard Theatre, and The Public Theater. He appeared in Commonwealth Shakespeare Festival‘s “The Taming of the Shrew” and he’s recently been on TV in “Cashmere Mafia,” “Gossip Girl,” “Mad Men,” and many more.

Rafi Silver (Nabil) appeared Off Broadway in “Masked” at DR2 Theatre. Regional credits include “Amadeus” and “Visiting Mr. Green” at Syracuse Stage. He also appeared in the film “Rehearsing” and the television series “All My Children.” Silver is a 2006 graduate of Syracuse University.


Eugene Lee (Scenic Designer) designed the set for the Huntington’s world premiere, “Mauritius” in 2006, and is currently represented on Broadway by “The Homecoming,” and “Wicked,” for which he won his most recent Tony Award. Lee currently is working with McCarter Theatre Center, Primary Stages, and The Public Theater. Since 1974 he has been production designer for TV’s “Saturday Night Live.” He was recently inducted into New York’s Theatre Hall of Fame.

Laurie Churba (Costume Designer) created costumes for the Huntington’s production of “Rabbit Hole.” New York credits include “The Price,” “The Tricky Part,” “Private Jokes-Public Places,” “Something Old-Something New,” “Golden Boy,” and “Waiting for Lefty.” A veteran of regional theatre companies, Churba also serves as assistant costume designer for TV’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Michael Chybowski (Lighting Designer), head of lighting design at Brandeis University and 1999 OBIE award winner for Sustained Excellence, has worked for theatre and dance companies including Goodman Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mark Morris Dance Group (with whom he’s long been associated), and New York Shakespeare Festival. In New York he lit Broadway’s “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” the 40th anniversary concert version of “Hair” in Central Park, and productions at most major Off Broadway theatres.

Eric Shim (Composer/Sound Designer) was a 2007 Lucille Lortel Award nominee for Outstanding Sound Design. His work has been heard recently at Atlantic Theater Company, the Daryl Roth Theatre, the Juilliard School and more He composed music for the film “Winter Passing” and scored award-winning documentaries for the National Audubon Society and the Houston Zoo. He was assistant director for Stravinsky's “L'histoire du Soldat” at Boston Symphony Orchestra, and is resident composer for the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater New Music Series.

Gail P. Luna is the Production Stage Manager for “Cry of the Reed” and Katie Ailinger is Stage Manager.


Listed events are free with the purchase of tickets to any performance of “The Cry of the Reed.” All events take place at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA unless otherwise noted.

April 1 – “Tuesday Talks” Series. Explore in depth the issues from the play, with a question-and-answer forum featuring a series of experts. This event features Boston Globe reporter Charles Sennott. After the 7:30 p.m. performance.

April 8 – Emerging Playwrights Forum. “The Cry of the Reed” author Sinan Ünel talks about his inspirations for the play. 6:30 p.m.

April 15 – “Tuesday Talks” Series. Explore in depth the issues from the play, with a question-and-answer forum featuring a series of experts. After the 7:30 p.m. performance.

April 20 – Humanities Forum. Get the historical and literary context of the play in a lively session after the 2 p.m. performance.

April 24 – Actors Forum. Cast members take your questions after the 7:30 p.m. performance

April 29 – “Tuesday Talks” Series. Explore in depth the issues from the play, with a question-and-answer forum featuring a series of experts. After the 7:30 p.m. performance.

April 30 – Actors Forum. Cast Members of the cast take your questions after the 2 p.m. performance.

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Ünel, Goldstein, and members of the cast are available for interviews. Contact John Michael Kennedy at or 617 273-1537 for details.

RSVPs are now being taken for the April 9 Media Review Night. Click here for information.

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