Tuesday, December 20, 2016

McCarter Spotlight Production Re-imagining of Ibsen’s iconic A Doll’s House

Heather Raffo

Award-winning Iraqi-American playwright and performer Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire) teams up with director Joanna Settle to examine the issue of fractured American identity in this timely re-imagining of Ibsen’s iconic A Doll’s House.

This Spotlight Production, under the umbrella of McCarter’s LAB – takes place in the intimate rehearsal room-turned-Performance Studio within McCarter Theatre Center’s Roger S. Berlind Theatre at 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ. Noura runs Jan. 29 – Feb. 4, 2017. Click through for more details.

Searing and urgent, Noura is a passionate reflection of a major dilemma facing modern America: do we live for each other or for ourselves? Raffo’s play examines the story of an Iraqi refugee family living in New York City, and a woman’s search for meaningful identity in a new world. The challenges faced by Noura and her family speak directly to cultural and societal pressures within a modern marriage, and tackle our notions of shame, assimilation, exile, and love.

Ms. Raffo will appear in the title role, with design elements by scenic designer Andrew Lieberman (recently represented by Othello at NYTW; and the 2017 Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie) and sound designer Obadiah Eaves (The original Broadway production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore and many more). Casting to be announced.

Noura was crafted from years of research in Arab-American communities of New York City, where Raffo worked with Middle Eastern women reading Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and sharing personal stories about the resonance the play had with their own lives. Subsequent refining of the work followed, with a Georgetown University workshop with Middle East and refugee policy experts and members of the State Department and Iraqi Embassy, followed by a reading during McCarter’s 2016 summer writer’s retreat and a fall workshop at the Arab American National Museum in Detroit.

About Spotlight
The annual Spotlight production is a signature feature of McCarter’s LAB, and is dedicated to original plays by emerging and established writers. In a laboratory environment supported by McCarter’s artistic and production staff, artists rehearse and explore a work for a full month. More than a reading, this mid-phase workshop production affords playwrights and directors working on brand new project, the important opportunity to deepen their experience of exploring collaboratively on an original play or musical, over an extended rehearsal period - incorporating basic design elements, and seeing the work staged in front of an audience.

Ticketing Information
Noura will be performed in the Performance Studio inside McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Tickets are $20.00, and will be available for subscribers on January 3, 2017. Single tickets will go on sale January 5th, available online at, by calling 609-258-2787, or in person at the McCarter Theatre Center Ticket Office.
Availability is limited.

Performance Dates and Times
Sunday, January 29 – 3 p.m.
Thursday, February 2 – 7 p.m.
Friday, February 3 – 7 p.m.
Saturday, February 4 – 7 p.m.

About Playwright Heather Raffo
Heather Raffo is an award-winning playwright and actress who has spent the last decade performing off-Broadway, off-West End, in regional theater, and in film. She is the author and solo performer of the play 9 Parts of Desire (Lucille Lortel and Susan Smith Blackburn awards, Drama League, OCC, Helen Hayes nominations), which The New Yorker called “an example of how art can remake the world”. The play ran off Broadway for nine months and has played across the U.S. and internationally over the last ten years. In 2009, Heather created a concert version of the play for The Kennedy Center’s Arabesque Festival with renowned Iraqi maqam musician, Amir ElSaffar.

Most recently, her libretto for the opera Fallujah, detailing the life of a US Marine who served in the Iraqi city in 2004, was heard as part of Kennedy Center’s International Theater Festival. It then received its world premiere at Long Beach Opera in March of 2016 and will open at New York City opera in November 2016.

Raffo is the recipient of two grants from the Doris Duke Foundation to use theater as a means of bridge-building between her Eastern and Western cultures. Through these grants she developed a storytelling workshop, Places of Pilgrimage, which she has taken to universities and community centers both in America and in the Middle East. This work and pod cast series are now sponsored online through the international organizations, Bridges of
Understanding and Refugees Deeply.

About Director Joanna Settle
Joanna Settle recently directed Stew and Heidi Rodewald’s The Total Bent in 2016, a twice-extended world premiere at the Public Theater. Other credits include the premiere of Estuary by Jamie Leonhardt, a New Voices commission from Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. Philadelphia credits include An Octoroon by Brandon Jacob-Jenkins and Rapture Blister Burn for The Wilma Theater, Hands Up commissioned by New Black Fest for
Flashpoint Theater (world Premiere). Other credits include Family Album, a world premiere new musical by Stew and Heidi Rodewald for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Heather Raffo’s Opera Fallujah for the Kennedy Center.

Other credits at The Public Theater include The Total Bent by Stew and Rodewald in 2012 PublicLabs , Winter Miller’s In Darfur, the finale of Suzan-Lori Parks’s 365 Days/365 Plays and Stephen Brown’s Future Me. She directed Heather Raffo’s Nine Parts of Desire at Manhattan Ensemble Theater, and restaged the production for the Geffen Playhouse,
Berkeley Rep., Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, MassMOCA, Seattle Repertory Theatre and D.C.’s Arena Stage. Her other credits include Slither by Carson Kreitzer and the South American tour of Grease! The Musical. Settle served as the Artistic Director of Division 13 Productions from 1998 – 2004 and directed and/or adapted 15 of D13’s 17 projects, including BLOOD LINE: The Oedipus/Antigone Story, two plays by Sophocles, Macbett by Ionesco, and several Samuel Beckett shorts including Cascando and Play. Settle served as Artistic Director of Shakespeare on the Sound 2009-2012, where she directed A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet.

Settle holds a BA in Theater Directing and Design from Hampshire College and completed her Graduate Studies at Juilliard’s in the inaugural Graduate Directing Program. Settle has taught and/or guest directed at Bard College, Cornell, Stanford’s PhD Program, and she served as Director of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at the University of the Arts from 2014-2016. She currently teaches Masters level directing in both the Villanova Masters Program and the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Directing Program.

About the McCarter Lab
The McCarter LAB is a year-round creative incubator that provides key support to writers at all stages of their careers - cultivating meaningful artistic relationships and original works for McCarter’s main stages and future co-productions. Fostering the development of new plays, adaptations, musicals and investigations into the classics, the LAB consists of: readings, workshops, the Sallie B. Goodman Artist Retreat, commissions, and the annual Spotlight Production. It also provides McCarter’s audiences with an exclusive window into the creative process.

The LAB allows McCarter to take artistic risks, whether giving a first production to an emerging script, or allowing an experienced playwright to return to his/her creative roots. Each LAB project receives financial and artistic support, tailored to the specific needs of the collaborating writers, composers, directors, designers, and performers. Most LAB
programs take place in the intimate and flexible 70-90 seat performance studio/rehearsal room located within the Roger S. Berlind Theatre.

The McCarter Lab is supported by a generous grant from The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. McCarter Theatre Center thanks the following funders for their meaningful support of McCarter’s New Play Development Program: The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Dramatists Guild Fund, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Shubert Foundation and The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

This Lab Spotlight Production is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

McCarter is supported by Princeton University, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and over 3,000 individuals, corporations, and foundations. McCarter Theatre is located at 91 University Place in Princeton, NJ.

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