WHEN CHURCHYARDS YAWN to be Presented at Desert View High School Black Box Theatre

2022-06-10 21:18:22 By : Mr. Charles Zeng

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When Churchyards Yawn, a fast-paced, witty, and deeply felt "divine comedy," is the story of all the dead Hamlet characters' travails in Purgatory.

The reading is FREE and takes place on July 16, 2022, at the Desert View High School black box theatre. When Churchyards Yawn was commissioned in 2021 by Arizona Theatre Matters. Donations will be accepted.

When Churchyards Yawn is the latest play from Arizona native Jeanmarie Simpson, who burst onto the American theatre scene with her award-winning A Single Woman, which was commissioned by the California Stage Company, where it premiered in 2004. A Single Woman subsequently ran Off-Broadway and toured the United States and 53 other countries. Simpson followed up with Heretic - the Mary Dyer story, with which she again toured the world. She then co-adapted, performed, and internationally toured with Coming In Hot, a solo work based on autobiographical essays by women who served in the US military. In 2021, her play Pineapple and Other Options was chosen for a festival of readings in Longbeach, California, and then premiered at Pirate Studios in Phoenix. Her first "kitchen table play," The Jewish Question, won a 2021 honorable mention by the New-York based Jewish Plays Project.

Simpson shares, "I felt as if I was in Purgatory during the pandemic. Stuck at home, with no way to rehearse or perform or even hang out and have coffee with others, and no way to plan anything. I happened upon Franco Zeferelli's Hamlet film somewhere in the streamiverse. It gave me the idea to write a sequel, putting all the dead characters in Purgatory. I've since enjoyed several readings online and we had one last summer up in Reno Nevada. Thanks to the magic of collaboration, with each reading and discussion, the script has gotten sharper and more clear. Following the upcoming reading in Tucson, we're going to move ahead with a full production."

The cast is a who's who of beloved southern Arizona actors.

Carlisle Ellis (Gertrude) received theatre training at the University of Washington, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and is a graduate of Stanford University. She has performed with many Tucson theaters including the Arizona Repertory Theatre, Borderlands, the Invisible Theatre, and Live Theatre Workshop. Some of her favorite roles are Kate in Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, Gracie in The Faith Healer, Sook in Holiday Memories, Florence Foster Jenkins in Souvenir, Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Shirley Valentine.

Ina Shivack (Gatekeeper) has appeared with many Tucson theater companies (some sadly extinct) in a wide variety of dramatic, comedic, and musical roles -- from Shakespeare to Neil Simon, from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Sondheim. Some favorites: Sunday in the Park with George, The Producers, Much Ado About Nothing, Prisoner of Second Avenue and Light Up the Sky. In her native New York, Ina was a member and soloist with the renowned New York Choral Society, singing in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and other major venues as well as on international tours. She has done back-up in concert and on recordings with opera stars including Luciano Pavorotti and with folk and pop legends Peter, Paul & Mary, Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin.

Denise Blum (Ophelia) arrived in Tucson in 2006. Prior to that, she co-created the International Amateur Community Theater (I-ACT) in La Serena, Chile, and acted in, directed, and produced live theater for the benefit of local charities. Since arriving in Tucson, she finds herself fortunate to have worked with several Tucson-based theater companies and independent film productions. Some of her favorite stage acting credits include Miss American Pie (a one-woman show), Steel Magnolias, The Lady and the Clarinet, The Little Foxes, Upton Abbey, Pieces, The Mousetrap, In The Shadow of My Son, and now When Churchyards Yawn. Her directing credits include London Suite, Strawberry Jam, Pygmalion, A Long Trip, keepingabreast, and the Elephant Man (Assistant Director). She co-produced Winding Road Theater Ensemble's 2020, 2021, and 2022 Eight 10's In Tucson - ONLINE and is looking forward to helping the festival return to in-person performances for the 2023 Season.

Mark Klugheit (Old Hamlet) has been active in Tucson theater for the past dozen years. His stage credits range from Shakespeare (King Lear, Taming of the Shrew, Midsummer Night's Dream) to contemporary classics like Proof and Glengarry Glen Ross. Mark has focused mainly on directing since 2016. His productions include Venus in Fur, God Of Carnage, Luna Gale, I Hate Hamlet, The Last Five Years, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), and have been nominated for a total of nineteen MAC and Carmen Awards (Tucson's version of the Tony Awards).

Chad Davies (Claudius) is an actor, director, and producer who has worked with both Equity and community theater productions in the San Francisco Bay Area. He majored in Theatre Arts at San Jose State University. Past roles include Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman), Clarence Darrow (Never the Sinner), Billy Einhorn (House of Blue Leaves), Candy (Of Mice and Men) and Santee (Geography of a Horse Dreamer). Arriving in Tucson in 2017, Chad joined Winding Road and served as its Managing Director until 2020 (he is now a Winding Road Member Emeritus). He also founded the Winding Road "Eight 10s in Tucson" 10-minute play festival, an annual showcase of 10-minute plays submitted by playwrights from across the country.

Jeffrey Webster (Polonius) until moving to the Sonoran Desert was active in Sacramento's vibrant theater scene for many years. Some of his favorite productions have included, The Women of Lockerbie, The Timekeeper, Dinners With Augie, The Bacchae, Antigone, No Admittance by Tucson's own Reid Gilbert, See How they Run, Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo, The Dining Room, Love Letters, and many others. In Fox TV's Legends and Lies, he played New Mexico Governor, Lew Wallace. When not milking applause on stage or mugging for the camera, the Massachusetts native is an active hospice volunteer, cofounder of a Coast Guard veterans group, board member of The Santa Cruz Shoestring Players in Green Valley, and a birding enthusiast.

Chad Eggen (Laertes) was born and raised in the Midwest. He attended college in Minnesota, landing roles in The Passion of Dracula, and I Hate Hamlet. He graduated with a BA in Theatre with an emphasis in acting. His goal was to go for his MFA, but he ended up acting in community theatre in roles such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Nerd, and RENT. Upon moving to AZ over six years ago, Chad joined local community theatres and landed roles such as Edward Sheridan in Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, Larry in Inspecting Carol, the Sailor in The Good Doctor, and Dr. Sanderson in Harvey. He has also landed a couple of roles in Independent films. A vocal talent, he can do multiple vocal impressions from Spongebob Squarepants to Optimus Prime. On a personal note, Chad and his wife Angie have been married for over 25 years, were foster parents for 10 of those years, and have 4 children. Chad would like to thank Jeanmarie for this opportunity, his family for their patience, his fellow cast, and everyone who supports the arts.

Trained at HB Studio in New York City, Larry Gutman (Guildenstern) has appeared in many plays both in New York City and Tucson. Some of his favorite roles are Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey, Magnus Muldoon in The Real Inspector Hound, Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace, Axel Hammond in The Nerd, Robert in Proof, George Tesman in Hedda Gabler, Firs in The Cherry Orchard, Moe Axelrod in Awake and Sing!, Owen Musser in The Foreigner, Ol' Cap'n Cotchipee in Purlie Victorious, Captain Taylor in A Soldier's Play and Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank. He thanks Jeff Webster for inviting him into this formidable ensemble and Jeanmarie for writing and directing this memorable play.

Tim Tully (Rosencrantz) was last seen in Tiny Beautiful Things at Invisible Theatre. He was a busy actor in the Seattle area for thirty years before moving here three years ago. Favorite roles include Henry Higgins and Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Felix in The Odd Couple, and the Emcee in Cabaret. He created and acted in a one-man show called Dickens Reading Dickens, which he toured in the Seattle area. He was very active in the Tucson theatre scene before moving to Seattle. He worked at Invisible Theatre, the dinner theatre on Miracle Mile (under various names and managements and at the Gaslight where he played Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol - which also featured our playwright, Jeanmarie Simpson.

Drew Kallen-Keck (Hamlet)'s mother will swear that she always knew Drew would be an actor based on his behavior at the dinner table when brussels sprouts were being served. He started in theatre in Billings, Montana, with well-received performances as Rolph in The Sound of Music and Otto von Bruno in Bullshot Crummond, where he began to hone his ability for comedy. Drew attended Montana State University's Media and Theatre Arts program. He was involved in many University productions such as Rumors and Talley's Folly, as well as directing student films and a production of The Curate Shakespeare's As You Like It. After college, Drew moved to Phoenix, where he quickly became involved in The Actor's Renaissance Theatre. Then, after his day job moved him to Tucson, he jumped into local stage work, with roles as Leonard in The Dover Road, Morell in Candida, and Dr. Watson in many Sherlock Holmes productions. In addition to his theatre work, Drew has done voice-overs for several projects, including Commercials and Animated projects, and has narrated several audiobooks. Look him up on Audible.com to check out some of his work!

Linda J. Pierce (stage manager) returns to theatre after a 40-year absence and is excited to be a part of this reading of When Churchyards Yawn. When she's not stage managing, she's working as Deputy Director for the nonprofit Archaeology Southwest. She wants to thank Jeanmarie for this chance to dip her toes back into the theater world.

Jeanmarie Simpson (playwright, director) wrote and performed hundreds of times (including a run Off-Broadway) the play A Single Woman, about the life of first US Congresswoman and lifelong pacifist Jeannette Rankin. She also starred in the film version that featured Judd Nelson, the voices of Martin Sheen and Patricia Arquette, and the music of Joni Mitchell. In 2007, she appeared at the historic Beverly Hills Theatre 40 in the American premiere of the solo tour-de-force Shakespeare's Will, directed by Leonard Nimoy. She was commissioned by the Be the Change Project to create a piece based on interviews with Dreamers; Liberty's Children premiered at the Potential Workshop in Reno, Nevada, in March 2014. Since the pandemic, Jeanmarie has completed four plays - Pineapple and Other Options, The Jewish Question (Honorable Mention, The Jewish Plays Project, 2021), When Churchyards Yawn, and Bambino Mio - bright little flame (about the life of Maria Montessori). She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Stage Directors and Choreographer's Society, and a retired member of Actors' Equity Association and AFTRA/SAG.

Saturday, July 16, 2022 Desert View High School, 4101 E. Valencia Tucson 85706 FREE ADMISSION (donations gratefully accepted) Please arrive by 5:00 p.m. Reading begins at 5:15 p.m. Complimentary food and drink provided, and the reading will be followed by a discussion with the audience.

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