Meet the actors and creative team who will bring to life Lauren Gunderson’s whip-smart comedy about an 18th-century genius.
Sara Barker (Emilie) has worked with Avant Bard on King Lear (Edgar), Othello (Desdemona), Orlando (Orlando), Mary Stuart (Elizabeth), Six Characters in Search of an Author (Stepdaughter), The House of Yes (Jackie-O), The Cherry Orchard (Varya), The Mistorical Hystery of Henry (I)V (Hotspur), Lulu (Lulu), and The Miser (La Fleece). Credits also include Factory 449’s 448 Psychosis and Closet Land, Rorschach’s A Maze (Oksana), Scena’s The Importance of Being Earnest (Algernon). NYC credits include The Brick’s King Lear (King Lear), Hipgnosis Theatre’s The Winter’s Tale (Paulina), and various devised works with directors Lear DeBessonet and Josh Fox. Sara is a graduate of St. John’s College and a company member with Avant Bard, Factory 449, Rorschach Theatre, and The Klunch. www.sarabarker.com/acting
Brit Herring (Voltaire) is very happy to be making his Avant Bard debut! Brit has appeared Off-Broadway in Shel Silverstein’s The Devil and Billy Markham at SoHo Playhouse and in Paradise at The Lion Theater on Theater Row. Most recently Brit appeared in Everyman Theatre’s production of Great Expectations directed by Tazewell Thompson and made his debut at Arena Theatre in A Raisin in the Sun. Regionally he has acted with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, The Kennedy Center, Infinity Theatre Company, Annapolis Shakespeare, and many others. Brit received his MFA from Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University, and trained with The British American Theatre Institute. Brit works as a voiceover artist with The National Library Service for the Blind and Handicapped.
Lisa Hodsoll (Madame) is very pleased to work with Avant Bard for the first time. She recently finished playing Laura Bush in the Klunch’s one-woman show Laura Bush Killed a Guy. Other recent credits include A Fool’s Paradise: 30 Shakespeare Scenes in 60 Minutes at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the one-woman show Medea’s Got Some Issues (in Chicago with Chicago Theater Sweatshop and in D.C. with No Rules Theatre Company). Additional recent credits include Theater J: The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (Maeve); Theater Alliance: The Wonderful World of Dissocia (Jane/Dot, Helen Hayes nominated); and Studio Theatre: Edgar and Annabel (Miller). She is a member of Factory 449 and The Klunch.
Billie Krishawn (Soubrette) is thrilled to make her Avant Bard debut in this production of Emilie. A native Washingtonian, Billie has performed in NY, NJ, and the DMV as an actress, teaching artist, and poet. Her recent credits include Jumanji (Adventure Theatre MTC), How Old Is a Hero (Discovery Theater), and Bully (Interrobang Theatre Company). Film credits include TV One’s For My Man and Orange Juice in Bishops Garden. See her in these upcoming productions: Greensboro Lunch Counter at the Museum of American History, Skin of Our Teeth at Constellation Theatre Company.
Steve Lebens (Gentleman) is excited to make his debut with Avant Bard. Recent productions include Lazarus with Unstrung Harpists, King Lear with Lean and Hungry, Hamlet and Diary of Anne Frank with Compass Rose, and 12 Angry Men with American Century. He has also performed with Studio, Source, Signature, Folger, American Ensemble, the Guthrie, Karachi Drama Circle, and Teatro de las Americas. Screen credits include House of Cards, VEEP, Law and Order: CI, Field of Lost Shoes and King Lear.
Lauren Gunderson (Playwright) is the most produced living playwright in America of 2016, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School, where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has been commissioned, produced, and developed at companies across the U.S. including South Coast Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog!), The O’Neill, The Denver Center, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Olney Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire, and more. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You, Exit Pursued By A Bear, The Taming, and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists (Silent Sky, Bauer, Miss Bennet), and Samuel French (Emilie).
Rick Hammerly (Director) first worked with Avant Bard, nee Washington Shakespeare Company, as an actor in their 1991 production of Hamlet. His recent directing credits include the Helen Hayes–recommended Lela & Co. (Factory 449), Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook (Adventure Theatre MTC), Driving Miss Daisy (Riverside Center for the Performing Arts) featuring Karen Grassle (TV’s “Little House on the Prairie”), and Closet Land (Factory 449). He directed The Brontes (New York Musical Theatre Festival & Capital Fringe), Lake Untersee (Source Festival), an award-winning production of Dead Man Walking (American University), and a concert reading of the musical YANK! for Rainbow Theatre Project. Locally, he has also directed productions for SCENA Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Washington, and Fourth Wall Productions. His Assistant Director credits include The Laramie Project, Driving Miss Daisy, The Glass Menagerie, and the upcoming Jefferson’s Garden, all at Ford’s Theatre. His acting credits include a Helen Hayes Award-winning performance as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Signature Theatre) and Helen Hayes Award nominations for Angels in America (Signature Theatre), Me and Jezebel (MetroStage), and OLIVER! (Adventure Theatre MTC). He is the current Producing Artistic Director of Factory 449: a theatre collective.
Greg Stevens (Set and Properties Designer / Scenic Artist) returns to Avant Bard having designed costumes for Lulu. For Factory 449 (where he is founding company member) his credits include Lela & Co. (set), Closet Land (set), The Amish Project (set, Helen Hayes Award nomination), The Saint Plays (set/costumes), 4.48 Psychosis (set). For State of Play Productions (NYC) he designed the set for The City that Cried Wolf; for Rainbow Theatre Project he directed Kingdom of Earth and Suddenly Last Summer and designed set and costumes for Get Used to It! and The Oldest Profession. For The In Series his credits include The Cole Porter Project (co-author/co-direct/set), La Clemenza di Tito (set), and Viva Zarzuela(set/costumes); for the Actors’ Theatre of Washington, The Owl and the Pussycat (set), Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (set/costumes), Boston Marriage (set), and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (set/costumes). BA, Theatre, San Diego State University; MAT, Museum Education, GWU.
Joseph R. Walls (Lighting Designer) has collaborated with several theatre companies in New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City. He previously collaborated with Avant Bard on No Man’s Land, King John, Orlando, and Nero/Pseudo. He has also collaborated with a a large number of ballet companies including The Washington Ballet, Public Displays of Motion, Inland Pacific Ballet, Ballet Spartanburg, Staibdance, Steps Academy of Dance in Panama City, Panama, The Charlotte Ballet, SCGSAH, Raiin Dance Theater,, and The Atlanta Ballet, where he is currently the lighting supervisor and recently designed Gemma Bond’s Denouement and Andrea Miller’s Push. He is the former lighting supervisor for Charlotte Ballet at the Chautauqua Institution and The Washington Ballet. www.jwallsdesign.com
Danielle Preston (Costume Designer) is thrilled to be returning to Avant Bard after having previously designed Holiday Memories, TAME., and The Gospel at Colonus. Other local credits include The Christians (Theater J), The How & The Why (Theater J), Darius & Twig (The Kennedy Center), Where Words Once Were (The Kennedy Center), All the Way LIVE! (The Kennedy Center), Other Desert Cities (Triad Stage), Mnemonic (Theater Alliance), To Tell My Story: A Hamlet Fanfic (The Welders), Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (1st Stage), Well (1st Stage). Education: BA in Theater Production, Meredith College; MFA in Costume Design, The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 Upcoming designs: Roz & Ray (Theater J), Where Words Once Were (The Lincoln Center, NYC), Darius & Twig (national tour/ The Kennedy Center).
Frank DiSalvo Jr. (Sound Designer) is returning to Avant Bard after designing sound for The Madwoman of Chaillot. He designs often for Washington Stage Guild and The Catholic University of America, where he received his MFA in Playwriting. He received two Helen Hayes nominations in 2015 for his work with Rorschach Theatre and Washington Stage Guild.
Elena Day (Movement Coach) is excited to join the Avant Bard family. Movement directing credits include Kennedy Center Young Audiences: Mockingbird; Imagination Stage: Smartest Girl, Wiley and the Hairy Man (Helen Hayes Award, Outstanding Production, Theatre for Young Audiences); The Studio Theatre: Laugh, Moth; Adventure Theatre MTC: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook. Performance credits include Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba. She is on the faculty at The Studio Theatre Conservatory and The Wolf Trap Institute. www.elenaday.com
Christian Sullivan (Technical Director) is a proudly tatted company member of Rorschach Theatre. Having worked for most of the professional theatres in town, Christian is an actor, carpenter, and fighty guy who has worked coast to coast, north to south. Next up he will be once again fighting decency is Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club.
Joan Cummins (Dramaturg) is a dramaturg, director, and teaching artist working in new plays and interactive theater. She is also a public historian, working to make history accessible to the public through interactive experiences and performance. Locally, she has worked with dog & pony dc, President Lincoln’s Cottage, The Welders, Signature Theatre, Pinky Swear Productions, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the Capital Fringe Festival, Ford’s Theater, and the Kennedy Center
Richard Lore (Production Stage Manager) returns to his first love after a 25-year diversion with public television. While at PBS, he conducted talent workshops for 71 stations. Directing credits include premiere works by Israel Horovitz, Martin Sherman, and Ernest Joselovitz. He is a member of Actors Equity. His play Mixed Doubles, was produced in Denver, Chicago, and San Jose.
Solomon HaileSelassie (Rehearsal Stage Manager)
Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Rick Hammerly
Starring Sara Barker as Emilie
October 12 to November 12, 2017
Gunston Arts Center, Theatre Two
2700 South Lang Street, Arlington, VA 22206