Sarah Rafferty Is Embattled Teacher in How the World Began, Opening at South Coast Rep

News   Sarah Rafferty Is Embattled Teacher in How the World Began, Opening at South Coast Rep
The debate of evolution vs. creation roils anew in Catherine Trieschmann's How the World Began, the story of the clash between an evolutionist teacher and a creationist student, getting its world premiere by South Coast Rep. It opens Sept. 30 following previews from Sept. 25. Performances play to Oct. 16. 

Sarah Rafferty and Jarrett Sleeper
Sarah Rafferty and Jarrett Sleeper Photo by Ben Horak/SCR

Performances play the Julianne Argyros Stage in Costa Mesa, CA. The play is being produced in association with Women's Project Theater in New York. 

Daniella Topol directs Sarah Rafferty (TV's "Suits," Roundabout's You Never Can Tell and Second Stage's Gemini), who plays biology teacher Susan Pierce, who has just arrived in tornado-ravaged Plainview, KS, from New York City. According to South Coast Rep notes, "When she unthinkingly implies that creationism is 'gobbledy gook,' she riles the devout but troubled Micah (Jarrett Sleeper of SCR's Doctor Cerberus). That, in turn, disturbs Micah's wily, good-natured guardian, Gene (Time Winters, of the national tour of Camelot). Soon the entire town is up in arms, and Susan's job is in jeopardy."

What attracted director Topol to the play? She told, "Although Catherine's conceit of the play is surprisingly simple — a three-character one-set one-act — the play feels dangerously provocative. The play takes an honest look at the cost of cohabiting with those who are different than you [and] the ways in which we obliviously or intentionally belittle one another."

She added, "s we all know, talking about religion — sharing what you believe in and why or why not — is surprisingly sensitive. An individual's sense of faith is often based in following or denying your family/upbringing and/or connected to a trauma of some kind. As a result, our faith/faithlessness is rooted in deeply personal terrain. Deeply personal terrain is deeply provocative terrain, too."

Topol is a New York-based director whose recent credits include Rajiv Joseph's Monster at the Door (Alley Theatre), Anne Ziegler's Photograph 51 (Theatre J) and Willy Holtzman's The Morini Strand (City Theatre). She will also direct the Women's Project Theater production of How the World Began in New York in January. The play is also slated for production by Out of Joint theatre in London in November. Trieschmann lives and writes in Kansas, and is author of The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock, crooked, The World of Others, Hot Georgia Sunday and Small and Selfish Creatures. She wrote the screenplay for "Angel's Crest," which premiered at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

Topol told, "Catherine and I are committed to keeping the play/production as unbiased towards/against faith. She is a Christian living in Kansas, I am an agnostic Jew living in Brooklyn. Both of us believe that the way into the play is through a humanistic lens."

The artistic team comprises Sara Ryung Clement (set and costume design), Paul Whitaker (lighting design), Darron L West (sound design and original music), Kelly L. Miller (dramaturgy) and Jennifer Ellen Butler (stage manager).

For more information, visit

Sarah Rafferty and Time Winters
Sarah Rafferty and Time Winters Photo by Ben Horak/SCR
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