The Invisible Hand
Written by Ayad Akhtar; Directed by Jonathan Fox
Ensemble Theatre Company, Santa Barbara, CA; April 2018
Excerpt from Dramaturgical Note: "Akhtar states that, for many, the economy has become a kind of deity: 'an abstraction that we placate and that we observe with holy attention on a regular basis whose well-being tells us more about our well-being than our own well-being tells us. When the economy is healthy, we are hopeful people. When the economy falters, presages of doom are never far off.' This idea is central to The Invisible Hand, in which Akhtar cleverly stages the conflict between the church of finance and traditional religion by introducing a persuasive evangelist of capitalism, in the form of the play’s central character, Nick Bright, into the midst of an extremist Muslim organization. As Nick, an American investment banker, begins to teach his captors how to play the stock market, he plants the seeds of conversion in them; but Nick’s belief in the power of capitalism – and in his money-making abilities – is in turn tested by his captors’ beliefs and by events out of his control. All of the play’s characters find themselves struggling to decide where to place their faith – in money or in religion; and the outcome is gripping and unexpected."
The City of Conversation
Written by Anthony Giardina; Directed by Cameron Watson
Ensemble Theatre Company, Santa Barbara, CA; February 2018
Excerpt from Dramaturgical Note in Playbill: "Although playwright Anthony Giardina describes Hester Ferris, the matriarch and central figure of The City of Conversation, as a 'fully imaginary' character, he says that he was drawn to several real D.C. doyennes – women prominent in D.C.’s social scene as hosts and party planners – who are reflected in certain facets of Hester’s character and past. [...] For women like Hester, in close proximity to power but for the most part denied official access to it, the ability to facilitate social interactions afforded them a measure of influence, and they cultivated this indirect power to accomplish political and personal goals. 'The real Washington Hostesses, the ones who made a difference… were a special breed of women, reared, schooled and trained to understand the subtle arts of entertaining,' writes journalist and Georgetown hostess Sally Quinn. 'In an era when women rarely worked, this was their only avenue to power and recognition. If they could bring together interesting, powerful men, those who were running the government, to exchange ideas and information in the privacy of their living rooms, that was an accomplishment in itself. And often, if they were lucky, history was made and they would have a place in it.'”
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
Written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon; Directed by Andrew Barnicle
Ensemble Theatre Company, Santa Barbara, CA; December 2017
Excerpt from Dramaturgical Note in Playbill: "Miss Bennet reunites under one roof many of the beloved characters of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. In doing so, the play encourages us to examine their altered circumstances and lives, exposing the ways in which they have (or have not) evolved in the intervening years. In fact, the characters themselves observe and comment on these changes frequently throughout the play, speculating on how and why they’ve occurred and what they might mean for their futures as individuals and as a family. In this way, the play explores the process of self-discovery and self-definition in the context of a close-knit family; it is, to borrow co-playwright Margot Melcon’s words, 'a true celebration of the struggle we all feel against who our family expect us to be versus who we actually are, and of women finding their power in being uniquely themselves.'”
Husbands and Wives
Adapted by Jonathan Fox from the Screenplay Written by Woody Allen; Directed by Jonathan Fox
Ensemble Theatre Company, Santa Barbara, CA; October 2017
Excerpt from Dramaturgical Note in Playbill: "Husbands and Wives is firmly situated within this shifting landscape of American marriage and divorce. It asks searching, often painful questions about the nature of modern love and marriage, sexual attraction and heartbreak, separation and loneliness: What is marriage when its purpose is no longer the creation of a family, but emotional, personal, and sexual fulfillment? What happens when a marriage no longer satisfies – when intimacy, or emotional and intellectual engagement decline? How does a couple define their own marriage, communicate their expectations and needs, and adjust to growth and change? And absent any fault or betrayal, how do you know when it’s time to call it quits? In the frenetic coupling and uncoupling of Judy and Gabe, Jack and Sally, Husbands and Wives explores the meanings and repercussions of our new ways of marrying and separating."