Tuesday, October 4, 2011

World premiere of The Dangers of Electric Lighting next at The Luna Stage

Luna Stage will present the world premiere of The Dangers of Electric Lighting, an entertaining and revealing new play about Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla and their battle to control the future of electricity. 

Preview performances run October 13th-October 20th and opening night is October 21st. The play runs through November 13th.  Performance times are Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm.  Tickets are on sale now, $20-$30 per person (opening night with reception is $35 per ticket), and can be purchased in person, on the phone at 973-395-5551, or on the Luna Stage website:

On Sunday, November 6th the 3pm performance will be accessible for people with hearing loss through the use of open-captioning.

Two other performances will offer talk-back sessions after the play.  On Sunday, October 23rd the audience can hear Ben Clawson and other members of the creative team discuss the process of the play’s development.  On Thursday, October 27th Paul Israel, Managing Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University, will discuss the development of the documentary legacy of America’s most prolific inventor and innovator. 

It is the mid 1880s and the world is emerging from darkness; the advent of the electric light is about to illuminate the globe. The power to spread this new wonder sits cradled in the hands of one man, Thomas Alva Edison. But when a young Serbian immigrant named Nikola Tesla arrives looking for work, Edison must struggle to keep the future of electricity within his control. The Dangers of Electric Lighting examines the ambitions and pride that accompany genius, the concessions made in the name of progress, and the darkness on the road to light up the world.

The play was commissioned by Luna Stage in 2009.  Upon relocating to West Orange, Artistic Director Jane Mandel felt that a play about Thomas Edison would be a way to engage with the theatre’s new community.  She approached Ben Clawson, a writer who has a long history with Luna Stage.  She selected Mr. Clawson because of his youth and unique sense of humor.  “I didn’t want the piece to be dry and solely scientific.  I wanted to explore the humanity, the frailty of these geniuses, to make the men, their accomplishments and their failures, accessible and engaging.  I knew Ben was the writer to bring levity and resonance to this story.” 

Ben Clawson received his B.F.A. in Theater from Montclair State University, NJ in 2007. He is the author of numerous full length and one act plays that have had professional productions, readings and workshops in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and New Orleans. He has been an evening winner and finalist in the Samuel French Short Play festival, national finalist for the American College Theater Festival's John Cauble One-Act Award, finalist for the Princess Grace Award in playwriting, and recipient of the Kennedy Center's David Mark Cohen award. He is a founding member of the StrangeDog Theater Company.

The production is directed by John Henry Davis, a theatre, film and television director, playwright and teacher. New plays and musicals he has directed have premiered at Playwrights Horizons, The Mark Taper Forum, the Kennedy Center and The Dallas Theatre Center, including Papa and Mountain, starring Len Cariou. Last summer he directed the world premieres of The Catherine Wheel by Craig Lucas and Night Float by Lila Feinberg at Playwrights Horizons. He also directed The Last Castrato by Guy Glass at the Connelly Theatre, a new play developed through Luna Stage’s New Moon Reading Series.

Acclaimed theatre director James Glossman is returning to his roots as an actor and playing the lead of Thomas Alva Edison.  Jon Barker, a regular player at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey portrays Nikola Tesla.  The outstanding cast of five is rounded out by Frank Anderson who does a double turn as Westinghouse, Edison’s corporate competitor and Benjamin Franklin, Edison’s muse and confidante; Joseph Langham as Batchelor, Edison’s trusted right hand man; and B. Brian Argotsinger as Brown, a low level Edison employee who leads the crusade against alternating current as a means to transmit electricity.

Danielle Constance is stage managing; and the creative team includes Andreea Mincic as set designer, Paul Hudson as lighting designer, Deborah Caney as costume designer, and for sound, Randall Eng was brought on board to compose original music and Damien Hennessy is working on sound design.

Thomas Edison and his invaluable contributions to the brightening and enlightening of the world are ingrained in the history and pride of West Orange, NJ.  Luna Stage is proud to be a new force in West Orange culture.  Understanding the importance of collaboration and community partnership in highlighting some of the wonderful places in West Orange, Luna Stage, the Manor
Restaurant and the Thomas Edison National Park Museum have teamed up to offer a special West Orange Package: two tickets to the Edison museum (can be used anytime), a prix fixe dinner for two at The Manor and two tickets to The Dangers of Electric Lighting for any Saturday evening or Sunday matinee performance after opening – all for only $150.00.

For information on this production, the open-captioned performance, the special West Orange package, and all other events and programs at Luna Stage, visit the company website:  Luna Stage is located at 555 Valley Road, West Orange, NJ 07052. 973-395-5551. The theatre is handicapped accessible and assisted listening devices are available.

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