Live Performance Returns to Memorial Hall with Safe, Soul-Searching Theatrical Reading Series

memo_logoCINCINNATI, OH – Live performance returns to historic Memorial Hall as gifted theatre artists explore vital dialogues of our turbulent times in the Resilience Staged Reading Series. The series will play in repertory October 10 through November 21, 2020, and is comprised of four contemporary plays and adaptations. The first two pieces are being announced at this time:

THE STORY OF KING LEARRegional Premiere Adaptation
Adapted from Shakespeare by Daniel Elihu Kramer | Directed by Gabriella DiVincenzo
A ruler abdicates power, yet demands honor and privilege.
October 10, 17, 20, 23 & 31, 2020; all performances at 8:00pm

CRY IT OUTRegional Premiere Dramedy
By Molly Smith Metzler | Directed by Leslie Goddard
First-time mothers reckon with boundaries of class, economy, and the impossibility of “having it all.”
October 15, 22, 24, 29 & 30, 2020; all performances at 8:00pm

Two shows playing in November will be announced during the week of September 28.

The series takes place in Memorial Hall’s opulent Green Ballroom, which offers a safe setting for up to 24 guests at socially distant tables. Seating is available for socializing groups of two or four; single tickets are not available. Patrons may reserve tables by making a pay-what-you-can donation; the recommended donation is $20.00 per patron. All net proceeds of the intimate productions will directly benefit the theater artists on stage and behind the scenes. Seats may be reserved online at MemorialHallOTR.com, or by calling the Memorial Hall Box Office at 513.977.8838 (Tu – Fr, 12pm – 4pm).

Simple, Safe and Soul-Searching
The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered performing arts venues largely impotent in a time when the unique voice of the arts could further empathy and understanding in a deeply divided America. Recent regulations from the State of Ohio cap performing arts venues at 15% of their maximum capacity, or 300 guests, whichever is lower. The economics of presenting traditional performing arts in this environment are simply untenable. Yet the current moment demanded that something be done, according to Joshua Steele, Memorial Hall Manager.

“As the summer passed with still no end in sight for the pandemic, we saw a mostly empty calendar and nearly uniform unemployment among theatre professionals, yet a pressing need for the kinds of conversations the performing arts create,” says Steele. “As a presenter, Memorial Hall rarely has the opportunity to host acts that speak to the moment. The Resilience Staged Reading Series provides some modicum of support to our theatre community, and offers a forum for the today’s vital issues, all in a safe and lightly-attended environment.”

Safety is a Priority at Memorial Hall
As part of Memorial Hall’s commitment to the health and well-being of our staff, guests and the community, the venue will implement preventive measures consistent with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health agencies. Special safety protocol for the Resilience Staged Reading Series include:

  • Masks are required upon entry and throughout patrons’ time in the venue.
  • Maximum seating of 24 guests in a 1,400 square foot room, which can normally accommodate more than 160 guests seated.
  • Socially distanced seating at tables. Patrons are seated 6’ apart, and 12’ from performers.
  • Socially distanced formation of lines at box office, bar and restrooms.
  • Reduced touch box office and concession interactions, including card-only transactions on site.
  • Plastic shielding at box office and concessions.
  • Ample hand sanitizer throughout venue.
  • Staff, actors and production team will conduct temperature checks at beginning of shifts.
  • Venue staff will wear masks at all times.
  • Hourly disinfecting of high touch surfaces and restrooms.
  • Full disinfection of facility following each performance, including use of electrostatic sprayers.
  • Outside air mix via Dedicated Outside Air System.
  • Digital playbills.
  • No cast larger than five actors.
  • All performances will be presented without intermission to minimize social contact.
    • In addition to pre-show bar service, Memorial Hall will emphasize use of its Noble app, which allows patrons to order drink service at their tables during the performances.

A complete list of COVID-19 protocol at Memorial Hall is available at MemorialHallOTR.com/COVID. Patrons with additional questions may contact the Memorial Hall Box Office at 513.977.8838 (Tu – Fr, 12pm – 4pm).

Productions and Performances
The Resilience Staged Reading Series will feature four contemporary plays and adaptions which each speak to the vital issues of today. Actors will perform at stools with their scripts, situated 12’ away from the nearest audience member and 6’ away from each other. All performances will feature video and/or sound design. The acoustically excellent Green Ballroom does not require amplification. Actors will not be masked when performing, though they may don masks when not actively involved in a scene.

THE STORY OF KING LEAR
University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Drama and Cincinnati Artists’ Theatre co-founder Gabriella DiVincenzo explores the nature of authority and privilege in THE STORY OF KING LEAR, an adaptation of the Shakespearean drama featuring contemporary language and a small cast playing multiple roles. DiVincenzo’s was introduced to the piece by her former professor, Brant Russell, who is a colleague of adapter and Chester Theatre Company (Massachusetts) director Daniel Elihu Kramer. DiVincenzo was attracted to both the utility and timelessness of the re-told classic.

“The story of King Lear is a familiar one,” muses DiVincenzo. “It is about fathers and daughters. It’s about brothers fighting against brothers. It’s a story of war and emptiness—promises left unfulfilled and a kingdom divided in two halves. This play hits closer to home than any of us would have ever expected in the year 2020.”

THE STORY OF KING LEAR is a regional premiere. Anticipated duration is 50 minutes, and there will be no intermission.

CRY IT OUT
Jessie is a corporate lawyer in a Manhattan firm. Lina is a community-college dropout and born-and-bred Long Islander. They don’t seem to have anything in common, but marooned at home with infants, they strike up a fast friendship. In the yard between their houses—as far as their baby monitors will reach—they bond over sleep deprivation, unreliable childcare, and “having it all.” A candid comedy about who gets to make which hard choices in the tinderbox of parenthood and class in the United States.

Broadway veteran Leslie Goddard has been the go-to director for theatrical productions at Memorial Hall, where she has staged THE WHO’S TOMMY and RING OF FIRE over the past two years. At a time when society is grappling with issues around maternity leave, working from home, and pervasive loneliness and depression, Goddard found the 2017 piece fresh and poignant.

“I was drawn to CRY IT OUT because it unapologetically addresses the trials and tribulations that go along with new parenthood,” explains Goddard. “These new moms (and a new dad) navigate so many of the issues facing parents in today’s society – how, when, or IF a new mom should return to work, financial struggles that arise from adding a new baby to the family mix, breastfeeding, and so much more. It’s a hilariously, wild ride through the pain and pleasure of becoming a parent.”

Debuting at Louisville’s venerated Humana Festival of New Plays in 2017, CRY IT OUT will be a Greater Cincinnati premiere. Anticipated duration is 90 minutes, and there will be no intermission. CRY IT OUT IS Produced by special arrangement with THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY of Woodstock, Illinois.

Two Additional Plays to be Announced
The week of September 28, Memorial Hall will announce two additional productions, playing in repertory in November:

  • The world premiere reading of a new play by a lauded Cincinnati playwright. The piece follows a time travelling protagonist who encounters the dark corners of American history, featuring an exceptional cast of actors of color. Northern Kentucky University’s Daryl Harris directs.
  • Air Force veteran and theatre artist Phillip Webster directs the regional premiere reading of an award-winning play about a veteran returning from Afghanistan, who works to recuperate her injuries and save the domestic life she knew.

Reservations & Complete Schedule
The Resilience Staged Ready Series takes place in Memorial Hall’s opulent Green Ballroom, which offers a safe setting for up to 24 guests at socially distant tables. Seating is available for socializing groups of two or four; single tickets are not available. Patrons may reserve tables by making a pay-what-you-can donation; the recommended donation is $20.00 per patron.

Seats may be reserved online at MemorialHallOTR.com, or by calling the Memorial Hall Box Office at 513.977.8838 (Tu – Fr, 12pm – 4pm).

Artist Biographies

MEMO_Gabriella DiVeincenzo headshot

Gabriella DiVeincenzo.

GABRIELLA DIVINCENZO is a Boston native who earned a BFA in Acting from the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music (CCM). Gabriella has been working consistently as a director and producer in Cincinnati since moving to the Queen City in 2015. She is a Co-Founder, Resident Director and the Project Coordinator/Director of Artist Relations at the Cincinnati Artists’ Theatre (CAT). The Liberty Exhibition Hall is home to C.A.T. and where Gabriella has directed a number of her productions including TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES THE BABY GO BLIND, MEN ON BOATS, LUNGS, and LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS. She has also worked at the Know Theatre as a director in the One Minute Play Festival, and Assistant Director to Brant Russell on the world premiere production of DARKEST NIGHT AT THE GNARLY STUMP. Gabriella has also directed THE FLICK by Annie Baker which was voted a 2020 Staff Pick in CityBeat at The Esquire Theatre. www.gabrielladivincenzo.com

MEMO_Leslie Goddard headshotLESLIE GODDARD (Director, CRY IT OUT) has been performing, directing, and choreographing for over 25 years. She was last seen on stage in SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM at The Lex and as Bridgit in LIZZIE at The Human Race Theatre Company. Other credits include Brenda/ Penny u/s in HAIRSPRAY on Broadway, Francine et.al. in JERSEY BOYS (Las Vegas), and roles on many local stages including Gerogie Bukatinsky in THE FULL MONTY at HRTC, Missy in THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES: CAPS AND GOWNS at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Gemini in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Roxie in CHICAGO at The Carnegie, and Deb in ORDINARY DAYS at Short North Stage. Among the numerous shows she has choreographed, Leslie had the great pleasure of staging and choreographing THE WHO’S TOMMY and RING OF FIRE at the newly renovated Memorial Hall in Cincinnati. Her most notable accomplishments to date are her two daughters, Jocelyn and Mika.

DARYL HARRIS (Director, Play To Be Announced) is a Full Professor in the Theatre and Dance Program in the School of the Arts (SOTA) at Northern Kentucky University. He is a 52-year veteran of traditional,
experimental, educational, and applied theatre. He has studied and worked throughout North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. In addition to teaching diverse interdisciplinary theatre courses, Daryl also acts in, directs and costume-designs theatrical productions. His primary passion: engaging scholars and communities transculturally and transnationally across disciplines.

PHILLIP WEBSTER (Director, Play To Be Announced) is a musician, actor and all-around dilettante who’s been onstage and behind the scenes at the Horizon Theatre (Atlanta), the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Prince George’s Co. Shakespeare in the Park, The Carnegie and New Stage Collective, among others. He is also veteran of the US Air Force and a graduate of the Defense Language Institute’s Arabic program. Phillip is the creator of two podcasts, a historical news program called Queen City Bulletin and the upcoming Froghammer Shakespeare Radio Hour, a behind the scenes look at Northern Kentucky’s longest-running and most bizarre classical theatre company.

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About Memorial Hall: Memorial Hall, managed and programmed by 3CDC, is conveniently located in the heart of the revitalized arts district of Over-the-Rhine. This exquisite venue overlooks Washington Park, and is adjacent to Music Hall in addition to being down the street from both the School for Creative and Performing Arts and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Designed by Samuel Hannaford, the hall features marble staircases adorned with intricate wrought iron that lead to the 550-seat proscenium theater, dubbed the Annie W. and Elizabeth M. Anderson Theater. Exceptional acoustics, decorative murals and Tiffany chandeliers enhance this historic theater. Memorial Hall offers an elegant setting for performances and unique spaces for social and business events.

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