Welcome to UCA's new events blog!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Elizabath Diggs' Grant & Twain @ Salt Lake Acting Company (SLC: Feb 5 - Mar 2)


“I think the most interesting personality I ever encountered was General Grant.  How and where he was so much larger than other men I had ever met I cannot describe.”
                                                                        -Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

It’s the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and Salt Lake Acting Company is thrilled to present the World Premiere of Elizabeth Diggs’ GRANT & TWAINFebruary 5 – March 2, 2014 winner of the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. The Civil War was fought on our soil; a fight between countrymen, neighbors and brothers. It was America’s bloodiest conflict, but the outcome would determine what the nation would be: an indivisible nation where all men are created with an equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  SLAC is joining our nation as it commemorates the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War with a look at one of the war’s central figures, Ulysses S. Grant.

In keeping with the commitment to make a significant contribution to the community and to the American theatre field by developing and producing new plays, SLAC presents the World Premiere of GRANT & TWAIN, which was part of SLAC’s New Play Sounding Series in 2013. Playwright Elizabeth Diggs says, “When I started work on this play more than three years ago, I never imagined that it would take me so deeply into the most important crisis for our country. The terrible reality of the Civil War produced bloody carnage that was unimaginable, but also stunning heroism and sacrifice. I spent time with two men, opposites in temperament, whose genius defined America. And I discovered the awesome story of what they accomplished together. I feel profoundly grateful to SLAC that the play is being produced during the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, while we are reexamining the meaning of that crisis and what it means today.”      

Ulysses S. Grant was the hero of the Civil War. He was one of the greatest military leaders in the nation’s history. As 18th President of the United States he championed civil rights and peace. But by 1884 he had lost his entire savings in a Ponzi scheme. He was seen as a failure of a president; his administration being riddled with corruption and scandal. His life and legacy was full of contradiction.

Mark Twain was the most famous writer in America. He was brash, opinionated and fearless.  Twain had just broken a seven-year writer’s block to finish Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain, 13 years younger than Grant, idolized him as the man who saved the Union. When he heard about the swindle, he was determined to help Grant restore his honor and provide for his family by publishing the book himself and making it a blockbuster success.  It was a big gamble -- Grant had never written a book, and Twain went into precarious debt to publish Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant in a daring subscription plan. It was a remarkable act of generosity.

In 1884 Grant and Twain forged an unlikely and unbreakable friendship. Diggs parallels the clever wit of Twain with Grant’s logical sensibility in capturing the story of friendship between two iconic American heroes. GRANT & TWAIN explores these two intriguing, complex characters in a story of friendship, courage, betrayal and triumph. This engrossing play reveals the real-life struggles and desires of these historic figures, giving audiences an intimate view of America during and following the Civil War.

Taking on the mantle of two such distinct, multi-faceted characters is no easy task, but SLAC is elated to welcome Utah favorite, Morgan Lund as Mark Twain and veteran actor Marshall Bell, whom audiences will recognize from his extensive television and film work, as Ulysses S. Grant. Lund returns to the SLAC after last being seen in his unforgettable performance as Rothko in RED. His natural confidence, humor and bold choices make him a perfect fit for Twain.

Bell is taking time away from his rich, varied career in Hollywood to make his debut at SLAC. His gives an effortless performance reflective of his experience and talent. Bell turns a cold, historical figure into an approachable, intriguing, human being. Lund and Bell are joined by a stellar cast of actors who work together to give these remote events new vitality and breath.

As part of this theatrical event, SLAC is delighted to be partnering with Fisher House SLC, an organization that provides a place to stay, free of charge to families of veterans while their loved one is receiving medical treatment. Veterans often travel long distances in order to receive medical care at the Salt Lake VA; Fisher House SLC provides veterans and their families a comfortable environment that offers hope, community and healing. SLAC is asking their generous audience to bring items found on the Fisher House SLC website, which includes: cleaning products, non-perishable food items, gift certificates and landscaping items. For a complete list, please visit fisherhousesaltlakecity.com

SLAC is also excited to partner with West High School’s U.S. History and Literature classes for classroom readings and discussions of GRANT & TWAIN. SLAC will host these students and teachers for a free performance of the play. Integrating arts and education with the topics of History and Literature enhances educational opportunities, and we are proud to introduce GRANT & TWAIN to the students and teachers of West High.    

As the country joins together to celebrate and remember the sacrifices made to create these United States, Salt Lake Acting Company is pleased to contribute to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with this fascinating look at two of its major influences, GRANT & TWAIN. SLAC encourages Utah families to take advantage of this opportunity to commemorate this historic event with a night of engrossing, moving, World Premiere theatre.

Elizabeth Diggs’ plays include NIGHTINGALE, CLOSE TIES, GOODBYE FREDDY, AMERICAN BEEF, DUMPING GROUND, PRICELESS, HOW TO PLANT A ROSE, and CUSTER’S LUCK. They have been produced at the Vineyard Theatre and Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York, and regionally at SouthCoast Rep, the Long Wharf, Victory Gardens, the Alley Theatre, Capital Rep, and many others. Her plays are published by Dramatists Play Service and Smith and Kraus. She is the book writer for the musical MIRETTE (with Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt), developed at the Sundance Playwrights’ Lab, which premiered at the Godspeed Opera House and was produced at Sundance Children’s Theatre. She was awarded a Guggenheim grant in playwriting, an NEA development grant, and a commission from SouthCoast Rep. Prizes include the Los Angeles DramaLogue award for playwriting, the CBS/FDG prize, the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays grant, and runner-up for the Susan Smith Blackburn prize. Liz wrote for the groundbreaking TV drama, “St. Elsewhere.” Liz is a professor of Dramatic Writing, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Dramatists Guild and PEN. She grew up in Tulsa, is a graduate of Brown, and lives in Manhattan and Chatham, New York.

Keven received the Mayor’s Artists Award in the Performing Arts in 2009. He was awarded the 2008 City Weekly Award for directing THE CLEAN HOUSE and MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS at Salt Lake Acting Company. His other directing credits at SLAC include BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, RED, ANGELS IN AMERICA: PARTS I & II, THE OVERWHELMING, RABBIT HOLE, I AM MY OWN WIFE, BAD DATES, KIMBERLY AKIMBO, GOING TO ST. IVES, WATER LILIES, THE MEMORY OF WATER, TWO-HEADED, THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE, GROSS INDECENCY: THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE, C’EST MOI in MERE MORTALS and THREE DAYS OF RAIN. Keven has designed all of SLAC’s sets and many of the costumes for the last 18 years. He has also designed 16 sets for The Grand Theatre. He designed sets for ACCORDING TO COYOTE, WEST SIDE STORY, CROW AND WEASSEL, and SOUTH PACIFIC at Sundance Theatre. His designs have also been seen at Pioneer Memorial Theatre, Utah Musical Theatre, Egyptian Theatre, Kingsbury Hall and the Babcock Theatre. His work for the Utah Arts Festival includes site design for the 20th anniversary. He received a BFA from the University of Utah and a MFA in Theatre from the University of Michigan.

MARSHALL BELL (Ulysses S. Grant)
Marshall Bell is pleased to be making his debut at Salt Lake Acting Company. Marshall first took an interest in acting in high school, after performing as Elwood Dowd in the play HARVEY. After high school, Marshall didn’t act for over 20 years. He majored in sociology at the University of Colorado and served three years in the army.  Prior to starting his acting career, Marshall was working as a consultant, teaching executives how to improve their speaking skills. Marshall then began a career in film, and has a long list of major motion picture credits. Including, BIRDY, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART TWO: FREDDY’S REVENGE, TOTAL-RECAL, THE VAGRANT, STAND BY ME and STARSHIP TROOPERS. He has also been seen in many TV series, including WISEGUY, THE X-FILES, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, HILL STREET BLUES, HOUSE, and DEADWOOD.

MORGAN LUND (Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens)
Morgan is playing Mark Twain and is in a Civil War frame of mind. Morgan has been a professional actor, writer, producer, director, teacher and artist for 34 years. With very strong union affiliations, he has worked in theatre, film, television, radio, print, business, opera, orchestra, dance, theme parks and universities across the United States and around the world. Morgan has appeared in over 200 plays since 1980. He was a resident company member with the Hilberry Acting Company (1977-80) and The Cleveland Play House Resident Acting Company (1980-88). A freelance actor since 1988, he has worked with Center Stage, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, New City Theatre, Salt Lake Acting Company, Ensemble Theatre, CAT CO, Shakespeare and Company, Dobama Theatre, Porthouse Theatre, Pioneer Theatre Company and many more. He has shared the stage with Arthur Miller, Austin Pendleton, Derek Wolcott, Johnny Bolt, Roger Danforth, Theresa Meritt, Liz MacKay and Tina Packer to name a few. As a film and television actor, Morgan has been in some very good and some not so good films. He once had three different feature films running on HBO, in one of which he died horribly!  He has also been a guest artist with the Sundance Film Lab on many occasions.

DAVID SPENCER (Adam Badeau)  
David is well known to long-time SLAC audiences, having appeared here in many roles, chiefly as Roy Cohn in both parts of ANGELS IN AMERICA (first production; 1995/96) as well as Charlotte von Mahlsdorf and thirty-plus other characters in Doug Wright’s solo play I AM MY OWN WIFE.   David has extensive local credits from his work with Pioneer Theatre Company, Plan B Theatre, Pygmalion Productions, The Grand Theatre, Sundance Summer Theatre, and Walk-Ons, Inc.  Since his last appearance at SLAC (MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS; 2007) he has been living in New York City and working regionally in THE 39 STEPS, WEST SIDE STORY, SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SUICIDE CLUB and THE GRAPES OF WRATH.  Most recently, after years of swearing off all things to do with A CHRISTMAS CAROL, he played Ebenezer Scrooge for New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Mississippi.  “Never Say Never.  Life opens up in the most glorious ways when you say ‘Yes.’”

RYON SHARETTE (William Perkins Ingersoll)                                                                                           
Ryon is a recent graduate of the University of Utah Actor Training Program. GRANT & TWAIN marks his SLAC debut and his first role in an Equity theatre after graduation. For Pioneer Theatre Company's internship program, he has appeared as Robert Martin in EMMA and as Adrian in THE TEMPEST. For The Classical Greek Theatre Festival, his credits include Oedipus in OEDIPUS THE KING, The Herdsman in IPHIGINIA IN TAURUS, Admetos in ALCESTIS and Pentheus in THE BAKKHAI. Credits in The Babcock Theatre include Valentine in TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, Antipholus of E. in COMEDY OF ERRORS, Chris in ALL MY SONS, Banquo in MACBETH, Jesus in THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, Riff Raff in THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, Trigorin in THE SEAGULL and Borachio in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Recent roles for Salty Dinner Theatre include John Watson in SHERLOCK HOLMES, Clyde in BONNIE AND CLYDE and Frederick in PIRATES OF PENZANCE.

BRIEN K. JONES (Harrison Terrell)
Brien is honored be in cast in the World Premiere of GRANT & TWAIN and to also make his debut in a full Salt Lake Acting Company production. He has been cast in past SLAC New Play Sounding Series (NPSS) readings including PERMANENT COLLECTION (Sterling North), THE OVERWHELMING (Joseph Seromba), FRANKINCENSE (Reader) and COURTING DISASTER (Kaman Holmes). Brien has also had the good fortune to appear in several Salt Lake City theater productions including MISS EVERS’ BOYS (Dr. Brodus) with the EttaGrace Black Theatre Company; CAROLINE, OR CHANGE (The Bus), LOVE! VALOR! COMPASSION! (Gregory) and BOYS IN THE BAND (Bernard) with Wasatch Theatre Company; MASTER HAROLD…AND THE BOYS (Sam), A SOLDIER'S PLAY (C.J. Memphis) and JITNEY (Turnbo) with People Productions; and A RAISIN IN THE SUN (Joseph Asagai) with the University of Utah Babcock Theatre.

KATHRYN ATWOOD (Julia Dent Grant)
Kathryn is thrilled to be back on stage at SLAC! She was last seen here for a staged reading of Elaine Jarvik’s TWO STORIES. Audiences may remember Kathryn as Paulina in Sting and Honey’s 2012 production of Shakespeare’s THE WINTER’S TALE. She will be appearing for them again this spring as Julia Tesman in HEDDA GABLER. Keven Myhre previously directed Kathryn in David Ives’ play MERE MORTALS at SLAC in 1998. She has also been seen on stage locally for Pygmalion productions, Utah Contemporary Theatre and at Sundance. Before living in Salt Lake City, Kathryn lived and worked in New York City, London, Key West and San Francisco. Kathryn is the Director of Development at Red Butte Garden.

Director                                                           Keven Myhre 
Lighting Design                                               James M. Craig
Sound Design                                                 Josh Martin
Set Design                                                      Keven Myhre
Costume Design                                             Kevin Alberts
Dialect Coach                                                 Adrianne Moore
Production Stage Manager                             Janice Jenson

Salt Lake Acting Company

Grant & Twain
By Elizabeth Diggs

February 5 – March 2, 2014
Wednesdays – Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.
Sundays, 1:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.

168 West 500 North
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103

Salt Lake Acting Company
168 West 500 North, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84103
Box Office: 801-363-7522
Open 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mon – Fri
Single tickets range from $15 – $42, depending on the performance.
Student, Senior and 30 & Under discounts are available.
Discounts are also available for groups of 10 or more.
Subscribers always pay the lowest price.

SLAC is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 professional theatre founded in 1970 and is dedicated to producing, commissioning and developing new works and to supporting a community of professional artists.  SLAC has been nationally recognized by the Shubert Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Edgerton Foundation, among others. SLAC operates under a STP Actors’ Equity Association contract. SLAC is a Constituent Member of Theatre Communications Group, a national organization for non-profit professional regional theatres, and the National New Play Network.

1 comment: