poster for White Rabbit, Red RabbitGUEST ACTORS PERFORM ORIGINAL PLAY FROM IRAN

The UAlbany Performing Arts Center, operating under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences, is pleased to present performances of White Rabbit, Red Rabbiton Wednesday through Saturday, October 2-5, 2013 at 7:30pm.

Written by Nassim Soleimanpour, the work, in his own words, “is not so much a play, as an experiment.” It distills the experience of an entire generation in an utterly original play about contemporary Iran and those born amidst the hardship of the Iran-Iraq war. Requiring no director, no set, no rehearsal and a different actor for each performance, featured performers will include Chad Larabee (Oct. 2), Benita Zahn (Oct. 3), Yvonne Perry (Oct. 4) and Ward Dales (Oct. 5).

Using a menagerie of allegorical animals, the show plays with ideas of power and manipulation in society. Through rich metaphorical content, the work explores control, violence and trust. According to blogger Matthew Linley who saw the production last fall in the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, England, “it is quietly comic, joyously participative and frighteningly unnerving.”   Written in 2010 and premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the play has been performed around the world and translated into 15 languages.  It has been seen on stages at the Summerworks Festival in Toronto, Poland’s Bytom Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, Oslo International Theatre, San Francisco International Arts Festival, Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Calgary, London’s LIFT Festival and Brazil’s Internacional de Teatro de Sao Jose do Rio Preto, to name just a few.

Accolades for the work include the Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance Award, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe) as well as nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award.  The Guardian described the work as “a thoughtful, playful response to oppression“ while the San Francisco Chronicle calls it as “a lightly comic, deceptively discursive, metatheatrical monologue that...raises provocative questions about the nature of theater, social responsibility, personal freedoms, suicide and the limits of obedience.  A Fringe Review (Brighton) called it “a stunning piece of theatre, thought-provoking and morally unsettling.  It’s a wonderful testament to the power of words to transcend cultures and borders.”
Until this past February, the playwright had never seen his work performed.  Born in Iran, Soleimanpour is an independent multidisciplinary theatre maker who could not get a passport because he took a stand refusing to do national service and so he devised a play that could travel the world without him.  About a year ago at a health check-up, he discovered he was exempt anyway because of an eye disorder.  With passport now in hand, Soleimanpour traveled to Brisbane to see his work on stage for the first time.  As told to BBC news, "I was sitting in the audience, I knew this writer, I knew him very closely. Biologically I'm him. I'm not him anymore," Soleimanpour said.  "But I knew that he is persisting to tell everybody that you have to redefine your red lines. You have to think of borders of obedience.”  Chris O’Rourke writing in The Examiner describes Soleimanpour as “a truly gifted, theatre practitioner for whom the act of writing is an act of freedom, defiance and questioning.”  White Rabbit, Red Rabbit “has the power to take us to scary places, dreadful places, places both funny and touching and all too painfully human.” 

Chad Larabee’s acting credits include the films Follow & Order and Camp Forgotten. He is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Theatre where he has directed Antigone, The Crucible, In the Next Room and the world premiere of Great Expectation, which he also wrote. Off-Broadway directing credits include Dreyfus in Rehearsal and the world-premiere of POPart. Other NYC credits include Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island, Do Not Disturb and Molineaux. Larabee directed the London premiere of Ain't We Got Fun.

Perhaps best known as an anchor and health reporter for NewsChannel 13, Benita Zahn has performed with Albany Civic Theater, Schenectady Civic Players, Schenectady Light Opera Company, Park Playhouse, Fort Salem Theater and Theatre Voices. She recently had a featured role in the independent movie Hobo Heysus. She also does standup comedy and is part of The Singing Anchors performing Broadway, pop and standards.

Yvonne Perry is an active freelance actress, director and educator. On stage, she has worked with Capital Rep, Saratoga Shakespeare, Stageworks/Hudson, River Valley Rep, Hubbard Hall, Oldcastle Theatre Company and The Northeast Theatre.  Her work can be seen on TV (Taft Furniture, Keeler Motor Car, Real Estate Deals, and many other commercials) and in educational training films. Yvonne spent five years as a contract lead on As The World Turns, where she originated the role of Rosanna Cabot.

Ward Dales has trained and worked professionally as an actor, singer, director and teacher in NYC and in Europe, but has called the Capital Region his creative home for over 20 years.  He was Co-Founder and Co-Producing Artistic Director of Actors’ Collaborative Inc. (ACI) for over a decade. He has directed and performed with most area theatres and his singing experience spans two decades and two continents. He currently teaches at Albany High School and directs the after school Theatre Ensemble.

Advance tickets are $15 for the general public and $10 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty-staff.  Tickets purchased on the day of the show are $20 for the general public and $15 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty-staff.  For reservations and further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.

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