FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press contact: Lucy Pollak
[email protected] (818) 887-1499 (for media only)
Odyssey Theatre revives William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize winning ‘Picnic’ with
physical theater artist John Farmanesh–Bocca at the helm
LOS ANGELES (REVISED February 24, 2023) — Odyssey Theatre Ensemble presents a revival of Picnic, the sensual, passionate and delightfully funny Pulitzer Prize winning play by William Inge. Directed by multiple award winner John Farmanesh–Bocca (Tempest Redux, Lysistrata Unbound), performances will run March 25 through May 28 at the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A. In addition, there will be two public previews, on Wednesday, March 22 and Thursday, March 23, followed by one press preview (also open to the public) on Friday, March 24.
Powerful and moving, Inge’s drama is not simply a breezy summer romance. Set in small town Kansas, this is a sexy world, dangerous and cruel, where residents keep each other in their place while longing to break free. When a handsome young drifter named Hal arrives on the eve of the annual Labor Day picnic, his combination of uncouth manners and titillating charm sends the women reeling — especially the beautiful Madge. Friendships are pushed to the limit and the fragile line between restraint and desire is stretched thin.
“Picnic, is a potent mix of deeply human juxtapositions — love and family, morality and longing, fortune and desperation, idealism and reality, frailty and resilience, fear and courage, prejudice and acceptance, small towns and big cities,” says Farmanesh-Bocca. “Essentially, it’s about America. Written in the ’50s, this timeless story explores enormous questions of identity; identity of self and the country we live in — an idea still struggling to live up to its promise, searching for its soul.”
Monti Washington (Games People Play on BET and Tyler Perry’s Bruh on BET+) stars as sexy drifter Hal Carter. Mattie Harris Lowe (recent graduate, USC School of Dramatic Arts) and Caitlin O’Grady (Dead Silent and Homicide Hunter on Investigation Discovery; Stop Kiss at the Little Theatre of Alexandria) alternate as beautiful young dreamer Madge Owens. Symphony Canady (Crumbs from the Table of Joy at Long Beach Playhouse) plays Madge’s smart-but-plain younger sister, Millie, and Yolanda Snowball (Theatre of Note/CTG Block Party’s For The Love Of (or, the roller derby play) at the Kirk Douglas Theatre) is their mother, Flo. Ahkei Togun (The Serpent at the Odyssey, Scraps at the Matrix) portrays Madge’s wealthy boyfriend, Alan Seymour. Sydney A. Mason (Fefu and Her Friends, Lysistrata Unbound at the Odyssey; August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, Radio Golf at A Noise Within) takes on the role of spinster schoolteacher Rosemary Sydney, with Derrick Parker (off-Broadway and regional productions of The Old Settler, Topdog/Underdog, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) playing Rosemary’s suitor, storekeeper Howard Bevans. Rounding out the ensemble are Rosemary Thomas (Netflix’s The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Snoop Dogg’s Bromates) as neighbor Helen Potts; Erika L. Holmes (Detective Evelyn Epps in L.A. Macabre on Amazon Prime) as Rosemary’s fellow schoolteacher, Irma Kronkite; and Rogelio Douglas III (member, Robey Theatre Company) as Bomber.
William Inge was one of the three most important playwrights in the American theater of the 1950s, along with Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. Nobody wrote more profoundly about the frustrations and longings of small-town Midwesterners. Considered his masterpiece, Picnic challenged the prevailing attitudes of the American Dream. People yearned for the normalcy of love, marriage and security after life-changing upheavals of World War II, but deep currents of discontent and desire for individuality were shaking the foundations of the small-town environment. Picnic premiered on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in February 1953, receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. It was adapted into a motion picture in 1955, starring William Holden and Kim Novak, and has been revived twice on Broadway, in 1994 and again in 2013.
John Farmanesh-Bocca is a multiple award-winning artist whose physical theater adaptations include Pericles Redux (European and U.S. premieres) and Wish I Had A Sylvia Plath (winner, Edinburgh Fringe First Award). For the Odyssey, he directed and choreographed Tempest Redux (11 Stage Raw award nominations and four wins; six Scenie awards; nominations for both LADCC and Ovation awards) and Lysistrata Unbound (Scenie awards for outstanding production, direction, choreography and ensemble). Other directing and choreography credits include Titus Redux at the Kirk Douglas Theatre; As/Is at the New American Theatre; Hercules Furens at the Getty Villa; and the Los Angeles premiere of Ajax in Iraq for his physical theater company, Not Man Apart.
The creative team for Picnic includes set designer Frederica Nascimento, lighting designer Chu-Hsuan Chang and costume designer Mylette Nora. Farmanesh-Bocca co-designs sound with Jeff Gardner and (posthumously) Adam Phelan, and co-choreographs alongside Briana Price. The stage manager is Terrance Stewart. Beth Hogan produces for Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in association with Isabel and Harvey Kibel.
Performances of Picnic take place every Saturday at 8 p.m. and every Sunday at 2 p.m. from March 25 through May 28. In addition, there will be two performances on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.: May 10 and May 17; three performances on Fridays at 8 p.m.: April 28, May 19 and May 26; and three performances on Mondays at 8 p.m.: April 17, April 24 and May 8. Public previews take place on Wednesday, March 22 and Thursday, March 23 followed by a press preview (also open to the public) on Friday, March 24, with all previews beginning at 8 p.m.
Post-performance discussions with the artists are scheduled on Monday, April 17 and Wednesday, May 10 and are included in the ticket price. Friday, April 28 and Friday, May 19 are “Wine Nights”: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show.
Tickets to performances range from $25–$40, except Mondays, which are Pay-What-You-Will (reservations open online and at the door starting at 5:30 p.m.). Previews are priced at $20. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025
For more information and to purchase tickets, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble presents a revival of Picnic, the sensual, passionate and delightfully funny Pulitzer Prize winning play by William Inge. Set in small town Kansas, this is a sexy world, dangerous and cruel, where residents keep each other in their place while longing to break free. When a handsome young drifter named Hal arrives on the eve of the annual Labor Day picnic, his combination of uncouth manners and titillating charm sends the women reeling — especially the beautiful Madge. Friendships are pushed to the limit and the fragile line between restraint and desire is stretched thin. Winner of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award.
• Written by William Inge
• Directed by John Farmanesh-Bocca
• Starring Symphony Canady, Rogelio Douglas III, Mattie Harris Lowe, Erika Holmes, Sydney A. Mason, Caitlin O’Grady, Derrick Parker, Yolanda Snowball, Rosemary Thomas, Ahkei Togun, Monti Washington
• Produced by Beth Hogan for the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in association with Isabel and Harvey Kibel
• Presented by the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Ron Sossi Artistic Director
Previews: March 22 and March 23
Press Preview: March 24 (also open to the public)
Performances: March 25 – May 28
• Wednesdays at 8 p.m.: March 22 (Preview), May 10*, May 17 ONLY
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: March 23 (Preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: March 24 (Press Preview), April 28**, May 19**, May 26 ONLY
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: March 25 (Opening), April 1, April 8, April 15, April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13, May 20, May 27
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: March 26, April 2, April 9, April 16, April 23, April 30, May 7, May 14, May 21, May 28
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: April 17*, April 24, May 8 ONLY
*Post-performance discussions on Monday, April 17 and Wednesday, May 10
**Wine Nights on Friday, April 28 and Friday, May 19 complimentary wine and snacks and after the show.
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
• Previews: $20
• Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays: $25–$40
• Mondays: Pay-What-You-Will (reservations open online and at the door starting at 5:30 p.m.)
(310) 477-2055 ext. 2
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