How a Podcast About a Hostage Negotiator Inspired the Pascale Armand-Led Radio Island

Interview   How a Podcast About a Hostage Negotiator Inspired the Pascale Armand-Led Radio Island
 
Playwright Liza Birkenmeier turns facts into this new “gothic thriller.”

“I had heard a story about a hostage negotiator whose job got taken by somebody from an oil corporation when there was a ship takeover overseas,” says playwright Liza Birkenmeier. “The frame of that story was about congratulating the man who had taken over. I had the real need to tell that [story] through a femme lens.”

So Birkenmeier set out to write a play about a fictional female hostage negotiator, the negotiating skills she brings to her work, and the necessary negotiating with her family back home.

“The play is about a certain kind of tension and suspense and fear,” says director Jaki Bradley. “It’s a quality you don’t see in theatre that often.”

The two mount the play for the first time as a production at Vassar College & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theatre, now through July 8. “The thing that feels new and fertile for us is figuring out what it looks like in three dimensions instead of what it sounds like on the page,” says Bradley.

Tony nominee Pascale Armand leads the cast, which also features Kelly AuCoin, Birgit Huppuch, Maryann Plunkett, Adina Verson, and Stephen Tyrone Williams.

“They’re all really smart and amazing,” says Birkenmeier. “[Pascale] just being in the room and her energy is something that can really inspire a sort of bravery and fun around the piece.”

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