Playwrights Local Announces World Premiere of "Things as They Are"

Top Quote New play-with-music on American poet Wallace Stevens from playwright David Todd and composer Ben Chasny. Directed by Anjanette Hall, the world premiere production runs May 12 through 28 at Reinberger Auditorium in Cleveland. Evening performance on Friday, May 26 to be simulcast on HowlRound TV. End Quote
  • Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, OH (1888PressRelease) April 25, 2017 - Playwrights Local announces Things as They Are, a new play-with-music by David Todd with an original score by Ben Chasny. Featuring direction by Anjanette Hall, this world premiere is a dramatic exploration of American poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), a stoic visionary whose titanic imagination and confounding duality have lent him an unwavering mystique. The production runs May 12 through 28 at Reinberger Auditorium in Cleveland.

    Things as They Are is a multi-media theater piece combining dramatic scenes, original compositions, poems, dance/movement, commedia dell'arte, and projections. This all-new work focuses on Wallace Stevens, an American poet known for balancing a life in the literary avant-garde with a successful career in the insurance industry. Things as They Are looks past the stock image of Stevens as an aloof executive to find a striving son, an uncertain husband and father, a part-time comedian, and a full-time Modern giant. Following him from run-ins with Marcel Duchamp to Ernest Hemingway, and from crises with wife Elsie to daughter Holly, the play reveals the "real" Wallace Stevens to be a man of great insight, contradictions, whimsy, and desire.

    Things as They Are was written by David Todd, Artistic Director of Playwrights Local in Cleveland. Todd's recent works include Objectively/Reasonable, an ensemble-written play he conceived and edited on the 2014 Tamir Rice shooting, and Joy in Repetition, a "hauntological" adaptation of Romeo and Juliet that was published by Connotation Press. Things as They Are features an original score by Ben Chasny, the central figure behind the acclaimed group Six Organs of Admittance. Chasny has been featured on NPR and in The Quietus, and has been described by MusicOHM as "a bona fide guitar god" and by Pitchfork as "one of the most consistently inspired personalities in indie rock." His twenty recordings as Six Organs of Admittance are complemented by collaborative projects including Rangda, Comets on Fire, New Bums, and 200 Years. The California-based Chasny will perform the score with Cleveland-area synthesist John Elliott. A recipient of the 2016 Cleveland Arts Prize, Elliott first gained attention with the lauded electronic trio Emeralds. In addition to curating the experimental label Spectrum Spools, he currently performs with the duo Mist.

    Things as They Are incorporates excerpts from Wallace Stevens' original poetry and prose by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. The play is directed by Anjanette Hall, whose recent credits include Big Love, Callings: A Devised Piece, What is Love, The Bear, and Broken Crown, all at Baldwin Wallace University, where she is an Assistant Professor of Theatre. Hall's recent acting credits include The Night Alive and An Octoroon (Dobama Theatre), A Carol for Cleveland (Cleveland Play House), and Three Sisters and Heartbreak House (Mamai Theatre). She has done a number of short films and commercials, and appeared as Gretchen Huber on NBC's Ed.

    "Wallace Stevens is widely considered to be among the most significant of American poets, as well as an enigma that so many people have enjoyed trying to crack," says David Todd. "His work is complex but also comic; his language is esoteric but lush and romantic. It's an honor to be entrusted with the rights to his original material for this production."

    The cast of Things as They Are includes Robert Hawkes, Jason Markouc, Laura Starnik, Tessa Hager, Jeanne Task, Robert Branch, Kenzie Critzer, Marco Liguori, and Liam Stilson. The stage manager for the production is Francesca Mamlin, the production manager is Kelly Tomko, and the assistant director is Nora Jeanne DeMilta. The creative team consists of costume designer Inda Blatch-Geib, lighting designer Jonathan Maag, set and projection designer T. Paul Lowry, and prop designer Emily Kovalcik. The dance/movement choreographer is Michael Hinton, the commedia dell'arte choreographer is Cleo DeOrio, and the fight choreographer is Dusten Welch. The production dramaturg is Elizabeth Tofig.

    "It's also a thrill to work with director Anjanette Hall, who directed a wonderful production of Charles Mee's Big Love last year and who's put together an amazing company for this show," says Todd. "And of course the same goes for Ben Chasny, who has to be one of the most searching and creatively ambitious musicians of our time. We're all excited to have him here for this entire run, and to perform with such an accomplished counterpart as Cleveland's own John Elliott."

    Things as They Are runs May 12 through 28, 2017, with performances Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm. There will be a special industry night performance on Monday, May 15 at 7:30 pm. A half-price preview will run on Thursday, May 11 at 7:30 pm. All shows will be in the upstairs loft at Reinberger Auditorium (5209 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102). Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and groups, and $12 for students. Group packages can be arranged by contacting Tom Hayes at hayes ( @ ) playwrightslocal dot org or (216) 302-8856 dot For complete information, visit the company's website at http://playwrightslocal dot org/ dot

    A live performance of Things as They Are will be simulcast online via HowlRound TV at 7:30 pm on Friday, May 26. Additional information about this event will be posted on the Playwrights Local website at Direct access to the livestream will be available at

    Playwrights Local is a theater company based in Cleveland. As a playwrights' center, the organization's goal is to provide a home for dramatic writing in Northeast Ohio. They offer classes and workshops, produce original plays, provide networking opportunities, and engage the community through outreach projects. Tax-deductible contributions to this 501(c)(3) group can be made at

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