Thursday, December 29, 2011

InterAct's OUTSIDE THE FRAME Festival is "Perhaps the Biggest Event this Spring..."

In this week's Philadelphia Weekly, J. Cooper Robb includes InterAct's newly announced line-up for the upcoming OUTSIDE THE FRAME Festival as one of his "2012 Productions You Don't Want to Miss," hailing it as "Perhaps the biggest event this spring...":

Tim Miller in LAY OF THE LAND.
Photo by Leo Garcia.
Whether you’re a seasoned theatergoer or a newbie to the scene, it’s easy to see that our local theater companies are doing exciting work. Drugs, racism, identity issues, gay rights. These are just a few of the issues being tackled - both seriously and not - on stages across the city in the new year...

Perhaps the biggest event this spring is InterAct Theatre’s ambitious new festival “Outside the Frame: Voices from The Other America” at the Adrienne (March 27-April 22). InterAct’s artistic director Seth Rozin says the festival’s goal is to give voice to communities rarely covered by the mainstream media. The festival features eight small touring productions including a solo piece by queer performance artist Tim Miller called Lay of the Land, and Najla Said’s Palestine , a humorous story of a Palestinian-American princess who rediscovers her Arab-American identity when she travels to occupied territories.

Links to more information about InterAct's Spring 2012 Festival:

Check Out the Full OUTSIDE THE FRAME Festival Line-Up

See Two Festival Shows (along with InterAct's Two Mainstage Plays) with a Season Subscription - Starting at Only $50.00

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

InterAct Hosts ETCHED IN SKIN... Development Workshop

Playwright Kara Lee Corthron (left),
Director Whit MacLaughlin,
and Phyllis Johnson as "Jules"

by Kara Lee Corthron

Play Development Workshop

InterAct Theatre Company
December 8-9, 2011

Last week I had the awesome opportunity to participate in a table workshop of our upcoming production ETCHED IN SKIN ON A SUNLIT NIGHT, by Kara Lee Corthron.  The show will run for the month of June here at InterAct, for which I am the Assistant Stage Manager :-).

Ian Bedford (head of table) as "Olafur"
During the workshop, I read for "Kina", the bi-racial daughter (7-10 years old) of "Jules", an African-American Painter, and "Olafur", her Icelandic husband.  The part of "Kina" has not yet been cast.

We read through the script to start, and then just began talking!
And talking...and talking...:-)

Jered McLenigan (left) as "Jonsi"

There was just so much to talk about!  This multi-faceted play totes the rock spirit of Sigor Ros, with the lead singer "Jonsi" as a main character...or figment of imagination...or elf...combined with delicate family dynamics, racial conflict, crime, and guilt.

Sound Designer Robert Kaplowitz (right)

Whit MacLaughlin, our fearless director, dove right into the investigation of character, analyzing each main character in turn, based on their words, patterns, choices, and given circumstances.  The team of playwright, director, actors & designers had a blast building the legs upon which this epic show will take its stand...and ROCK!

Surrounding the table, an awesome team put their heads together to unpack the power within this piece.

Links to more information about ETCHED IN SKIN ON A SUNLIT NIGHT:

InterAct's World Premiere Begins Performances June 1

Tickets On Sale Now

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

BroadStreetReview: HOW & WHY is "Crackling... Instantly Engrossing... Ingeniously Realized"

Check out these excerpts from Alaina Mabaso's review of THE HOW AND THE WHY from Broad Street Review:

In THE HOW AND THE WHY, Sarah Treem rapidly unpacks a world of interpersonal aspersions, thwarted love, feminist struggle and scientific theory. Although her play is dense with themes and ideas, it’s a crackling two hours, thanks to Seth Rozin’s fast-paced direction and two character-driven actresses... Advancing a brand-new, controversial scientific theory is difficult enough, but it’s a grueling life’s work if you happen to be a woman... So theorizes Zelda (the well-grounded Janis Dardaris), an experienced evolutionary biologist, to her young acolyte Rachel (an achingly volatile Victoria Frings)... Treem sets the audience to the instantly engrossing task of discerning the relationship between Zelda and Rachel... provid[ing] especially fertile ground for many a potent meditation on sexism among scientists. By the time the sharpening personal dynamic between Zelda and Rachel expands to include arguments on marriage, pregnancy, parenthood and career, the play brims over while Zelda and Rachel continue to impugn each other’s intentions... Despite the intellectual weight of Treem’s script, Dardaris and Frings — no doubt guided by director Seth Rozin — deliver a thoroughly character-driven performance that makes two scenes of crackling dialogue the fastest two hours I’ve ever spent at the theater. Meghan Jones offers two ingeniously realized sets. Still, I left the Adrienne ruminating not on the characters’ fraught relationship but on the evolutionary theories advanced in Treem’s script. I wanted to corner the playwright (or some unsuspecting biologist) and pepper her with questions about evolutionary theory. That provocation alone made the evening worthwhile.

Read Alaina Mabaso's Entire Review at

Links to more information about THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Purchase Tickets

Watch the Video Trailer

Read Howard Shapiro's Philadelphia Inquirer Review

An Interview with Playwright Sarah Treem

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

City Paper: HOW & WHY is a "Symphony of Science... Gripping Production... Fascinating Characters"

Check out these excerpts from Mark Cofta's review of THE HOW AND THE WHY from Philadelphia City Paper:

Symphony of Science

... In InterAct Theatre Co.'s gripping production, both women are ambitious professionals whose choices are directly and indirectly influenced by men. Therein lies Treem's theme: In their scientific theories and their life paths, both see women as defined by men... Dardaris and Frings deliver all that Treem's script asks of them. Zelda struggles believably to separate passions personal and professional, while... Frings somehow keeps Rachel grounded and, by the end, genuine and sympathetic.

Treem's science-heavy dialogue isn't the quippy nonsense of The Big Bang Theory, but seemingly viable notions about the "why" of menstruation and menopause... Woven through the science and university research's thorny politics in THE HOW AND THE WHY are meaty yet familiar mother-daughter issues. Facts are revealed, tears are shed, and apologies follow condemnations, yet Treem wisely stops short of happily ever after for these two driven, conflicted, fascinating characters.

Read Mark Cofta's Entire Philadelphia City Paper Review

Links to more information about THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Purchase Tickets

Watch the Video Trailer

Read Howard Shapiro's Philadelphia Inquirer Review

An Interview with Playwright Sarah Treem

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Staged Blog: "Dardaris’ Poise and Frings’ Energy... is Fascinating and Enthralling"

Check out these excerpts from Leah Franqui's review of THE HOW AND THE WHY from Staged Blog:

The Origin of the Species

... despite all of the many accomplishments of the female of the species, it seems that women are forever in the position of defending their worth, as we see in Sarah Treem’s THE HOW AND THE WHY... And not just to men, but to each other... When these two brilliant, ambitious, flawed female scientists meet for the first time as adults, it’s as much a chess match as it is a reunion...

Dardaris’ excellent Zelda is a wise, wry and utterly mature foil to Rachel’s spastic nature; she is measured where Rachel is erratic, thoughtful where Rachel is impulsive, and yet, somehow, the more daring one of the two... in Zelda, Treme has placed the self-awareness of age, and the confidence that comes with knowing that you can and do live with the choices you have made... Played with consummate grace and skill by Frings, Rachel is smart, calculating, and more than a little manipulative, but also deeply damaged.

But where Treem’s smart but somehow lacking text fails, these two actresses succeed, and then some. The play itself is messy, often unclear, and sometimes flat-out contradictory, but the combination of Dardaris’ poise and Frings’ energy create a momentum that is fascinating and enthralling... It is the strong and engaging work of both of these tremendous and fantastically matched actresses that keep this play in motion... It is Frings' fantastically fractured but defiantly determined performance paired with Dardaris’ knock-out strength and elegance that make this play work...

Read Leah Franqui's Entire Staged Blog Review

Links to more information about THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Purchase Tickets

Watch the Video Trailer

Read Howard Shapiro's Philadelphia Inquirer Review

An Interview with Playwright Sarah Treem

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

STAGE Magazine: HOW & WHY is "Convincing & Elegantly Crafted... Powerful... Delightful"

Check out these excerpts from Christopher Munden's review of THE HOW AND THE WHY from STAGE Magazine:

Well Written and Full of Ideas

... like much else in Sarah Treem’s well-crafted THE HOW AND THE WHY, now receiving its second-ever production by Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre, oceans of meaning lay just below the surface... with convincing and elegantly crafted dialogue, [Treem] has created a dramatically engaging and surprisingly funny piece that never feels didactic or heavy-handed.

Credit for this goes also to director Seth Rozin (also InterAct’s artistic director), who... draws powerful performances from both actors. Dardaris particularly gives a spot-on and consistent interpretation of a seasoned academic...

The play is not without its faults... But as a vehicle to express provoking ideas it is a resounding success. All of the science in THE HOW AND THE WHY is real, and it’s delightful to see so many interesting thoughts presented so accessibly... in short, THE HOW AND THE WHY is a strongly feminist work that just feels strongly human.

Read Christopher Munden's Entire STAGE Magazine Review

Links to more information about THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Purchase Tickets

Watch the Video Trailer

Read Howard Shapiro's Philadelphia Inquirer Review

An Interview with Playwright Sarah Treem

Monday, October 31, 2011

UWishUNu Blog: HOW & WHY is "Astounding... Talent Pours Off the Stage"

Check out these excerpts from Allison Stadd's review of THE HOW AND THE WHY from UWishUNu Blog:

InterAct Theatre Company opens its 2011/2012 season with an astounding play by HBO screenwriter Sarah Treem... a tale of evolution, of feminism, of adoption, of mother-daughter relationships, generational clashes and modern America... Treem’s screenwriting chops are evident, as you feel as though you’re on a TV set, watching an episode being filmed. The talent pours off the stage, the content is thoroughly thought-provoking and you’re left contemplating everything you heard from the production’s start to finish.

Read Allison Stadd's Entire UWishUNu Blog Review

Links to more information about THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Purchase Tickets

Watch the Video Trailer

Read Howard Shapiro's Philadelphia Inquirer Review

An Interview with Playwright Sarah Treem

Friday, October 28, 2011

More On The Life Of An InterAct Intern: "The House is Now Open..."

Well things here at InterAct have been moving, that’s for sure. This past Wednesday (the 26th) we opened our first show: THE HOW AND THE WHY by Sarah Treem. I got to see the PWYC (Pay What You Can) performance before previews began, but since then I’ve been the House Manager, and therefore unable to see the show again. I have been hearing very positive feedback from the audience members as they exit however!!

As House Manager, I am responsible for the audience experience as they enter and exit the theatre.

A typical 8pm Show schedule looks like this:
Before 6:30 pm – “Housekeeping”: Vacuum the theatre, clean bathrooms, all the glamorous stuff.
6:30 – 7:00 pm – Take care of any special needs reservations. Set up shop downstairs in the Lobby. Organize programs & Stuffers.
7:00 – Ushers arrive. Give them a tour if they are new, give them details about the show & our procedures.
7:00-7:30 - Greet any guests who are early, Aid with Box office set up as needed.
7:30-7:40 – Some back and forth conversation with the Stage Manager as to when we will open the house.
7:40-7:45 – Open the House!! Give a brief welcoming announcement for those in the Lobby.
8:00 – Close the House, and Give Curtain Speech.
8:00-8:15 – Seat Late Comers as necessary.
8:15-8:45 – Count & Record Ticket stubs, Begin House Manager Report.
8:45 – Open Doors for Intermission. Keep track of where the audience members spread out to.
8:55 – Gather folks and notify them that the house will close shortly.
9:00 – Close House.
9:05-9:40 – Finish House Manager Report. Stay available in the Lobby.
9:45 – Open Doors at the end of the show. Bid Farewell to the guests. Take a sweep through the theatre to pick up any programs dropped, etc.
10:00/10:15 – Put away all programs & such. Lock up and Peace out!

So far. So good. :-)

- Shannon Fitzsimons

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Metro Newspaper Features HOW & WHY's Janis Dardaris

Check out Metro Newspaper's feature on Janis Dardaris, who is featured in InterAct's Philadelphia premiere production of THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Metro Newspaper

Janis Dardaris:
The Evolution of a New Role

by Shaun Brady

If her approach to reading scripts is any indication, Janis Dardaris is the type who starts a mystery novel by skipping to the last page. ... when she picked up the script for Sarah Treem’s 'The How and the Why,' Dardaris says, 'The last line of the play got me. It ended on a very human level.' ... Dardaris stars in InterAct Theatre Company’s Philly premiere of the play as a leading evolutionary biologist who faces off with an up-and-comer in the field ... both have to struggle against the male domination of academic science. ... 'There’s this whole patriarchal idea that women came from the rib of Adam,' Dardaris says. 'Women are often thought of as secondary creatures, even in this post-feminist time. I think that this could make people rethink that. It would be great if people leave and they start talking.'

Read Shaun Brady's Entire Metro Newspaper Feature

Links to more information about THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Purchase Tickets

Watch the Video Trailer

Read Howard Shapiro's Philadelphia Inquirer Review

An Interview with Playwright Sarah Treem

StageReviews Blog: HOW & WHY is "Significant ... Electrifying"

Check out these excerpts from Judy Cohen's review of THE HOW AND THE WHY from StageReviews Blog:

... You better not blink, for every bit of dialogue is significant. The repartee between the older, more experienced scientist and the younger, but equally serious one is electrifying. ... Part of the brilliance of this piece is the sprinkling of humor amidst the intense scientific discussions. Victoria Frings ... is focused throughout and gives a very convincing performance. Janis Dardaris, portraying Zelda, is even more than a counterpart and mentor as she skillfully guides Rachel ... Kudos must also be given to Scenic Designer Meghan Jones who did an outstanding job ... Come to learn about the how; come to learn about the why; come to be engrossed in the enticing world of scientific discovery...

Read Judy Cohen's Entire StageReviews Blog Review

Links to more information about THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Purchase Tickets

Watch the Video Trailer

Read Howard Shapiro's Philadelphia Inquirer Review

An Interview with Playwright Sarah Treem

Philly Inquirer: HOW & WHY is "Robust and Real," "Smart," "Taut and Revealing"

Check out these excerpts from Howard Shapiro's review of THE HOW AND THE WHY from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In The How and the Why, two women meet, discover they are both (of all things) evolutionary biologists -- at the opposite ends of their careers -- and enter into a dialogue that reveals as much about their present identities as it does about their pasts. ... robust and real in performances by Janis Dardaris and Victoria Frings ... The play, a two-scene piece with an intermission, was originally staged earlier this year at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre and is written by Sarah Treem, the writer and producer of HBO’s In Treatment. ...

It’s a smart look — the dialogue is especially taut and revealing ... Together, Dardaris and Frings bring out the strongest points of The How and the Why ... In Dardaris’ face and body language, you discern the power of wisdom that can come only through experience. In Frings’ impulsiveness and quick-changing emotion, you sense the impetuousness of someone on the verge of something big, without a clue as to what that may mean for her life. ...

The play holds much more than a simple young/old juxtaposition to provide its edge, and I won’t spoil it by saying any more. The staging is by InterAct’s producing artistic director, Seth Rozin, who draws from his two performers notably unswerving character interpretations. And the production sports two very different, meticulously designed sets by Meghan Jones...

Read Howard Shapiro's Entire Philadelphia Inquirer Review

Links to more information about THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Purchase Tickets

Watch the Video Trailer

An Interview with Playwright Sarah Treem

Video Trailer for THE HOW AND THE WHY

Watch the video trailer for InterAct's Philadelphia premiere production of THE HOW AND THE WHY by Sarah Treem:

Links to more information about THE HOW AND THE WHY:

Find Out More About InterAct's Production

Read an Interview with Playwright Sarah Treem

Purchase Tickets

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

InterAct Named Best Political Theater by Philadelphia Weekly

Philadelphia Weekly named InterAct as Philly's "Best Political Theatre" in their October 19, 2011 issue:

Many theater companies avoid politics like the plague. Yet InterAct Theater Company has shown itself willing to present all manner of political discourse, even if it challenges the sensibilities of liberal-minded theater audience. Last season’s When We Go Upon the Sea, a drama from Lee Blessing, held the American public (and especially passive liberals) accountable for the Bush administration’s irresponsible and immoral foreign policy. InterAct artistic director Seth Rozin thinks of the company as a kind of 'Public Square,' a place where people gather to witness 'the most pressing issues of our time illuminated through compelling human stories.'

Friday, October 14, 2011

InterAct's Seth Rozin Featured in Chutzpah Magazine

Check out InterAct's Producing Artistic Director Seth Rozin in the Fall 2011 issue Chutzpah Magazine. Laura Goldman talks with Seth about why he founded InterAct (back in 1988) and how his early experiences with InterAct led him to a 2nd career as a successful playwright:

Chutzpah Magazine
Rozin's Bag
by Laura Goldman
2011 is playwright and director Seth Rozin's year in the sun. While many playwrights struggle to have even one of their plays staged, Rozin had two plays running simultaneously on Philadelphia stages...

Rozin's day job is founder and producing artistic director of InterAct Theatre... 'I established InterAct as a way to foster dialogue about political about political and and cultural issues,' says Rozin... Being 'a natural leader,' he wasn't concerned that perhaps the tender age of twenty-two was too young to start a theater company and credits his mentor and advisor at Penn, Catherine Marshall, with giving him the courage needed...

InterAct... is one of the region's most cutting edge theatres, often producing world premieres with a strong message... While many people in the theater lament the current segregation of theater audiences, InterAct's the rare Philadelphia venue where blacks and whites sit side by side and then stay afterwards to discuss the hot button issues of the day... 
Read the Entire Chutzpah Magazine Feature Here: 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Read InterAct's 2011/2012 Season Brochure Online

Check out InterAct's 2011/2012 season brochure online! The season begins performances Friday, October 21 with THE HOW AND THE WHY, a compelling new drama by Sarah Treem that pits two generations of brilliant and daring evolutionary biologists against each other in a battle for academic survival. Subscribe now so you don't miss the opportunity to see all the exciting new pieces in this season's line-up. Subscriptions range from $86-$142...

A big Thank You! goes out to the fine folks at Lorel Marketing Group for the inspired, new look of this year's brochure... and for sponsoring InterAct's 2011/2012 Season! We encourage you to support the businesses that support InterAct by visiting Lorel in King of Prussia, PA, or online at To contact Lorel, email or call 610.337.2343.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More On The Life Of An InterAct Intern

Continuing the effort to document a year in the life of InterAct's interns, here is Shannon Fitzsimons' first entry...

Shannon Fitzsimons: 
“I’ve heard it takes at least 6 months to feel settled…”

That was certainly true for me.  Hi, I’m Shannon Fitzsimons, one of the epic trio of ladies who have started the InterAct full-season internship.  Dany, our Audience Services and Company Manager, has affectionately labeled us BSB (as in Brianne, Shannon, and Becky…or the Backstreet Boys).  I moved to Philadelphia officially this past December, but had not been a stranger to the area.  Originally from Red Hook, NY (near Poughkeepsie…yes, that is where Snookie is from…) I graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA  in 2009, with BA’s in Theatre and Music, my concentrations being Directing, Acting, and Vocal Performance.  Between 2009 and this past May, I was blessed with the opportunity to tour nationally with The Enchantment Theatre Company and their production of “The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon”, having all my rehearsals here in Philadelphia.  It was through my rehearsal time that I fell in love with Philly.

After two years of touring, I knew I needed a break, but I wanted to remain involved in the Philly theatre community.  Since choosing to remain stationary, I’ve been dancing the 3-4 job shuffle, a mixture of theatre work, nannying, and catering.  It’s been challenging and stressful, but fulfilling and exciting at the same time.  Even after 9 months of living here, I still wonder if I’m going to make next month’s rent, let alone buy groceries...keeps me on my toes.  That’s not to say that Philly isn’t an affordable city – it definitely is.  I share a great row house with my cousin up in Fishtown, and I absolutely love it.

I was first drawn to InterAct by their mission statement, and secondly after seeing the high caliber of their work.  Myself and several friends from college are highly considering starting our own theatre company in the next couple years, and I very much want to gain knowledge of all the things it takes to run a company.  From the smallest detail, to the big picture.

My first week at InterAct has surpassed my expectations.  Not only was I learning new software and how best to serve our patrons, but I’ve also gotten to read 5 plays I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.  It’s been pretty exciting.

Here’s to finally feeling settled in Philadelphia, and a great season, full of paperwork and art.  Both of which are necessary to keep a company moving forward.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

InterAct Welcomes Lorel Marketing Group as 2011/2012 Season Sponsor

Since 2006, Lorel Marketing Group has helped InterAct define, refine and generally raise the bar of its public image through eye-catching graphic designs and insightful consulting services. We are thrilled to once again welcome their sponsorship of our upcoming 2011/2012 Season.

Lorel has been invaluable in helping InterAct visually capture the essence of our productions and grab the attention of audiences in Philadelphia and across the country. For the upcoming season, we look forward to working with Lorel on developing a fresh, new look for the company. In the meantime, here are a few examples of the outstanding work Lorel has done over the past five seasons...

Lorel Marketing Group is a full-service, multi-channel marketing agency in its twenty-fifth year of accelerating the measurable success of leading brands within the lifestyle, retail and healthcare industries. Lorel specializes in insight mining, strategy development, branded creative and measurable marketing promotions that embrace integrated online and offline tactics. Lorel¹s client work has been recognized by various organizations and competitions such as the Summit International Awards, The Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals, The Creativity International Awards and the Healthcare Advertising Awards, among others.

Support the businesses that support InterAct by visiting Lorel Marketing Group in King of Prussia, PA, or online at contact Lorel, email or call 610.337.2343.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

InterAct Welcomes 2011/2012 Season Interns

As many long-time fans of InterAct know, our company could not function without the never-ending hard work of our amazing teams of interns. With an office of only four full-time and two part-time employees, they quickly become a integral part of the administrative team (and to those on staff, a real part of the family). This week, we are thrilled to welcome Becky Dennis, Shannon Fitzsimons, and Brianne Shaw as our formidable intern team for the 2011/2012 Season!

This season, the interns are going to be periodically documenting their year-long journey as newly-minted InterAct-ites. To kick things off, here are a few thoughts from the two that are also starting new lives as Philadelphians, as well...

Brianne Shaw: 
I’ve never really written a blog before so I'm not sure where to start, how cliché' right? So, I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Brianne, and I am one of the new interns at InterAct Theatre. I recently graduated from Lycoming College, a small liberal arts school in the middle of nowhere, with a degree in Directing. My long term plan is to return to school and get my Masters degree, and possibly my PhD after that, in hopes of becoming a professor.

I moved to Philadelphia about a month ago. Before my move to Philly I lived in Altoona, PA, where on my daily commute to work I would expect to have to slow down for and pass multiple horse and buggies. Needless to say it was vastly different from my life now in Philadelphia. I can say that most of the changes were expected, moving to the city and easy to become used to; not driving everywhere or doing laundry in a Laundromat as opposed to the laundry room that was conveniently a few rooms away from my bedroom. There are also a few things that have become harder to get used to, one of those being financial responsibility and of course not having my dogs around. Being as I just graduated college worrying about financials were never really a stressor, everything I needed was included in my tuition, my room, my food... everything. Getting used to making sure I have the money for all my bills has become stressful. Although most people would assume worrying about money would be the most stressful and difficult thing to get used to when moving into the city, I have found the cockroaches to be much more stressful. One of the first nights after moving to Philly, I was laying peacefully in my bed when a cockroach was spotted crawling all over myself and my bed. Consequently, it has become a nightly ritual to shake all of my sheets and pillows before getting into bed, a ritual I am not sure I will ever get used to. Regardless of the cockroaches, my move to Philly has been a great transition. I have always looked forward to this time in my life, when I would be on my own and fending for myself. As a result, I think the move and the changes have been easier for me than most would expect.

While in Philadelphia I will be interning at InterAct Theatre. I'm pretty excited to get started, especially since I will be doing things I haven’t done before; House and Box Office managing. I have only been a graduate for a few months now and, in that time, haven’t done much in theatre so I am itching to get back in and get started. I think being at InterAct will put me in my element because I have always been interested in theatre that is socially relevant and thought-provoking. I am also excited to see how the shows change and evolve from beginning to end since InterAct only produces new plays.

Stay classy, Philadelphia!

- Brianne

Becky Dennis:

Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Floods! Oh My!

Hello everyone,

My name is Becky Dennis and I am going to be one of the lovely interns at the InterAct Theatre Company for the next year. I just moved here from the great state of Michigan! I grew up in a suburb northeast of Detroit called Grosse Pointe and I just graduated from Kalamazoo College, a very small liberal arts college in Kalamazoo, MI (about halfway between Detroit and Chicago). There, I majored in Theatre Arts and got to do everything from acting to lighting design, but I enjoy stage management and directing the most.
Main Street promoting their kayaking tours
 Eventful Weather: 
Since moving here I’ve been through some interesting weather. In Michigan we get the occasional tornado and blizzard so hurricanes and earthquakes were something very new. As I awaited the arrival of Hurricane Irene, my new roommates and I stocked up on candles, flashlights, food and water. I was a little worried about flooding at first, but because we’re on a fairly large hill in Manayunk I was almost positive we wouldn’t float away. To pass the time during our lockdown, my roommate Kate and I started several different projects around our new house. The most intense project involved painting a mural of the Philadelphia skyline. Since she’s painted murals before, she did about 90%. I was given the positionsof supervisor and relief pitcher when her hand got too tired. The mural turned out great! 
 A Tale of Two Sisters:
When my family came to move me out here my twin sister, Stephanie, came too. While we were out here she just so happened to schedule an interview at a PR firm in Center City. My family moved me in, Stephanie had the interview, and they went home. A few days later Stephanie finds out she got the job and has to start in 10 days. She packs up her stuff and my parents are back in their car driving the 10 hours from Detroit to Philadelphia. So, 40 hours of driving and 4 trips to IKEA later, both Dennis sisters are living in Philadelphia and starting work at the very same time.

Detroit vs. Philly:

Since moving to Philadelphia I’ve been taking a mental list of things that are different in Detroit.

-Canada: On a clear day I can see Canada from my house (Ok, not as good as Russia but it is another country). In Detroit most people will accept Canadian currency just like American currency.

-Hills: You have a lot of hills here. Gives me an extra challenge when driving in the snow.

- Public Transportation: You need a car to get anywhere in Detroit. Public Transportation is a nice change.

-Small, Small Roads: Your roads are so small! I’m used to big highways and big streets. Got to get used to that.

-Water: Yes, you have beautiful rivers here but I’ll miss being so close to the Great Lakes. If you haven’t been to Michigan you should definitely take a vacation there. It’s a beautiful place (shameless plug for Michigan completed).

Thanks for listening to my thoughts. I’m very excited to start my internship with the InterAct!

Bye for now...


Thursday, August 4, 2011

InterAct Commemorates 9/11 with Free Reading of A HUMAN EQUATION

Photo courtesy of
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of September 11th, InterAct will present a concert reading of A HUMAN EQUATION by Philadelphia playwright Peter Bonilla. The reading will take place Sunday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., in the SkyBox, 3rd Floor of The Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia. The reading is free and open to the public, however seating is limited. Call InterAct's Box Office at 215.568.8077 to make a reservation.

InterAct's reading will feature Tim Moyer, Dan Kern, Maia DeSanti, Kittson O’Neill, Cheryl Williams, and David Bardeen.

In the wake of 9/11, Congress created the 
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, an unprecedented endeavor that compensated the victims of the attacks. As special master of the fund, Kenneth Feinberg found himself elevated to a position of influence unequaled in American history. His task was to place unique values on each of the 3,000 lives that had been lost. In the course of his nearly 1,000 meetings with the families of 9/11, Feinberg became a lightning rod for their outrage, came face to face with their grief and fear, and was forced to reconsider his most basic notions of human character and strength. A HUMAN EQUATION is a moving docudrama that juxtaposes the life of the controversial fund with Feinberg's personal journey, as he attempted to evaluate human life in the aftermath of a nation-defining event.
The World Premiere of
will take place in
Tucson, AZ  in September

Peter Bonilla (playwright) became a part of the InterAct family while on staff as Literary Manager from August 2005 to April 2008. During his tenure, he served as dramaturg of the World Premiere productions of Thomas Gibbons’ A HOUSE WITH NO WALLS and Seth Rozin’s BLACK GOLD, among many others. Peter was on the literary committee of the National New Play Network, and for two years was on the reading committee for the NNPN’s Smith Prize. Originally from Washington, D.C., Peter received his undergraduate degrees in Theater Arts and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a 2008 recipient of a playwriting fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. A HUMAN EQUATION is Peter's first play.

While in development, A HUMAN EQUATION was featured as part of  
PlayPenn's 2008 line-up. It is scheduled to receive its World Premiere production at Winding Road Theater Ensemble in Tucson, AZ, in September 2011.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

InterAct Co-Hosts Launch of "Asian American Plays For A New Generation"

InterAct is pleased to join the Asian Arts Initiative in co-hosting the launch party for Asian American Plays for a New Generation, an exciting new collection of plays edited by Josephine Lee, Don Eitel, and R. A. (Rick) Shiomi. The event will be held Monday, July 25, starting at 7:00 p.m., at InterAct's home at The Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA.

Celebrating the publication of this volume of Asian American plays mostly staged at the Mu Performing Arts, the event will include a reception followed by speakers Rick Shiomi, an editor and the artistic director of Mu Performing Arts and playwright Lauren Yee, author of Ching Chong Chinaman.

The plays included in this anthology are: Indian Cowboy by Zaraawar Mistry, Walleye Kid, The Musical by Kurt Miyashiro, Sundraya Kase & R.A. Shiomi, Asiamnesia by Sun Mee Chomet, Bahala Na by Clarence Coo, Sia(b) by May Lee Yang, Happy Valley by Aurorae Khoo and Ching Chong Chinaman by Lauren Yee.

For more information about Asian American Plays for a New Generation or to purchase your copy, visit:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

InterAct Selected for NNPN Commission & Host of 2011 Showcase of New Plays

New Play Commission

The National New Play Network (NNPN), the country’s alliance of non-profit theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays, announced at its Annual Conference earlier this month that InterAct will be the recipient of one of two new play commissions granted in 2011. The commission awards InterAct $5,000 that will be given to playwright Jen Silverman for her as-yet-untitled new play about an international search for a missing internet friend.

In the play, rapper hopeful Lila Ramirez becomes obsessed with the South African style of ghetto-infused hip-hop called kwaito. The only person who seems to share her obsession is Daniela, a black South African girl whom Lila befriends online. But when Daniela suddenly vanishes without a word, Lila must decide how far she will go to help her friend. Flying to Cape Town in search of Daniela, Lila soon discovers that she is in a world where victims often trade protest and justice for the uneasy safety offered by silence.

Jen Silverman is an MFA candidate at the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop, scheduled to graduate in 2011. She received her BA from Brown University in 2006. Her plays include: LIZARDSKIN, developed with New Georges in NYC, New York Stage & Film/ Powerhouse Theatre Company at Vassar College, and produced in the NYC International Fringe Festival in 2006; THE EDUCATION OF MACOLOCO, produced by Fusion Theatre Company in New Mexico, LiveGirls! in Seattle, Circus Theatri-cals in LA, and a 2009 winner of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Play Festival; CRANE STORY, developed with New Georges, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in San Francisco, 2009 HotINK International Festival in NYC, and The Playwrights Realm in NYC; and NILA, which received its first workshop at The Lark’s Playwrights Week 2009. Her plays AKARUI and YELLOW CITY have received workshop productions at the University of Iowa. She was also a 2009 playwright in residence at the Hedgebrook International Women’s Writers Residency.

Commission proposals are nominated by NNPN member theaters and voted annually by the Network’s artistic directors and literary managers. In addition to InterAct and Jen Silverman, the other commission went to Victory Gardens Theatre (Chicago, IL) for Laura Jacqmin's untitled play about a group of college students who learn to travel through time. Commission proposals are nominated by NNPN member theaters and voted annually by the Network’s artistic directors and literary managers. NNPN has awarded eighteen commissions since the Network’s founding in 1998.

2011 Showcase of New Plays

NNPN also announced this week that InterAct was selected to host the Network's 2011 Showcase of New Plays, which will be held November 18-20, 2011, and will feature a series of concert-style readings of 6 new plays that are juried by the NNPN membership. The by-invitation-only event will draw dozens of theatre professionals from all over the country, including the artistic and administrative staffs of NNPN's 26 member theatres, 10-15 playwrights, as well as many industry funders, followers and supporters. The Showcase will also provide work for 35-40 local theatre artists. This will mark the first time the annual Showcase returns to Philadelphia since InterAct hosted its inaugural event in 2002.

For more information about National New Play Network or any of its ground-breaking programming, visit

Thursday, May 5, 2011

IN A DAUGHTER'S EYES Wins National New Play Network's 2011 Smith Prize

InterAct is pleased to announce that IN A DAUGHTER'S EYES by A. Zell Williams has been named the winner of the National New Play Network's 2011 Smith Prize, an award that goes to the best new play focusing on American politics.

InterAct Theatre will produce the World Premiere of IN A DAUGHTER'S EYES, beginning previews on May 27.

“IN A DAUGHTER'S EYES deals with America's legacies of racial and social injustice,” said playwright A. Zell Williams. “The support of the Smith Prize will be a great help in continuing the conversation around these important, challenging topics. And as a young artist, I'm honored to receive the encouragement of such a vital group as the National New Play Network." The 2011 Prize Finalists, in addition to Williams’ play, were: 70 by Philip Hall, FALLOW by Kenneth Lin, SOVEREIGN BODY by Emilie Beck, TO THE BONE by Lisa Ramirez, and WETBACK by Elaine Romero. The selection committee was led by Toni Press-Coffman of Tuscon’s Borderlands Theater.

Established in 2006 and funded by a gift from screenwriter, novelist and playwright Timothy Jay Smith and a number of other socially-conscious donors, The Smith Prize has been administered by NNPN, and is awarded annually to a play that asks: Who are Americans as a people? What are we becoming? What are our global responsibilities? Past winners include Sean Christopher Lewis’ KILLADELPHIA, which InterAct premiered last season as CITY OF NUMBERS: mixtape of a city; Martin Zimmerman’s explosive story of two Latino brothers set against the backdrop of Southwest politics, WHITE TIE BALL; Y York's take on the Rodney King riots, ...AND L.A. IS BURNING; Seth Rozin's satire on Big Oil, BLACK GOLD, which InterAct produced in 2008; and Peter Gil-Sheridan's TOPSY TURVY MOUSE. The $5,000 Prize is split between the playwright and the first NNPN member theater to produce the play.

For more information about National New Play Network or present and past winners of The Smith Prize, visit these links:

Links to More information about IN A DAUGHTER'S EYES:

Find Out More About InterAct's Production

Purchase Tickets

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Audience Members See TWO JEWS & Then Help Locate Afghanistan's Real-Life 'Last Jew'

The premise of Seth Rozin’s funny and poignant TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR… is inspired by the true story of Zebulon Simentov and Isaak Levi, who were introduced to world by Mark Landler’s 2002 New York Times article, entitled, "2 Jews Outlast Taliban. Maybe Not Each Other.," as the last two remaining Jews in Kabul, Afghanistan, after years of Taliban reign in the capital city:

They live across a dusty, sun-baked courtyard from each other, share a tiny kitchen and possess a bond unique in this country's tribal culture: they are the only Jews known to live in the capital of Afghanistan. In the past two months, with the fall of the Taliban, the two men have escaped the long shadow of the fundamentalist Muslim movement, which regarded Judaism as the root of much of the world's evil. By any measure, this should be a happy time for Zbolon Semantov and Isaak Levi. But they are far too busy fighting a private war to take much notice of the dramatic turn in their country's very public conflict.

'I don't talk to him, he's the devil,' Mr. Semantov said of his neighbor. 'A dog is better than him.'

Mr. Levi, peering out his window to see if his nemesis was listening, said, 'He's a thief and a liar.'

Like many longstanding feuds, the conflict between Mr. Semantov and Mr. Levi is cloaked in layers of posturing, evasion and arcane details. But at its heart, the fight is over two forlorn temples - known here as "Jewish mosques" - over which both men claim stewardship...

Although Afghan Jews began emigrating to Israel, Britain and the United States after World War II, the exodus gathered speed during the violence of the mujahedeen wars in the early 1990's. By the time the Taliban seized control in 1996, only five Jewish families were left in Kabul. Now they are gone, too, leaving Mr. Semantov, 41, and Mr. Levi, 60, to squabble over a pair of ramshackle temples that have long since lost their worshipers...

Read Mark Landler’s Entire New York Times Article

The unusual circumstances described in the article set playwright Seth Rozin’s imagination into motion. Some months later, Rozin penned TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…, a vaudevillian-style look at what day-to-day life could have been like for the two men who had nothing in common except a desire to repopulate the Jewish community in Kabul and a deep disdain for one another.

But the story doesn’t end there…

Shortly after the world premiere production of TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR… at Florida Stage (West Palm Beach, FL), Rozin received an email from Lieutenant Colonel Robert Engell. As it turns out, Lt. Col. Engell’s parents saw TWO JEWS at Florida Stage and sent the playbill to their son who was serving as the lay Jewish leader for coalition forces in Kabul. Lt. Col. Engell had written to Rozin hoping to find more information about Zebulon Simentov and the synagogue where he lives. Lt. Col. Engell believed he could be of assistance to the man and the rundown building. After a worldwide flurry of emails, Lt. Col. Engell finally tracked down Simentov and posted the following account of their meeting on the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan website:

As I went out to the security gate to meet our guest, I was filled with anticipation. I was going to meet the last Jew in Afghanistan... I was first introduced to Zabolon Simentov after my folks went to the play “Two Jews Walk into a War.” Amidst the Mundle bread and Toll House cookies in their care package was the Playbill with the simple note “Thought you might be interested... Don’t do anything stupid like trying to find him. Be Safe!” What was I to do?...

Read Lt. Col. Robert Engell's Entire Story

Since the New York Times’ original article, Isaak Levi passed away in 2005 at the approximate age of 80, leaving Zebulon Simentov with the final word on their never-resolved feud.

Here is a brief list of stories that feature Simentov as “the last Jew in Afghanistan”:

2010 CNN Video:
Afghanistan’s Last Jew Vows To Stay Put

2007 San Francisco Gate Article (with Pictures):
Alone On Flower Street: He Survived Soviets, Taliban - And Outlasted Even His Despised Peer

2005 BBC News Article:
‘Only One Jew’ Now In Afghanistan

Links to More Information:

Purchase Tickets to InterAct's TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…

Find Out More About InterAct's TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR...

Watch an Interview with Playwright Seth Rozin

Watch Promotional Videos of Florida Stage’s TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…

An Interview with Seth Rozin, Playwright of TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR...

When TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR… received its World Premiere at Florida Stage (West Palm Beach, FL) in Fall 2009, they interviewed playwright Seth Rozin about the extraordinary true story behind the play. In the interview, Seth discusses a few of the questions about faith and solidarity raised by the play and the sense of purpose that religion was able to bring to both the real-life men and the ever-bickering characters in TWO JEWS…

Links to More Information:

Find Out More About InterAct's TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR...

Purchase Tickets to InterAct's TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…

Watch Promotional Videos of Florida Stage’s TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Check Out Videos of Florida Stage's TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR...

Check out these videos that Florida Stage (West Palm Beach, FL) produced to promote their production of TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR… by Seth Rozin, which opened their 2009/2010 season in October 2009. Directed by Louis Tyrrell, the play featured Avi Hoffman and Gordon McConnell.

InterAct will continue its current season with the Philadelphia premiere of TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…, featuring Tom Teti and John Pietrowski, from April 8 – May 8, 2011. Inspired by the true story of Zebulon Simentov and Isaak Levi, who in 2001, when NATO forces removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, were introduced to the world as the only two remaining members of what had previously been a vibrant Jewish Afghan community in Kabul. Living together in Kabul’s only synagogue, the men despised each other, feuding loudly, publicly and without any clear reason, inspiring playwright Seth Rozin to bring their unusual and inspiring story to the stage...

Video Trailer:

Scenes from the play and interviews with their cast:

Links to More Information:

Find Out More About InterAct's TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR...

Purchase Tickets to InterAct's TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…

Thursday, February 3, 2011

LOVE LESSONS Featured on WHYY's Radio Times

On Thursday, February 3, Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane featured LOVE LESSONS' playwright and performer Jennifer Schelter and Susan Burke, who is lead council on a class action lawsuit against the defense contractors that were part of the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. They discuss the legal case behind the play, the role of a "compassionate witness," the search for accountability, and the intersection of trauma, art, and yoga.

Left to Right: Radio Times' Marty Moss-Coane and Jennifer Schelter in the studio at WHYY. Photos by Rachel Baye and courtesy of WHYY.

Links to more information about LOVE LESSONS:

Purchase Tickets to LOVE LESSONS

Find Out About Special Events During LOVE LESSONS, Including a FREE Panel Discussion and Jennifer Schelter's Storytelling Workshops

Read LOVE LESSONS Articles in Philadelphia City Paper or Chestnut Hill Local

Watch the Video Trailer of LOVE LESSONS

An Interview with Playwright & Performer Jennifer Schelter

Friday, January 28, 2011

LOVE LESSONS Featured in Philadelphia City Paper & Chestnut Hill Local

Check out these excerpts from two articles about Jennifer Schelter and her one-woman play LOVE LESSONS FROM ABU GHRAIB from this week's Philadelphia City Paper and Chestnut Hill Local. LOVE LESSONS runs as a special engagement on InterAct's mainstage January 29 - February 13:

Philadelphia City Paper
Warrior One
Through yoga, Philadelphia playwright Jennifer Schelter taps into the compassion of an Iraqi torture
In 2006, lawyers working on a class-action suit against two U.S. defense contractors — CACI and Titan — interviewed an Iraqi citizen named Abdulwahab.

His testimony was roughly as follows:

He traveled from his village to Baghdad to buy a car. American forces raided the hotel he was staying in. He was restrained with plastic handcuffs, hooded and taken to one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. He was told he was in al-Qaida. He didn't know what al-Qaida was or what it meant. He was stripped naked and interrogated. He was taken to another location and forced to run on his knees and knuckles for 10 days, not sleeping more than 20 minutes at a time.

Then he was sent to Abu Ghraib, and things got worse.

His story is buried under thousands of pages of testimony from more than 300 plaintiffs in Haidar Muhsin Saleh v. Titan Corporation — a case now awaiting review by the Supreme Court. And it would have likely stayed there, except that one of the note-takers at his interview in Istanbul was a yoga instructor and former Equity actress from Philadelphia.

After years of performing in regional theater — and burning out on it — Jennifer Schelter started a yoga studio in East Falls. She thought her stage career was long behind her.

About five years ago, she was approached by one of her students after class. "She said she had just gotten back from listening to torture testimony," explains Schelter. "She wanted me to come with her, but she didn't know why exactly. She said she thought these people needed healing, and I could help. She said, 'Maybe you could do yoga with them or maybe just your presence would be healing.'"

The student was Susan Burke, lead prosecuting attorney on Saleh v. Titan.

Schelter began writing LOVE LESSONS FROM ABU GHRAIB in compulsive bursts, shortly after returning home from Istanbul.

"I had reverse culture shock. No one cares about this, and everyone wants to be happy," says Schelter. "Christmas Day, I sat down and wrote as many stories as I could remember. Because the level of forgiveness in these men was beyond anything I had ever witnessed."

LOVE LESSONS is a one-woman show based on Abdulwahab's testimony. But it's also very much about Schelter's attempt to cling to the virtues of her yoga training in the face of breathtaking inhumanity.

The play debuted at the 2007 Philly Fringe with four chairs, a stage and a budget of about $300. An InterAct Theatre Co. board member fell for it, and gave a DVD copy of the show to artistic director Seth Rozin. He fell for it, too: LOVE LESSONS opens Saturday at InterAct....

Chestnut Hill Local
... [Chestnut] Hill Actress Aids Victims of U.S. Torture

As Jennifer Schelter, 44, prepares for the re-opening of her critically acclaimed one-woman performance piece at the InterAct Theatre, LOVE LESSONS FROM ABU GHRAIB, she recalls that a few years ago she could not possibly have predicted the course of events that would dramatically change her life.

In 2006, Schelter — a Chestnut Hill native, Germantown Friends School alumna and owner of the Yoga Schelter studio in East Falls — was offered the Lierman Trust for Humanitarian Law’s invitation to join lawyer Susan Burke in Istanbul, Turkey. The pair were interviewing Iraqis who had been tortured by U.S. Army personnel at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison. In 2004, the prison was a topic of international controversy after details emerged proving several U.S. Army members had intentionally abused the prisoners...

“I had no idea 99.9% of the population of prisoners were just random,” Schelter said last week. “There was very little reason why they should have been tortured. I was so naïve. I thought the U.S. gave up torture a long time ago. Am I flaming liberal? Absolutely not, and I’m not trying to preach. There just have to be other ways of getting information.”...

Slowly, as the former prisoners became emotionally unguarded, Schelter realized some methods designed to establish healing worked better than others. Genuinely welcoming the prisoners and acknowledging their courage to speak about their experiences were two critical components towards establishing trust. With the presence of mutual trust, Schelter realized she was in unique company.

“I was lucky the prisoners never told me to leave the room,” Schelter said.” They didn’t come from a culture of therapeutics. Being able to release their stories and share the burden of those stories was important. Most prisoners actually said, ‘I’m terribly sorry to burden you with this; thank you for listening.’"

Although Schelter initially journeyed to Istanbul with the intent of giving, she surprisingly received something — a new perspective on the human capacity to love. Following her return to Philadelphia, Schelter created the play, “Love Lessons from Abu Ghraib,” as a way to express her experience and also help others....

The performance explores the themes of love, forgiveness, fearlessness and transformation. As an actress who shared in receiving a Tony Award at the Denver Center Theatre Company and a member of Actors’ Equity and the Screen Actors Guild, Schelter brings experience along with her passion.

“To me, it’s like eating a big courage sandwich,” Schelter said. “It’s all about overcoming fear and depression and transcending through personal and universal faith to find out what’s possible. Everyone makes a difference; witnessing other people makes a huge difference. Not passing judgment makes a huge difference.“...

Links to more information about LOVE LESSONS:

Purchase Tickets to LOVE LESSONS

Read Bruce Walsh's Entire Philadelphia City Paper Article

Read Erik Hubbard's Entire Chestnut Hill Local Article

Watch the Video Trailer of LOVE LESSONS

An Interview with Playwright & Performer Jennifer Schelter