September 30, 2013

THE POWER OF DUFF and the Power of Prayer

“Uniquely comic and unabashedly theatrical, The Power of Duff also pulses with incredible emotional clarity. It tells the transformative story of one man waking up to life, just as it seemed he was too lost and it was too late.”— Peter DuBois
Anthropologist T.M. Luhrman noted in The New York Times that “These days we Americans live not only with political schismogenesis, but also religious schismogenesis.” Schismogenesis describes “mirroring reactions,” such as when you are in an argument and everything the opposing side says just makes you dig your heels in deeper. A common occurrence of this: basically every argument on the internetShe points out that lately, the extremes — pro-religion vs. atheists — have been entrenched in a battle that doesn’t reflect the reality of American belief. With The Power of Duff, playwright Stephen Belber has stepped gently into one of those areas of American life that doesn’t garner headlines or fallacious comparison in the comment section. He’s written a heartfelt drama dealing with, among other things, the quiet inexplicability of our spiritual life and how it plays out in our relationship with others.
Belber was inspired by a Time magazine article about religion in America reporting that 95% of Americas believe in God. While not surprised by the statistic, it made him consider writing a character who accesses the public’s faith in an unlikely way.
The Power of Duff tells the story of Charlie Duff, an aging, cynical news anchor in Rochester, New York, who has lost his ambition and his family. One night, on impulse, he closes his broadcast with a brief, sincere prayer. He continues to offer prayers, to the objection of his colleagues, when he learns that the local community is comforted and mobilized to acts of charity by his statements. The community effect of Charlie’s prayer is central to Belber’s concept of the play: “I was indeed interested in the idea of prayer being answered by a community rather than a ‘higher power.’ . . . [considering] what is possible if those 19 out of 20 Americans who believe in God actually put their spirituality to work.”
According to Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life the percentage of believers in the United States has been remarkably steady over time, but more and more Americans eschew organized religion altogether (12%). Close to 70% of that group profess a belief in God, and one in five say they pray daily. Charlie Duff falls neatly into this group of the religiously unaffiliated who nonetheless express religious or spiritual feeling, even down to his use of an unlikely platform. Or as Charlie puts it, “I guess I’ve always been suspicious. [Of] Some sort of . . . force. To be reckoned with.”
Perhaps Charlie Duff’s brush with prayer is best characterized by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s formulation: “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” Charlie’s sudden spiritual and emotional openness doesn’t just change the city of Rochester; it also changes him. It doesn’t perfect him, but by reaching out to others and being reached out to in turn, he finds the courage to attempt a reconciliation, to reach for wholeness.

August 22, 2013


Name: Akash Chopra
Role: Mowgli
Hometown: New York City, New York
What has been your favorite moment while performing The Jungle Book? Opening night was magical and I will never forget it.
How are you like your character? Mowgli is exciting and like's adventure. He tries different things, and I think I am the same.
 Who is your favorite character from The Jungle Book? My favorite character is Baloo. He is so much fun.

Name: André De Shields
Role: Akela and King Louie
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
What has been your favorite moment while performing The Jungle Book? My favorite moment while performing in The Jungle Book is the contagion of joy that infects the entire audience at the end of Act 1, as King Louie sings "I Wanna Be Like You."
 How are you like your character? I am like my character of Akela in terms of his stoicism, inherent skills of leadership, and craving of solitude. On the flip side, I match my character of King Louie in exuberance, elegance, extravagance, and swank swag.
What is your childhood memory of watching The Jungle BookMy childhood memory of watching The Jungle Book is not of the Disney animated film, but rather the 1942 Technicolor feature, directed by Zoltan Korda and featuring the East Indian child star, Sabu Dagastir, as Mowgli the Man-Cub.     
Who is your favorite character from The Jungle Book? My favorite character is King Louie, which character — by the way — is a Disney creation, and does not appear in either the 1942 film or the original Rudyard Kipling story.

Name: Kevin Carolan
Hometown: I was born in the Bronx, New York, but grew up in a small town in northern New Jersey named Wanaque. I've lived mostly in New Jersey ever since.
What has been your favorite moment while performing The Jungle Book? My favorite moment inThe Jungle Book might be the top of Act II, when I get to sing "Baloo’s Blues," a song written and recorded for The Jungle Book film, but not used in the feature. Premiering a "new" Sherman Brothers song is an incredible thrill and an honor, but it’s my favorite because it’s such a great song, and I really love singing it!
How are you like your character? It would be easy for me to say I'm like Baloo because we're both kind of lazy, and we both like to have the "bare necessities" come to us. However, Baloo and I have a great fondness for being a mentor to a young child. My son, Jack, is the same age as Mowgli, and I enjoy spending as much time with him as Baloo does with Mowgli.
What is your childhood memory of watching The Jungle Book? My childhood memory of The Jungle Book is the music. That's what I remember taking away from it, specifically the scat section between King Louis and Baloo in "I Wanna Be Like You." I remember trying to scat along with them and never being able to get the sounds to match up! But it didn't stop me from trying!
Who is your favorite character from The Jungle Book? My favorite Jungle Bookcharacter has to be Baloo. As a child, I identified more with Mowgli, but always looked up to that great “papa bear,” as it reminded me of my relationship with my own dad. And now to have the chance to BE Baloo? It fills me with great joy.

Name: Tommy Derrah
Role: Kaa and others
Hometown: Born in Portland, Maine / Raised in Cape Elizabeth, Maine
What has been your favorite moment while performing The Jungle Book? At the end of Act 1, André De Shields performs “I Wanna Be Like You” while most of us play monkeys. The number ends frantically and the audience erupts with applause. The lights come up and we're all lying on the floor panting, sweating, and usually laughing!
Who is your favorite character from The Jungle Book? I have to say Kaa, because I’m playing him, but I love Bagheera because he’s patient and smart, and Mowgli, because I think we can all identify with his plight; trying to find where he belongs.

August 19, 2013

The Sights & Sounds of India: Re-Imagining THE JUNGLE BOOK

The Jungle Book creative team at the Taj Mahal: TJ Gerkens, Dan Ostling, Ajay Rathore Singh, Leo Chiang, Mara Blumenfeld, and Doug Peck.
When Disney Theatrical Group conceived of a stage version of the classic 1967 film The Jungle Book, they easily could have set out to create a replica of the movie that for decades has captivated generations of children with its celebratory music and lovable characters. Instead, they tapped Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman, one of theatre’s most innovative directors, to reimagine their hit as a wholly original new work to be felt and experienced live at the theatre.
The Jungle Book has many of the hallmarks of a Mary Zimmerman adaptation. But this production posed additional complexity for the adaptation, as it draws from not one but two sources — both the 1894 Rudyard Kipling stories and the 1967 Disney animated film. Tonally, Kipling’s stories are poetic and his jungle is at times dark and violent, while in contrast, the Disney movie, set to the jubilant sounds of American swing and jazz, is fun and celebratory.
In the process of exploring how to balance the divergent elements of her two sources, Zimmerman found inspiration in Kipling’s personal biography: he was born in Bombay to English parents and lived in India until he was six years old when his parents sent him back in England. There, they left him in the care of a woman who ran a school out of her home, and, unbeknownst to them, physically and emotionally abused him until he left at age 10. Years later, when Kipling was a newly-married adult living in Vermont, he wrote the stories of The Jungle Book.

Nikka Graff Lanzarone as Peacock in The Jungle Book. Photo: Liz Lauren
“There is an almost desperate energy behind the creation of this world that was psychologically necessary for him,” Zimmerman said. “The romanticization and exoticism of India that he’s come to be criticized for, he’s come about in a well-earned way: he was born there and he lost it. He lost India as a child, and a child about the age of Mowgli.” Zimmerman drew from the stark contrast between Kipling’s happy early childhood in India and his fraught later years in England to establish the emotional tenor of the production. “I want the audience to experience the joy of that music and of living in a world where you are one with nature and the animals — even with all its dangers and its troubles. And also the recognition that you can’t stay there.”
In order to create her living jungle, Zimmerman and her team plunged into their design process, which is research heavy, immersive, and highly collaborative. She almost always works with the same design team — set designer Daniel Ostling, costume designer Mara Blumenfeld, and lighting designer T.J. Gerckens. When creating The Jungle Book, Zimmerman immediately recognized the need to honor its setting through design. “My very first impulse when this idea came up was to take the forms of Indian representation — visual and musical — seriously within the aesthetic of doing the show.” In order to capture the sights and sounds of Kipling’s India, the team spent two and a half weeks traversing the country — visiting 10 cities in one trip — listening to music on the streets, gathering textiles at markets, interacting with indigenous animals, and taking “thousands and thousands” of photographs.

Monique Haley (Elephant), Akash Chopra (Mowgli), Ed Kross (Colonel Hathi), and Anjali Bhimani (Baby Elephant) with the rest of Colonel Hathi’s elephant army in The Jungle Book. Photo: Liz Lauren
The world that appears on stage will be infused with the spirit of its setting as filtered through the eyes of the design team. “We’re not hoping to create a museum-like replication, because it’s a work of intense imagination — almost florid imagination — on both Kipling’s and Disney’s part,” Zimmerman said. “We’re going for inspiration in forms, colors, pattern, shape, and volume of things — it penetrates the design at every level and in every scene.” And though The Jungle Book sprang out of a familiar film with iconic animation and music, this new version promises its own unforgettable experience, alive with the spirit of its inspiration and saturated with the sights and sounds of India.
This article originally appeared in Goodman Theatre’s OnStage publication.

August 12, 2013


“I was blown away by Mary Zimmerman’s transporting and visually stunning production. It immediately reminded me of what I love about her work – her big heart, sophisticated mind, and playful imagination. In this latest creation, she brilliantly interweaves Kipling’s evocative prose with the story of the classic film and marries traditional Indian instruments to its jazzy, instantly recognizable tunes. It’s a dream!”— Peter DuBois
Songwriter Richard Sherman and his brother Robert had not read Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 collection of stories when they were called into a meeting by Walt Disney to contribute to the development of a movie of The Jungle Book. It turns out that neither had any of the other animators or writers on the project. When Disney asked who of his team was familiar with the stories, not a person in the room raised his hand. “It was like a bunch of guys in school that hadn’t done their homework,” Richard Sherman remembers.

Music Director and Orchestrator Doug Peck in rehearsal for The Jungle Book.
Disney’s response? “Well, that’s good.” His reaction was genuine, as he wanted to create a film that discarded the dark, heavy mood of Kipling’s stories and instead embraced the delight that could be wrought from a medley of animal characters. The joy that infused the movie’s score with a playful spirit is one of the key elements adapter and director Mary Zimmerman strove to maintain in her new musical production.
The show, produced in association with Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, features seven songs from the Disney film including “The Bare Necessities” by Terry Gilkyson, never-before-heard songs by the award-winning Sherman Brothers, and more. “It’s going to be wonderful for the audience because they’ve never heard these songs before,” Sherman says. Music Director and Orchestrator Doug Peck has incorporated Indian sounds and underscoring based on themes from the film, as well as Indian ragas and dance music.
Peck believes that the music will prove even more powerful onstage than in the movie, especially as the production includes onstage musicians who will be encouraged to improvise throughout the run. “In the theatre, you are in the same acoustic space and can sometimes see the player or players creating the underscoring,” he says. “You are inherently more aware of the music, which can sometimes function on a more unconscious level on film. In some ways, I function both as arranger/orchestrator and editor helping players maintain a consistency that the cast can dance to, but also a freedom to explore their improvs from show to show.” The instrumentation consists of traditional western instruments such as a piano and drum set, as well as Indian snake trumpets, Carnatic violin, sitar, veena, tablas, ghattam, dholak, dhol, and other Indian percussion. Much of the Indian essence that Peck has infused into the score derives from the trip the creative team took to India.
The songs from the movie invite this added flavor, as each already has its own unique musical style that corresponds to the various species of animals. For instance, King Louie the Orangutan was conceived as a jazzman, so his number, “I Wanna Be Like You,” naturally fit as a swing piece.
The Sherman Brothers incorporated elements of Kipling’s stories and introduced whimsy and lightness to them, as per Disney’s instructions. Hathi, leader of the elephants, became Colonel Hathi, an officer in the British Raj who leads the militaristic “Colonel Hathi’s March.” The song plays with elephants’ natural galumph. As Sherman says, “It was all borne out of Walt’s desire for us to have fun.”
— Ali Leskowitz

August 1, 2013

Maria Aitken Brings Family Fun to THE COCKTAIL HOUR

Our relationship with director Maria Aitken goes back to 2007 with her production of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, which moved on to Broadway and ran for nearly 800 performances. Fortunately she appears to reciprocate our love, and we've since brought her back to the Huntington for critically acclaimed productions of Educating Rita (2011), Private Lives and Betrayal (2012). At the first rehearsal for Private Lives, Maria even quipped that she "might as well toss a mattress in the corner of the rehearsal room and stay here for a while*." We're ecstatic to welcome her back to our stage once again to present A.R. Gurney's The Cocktail Hour this season.

Outside of work as a director, Maria is an accomplished comedienne, having appeared in more Noël Coward plays than any other actress, and we're excited to have her bring that unique sensibility to The Cocktail Hour. The play tells the story of a playwright named John, who interrupts his parents' daily cocktail hour ritual to announce that he has written a pseudo-autobiographical about the family. Naturally, this news is received with mixed reactions -- and lots of alcohol. The play is a thinly-veiled allegory for playwright A.R. Gurney's actual relationship with his family, to the point that he promised them that as long as they were still alive, he would never, ever let the play be produced anywhere near the Buffalo near (where they resided). And if that uncomfortably-close-to-home-meta-ness weren't enough, the character of John mentions at one point having had a play produced at...the Boston University Theatre.

It might sound a little heavy -- and there is certainly some drama! -- but we actually like to think of The Cocktail Hour as an American comedy of manners. It has much more in common with Noël Coward than Arthur Miller, but whereas Coward's characters and worlds are distinctly British, Gurney's play takes place right here in the Northeast. Plus, John's upper-class family happens to be avid theatregoers, so we think our audience will enjoy seeing a version of their own lives portrayed on stage. Allegorically, of course. Unless the lampooning hits too close to home, in which case it was entirely coincidental. We swear.

Here's Artistic Director Peter DuBois discussing the show, and gushing even more over the wonderful Maria Aitken:

The Cocktail Hour plays Nov. 15 - Dec. 15, 2013 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre.

*In reference to the fact that rehearsals for Betrayal would be starting just over six months later. Also, just to be clear, we do in fact provide our visiting artists with more than just a mattress in the corner of the rehearsal room. Unless that's something they specifically request, of course.

July 9, 2013


The Power of Duff marks the return of playwright Stephen Belber to the Huntington, following 2005's Carol Mulroney (the first production of ours to feature Johanna Day, who has since become a favorite of many of our audience members). Directed by our fearless leader Peter DuBois, The Power of Duff tells the story of a news anchor in Rochester named Charlie Duff who offers up a prayer on-air in honor of his recently deceased father, which in turn spins the community into a frenzy. So naturally, he keeps doing it. He soon finds himself at the center of a cult of (media) personality, while simultaneously  trying to win back his estranged wife and son, neither of whom is particularly fond of Charlie's newfound spirituality. Peter worked with Stephen Belber on the show's world premiere at New York Stage & Film in the summer of 2012, and Stephen has been working hard on sharpening and honing the script for this next iteration.

At its core, The Power of Duff is the story of a desperate man's attempt to reconnect with something in the face of loss. One of the things that makes it so compelling is its multifaceted exploration of faith. The play is very much grounded in the present day, fully aware of the political climate of the country, and looks at the value and function of faith from many different perspectives. The initial prayer that sets the story off is not overtly religious by any means; Charlie himself invokes the Big G a few times, but he is hardly pious. Rather, it's a communal call to unite people together under something greater than their individual selves. Or, it's not, but that's part of what makes the story so captivating. It investigates the relationship between spirituality and religion, and the powers of community and belief.

And? It's hilarious. Seriously. The interactions between various the big-headed personalities of the newsroom where Charlie works are well worth the price of admission alone. One of my personal favorite little bits is the character of Ron Kirkpatrick, a reporter on the show who covers all kinds of bizarre and off-kilter human interest pieces on location, and only ever appears on video (it being a play about a TV news channel, there is a lot of really fascinating video projection work going on onstage as well). It's kind of like Anchorman meets The Newsroom times As Good As It Gets divided by About A Boy. Except not at all -- but admit it, you're intrigued.

Here's Peter DuBois discussing the show:

June 27, 2013

THE JUNGLE BOOK is coming! THE JUNGLE BOOK is coming!

We could not be more excited to welcome Mary Zimmerman back to the Huntington, and what better way to mark her triumphant return than a stage adaptation of The Jungle Book? Some of our subscribers (and staff) still haven't fully recovered from the overwhelming joyfulness of her production of Candide, which kicked off our 30th Anniversary Season in 2011. Mary has spent much of her career re-exploring timeless texts, taking a magnifying glass and a scalpel to these iconic, formative myths, and uncovering the modern richness and relevance within them.

With Candide, she scoured the archives of Leonard Bernstein's music, drawing from multiple iterations and compositions from various versions of the famously uneven musical, and created an entirely new version of the play with a book that she derived from the original text by Voltaire. Similarly, with The Jungle Book, Mary and her team are using the popular songs from the classic Disney movie -- "Bare Necessities," "I Wanna Be Like You," and others -- and re-arranging them with new orchestrations featuring authentic Indian instruments. For the book, Mary has returned to the original stories of Rudyard Kipling to create an entirely new script and story.

Here's a little peek at an early workshop version of "Bare Necessities":

Also like Candide, Mary is developing The Jungle Book with the help of several different cities, companies, and audiences. After several development workshops, performances of The Jungle Book began June 21 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago (yes, we still care deeply for our Chicago theatre colleagues, even if their stupid hockey team bests our own). The cast & creative team will then join us in Boston, where they will continue to work on and tweak the musical -- adjusting things, making cuts and edits, fleshing out scenes where they need more meat, and so on. This process is an important part of what makes theatre unique as a living art form, and we're proud to play such a crucial role in Mary's creative process.

Here's Artistic Director Peter DuBois discussing the show, and sharing his own excitement about welcoming Mary back to Boston:

The Jungle Book plays Sept. 7 - Oct. 6, 2013 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre. Tickets are on sale now.

June 12, 2013

Hey Remember That Time We Won A Tony Award That Was Totally Awesome

Who's got two thumbs and just won a Tony Award? This Guy. Well, technically, this company, but companies don't really have collective thumbs or anything, so the joke doesn't really work as well.

Still, the point is: We have a Tony Award!
Desiree Pedrami, Thom Dunn,
Solange Garcia, and Catherine
Halpin, outside Radio City
Music Hall

This past Sunday night was an incredibly exciting evening for all of us, and not just because it's fun to wear a tux (although it is). A total of Eighty-Five Huntingtonians (including staff, Board, and guests) traveled to New York to see Michael Maso & Peter DuBois receive the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award live at Radio City Music Hall on our behalf. For a lot of us, the thrill of strolling down the streets of Midtown in our fancy dress felt like Theatre Prom, minus the curfew. The crowds of spectators had already gathered outside the police barricades around the venue by 5:30, and while admittedly they probably weren't trying to snap a photo of me (or any of the Huntington staff in attendance), parting the sea of people like a well-dressed Moses and having a friendly police officer take note of your fancy attire and help you through was still pretty cool.

Once inside Radio City, we began searching around for the rest of our Huntington family, all of whom were cleverly disguised in fabulous gowns and penguin costumes. We ran into former Artistic Director Nicholas Martin in the lobby, accompanied by Brooks Ashmanskas, who most recently appeared at the Huntington in God of Carnage. Everyone grabbed a drink, learned that drinks aren't allowed in the theatre, shrugged, and took our seats in the back of the orchestra (only Michael and Peter got to enjoy the real good seats down front for nominees).

One of the more interesting parts of the evening was experiencing the live filming and editing of the performance. Every now and then we'd hear the Production Stage Manager's voice booming over the God Mic, "2 minutes, ladies and gentlemen...and we're back in 10...9...8...a little applause everybody...and we're back live!", and as the night wore on he always found new ways to entertain us and keep the energy up while the folks back home enjoyed their obligatory commercial breaks (we don't normally have those in theatre). Although the broadcast began at 8pm, the awards themselves actually started around 7:15pm. This segment was hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) and Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), who prepped the audience on the rules: hold your applause until the end, winners have 75 seconds to get to the stage and speak, et cetera. The awards presented during this segment were later aired as clips during the live broadcast; it was fun seeing which pull-quote or snippet from each acceptance speech actually made it onto television. We had originally expected Michael & Peter to accept the award during this time, but unfortunately the Lifetime Achievement speeches went a bit longer than anticipated (to be fair, it is an achievement of an entire lifetime, so...), and our fearless leaders were temporarily shunted off to a holding cell along with the children of Annie and Matilda to await their rescheduled on-stage appearance.

They eventually made it out alive, and here's their victory speech in its entirety (presented by my personal favorite time-traveling-plastic-Centurion-nurse-turned-Irish-pub-singer Rory Pond):
Michael won the backstage bet of getting his soundbite on the air ("And so together we celebrate our extraordinary audiences and with you tonight we celebrate the proud, passionate, and resilient people of the great city of Boston, Massachusetts"), meaning Peter paid for the first round of drinks. That being said, I must deny any rumors of a Maso-DuBois standup comedy duo act being added to our 2013-2014 Season.

Former Director of Public Relations John Michael Kennedy
with current staff members Lisa McColgan and Michael
Comey (with Christopher Durang photobombing in the
Overall, it was a fantastic night for Boston on the Great White Way, with Diane Paulus of the A.R.T. winning "Best Director of a Musical" for production of Pippin, which itself won "Best Revival Of A Musical" (and of course begin its run in Cambridge). And while we were disappointed that Nicholas Martin did not win "Best Director" for Vanya & Sonya & Masha & Spike despite our wild howling (although the production itself won "Best Play"), we were very pleased to see the women sweep the awards for directing. If that's what we have to take, we'll happily live with it! Our friends at Chicago's Steppenwolf also won for "Best Revival of a Play" for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, making it a strong showing for non-profit regional theatres across the country.

After being wow'd by NPH's sick rhymes (does anyone else smell a Jay-Z musical coming next fall?), we celebrated the evening at the Renaissance Hotel overlooking Times Square, where we were joined by our extended family, including former Director of Public Relations John Michael Kennedy, Peter's former assistant Chris Carcione, director Daniel Goldstein (God of Carnage, next season's Venus in Fur), and many others (we even had a few party crashers! We're that cool!). Everyone at the after party had a chance to pose with the Tony Award, which is much heavier than it looks, and munch on special Huntington cupcakes, which were precisely as delicious as they look. It's my understanding that after the evening (morning?) came to an end, a small group continued the celebration at the Kinky Boots party down the street, but that story isn't mine to tell.

You can check out our complete photo album over on Facebook or Flickr, but here are a few selects from the evening (morning?).

Peter DuBois, Carol Deane (Chairman of the Board), Michael Maso, and Mitchell J. Roberts (President of the Board)  
The Artistic & Literary Teams: Vicki Schairer, Peter DuBois, M. Bevin O'Gara, Charles Haugland, Lisa Timmel, Christopher Wigle, and Anna Fisher 
The Box Office Squad! Featuring Noah C. Ingle, Hailey Fuqua, Catherine Halpin, Katie Catano, Derrick Martin, and Patrick Harris
Team Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA: Katie Most,
Rebecca Bradshaw, and Kat Alix

May 22, 2013

On Women & The 'F'-Word (Feminism) #RaptureBlisterBurn

Recently, Lisa Timmel, the Huntington’s director of new work, exchanged emails with playwright Gina Gionfriddo about her play Rapture, Blister, Burn. Their conversation centered around feminism and the eternal bonds and conflicts of mother/daughter relationships.

LT: When you started writing Rapture, Blister, Burn, were you thinking consciously about feminism today?

GG: Actually, I was fascinated by the way access to pornography has changed in my lifetime. I read a lot of books about the impact of internet pornography, and what I found was there are books that say it’s the end of American civilization, and there are books that say it’s no big deal, and there are books that say nobody knows. So it was a fascinating thing to research, but I didn’t come away with any useful conclusions. I knew I had to start something and I had the germ of a situation: Catherine coming home. I knew that I wanted this stuff to be Catherine’s area so that all that research wouldn’t be in vain. And it sort of spun out from there.

With so much of the culture regarding feminism as undesirable, and even young, independent-minded women saying things like “I’m not a feminist but...,” were you surprised at the positive response the play received critically and/or with audiences?

I was very pleasantly surprised. Every so often we (the theatre community) get together to talk about why more female playwrights aren’t being produced. One reason, I think, is that plays about male protagonists in turmoil about who they are versus who they want to be are regarded as classic coming-of-age tales, whereas the same kind of play about a female protagonist is often seen as a story about a neurotic. So I was very concerned that the women in the play would be written off as neurotics and harpies rather than very normal women asking questions about their lives. I thought women would enjoy the play. Perhaps the biggest surprise was how many male audience members got excited about it. It’s the first of my plays that my brother really got excited about and that just shocked me.

During the play’s premiere last spring, Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” was published in The Atlantic and, of course, Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In was recently published. Like all great playwrights, you have your finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist. Do you have any thoughts on why this conversation is happening now? Does the high-profile nature of the conversation about women and leadership change how you think about the play at all?

I feel terrible that I don’t have an answer for you here! I would love to know why this discussion has moved to the front burner recently. I wonder if Hillary Clinton being a serious contender for the presidency may have nudged the door open some, but I don’t know. And I think, perhaps, that women get gutsier about having these conversations and using the “F word” (feminism) when they feel their rights are really, truly in danger. The only thing I had my finger on the pulse of was my own 40-year-old anxiety about being a childless woman with a very old mom. I was in the process of trying to have a baby, but it wasn’t happening easily, so I think I was just interested in looking at women who did and did not start families. What are the pros and cons of that very major choice?

Many of your plays include wonderful, complicated mother figures, Ashley in After Ashley and Susan in Becky Shaw. In Rapture, the mother-daughter relationship between Cathy and Alice is the central emotional bond. What does the inter-generational conversation give to your plays?

I think, speaking really generally, we grow up determined not to make our parents’ mistakes. We kind of scrutinize their lives and plan accordingly. We plot how we’ll do better and be happier. You see that with the college student in my play, the way she imagines her life will be better than the middle-aged ladies she’s in class with. I think in our teens and our twenties we often feel we know better than our parents and then as we get older... that dynamic shifts some. I think in both Becky Shaw and this play, we see women who tried really hard not to live their mothers’ lives wind up sidling up to them in search of wisdom.

May 15, 2013

The Gina Chronicles #RaptureBlisterBurn

From Sam Lasman, Literary Professional Intern
When Gina Gionfriddo’s Rapture, Blister, Burn opens in May 2013, three years will have passed since her Becky Shaw appeared on the Huntington stage. After directing Becky Shaw’s premiere, New York, and Huntington productions, Peter DuBois mounted Becky Shaw in London where it was hailed as a comedic bridge between the United States and the United Kingdom. Invoking Neil LaBute and Jane Austen in praise of Gionfriddo’s “cultivated panache,” the Guardian called the play, “astute, acerbic and richly funny.”

Supported by a Playwrights Horizons Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust commission, Gionfriddo began developing a new work in which a feminist scholar voiced misgivings about the corrosive effects of pornography. However, wary that drama might veer into lecture, she expanded Rapture, Blister, Burn to include a generational cross-section of women negotiating the pitfalls of academia and relationships in modern America.

Seth Fisher & Keira Naughton inBecky Shaw at the Huntington.
Photo: T. Charles Erickson
In her January 2012 New York Times op-ed, Gionfriddo recounts that following a preview performance of Rapture, Wendy Wasserstein’s former assistant Jenny Lyn Bader told her that she wished Wendy had been able to see the new play, “taking up where The Heidi Chronicles left off.” The Heidi Chronicles, Wasserstein’s 1988 Pulitzer Prize winner, depicts a woman’s journey towards self-assertion as a feminist and single mother. Though Gionfriddo did not set out to respond to Wasserstein’s work, Rapture inevitably came to confront many of the same hopes and fears.

Yet the link between the plays also has a personal dimension. In October 2011, Gionfriddo gave birth to a daughter, Ava. “I did not write a homage to The Heidi Chronicles, and I do not endorse that play’s ending,” she wrote in the Times, challenging that play’s paradigm of empowerment through motherhood. “But I have a play and a baby that suggest otherwise.” The ongoing search for gender equality must go beyond the prescriptive or the reductive — as the intricacies of both Gionfriddo’s work and experience suggest.

Gina Gionfriddo's biting new comedy Rapture, Blister, Burn plays May 24 — June 22, 2013 at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Learn more at

May 14, 2013

Discovering Broadway with AWMC Finalist Iliana Mendez

August Wilson Monologue Competition finalist Iliana Mendez, a student at Brighton High School, shares her story about discovering theatre and performing on her first Broadway stage.

Iliana Mendez, center, with Antonio Stroud, Naheem Garcia, and Derek Lindesay

My main goal for this competition wasn't winning (though it would have been a bonus if I did.) After my parents divorced, I rarely get to see my father. My father had no idea about my passion for theater and what my interests were. When I told my father about this competition, he told me "I want to see you, mama. When is it?" Just those two sentences made my year. My father who I only got to see 5-8 times a year wanted to see me perform—wanted to see do what I love to do. And he came to see me and I cried. My father was about to cry as well! He told me that he has never seen me shine like that . . . It was one of the major things to happen over there. The fact that my father got a glimpse of what I expect my future to look was absolutely one of the most important things to happen.

The overall experience was surreal! I got so close to almost everyone on the trip! I made amazing friends from New York, Chicago, LA — everyone, really! I learned about their states and how. Things work over there which I found really interesting. When I lost, I was extremely let down and disappointed in myself.  I felt like I wasn't good enough (yeah, dramatic!) but the amount of support I got from the people over there amazed me! I got support from the contestants from New York, Seattle, LA, Chicago, and Pittsburg and I honestly felt a whole lot better! That was my first actual rejection and I realized that entering this field,  I was gonna face many disappointments. This was my first taste of it!

This experience basically confirmed my love for theater. This was my first year in theater and I already accomplished more than. I thought! I was a National Finalist! A WILSONIAN SOLDIER! This confirmed my destiny, honestly. I love performing and I love shining on a stage where everyone can see me do what I do best.

AWMC changed my life! Thanks to the Huntington and Kenny Leon for bringing this competition! It really helps people find themselves, even through a 2 minutes monologue, students are finding themselves. I already have someone who is interested in entering the competition next year at Brighton!

May 9, 2013

Gearing Up for the Boston Theatre Marathon

From Sam Lasman, Literary Professional Intern

This weekend (May 11 and 12), Boston Playwrights’ Theatre presents the 15th annual Boston Theater Marathon and the associated Warm-Up Laps reading series.  The Warm-Up Laps, now in their fourth year, present free, public readings of new plays by area playwrights, and the Marathon showcases ten hours of ten-minute plays by local writers, each produced by a different New England theatre company. Actors and directors volunteer their time, and all ticket proceeds go to the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund, a non-profit organization that provides financial relief for theatre artists and organizations who face dire need and require financial assistance.

As you might expect, a huge number of Huntington staff members, 
associated artists, and other friends are involved in the fifty plays that comprise the Marathon and the three Warm-Up Labs, both of which will take place at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA (the Huntington donates the venue each year). The Warm-Up Laps are on Saturday at 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm in the Deane Rehearsal Hall. The following day, the Marathon itself runs from 12pm – 10pm in the Wimberly Theatre. 
Five ten-minute plays run each hour, followed by a ten-minute break.

Amongst the Huntington affiliates whose work will be presented this weekend is 2010-2012 Huntington Playwriting Fellow Miranda Craigwell, whose Shelter will be read on Saturday at 2pm. It is directed by the Huntington’s Associate Producer, M. Bevin O'Gara. Learn more.

The Huntington’s entry in the Marathon, Saturday Matinee by Allan Appel, will perform in the 5pm hour of plays on Sunday. It is directed by yours truly, Sam Lasman (Literary Professional Intern)produced by Ali Leskowitz (Artistic Producing Professional Intern), and features Our Town actors Nicholas Carterand Jay Ben Markson.

Other plays with Huntington staff involvement include:
  • Drive by James Wilkinson, produced by the Boston Children’s Theatre in the 2pm group and featuring Robert Orzalli (Calderwood Pavilion Professional Intern)
  • Cleavage by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich, produced by The Lyric Stage Company in the 6pm group, directed by Anna Trachtman (General Management Professional Intern) and featuring Paul Melendy from the cast of Ryan Landry’s “M”
  • Rocky Road by Elisabeth Burdick, produced by Nora Theatre Company in the 8pm group, directed by Vicki Schairer (Assistant to the Artistic Director).

The work of many Huntington Playwriting Fellows will also appear in the Marathon, including:
  • Joyce Van Dyke’s White Hole, produced by the Boston Center for American Performance, in the 12pm group
  • John Kuntz’s The Nice Hotel, produced by Happy Medium Theatre Company, in the 1pm group
  • Patrick Gabridge’s Curse the Darkness, produced by New Repertory Theatre, in the 3pm group
  • Sinan Ünel’s Last Flight Out, produced by Provincetown Counter Productions, in the 4pm group
  • Ronan Noone’s Boyfriend, produced by the Salem Theatre Company, in the 6pm group
  • Lila Rose Kaplan’s The Chapel Play, produced by the American Repertory Theatre, in the 9pm group

Bad Habit Productions, helmed by Daniel Morris (BU Theatre House Manager) and Meg O’Brien (Manager of Education Operations)  is producing Red Drink by Obehi Janice, directed by Jeff Mosser, in the 12pm group.

And, of course, the entire Marathon is organized by HPF Kate Snodgrass, who is now  Artistic Director at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.

Learn more about the Marathon and get your tickets on We look forward to seeing you there!

May 8, 2013

Everything You Wanted To Know About Post-Post-Feminism But Were Afraid To Ask #RaptureBlisterBurn

From Lisa Timmel, Director of New Work
“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.”— Dante's Inferno
“I guess the grass is always greener. It’s just . . . It’s what you said, right? It’s that forty-something thing where you start thinking about the life not lived.”— Gwen, Rapture, Blister, Burn
A popular assumption about feminists — not just among certain right-wing personalities — is that they are ugly, sexless, humorless harpies that no man wants (unless women advocate for access to birth control, then they are common sluts). In Rapture, Blister, Burn, Gina Gionfriddo grapples with the realities of women’s lives and pulls off a popular comedy about feminism. Fortune favors the bold and, as noted by Variety, “Gionfriddo’s some kind of genius.”

Originally, Gionfriddo tried to write a play about the possible psychological and sociological effects of internet pornography. As she told Playwrights Horizons’ artistic director Tim Sanford in an interview, “I was a child of the ’70s; when we wanted information about sex, it was extremely hard to get. We would try to steal a Playboy Magazine or find a dirty book in the library. Now it’s just like Sodom and Gomorrah at the click of a mouse. And I am fixated by the idea that there has to be some hideous psychological trickle-down from that.” She sketched out a character, an academic who would lecture on the topic, but lectures, she realized, are lousy theatre. Shifting gears, she developed plot ideas that would allow the character to confront her area of academic expertise in her life. Gionfriddo says, “From there, the play evolved into a story less about porn than the state of male/ female relationships at this particular time in America.”

The protagonist, Catherine, disenchanted with her life as a hotshot public intellectual, latches onto her mother’s recent heart attack as an excuse to return home. Home includes her friends from graduate school, specifically her ex-lover Don who jilted her for Gwen. Gwen, began in the same place as Cathy, but chose another path, dropping out of school to be a stay-at-home-mother. Both women wonder what life would be like on the path not taken.

Life meets theory when Catherine convinces Don to let her teach a summer seminar on her topic: “The Fall of American Civilization.” In an awkward twist, only two students enroll in the class has just two students: Gwen, and her erstwhile twenty-something babysitter, Avery. Cathy’s mother Alice is along for the ride, joining the women at the end of their sessions with martinis and yet another perspective.

A reconsideration of one’s life path at middle age is a near-universal experience, however, for women, the questions are fraught with political and social significance. Writing in The New York Times, Gionfriddo frames it this way: “The dream, then and now, postfeminist and post-postfeminist (or whatever we choose to call this moment) is still simple and still incredibly hard: How do men and women figure out how to negotiate their equality better? As Cathy in Rapture advises a female student in the throes of love and ambition, “My middle-aged observation is that, in a relationship between two equals, you can’t both go first.”

Catherine’s existential crisis prompts her to reflect, “My mother is going to die soon, and I find myself wondering if there isn’t some . . . wisdom in the natural order. In creating a new family to replace the one you lose.” She ultimately gets a chance to create a new family, but not in the way that we expect. Gionfriddo wanted to create a stage picture, “which was something about women without men who are both frightened and excited by what their future holds . . . ” Real feminists, as opposed to popular culture caricatures, never claim to be able to have it all. All human rights movements, fundamentally, are concerned with self-determination, for good or for ill, with the costs of freedom being well worth the price.

Gina Gionfriddo's biting new comedy Rapture, Blister, Burn plays May 24 — June 22, 2013 at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Learn more at

May 1, 2013

It's Been A Week

So. It's been a week.

Or technically it's been a lot of weeks but more specifically it's this past week that has been particularly exciting for all of us here at the Huntington -- following, of course, one of the scariest weeks as Bostonians that most of us have ever lived through. But as we continue to heal from that tragedy, perhaps its a confluence of events that has made our own victories all the more sweet.

On Monday, April 22 we held our Spotlight Spectacular, our annual gala / fundraiser, at the Park Plaza Castle. The event, which honored Our Town director David Cromer along with production sponsorships / all around fantastically supportive people Judi & Douglas Krupp, raised over (cue close-up as I put my pinky to my mouth) ONE MILLION DOLLARS, making it our most successful event of all time. The night also included a sneak preview of our upcoming production of The Jungle Book, along with entertainment from the Tony-nominated stars of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella on Broadway, Santino Fontana & Laura Osnes. Here they are performing an updated version of Cole Porter's "You're The Top" with additional lyrics by Robert Berliner, in honor of the Krupps.

Oh yeah, that's the other thing. We received a Tony Award. Though technically reserved for Broadway productions, the Tonys recognize a different regional theatre each year in recognition of their contributions to the performing arts. I believe Michael Maso is offering every one a staff exactly 3 opportunities to use "I have a Tony Award!" as a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card*, but we're still waiting on the official numbers. The Tony Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, June 9 in New York City, and those of us who are unable to attend (hey, we still have jobs to do!) still plan on having our own black tie screening in the BU Theatre.

  So that was Friday evening. And then this past Monday, April 29, was the 2013 IRNE Awards, which are awarded to theatre productions across the gamut by the Independent Reviewers of New England for shows within the calendar year (so any show produced in 2012, as opposed to Fiscal or school-year-type seasons). While sure, okay, Tony Awards sound like a big fancy deal, what makes the IRNE Awards so exciting is that they recognize the entire Boston theatre community, from Broadway In Boston to the smallest black boxes and community groups, and they give everyone an equal chance to win. We walked away on Monday night with 7 IRNE Awards: 
  • Best New Play - Large Company for Kirsten Greenidge's Luck of the Irish;
  • Best Ensemble - Large Company for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom;
  • Best Costume Design - Large Company for Clint Ramos on Ma Rainey's Black Bottom;
  • Best Supporting Actor (Play) - Large Company for Nael Nacer as Simon Stinson in Our Town;
  • Best Actor (Play) - Large Company for Jason Bowen as Levee in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom;
  • Best Director (Play) - Large Company for David Cromer and Our Town; and
  • Best Play - Large Company for Our Town.
Here's Associate Producer M. Bevin O'Gara along with many of the townsfolk of Grover's Corners accepting the award for Best Play:

Meanwhile, members of our Education team are down in DC for the National Finals of Poetry Out Loud supporting MA State Champion Courtney Stewart, Ryan Landry's "M" had its final performance on Sunday, and rehearsals are now underway for our upcoming production of Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn, which starts performances on May 24.

So like I said. It's been a week.

*Totally kidding here. I'm the only one who can use that line and get away with it because I've already changed my nametag to read "Tony Award-winning Web & New Media Manager."

April 30, 2013

Meet The August Wilson Monologue Competition Finalists

From Alexandra Truppi, Education Manager for Curriculum and Instruction

On Saturday, March 16, students from eleven Boston high schools competed in the Boston finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition. Huntington Teaching Artists worked in residencies in classrooms at each school, introducing students to August Wilson's life and work and teaching lessons in acting and text analysis. Each classroom held its own competition to choose a winner to represent his or her school in the city-wide competition.

Antonio Stroud of Boston Day and Evening Academy won first place at the end of the Boston finals with his performance of Hedley from
Seven Guitars. Iliana Mendez of Brighton High School placed second with her performance of Rose from Fences, and Derek Lindesay of Codman Academy Charter Public School came in third with his performance of Memphis from Two Trains Running. 

Antonio, Iliana, and Derek will compete at the National Finals on May 4, where they will also participate in workshops with theatre professionals, attend a Broadway show, and compete against students from around the country at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway.

Education Manager for Curriculum and Instruction Alexandra Truppi recently sat down with Boston's top 3 to discuss the competition, their love of theatre, and their hopes for their upcoming trip to New York.

First off, congratulations on being Boston's August Wilson Monologue Competition top three! How does it feel to be the winners?

Iliana: I still can't believe it!

Antonio: I can because I said I was going to win. I did what I meant to do by working my hardest. I don't ask for much in life other than an opportunity. Give me an opportunity and I'll do the rest.

Iliana: Yeah, man! (Iliana and Antonio high-five)

Derek: I just feel privileged to be here. All the other people in the competition were amazing.  I came in first at my school and third for Boston and that tells me that I am amazing, too.

What was the morning of the Boston competition like for you?

Iliana: Nervous. When I won for my school, I thought it would be easy. Most of the people in my school had never heard of August Wilson, so I was all like, "Yeah, I got this." But then when I went to the workshop with all the other winners a couple weeks before the competition, I was intimidated. To see that everyone was at such a high level, I was like "Oh, wow! These people are really good!" I knew I had to give it my all.

Antonio: I had such great support from my friends and family. A staff member from my school, Ms. Kunst, took me to breakfast that morning. I was just getting into character and being grateful for the opportunity. Going to New York to perform on Broadway is something most actors don't ever get to do, never mind a kid from Roxbury.

Derek: It was kind of a breath of fresh air. I was dealing with a lot in my personal life and at school, and it was good to get away from all that. Meg Campbell, the founder of my school, took me out to lunch after the competition, and when we were talking I realized how much I've grown as a person. It gave me a lot of pride.

Let's talk about the monologues you chose. What drew you to these particular pieces and what do you love about them?

Iliana:  Well, I read Fences in middle school, and when I read this monologue even then it reminded me of my mother. She was betrayed, too. My father left and we didn't know what to do.  When I had to pick a monologue to perform, I read this one again and remembered how I used to just look at my mother and not know what to do for her. At first, working on it was hard because I'm Hispanic and I didn't think I could portray a black woman. But then I remembered my mom and it just clicked.

Derek: I first read my monologue about two years ago. I thought Memphis was sort of a contrarian. It's political but also humorous and I think I'm both of those things, too, sometimes. I just really understood what he was saying. Like last week I performed it at this event for my school and people thought I wrote it or something.

Antonio: I identified with the language. It's so powerful. It made me think a little bit of a Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali was talking about how black people are beautiful. He was called "the greatest" at a time when black people were told they were not human, so the words in the monologue were powerful to me. The last line that says, "Satan, I will tear your kingdom down" — I didn't really understand it first until right before the competition at my school. I was saying those words and just suddenly understood them — Hedley's talking about the bigger picture. He is going to destroy the oppression of black people and the negative notion of what it means to be black.

Iliana, what was it like to work with Huntington Teaching Artist Solange Garcia, and how did she help you with your performance?

Iliana: It was so great.  Most of the kids in my class didn't know anything about August Wilson at the beginning. I did because I read Fences in middle school, but I was the only one. Solange filled us up with information on August Wilson's life and work. I don't know what class would have been like without her. She made us read Fences all over again and gave us information about August Wilson as a person that made us understand it in a new way. I really don't know what it would have been like without her.

All three of you have strong interests in theatre and performing. What do you love about it?

Iliana: This was my first year really participating in theatre.  I did Henry V at Actors' Shakespeare Project (with Antonio!) and I really didn't think about it until then. At first, I was really scared because I was wondering, "what if I forget my lines, what if I can't memorize this?" But I realized that once you're really in it, it just comes.

Antonio: I enjoy stories. We all have a story in us and come from something or somewhere. You don't know where someone is coming from until you experience it. I knew after I performed Othello at my school that this was something I wanted to do. Acting on stage is when I feel strongest. The fact that you have to memorize makes you become better, more disciplined. Theatre is the hardest form of acting because you have to stay in character the whole time. Denzel Washington, Sidney Poitier, Laurence Fishburne – those are some of my favorite actors and they all do theatre. When I did Othello, a woman in the audience was from Actors' Shakespeare Project, and she invited me to come do their summer intensive and I got the lead in Macbeth there. Then I did Henry V.

Derek: It was kind of funny. This is my fifth year in high school. I got kept back. And I've changed so much since freshman year because of theatre. I hated public speaking, I was shy. I love it now, though. Put a mic in my hand! Back then I didn't care for it, but over time it transformed me as a person. I was afraid before and I still am sometimes, but it opened me up. Even working with other people, I used to hate that but now I want to be part of a team. The thing about theatre is that it's not a one-man show.  It's a team. Even if it's only one person performing. There's a whole team that helps make it happen.

The three of you attend three very different schools: Boston Day & Evening Academy, Brighton High School, and Codman Academy Charter Public School. How did you each end up at the school you currently attend? You're all really bright—how do you use the unique character of your schools to do what you need to do educationally?

Iliana: I went to school in Puerto Rico when I was little. I was raised there and came to the U.S. in sixth grade. School in Puerto Rico was so different. Everyone was friends there but here there were a lot more cliques. When I got here, I was scared and a follower. I went to Brighton High School because that was where my sister was going and I liked the safety of having her there. A lot of people hear "Brighton High School" and think something negative, but I say you shouldn't do that until you walk its hallways. There are so many students there who are just like me, all growing. Everyone has their own story. It has made me more confident and brave.

Derek: When I was in eighth grade, my mom made my brother and me write essays to apply to Codman Academy Charter School, and we got in. It's a small school of only like 150 kids. It was weird at first and the curriculum is really hard. I got held back, not because I'm not smart, but because I had some personal stuff going on, like my aunt passed away freshman year. But it's a wonderful school. I've gotten great opportunities by going there, like doing all this theatre. And I just came from lunch with the boss at a law firm that I interned with over the summer through my school.

Antonio: I've been to three high schools.  First I was at West Roxbury High School, and then my mom and I moved to Hyde Park so I went to Hyde Park High School. But a month after I got there, it was one of twelve schools that the district closed. You know, I love to learn, but I hate school. I was always doing great in extra-curriculars—like being on the board of a nonprofit that I got asked to represent at the White House—but I always had to convince myself to be disciplined with tedious things.  So I transferred to Boston Day and Evening. It's very different from regular Boston schools. The curriculum is competency based. They meet you where you are and you go from there.  It makes you accountable for your own education. Another thing I like about my school is that we're treated as adults.

You will travel to New York City to complete in the national August Wilson Monologue Competition on May 4. What excites you most about the trip to New York?

Antonio: The opportunity for networking.  Like I said, I don't ask for anything but an opportunity. I'm also excited to be bringing my mother. My family gives me my determination and motivation, so bringing my mother to Broadway is such a blessing.

Iliana: I love Broadway and musicals so to get to see a Broadway show in person is exciting. I've been obsessed with Broadway for years, and now I get to perform at a Broadway theatre in the competition!

Derek: I'm just excited for the vacation. I'm finishing up senior year and thinking a lot about college stuff, so it's exciting to be getting away from all that for a few days.

Antonio: Yeah . . . And winning for BOSTON!


The August Wilson Monologue Competition was created by Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company. This year, the competition is open to high school students in city schools in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. In our third year facilitating the Boston regional competition, the Huntington Theatre Company's Education Department collaborated with eleven Boston Public Schools: Another Course to College, Boston Adult Technical Academy, Boston Day and Evening Academy, Brighton High School, Codman Academy Charter Public School, Dorchester Academy, Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, English High School, New Mission High School, McKinley South End Academy, and Snowden International School at Copley.