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

November World Premiere and October Casting Released

CINCINNATI, 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 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

UGLY LIES THE BONERegional Premiere Drama
By Lindsey Ferrentino
Directed by Phillip Webster
The fight continues for a discharged soldier striving to recuperate her injuries and save the life she knew.
November 6, 9, 11, 14, 17; all performances at 8:00pm

SILAS, THE UNINVITEDWorld Premiere Reading
By Derek Snow
Directed by Daryl Harris
A black man imbued with the gift of time travel searches for freedom in three American eras.
November 10, 13, 16, 20, 21; all performances at 8:00pm

A fourth production, taking place in November, will be announced soon.

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, 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.
  • Dedicated Outside Air System cycles in fresh air during, and two hours prior to, performances.
  • 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 here. 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.

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.”

Cincinnati theatre legend Michael Burnham takes a rare acting turn as the eponymous King Lear. A Cincinnati Entertainment Award Hall of Famer and retired CCM instructor, Burnham headlines a cast with strong CCM ties, including local favorite and CCM drama graduate Keisha Kemper, and notable current CCM Acting students Julianna Weis-Palacois and Duncan Weiland.

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

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.”

Cincinnati theatre star Miranda McGee takes on the role of ambitious and caustic Adrienne, whose high-powered professional life seems incompatible with her role as a mother. A resident actor at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, McGee has trod the boards of nearly all of Cincinnati’s
professional theatre companies, along with engagements across the country. Gifted rising professional Brianna Bernard carries much of the play’s weight in the role of Jessie, joining active young actor Sarah Zaffiro (Lina) and veteran local thespian and director Aaron Whitehead (Mitchell), who makes his Memorial Hall debut.

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.

Newly discharged soldier Jess has finally returned to her Florida hometown. She brings with her not only vivid memories of Afghanistan, but painful burns that have left her physically and emotionally scarred. Jess soon realizes that things at home have changed even more than she has. Through the use of virtual reality video game therapy, she builds a breathtaking new world where she can escape her pain. As Jess advances farther in the game, she begins to restore her relationships, her life, and, slowly, herself.

Directed by United States Air Force veteran Phillip Webster, UGLY LIES THE BONE pays tribute to Memorial Hall’s genesis as a venue for veterans, the Veteran’s Day holiday, and to the centennial of the founding of Disabled Veterans of America at Memorial Hall in 1920. Webster appreciated the intimate focus and rare absence of heavy-handedness for a modern play about veterans.

“What really intrigued me about UGLY LIES THE BONE is that it’s a play about a wounded warrior that doesn’t ask the big political questions,” says Webster. “It instead focuses on the personal cost of war, the psychological and physical price for those who fight, and the families left behind.”

UGLY LIES THE BONE was a winner of the National Arts Club Kesserling Prize for Playwriting in 2017, and will be a Greater Cincinnati premiere. Anticipated duration is 90 minutes, and there will be no intermission.

UGLY LIES THE BONE is produced by special arrangement with Concord Theatricals.

A black man imbued with the gift of time travel searches for freedom in three American eras.

NKU’s Daryl Harris leads a cast of gifted black actors in an exploration of the dark corners of America’s historical relationship with race. SILAS, THE UNINVITED is a world premiere reading by lauded Cincinnati playwright Derek Snow, whose plays have been performed at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, the Know Theatre Cincinnati, and at venues around the country and internationally.

In a time when Americans are grappling with the deaths George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, among so many others, playwright Snow finds sad parallels in current and historical violence towards black people.

“I was inspired to write this piece after researching the undocumented extrajudicial killings of African Americans at the turn of the 20th century,” explains Snow. “I was interested in the way that America has consistently replaced one form of mob violence with another. I wanted to explore a character that could exist in all these eras and make the case that change has been difficult and, unfortunately, slow.”

Anticipated duration of SILAS, THE UNINVTED is 75 minutes, and there will be no intermission.

A fourth production, playing in November, will be announced soon.

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, or by calling the Memorial Hall Box Office at 513.977.8838 (Tu – Fr, 12pm – 4pm).

Artist Biographies

MEMO_Brianna Bernard

       Brianna Bernard.

BRIANNA BERNARD (Jessie, CRY IT OUT) is endlessly thankful to join the cast of CRY IT OUT in her Memorial Hall debut. Recent Cincinnati credits: PUFFS (Know Theatre of Cincinnati), MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (Cincinnati Landmark Productions), TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES THE BABY GO BLIND (Cincinnati Artists’ Theatre), and THE OPINIONS OF MEN (Cincinnati Fringe Festival 2020). “Black Lives Matter. Wear a mask. Thankful for everything I’ve learned from mothers, especially mine.”

MEMO_Michael Burnham

     Michael Burnham.

MICHAEL BURNHAM (Lear, Gloucester; LEAR) is a decidedly local director, dramaturg, writer, storyteller, and now and again an actor. For more than forty years, he’s lived sorta happily ever after with the decidedly local documentarist Barbara Wolf. Three or four years ago an insurance lawyer forced them to get married. Luckily, their relationship seems to be surviving. Michael taught at CCM for almost thirty years; has created works for small arts organizations all over town – from Pones to concert:nova to Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati to Know Theatre to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; is in the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame for Sustained Achievement; and once won a major award at Ithaca’s Fringe for a solo piece previously rejected by Cincy Fringe Festival. “Hey,” he says, “sometimes ya’ gotta get away to be heard, y’know?” Now, while busily editing what might become a musical about the Fisk Jubilee Singers, he gets to read a little Lear with friends. As the I Ching says, “In the afternoon light, unless you drum on a jug and sing, there will be the lament of old age, which is unfortunate.”

MEMO_Gabriella DiVeincenzo headshot

   Gabriella DiVeincenzo.

GABRIELLA DIVINCENZO (Director, LEAR) 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.

MEMO_Leslie Goddard headshot

               Leslie Goddard.

LESLIE 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 in JERSEY BOYS (Las Vegas), and roles on many local stages including Gerogie Bukatinsky in THE FULL MONTY at The Human Race Theatre Company, 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.

MEMO_Daryl Harris

                Daryl Harris.

DARYL HARRIS (Director, SILAS, THE UNINVITED) 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.

MEMO_Keisha Kemper

                  Keisha Kemper.

KEISHA KEMPER (Goneril, Regan; LEAR) is a native of Cincinnati. She graduated from CCM with a BFA in Dramatic Performance. Around town, she has performed as Weezy in ALABASTER and Harry in HARRY AND THE THIEF at the Know Theatre of Cincinnati, with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra during a performance of Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet as the Chorus/Nurse, with concert:nova in THE BRADBURY TATTOOS: AN EXPERIMENTAL ROCK OPERA as (Story)Teller, as Amanda Wingfield in New
Edgecliff Theatre’s production of THE GLASS MENAGERIE, and in original works at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. She is excited grateful to be performing during these unsettling times.

MEMO_Miranda McGee

              Miranda McGee.

MIRANDA MCGEE (Adrienne, CRY IT OUT) is thrilled to be a part of the Resilience Staged Reading Series (assuming she can remember how to act, after a few months in quarantine!). Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Miranda has been a proud Cincinnati resident for over a decade. An AEA member and resident actor at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for twelve seasons, she has also worked locally with The Carnegie, Know Theatre Cincinnati, Clifton Performance Theatre, the Covedale and Madcap Puppets, and regionally with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Howmet Playhouse and Essential Theatre. When not onstage, Miranda can be seen as a tour guide with American Legacy Tours, leading people through underground brewery tunnels and talking about the fascinating history of Over-The-Rhine. “Did you know Memorial Hall is haunted?” Special thanks to Josh and the amazing crew of people who made this possible, and the continued resilience, strength and fortitude of not only the theatre community, but the beautiful city of Cincinnati. “We’re all in this together!”

MEMO_Derek Snow

            Derek Snow.

DEREK SNOW (Playwright, SILAS, THE UNINVITED) has been in the Cincinnati theatre community as an actor, writer and director for over 35 years. A graduate of the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Derek then continued his education in New York City before returning after graduation to teach dramatic arts to inner-city youth in the public school system. He has been with the popular physical theatre group Performance Gallery for the past 18 years. His written work has been produced in Atlanta, New Jersey and Sydney, Australia. He recently had his latest short play, WIND KILL FACTOR, read for a sold-out audience at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, and is thrilled to be bringing SILAS, THE UNINVITED to audiences for the first time.

MEMO_Phillip Webster

     Phillip Webster.

PHILLIP WEBSTER (Director, UGLY LIES THE BONE) 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.

MEMO_Duncan Weinland

        Duncan Weinland.

DUNCAN WEINLAND (Edmund, Edgar; LEAR) is a Senior in the CCM Acting program. Born and raised in Seattle Washington and a Roosevelt High School graduate, he has worked with Seattle Public Theater and Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Wooden-O. Duncan was most recently seen in Cincinnati as Karl Lindner in CLYBOURNE PARK at the University of Cincinnati. Previous UC credits include Wisehammer IN OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD and Orpheus in EURYDICE. Previous Cincinnati credits include Oliver in LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS produced at Liberty Exhibition Hall.

MEMO_Julianna Weis-Palacois

 Julianna Weis-Palacois.

JULIANNA WEIS-PALACOIS (Cordelia, The Fool; LEAR) is an acting student at CCM. Her past credits include Besty in CLYBOURNE PARK, Kristine in A CHORUS LINE, Graffiti Pete in IN THE HEIGHTS and many other musicals. She is beyond grateful for this experience; it truly has been a gift and reminder in these confusing and somewhat hopeless times. She wants to thank Gabriella DiVincenzo for believing in her and for everything she has generously taught her. She would also like to thank her mom for being everything she could ever need.

MEMO_Aaron Whitehead

           Aaron Whitehead.

AARON WHITEHEAD (Mitchell, CRY IT OUT) is happy to be making his first appearance at Memorial Hall. Working by day at a Cincinnati non-profit, Aaron spends his evenings involved with as much theatre as possible. Some of Aaron’s recent local appearances include THE ELEPHANT MAN (Merrick) with Center Stage Players, THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS (Melvin) at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, and DRY LAND (Janitor) at Clifton Performance Theatre. Aaron was rehearsing the role of Anthony in THE END OF THE RAINBOW at The Carnegie when COVID-19 hit, cancelling the show. Aaron was also scheduled to direct THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO at Mariemont Players, but this was rescheduled for autumn 2021. Aaron is glad to have the opportunity to be involved with theatre that has such strong social relevance as a means of speaking out for marginalized voices in these difficult times.

MEMO_Sarah Zaffiro

             Sarah Zaffiro.

SARAH ZAFFIRO (Lina, CRY IT OUT) is an actress and singer currently based in Cincinnati, OH. She is represented by PCG Talent Agency. Her favorite roles to date include Eponine in LES MISERABLES, Elizabeth in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, Maureen in RENT, and Wendla in SPRING AWAKENING. When she’s not performing, Sarah teaches private acting lessons and enjoys reading classic novels, watching historical dramas on Netflix, and snuggling with her cats.

# # #

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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