Immigration Battle Tugs at Two Women in World Premiere of a Good Farmer in NYC

News   Immigration Battle Tugs at Two Women in World Premiere of a Good Farmer in NYC The award-winning 3Graces Theater Co. will stage the world premiere of Sharyn Rothstein's a Good Farmer Sept. 25-Oct. 20 at the Bank Street Theater in Manhattan.

In the new drama, directed by Matthew Arbour, "two women — a farm owner and her unlikely best friend, an illegal Mexican immigrant — fight to survive in a small Upstate New York town divided by America's immigration battle."

The play is part of 3Graces "second class citizens" season. The "a" in the title is in lower-case.

"Sharyn Rothstein is an exciting new voice in American theatre who has approached the polarizing issue of immigration from a female perspective and has done so with great humanity and humor," stated 3Graces co-artistic director Elizabeth Bunnell.

Co-artistic director Annie McGovern added, "We are excited to discover how 3Graces' interactive dramaturgical process will enhance the development of this new work, as well as shed light on a complicated issue."

The cast includes 3Graces company members Elizabeth Bunnell, Annie McGovern and Chelsea Silverman, with Gerald McCullouch (who plays Bobby Dawson on the CBS TV series "CSI") and Jacqueline Duprey, Sharon Eisman, Andrew Giarolo and Borden Hallowes. Dramaturgy is by Margot Avery and Patrick T. Cecala II.

Thee creative team also includes set designer Michael Kramer, lighting designer Greg Mitchell, costume designer Courtney McClain, sound designer John D. Ivy, with live music written and performed by Chip Barrow.

"I wanted to write a play with a very smart, very strong woman at its center," stated playwright Sharyn Rothstein. "In December, I stumbled on an article in The New York Times about a small farming town in upstate New York, where increased I.C.E. (Immigration Customs Enforcement) raids had created a culture of fear in the community, and were turning neighbors against each other… Seven illegal workers were detained and offered lesser sentences if they told officials that their employers were aware of their illegal status — but the workers refused. I thought: what ties must these workers have to their employer that they would protect the employer at their own peril? As a bonus, the article mentioned a sign that you pass on your way into this small town. It reads: 'Welcome to Elba. Population 2,639. Just Right.'"

Rothstein's full-length and one-acts plays have been workshopped and/or produced by the Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Georges, 3Graces Theater Co., The Vital Theatre, Soho Think Tank, Manhattan Theatre Source, Makor/92nd Street Y, as part of the New York International Fringe Festival and at numerous theatres around the country. She is a member of Youngblood, Ensemble Studio Theatre's collective for emerging playwrights under the age of 30. She is the winner of the Samuel French Short Play Contest (Samuel French will be publishing her winning one-act RelationTrip this fall), and three of her short plays will be published in Smith & Kraus' 2005 and 2006 editions of "The Best Ten Minute Plays for 3 or More Actors." Rothstein is currently pursuing her MFA in dramatic writing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, as well as her masters of public health at Hunter College. She is the proud recipient of the 3Graces' 2007 Amazing Grace Award "for her dedication to sharing women's stories."

Arbour continues his working relationship with Sharyn Rothstein, having directed her play Life Coming Up with the First Look Theatre Company at NYU this spring.

3Graces Theater Co. was founded in 2004 with a mission "to stage women's stories, deliver solid dramaturgy, build a strong ensemble, and give back to the community."

3Graces annually produces a Main Stage Season and a Studio Series titled GraceNotes. 3Graces Theater Co. was honored as the recipient of the League of Professional Theatre Women's Lucille Lortel Award for the 2006-2007 season.

Performances of a Good Farmer run Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. There will be added performances on Sept. 25 at 8 PM; Sept. 26 at 8 PM; and Oct. 17 at 8 PM, and no performances on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29.

The Bank Street Theater is located at 155 Bank Street between Washington and West Streets. Tickets are $20 and are on sale through Ticket Central at www.ticketcentral.com or (212) 279-4200.

For more information, visit www.ThreeGracesTheater.org.