PAST PRODUCTIONS

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THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL

ADAPTED BY SAWYER ESTES AFTER LUIS BUÑUEL

OCTOBER 7 - 24, 2021

In this world-premiere stage adaptation of the iconic surrealist film from the 1960s, a group of dinner guests find themselves incapable of leaving the party, turning a festive few hours into harrowing days, weeks, and months. Imprisoned together, the foundational traditions and mores of human civilization begin to give way to a different form of order. Vernal & Sere Theatre made its monumental return to the stage with The Exterminating Angel, a definitive thumb-in-the-nose to the stark reality we have all been living these past eighteen months. An elaborate, ensemble-based piece filled with the company’s characteristic use of movement, poetry, and media, this original adaptation builds upon the legacy of the film by Luis Buñuel.

 

Featuring: Kathrine Barnes, Erin Boswell, Rebecca Botter, Kate Bryce, Patrick Conley, Barrett Doyle, Laura Edwards, Katerina Eichenberger, Brice Heller, Joseph Leitess, Erin O'Connor, Irene Polk, Megan Poole, Heather Rule, TJ Ruth, Chris Schulz, Mustapha Slack, Hailey Swartwout, Joe Sykes, Madelyn Wall, and Joseph Yang

Adaptation by: Sawyer Estes
Directed by: Sawyer Estes and Erin O'Connor
Lead Designer: Lindsey Sharpless
Movement Direction: Erin Boswell and Erin O'Connor
Choreography: Terry Slade, Erin Boswell, and Erin O'Connor
Original Music by: Chandler Anderson, Erin Boswell, Rebecca Botter, Kate Bryce, Jeffrey Bützer, Shelby Frank, Zach Halaby, Megan Poole, and Alex Vila
Lighting Design: Lindsey Sharpless
Costume Design: Erin O'Connor
Costume Associate: Rebecca Botter

Props Master: Kathrine Barnes
Projection and Videography: Matt Shively, Jamie Flanagan, and Tony Collins
Intimacy Direction: Erin Boswell and Kate Jones
Stage Management: Kate Jones and Lindsey Sharpless

Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi incited an infamous riot in 1896 at the utterance of its very first word. Some time later that night, a world-renowned poet would describe the outrageous performance as the ultimate arrival of "the savage god." With the arrival of King Ubu upon the Parisian stage, something fundamental had changed forever. The theatre of the absurd had unwittingly been born.

Vernal & Sere Theatre's brand new adaptation of UBU aims to be no less exhilarating. By reimagining the titular character of King Ubu as a headmaster walking the halls of a quintessential American schoolyard, we will call into question the fundamental system by which we govern and instruct our citizenry.

The piece is part Shakespearean parody, part political satire, part absurdist comedy, and always a "dance of death." In short, it represents another step in our company's evolution towards a more imaginative and stylized mode of performance.

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Featuring: Leah Anderson, Kathrine Barnes, Erin Boswell, Patrick Conley, Katerina Eichenberger, Brian Epperson, Jennica Hill, Naomi Mack, Kasey O'Barr, Erin O'Connor, Lindsey Sharpless, Adam Sherman, Hailey Swartwout, and Madelyn Wall

Directed and Adapted by: Sawyer Estes

Set Design: Josh Oberlander

Lighting Design: Lindsey Sharpless

Movement Direction: Erin Boswell and Erin O'Connor

Intimacy Consultant: Rebecca Botter

Projection Design: Anna Wing

Fight Choreography: Kasey O'Barr

Costume Design: Erin O'Connor

Voice Coach: Erin Boswell

UBU

ADAPTED BY SAWYER ESTES

FEBRUARY 13 - MARCH 1, 2020

SPIRITS TO ENFORCE

BY MICKLE MAHER

MAY 2-18, 2019

Imagine the year 1610. Ah, what a time and place. 
That's when William Shakespeare wrote The Tempest. 

Fast-forward four hundred years to 2019.
It's safe to say that a lot has changed.

In a secret submarine within polluted, radioactive waters, twelve absurd superheroes are engaged in their most difficult battle yet: telefundraising. The reason? Having lost faith in more traditional acts of public service, these heroes yearn to make art instead by mounting an epic production of William Shakespeare's The Tempest. Of course, in the art of theatre nothing goes as planned, spiraling totally into entropy as the heroes wonder how the world has fallen into such disrepair, and what their roles might be within it.

Vernal & Sere Theatre has been waiting anxiously since its inception to introduce Atlanta audiences to the awe-inspiring work of Chicago-based playwright Mickle Maher. We believe Spirits to Enforce is a perfect introduction. By utilizing such varied traditions as comic book lore, choral arrangement, and Shakespearean text, Maher creates an expansive world filled with music and movement and language. It is wild and hilarious and truly the stuff of dreams: an excellent fit for our company.

It is our pleasure to announce that this is the Spirits to Enforce REGIONAL PREMIERE.

FEATURING:
Kathrine Barnes, Nicholas Blue, Kellen Boyle, Katerina Eichenberger, Onye Eme-Akwari, Jason-Jamal Ligon, Spencer Mumford, Kasey O’Barr, Sofia Palmero, Megan Poole, Hailey Swartwout, and Madelyn Wall

PROJECTION DESIGN: Vivian Nguyen, Michael Frederick

4.48 PSYCHOSIS

BY SARAH KANE

SEPTEMBER 14 - OCTOBER 7, 2018

4.48 Psychosis received its premiere in the first year of this century. Eighteen years later and its subjects of mental illness, heartache, and pathological grief are still vastly misunderstood and misrepresented. Yet every one of us has experienced suffering and despair. These scenes usually take place in seclusion - in the privacy of our homes, office buildings, or cars as we wait motionless in traffic. Thus depression might be defined by this simple paradox: It is everywhere and it is nowhere.

We are thrilled to announce that Vernal & Sere Theatre's next production is an attempt to make seen what is unseen: to thrust mental illness into the theatrical space and experience it firsthand, viscerally, so that together we might process the reality of depression.

"Validate me / Witness me / See me / Love me"

The final play by the groundbreaking and inimitable Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis is an exploration inside the mind of a young woman who, suffering from mental illness, determines to commit suicide. Yet while the mind is both subject and setting, the heart of this play is a love story: between a patient and doctor, between a woman and herself, and finally between performers and audience.

But its ultimate act of love might be found in the very nature of its main character's dilemma, which should not be seen as a struggle to die, but as a tooth-and-nails fight to live.



A Brief Performance Note:

In an effort to present the fragmentary and mutative nature of both mental illness and this plays structure, every actor in our company has memorized, rehearsed, and learned this entire play over an extended rehearsal process - every line, every scene, every role.

Based on impetus and the particular evening of performance, each scene might be played in a variety of arrangements by any combination of our ensemble.

If our math is correct, this gives our production 10,944 possible permutations.

We encourage multiple viewings.

Director: Sawyer Estes
Cast: Kathrine Barnes, Erin Boswell, Erin O'Connor, and Madelyn Wall
Lighting Design: Lindsey Sharpless

Projection Design: Michael Frederick

ANNA BELLA EEMA

BY LISA D'AMOUR

MARCH 16 - APRIL 8, 2018

A trailer park in decay. A highway in development. A mother, her girl, and her girl's girl: a doppelgänger made out of mud.

Part ghost story, part trailer park musical, part coming-of-age melodrama... Anna Bella Eema resists simple classification. What it is, however, is a celebration of storytelling. This play is brimming with life. The language is rich in poetry; the movement is exuberant; the music is enthralling. Described as a "ghost story for three bodies with three voices," Anna Bella Eema utilizes the traditions of legend, folklore, and even Broadway Musical to share a potent story about adaptation and survival in the face of maleficent forces and bewildering times.

Written by Pulitzer Prize Finalist and Obie Award Winning playwright Lisa D'Amour, Anna Bella Eema continues and expands upon Vernal & Sere Theatre's mission of presenting "imaginative theatre that straddles the line between sacred and profane, life and death, happiness and grief." 

While we are proud of how harrowing and challenging our first two productions proved to be, we are equally excited about exploring the other side of existence with a kind of lightness and profound, sincere joy.

Directed by: Sawyer Estes and Erin O'Connor
Cast: Lindsey Sharpless, Erin Boswell, and Kathrine Barnes

Projection Design: Michael Frederick

Lighting Design: Lindsey Sharpless

Featuring music by Jeffrey Butzer

"Something is coming. It's either the interstate or the end of the world." 

MEDEA UNBORN

BY SAWYER ESTES

JUNE 30 - JULY 16, 2017

Over 2500 years ago, a play called Medea came into existence in Greece written by a man named Euripides. It has been translated and retranslated - adapted and readapted. Audiences seem absolutely fixated on this woman that kills her two small children as an act of vengeance against her former lover.

Now Vernal & Sere Theatre has reimagined the epic yet again with a new play called Medea Unborn written by company member Sawyer Estes. By skewing the timeline ever so slightly so that Medea is five months pregnant with twins when the play begins, this production is allowed to focus entirely on the abortive act, repeatedly asking an almost unfathomable question: Does that change things, for you? Does it make it better? Or worse? In our second full production, we explore the forgotten space between the myth and the mother.

At a time when our country appears ready to split at the seams over a number of issues, we are prepared to tackle one of the more polarizing ones. In keeping with our company motto of presenting imaginative, avant-garde theatre that makes no apologies and no concessions, we are absolutely thrilled to offer a world-premiere work that so exemplifies that statement. Written in verse and utilizing movement, music, and film - this will be a giant step forward for Vernal & Sere Theatre as we present another work that straddles the line between sacred and profane, life and death, happiness and grief.

Written by VST Co-Founder Sawyer Estes. Directed by Co-Founder Erin O’Connor. Designed by Lindsey Sharpless. The cast includes Co-Founder Erin Boswell as Medea, Co-Founder Kathrine Barnes as Nurse, Madelyn Wall as Creusa, Spencer Kolbe Miller as Jason, Jason C. Louder as Madear, Reed Sellers as Creon, and Simone Monet, MK Martin, and Chelsea Christopher as Greek Chorus.

SINCERITY FOREVER

BY MAC WELLMAN

DECEMBER 2-11, 2016

The inhabitants of small-town Hillsbottom are under siege: from high anxiety, toxic waste, carbon pollution, global warming, and (perhaps most of all) mystic furballs. Two profane aliens have landed and turned typical country small talk into something sinister. Is God watching? Does he care? Is God a he? In the play that simultaneously won Mac Wellman an Obie Award and lost him favor with the National Endowment for the Arts, American consciousness is examined with a peculiar humor, imagination, and honesty.

 

Over the evening hangs an atmospheric dread... [O]ne realizes that those furballs could be fugitives from a David Lynch dream. But "Sincerity Forever" is very much its own thing, just as it is becoming increasingly clear that, as a playwright, Mr. Wellman is sui generis. -Mel Gussow, New York Times

 

In its inaugural production, Vernal & Sere Theatre seeks to establish its mission of presenting imaginative, avant-garde theatre that makes no apologies and no concessions. Borrowing from the great Samuel Beckett, the company's name suggests that it will focus on work both classical and new that straddles the line between sacred and profane, fertility and barrenness, happiness and grief. Mac Wellman's play, written in the early nineties, seems especially appropriate during this presidential cycle, when political discourse has been exchanged for talking heads, argument for belligerence, and humility for arrogance. Feeling as if, in reality, America has been visited by a kind of furball, VST presents Sincerity Forever with urgency and hilarity at the inaneness of it all.

The stellar cast includes Co-Founder Erin Boswell as Judy, Co-Founder Erin O'Connor as Molly, Co-Founder Kathrine Barnes as Furball, JR McCall as Furball, Joshua Brook as Hank, Lucas Scott as George, Cody Vaughn as Lloyd/Melvin, Kasey Obarr as Tom, and Brittany Inge as Jesus H. Christ.

Hell looks a lot like Hillsbottom.