January 13-23, 2022
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The art and science of death and dying have plagued humanity for centuries. Sometimes we get so caught up with fearing it, we forget how to live joyfully moment to moment. Time is always an issue, isn’t it? In this absurdist comedy, death looms over Mary and Mary Ellen, two aging actresses longing for the role of a lifetime. Having known each other forever as friends, colleagues, and rivals but estranged for decades, they are suddenly and mysteriously reunited over the shared brainchild of creating art from their lives. Revisiting their separate and disparate memories and giving vent to individual fantasies, they weave a tale worthy of their upcoming appearance in the Bardo, which for them is the Great Hall of the Players club. Here the spirits of legendary actors Joseph Jefferson, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, Jose Ferrer, Bea Lillie, and Bert Lahr emerge from their portraits to inspire, encourage, and challenge Mary Ellen as she––often unskillfully–-guides Mary through various phases of transitional consciousness into a new stage of existence. Ultimately, the lives of the two begin to imitate the art they struggle to create for this world and the next.
by Coni Koepfinger and Dan Carter with Music by Joe Izen
Coni Koepfinger, a 2021 recipient of the Olwen Wymark Award by the Writer's Guild of Great Britain, is currently playwright-in-residence at both Manhattan Rep and Cosmic Orchid and has worked with several other notable NYC companies such as Theatre for the New City, The Secret Theatre, the New York Unfringed Fest, Broadway Bound Festival and Pan Asian Rep. She has connected hundreds through her virtual programs Airplay and Determined Women. She is a member of the Dramatist Guild, a former board member of the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) and a chair for the League Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) and currently sits as Media Advisory Board of the Lifeboat Foundation. As a very prolific indie artist, Coni’s work has been published and produced all over the globe.
Dan Carter served over thirty years as a university theatre administrator at Penn State, Florida State, and Illinois State, also serving as Artistic Director of Pennsylvania Centre Stage, Producing Director of Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and co-founder and Artistic Director of Appalachian Theatre Ensemble. He is Past President of the National Theatre Conference and the National Association of Schools of Theatre and is Immediate Past Dean of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. He served Actors’ Equity Association for four years as Area Liaison from the State of Florida and is a recipient of the Society of American Fight Directors’ Patrick Crean Award. His writing includes Coleridge Interrupted, A Stand Up Guy, and stage adaptations of The King (Barthelme) and The Merry Devils (Marsten). He also authored an acting book with longtime friend and colleague, Brant Pope.
The play was first developed in workshops at Theatre for the New City in 2019 under the title My Dinner with Mary by Coni Koepfinger. A staged reading at The Players Club scheduled for spring of 2020 was canceled due to the shutdown. Cyndy Marion, from the Producer's Circle and board member of the Players, decided to direct a virtual reading shortly thereafter. Later that year, Theater for the New City asked us to present a second virtual reading of the play for their ON THE AIR series, which was live-streamed from The Players Club, New York, directed by Byron C. Saunders. In winter of 2020, I asked Dan Carter to read the script. He loved it and said that he saw something in it. We started workshopping virtually every week for the last six months during which time I invited him to co-author the play. Dan and I feel this play is relevant and universal and is now ready to be shared with the world.
– Coni Koepfinger
The Producers Circle was founded in 2018 with the goal of providing exceptional, high-quality programming and discovering, nurturing and promoting new talent.
Cyndy A. Marion is a stage director, producer and playwright. She is the Producing Artistic Director of the White Horse Theater Company and a co-founder of The Producers Circle. Her first full-length play You Are Perfect has received multiple productions both in the US and abroad, including at The Toronto Fringe Festival, Off-Broadway's Theatre 80, Charlotte's Off-Broadway's Page to Stage, LA's The Actors Company and at The Red Mask Players in Danville, IL. Cyndy directed the NYC premiere of her latest play Broken Story which is scheduled for a West Coast production in 2022 at North Hollywood's Sherry Theater, directed by Tamara Ruppart. Directing credits include: A Cavalier for Milady, Eyes for Consuela, 'night, Mother, Suddenly Last Summer, Clothes for a Summer Hotel, In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel, and The Late Henry Moss (all with WHTC), the world premieres ofThe Book of Lambert and MINA by Obie-winner Leslie Lee (La MaMa E.T.C.), and PB&J(NYC International Fringe Festival). She recently co-produced Cynthia Shaw's Velvet Determination and Mary Goggin's Runaway Princess in the Windo' of The Gene Frankel Theatre. She is currently writing Thistles, a family drama and developing Newark The Musical with White Horse Theater Company. Cyndy holds an MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College where she was the 2001 recipient of the Joel Zwick Scholarship in directing and a BA from Davidson College. She is on the Board of Directors of The Players and is a member of the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society and The Dramatists Guild. www.whitehorsetheater.com.