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World premiere of ‘Smile’ opens
IAMA’s 15th anniversary ‘Jubilee’ season
LOS ANGELES (REVISED November 10, 2022) — Two women form an unexpected bond in a new play developed at IAMA Theatre Company by playwright Melissa Jane Osborne and director Michelle Bossy, both IAMA ensemble members. The world premiere of Smile opens IAMA’s 15th anniversary season on November 12 at Atwater Village Theatre, where performances continue through December 5. Low-priced previews begin November 10.
With IAMA’s 2022-23 “Jubilee” season dedicated to telling stories that give voice to women, people of color, LBGTQA artists and artists of varied physical and cognitive abilities, Smile is fittingly set in 1992, the year a record number of women were elected to the U.S. Senate that was dubbed “Year of the Woman” by the media.
But things haven’t changed much for 17-year-old Rachel Olivera, played by Isabella Feliciana (Killer Grades on Lifetime). A kid from the inner city whose mother moved her in order to attend a White, affluent public school in Philadelphia’s Main Line, Rachel is a young girl still dreaming of her first kiss; she’s ill-equipped to navigate a world which defines her solely by gender, race and class. When an “incident” at school lands Rachel in the guidance counselor’s office, her situation sparks the young mother’s own questions and insecurities. Soon, Rachel and Helen (IAMA ensemble member Andria Kozica, recently seen in Celestial Events) find themselves developing a complicated relationship.
“This play is a great ride, a cathartic story about two very different women who come to lean on each other,” says Bossy. “They have each reached a tipping point. They want to be the authors of their own stories, to not have their identities defined for them. Neither wants to be a victim. 1992 was supposed to the ‘Year of the Woman,’ yet here we find ourselves 30 years later, and nothing has really changed.”
“Melissa has woven a story that, while being set in our recent past, packs a big punch for today,” says IAMA artistic director Stefanie Black. “Strong voices like hers are why IAMA continues to be dedicated to developing new works here in Los Angeles. To be able to give Melissa a world premiere production is a long time coming.”
Also in the cast are IAMA ensemble member John Lavelle (Drama Desk Award for The Royale at Lincoln Center, Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate on Broadway, playwriting credits including Sinners Laundry and Celestial Events for IAMA) as Helen’s husband, Matt, and Ronit Kathuria as neighborhood boy Joey.
The creative team for Smile includes scenic designer Yuri Okahana-Benson; lighting designer Dan Weingarten; sound designer Erin Bednarz; projections designer Sean Cawelti; costume designer Vicki Conrad; properties designer Heath Harper; and casting director Jordan Bass. IAMA ensemble member Anna LaMadrid is associate director and dramaturg. Grant Gerrard is the production manager and Kimberly Sanchez Garrido is the stage manager. Tiffany Moon and Kat Kim produce for IAMA Theatre Company.
Melissa Jane Osborne is a writer and actor in theater, film, TV and new media focusing on female-based stories. She is a four-time semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference (including for Smile). In theater, she has worked with festivals and companies including the Williamstown Theatre Festival, AMMO, LA Stage Alliance, the Samuel French Festival, NYFringe, EST, the Barrow Group and Stella Adler Studio, where she is an alum. Her work in film has received grants and awards from both Panavision and Kodak. Most recently, she is the creator of the award-winning graphic novel “The Wendy Project” (pub. Macmillian) which has been translated into six languages. NYTheatre.com calls her “funny, insightful, and intriguing… a writer and actor to keep eye on”; Vulture calls her work “hypnotic”; and The New York Times says “striking.”
Michelle Bossy is an award-winning Mexican American film, television and theater director. Her features include Under the Lantern Lit Sky and Nobody’s Home, and she has directed over 20 short films, music videos and web series. Before pursuing her freelance directing career, Michelle was the associate artistic director of the off-Broadway theater company Primary Stages, where she worked for 13 years. Michelle holds the first undergraduate directing degree from Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts. She teaches playwriting and acting for NYU and directing for Syracuse University’s Tepper Semester. Recent theater projects include The Oxy Complex and There and Back in San Miguel de Allende, MX and Los Angeles, CA, for which Michelle received the Denham Fellowship awarded by the Society of Directors and Choreographers.
Founded in 2007, IAMA is a Los Angeles-based ensemble of artists committed to the creation and cultivation of new voices and artists that challenge boundaries and take risks, while fostering an inclusive community that inspires theater-makers of future generations. Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the world and IAMA’s work reflects the new voices and changing attitudes that continue to shape this city, state, country and world. Designated by Playbill as “one of 20 regional houses every theater lover must know,” the award-winning company has seen many plays generated at IAMA travel to off-Broadway, including to Second Stage and Playwrights Horizons, then go on to be performed regionally and internationally. IAMA members have been featured in numerous critically acclaimed TV shows and films as well as in a vast array of theater and live performances on and off-Broadway and across the country. IAMA has been dedicated to developing new plays and musicals by emerging and established playwrights, culminating in over 25 world, West Coast and Los Angeles premieres.
Smile opens on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m., with performances thereafter on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 8 p.m., and on Sundays at 3 p.m. through Dec. 5 (dark Friday, Nov. 25). Two preview performances take place on Thursday, Nov. 10 and Friday, Nov. 11, each at 8 p.m. All tickets are $35, except the opening night performance on November 12, for which tickets are $40 and include a post performance reception, and previews, which are $20.
Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039. Free parking is available in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) lot one block south of the theater.
For reservations and information, Call 323-380-8843 or go to iamatheatre.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
Two women forge an unexpected bond in the world premiere of Smile, a new play from IAMA Theatre Company. A kid from the inner city whose mother moved her in order to attend a White, affluent public school in Philadelphia’s Main Line, Rachel is a young girl still dreaming of her first kiss; she’s ill-equipped to navigate a world which defines her solely by gender, race and class. When an “incident” at school lands Rachel in the guidance counselor’s office, her situation sparks the young mother’s own questions and insecurities. Soon, Rachel and Helen find themselves developing a complicated relationship.
• Written by Melissa Jane Osborne
• Directed by Michelle Bossy
• Starring Isabella Feliciana, Ronit Kathuria, Andria Kozica, John Lavelle
• Presented by IAMA Theatre Company, Stefanie Black, artistic director
Previews: November 10 and November 11
Performances: November 12 – December 5
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: Nov. 10 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Nov. 11 (preview); Nov. 18; Dec. 2; (dark Nov. 25)
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Nov. 12 (opening night); Nov. 19; Nov. 26; Dec. 3
• Sundays at 3 p.m.: Nov. 13; Nov. 20; Nov. 27; Dec. 4
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Nov. 14; Nov. 21; Nov. 28; Dec. 5
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
• FREE parking in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) lot one block south of the theater.f,m0o]/.=
• General Admission (except previews and opening night): $35
• Opening Night (Nov. 12): $40 (includes post-performance reception)
• Previews: $20
Call 323-380-8843 or go to iamatheatre.com
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