Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Pirira by J. Stephen Brantley, Opens October 12, Launches Luna Stage 2019-19 Season


Pirira by J. Stephen Brantley, Directed by Ari Laura Kreith Opens October 12, Launches Luna Stage 2019-19 Season

4 desperate people, 2 small rooms on 2 separate continents, one deadly riot, one ray of hope.

West Orange, NJ (October 5, 2018) – Luna Stage will launch its 2018-19 Season with J.Stephen Brantley’s award-winning play Pirira, directed by Luna’s new Artistic Director Ari Laura Kreith. Opening Night is set for Friday, October 12 at 8pm. Set in Malawi amidst riots that took place in the city of Llilongwe on July 20, 2011, Pirira introduces us to American aid worker Jack and MBA auditor Ericka who are forced to take shelter in the storage room of Jack’s struggling NGO. Meanwhile, half a world away, Malawian college student Gilbert and his gay co-worker Chad begin another day in the back room of a Manhattan florist. The shadows of HIV, poverty, drought and gender-based violence cloak the lives of these four young people. Pirira is the winner of the New York Innovative Theater Award for Best Premiere of a Play.

“Bringing this play to Luna allows us to frame our first season as a series of powerful cross-cultural conversations about central issues that affect us all,” says Kreith. Playwright J. Stephen Brantley adds, “At a time of such tribalism in our own country, it’s useful to look beyond our borders—beyond both our national boundaries and our personal biases—to consider how our choices can impact people, for good or bad, in far off places.”

Pirira explores the challenges of international aid across interpersonal borders, and asks how we bridge seemingly impossible cultural divides. The cast includes John P. Keller, Kevis Hillocks, Naja Selby-Morton and David Gow. Pirira is inspired, in part, by Brantley’s experiences as a writer for Madonna’s NGO Raising Malawi and also by William Kamkwamba’s autobiographical The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Pirira runs Thursday-Sunday from October 4-28. Tickets are on sale now at A limited number of tickets for Opening Night are available, including access to the post-show party with cast and creative team.

Meet The Cast

David Gow

David Gow ("Chad")

"My character grows a lot in his awareness of suffering--that he is not isolated in his, everyone has suffering. And when you aren't shut off to the world you see everyone else's, and often theirs is much more significant."

Kevis Hillocks

Kevis Hillocks ("Gilbert")

"I may not agree with Gilbert's stance on homosexuality, but it is what he's been taught and believes to be absolute, that homosexuality is a sin. Pirira shows that instead of quickly judging a person we should try to unpack the root of their belief... while it may be hard to change a person's belief, we get one step closer to understanding why once we share."

Naja Selby-Morton

Naja Selby-Morton ("Ericka")

"What's particularly relevant about Pirira, and why I'm so excited to play the role of Ericka, is the national dialogue developing around sexual assault, the meaning of consent, and the ways in which women and girls around the globe (as well as men and boys) have endured violation under the 'acceptable' standards of male culture."

John P. Keller

John P. Keller ("Jack")

"One of the things I love most about theatre is its ability to ask questions. Good theatre doesn't present easy answers but asks us to wrestle with difficult questions. Each character in Pirira is on a journey--we see what motivates them, what terrifies them, what inspires them, what angers them, and what keeps them moving forward."

Pirira by J. Stephen Brantley, Directed by Ari Laura Kreith
At Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange, NJ | 973 395 5551
October 4 through October 28, Performances Thursday through Sunday
Running time: 70 minutes, no intermission.

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