Surgery Cuts to the Heart of Family Roots in Midtown Fest, July 18-Aug. 5

News   Surgery Cuts to the Heart of Family Roots in Midtown Fest, July 18-Aug. 5
Karin Diann Williams' Surgery, a new comedy about family and memory, will play July 18-Aug. 5 as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival in Manhattan.
From left: Kira Sternbach, Melissa Miller and Laura L.C. Smith will be showcased in Surgery.
From left: Kira Sternbach, Melissa Miller and Laura L.C. Smith will be showcased in Surgery.

"Surgery is the story of a young woman whose impending wedding spurs a search for the birth-parents she's never met," according to production notes. "Instead of uncovering her roots, she encounters a birth-father whose recent brain surgery has wiped out most of his memory. In the wake of their darkly comic reunion, two families are left to grapple with shifting roles, new relationships, and ghosts from a largely fictional past."

Stuart Hynson Culpepper directs the play, which was a semi-finalist for the 2001 Chesterfield Writers Fellowship and the Best Play 2001 Award. It was last seen at Boston's Theatreworks 2002 BTW Unbound Festival. This marks the New York City debut for the comedy.

Performances play the WorkShop Theater on West 36th Street in an Off-Off-Broadway showcase production.

The cast includes Debra Kay Anderson (Ruthy), Ian Jarvis (Jack), David McDaniel (Frank), Melissa Miller (Thea), Katherine Puma (Zara), Laura L.C. Smith (Laney), Kira Sternbach (Ripley) and Joe Wachowski (Zed).

"In an age of spin, where the truth is what is most expedient or profitable, Surgery is a remarkable examination of our personal desire to remember not what is true, but what feels most true for us," director Culpepper said in notes. "These feelings, and our ability to ignore contradictory evidence, is what makes us able to love, connect, and define ourselves amidst a chaotic reality. It shows us that truth requires a leap of faith to believe in ourselves and those we love." Playwright Karin Diann Williams' work has been produced and published internationally. San Diego's Fritz Theatre (where she served as Playwright-In-Residence from 1992-2001) staged her plays Australia, Room, Susan Katrina and Jill, The Hatchet, Quiz and The Third Voice of the Nightjar.

Her work has been produced by The Looking Glass Theater, the Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre Digital Performance Institute, This Woman's Work Theater Company, Art House Productions, Blue Box Productions, Muse of Fire Theater and the Strawberry One Act Festival. Her comic adaptation of Justine by the Marquis de Sade won first prize in the 2000 Windmill Playwrights Festival at Texas Tech University, and was a finalist for the 2001 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and the 2001 U.S. West Theatrefest. Embalming was a finalist in the 1999 Actors Theatre of Louisville Ten-Minute Play contest. The Present was a finalist in the 2003 George R. Kernodle Playwriting Competition. She directed numerous, critically acclaimed theatre productions at the Fritz including The Woods, The Conduct of Life, US, Raised in Captivity, Sight Unseen and Unmerciful Good Fortune.

She has an M.A. in Theatre from the University of New Mexico. Several of her plays are available through Original Works Publishing.

The performance schedule is July 18 at 8:30 PM, July 23 at 9:45 PM, July 29 at 5:15 PM, July 31 at 8:30 PM, Aug. 4 at 6:15 PM and Aug. 5 at 3:15 PM.

The WorkShop Theater is located at 312 W. 36th Street on the 4th Floor in New York City. Tickets are available at or by phoning (212) 868-4444.


Surgery is the first theatrical venture for Culpepper/Williams LLC, a creative media company specializing in film, video and motion media productions. Upcoming projects include The Prisoner, a micro-series, and The Chain, a feature-length psychological thriller. For more information, please visit

The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) is the brainchild of John Chatterton, publisher and editor of "OOBR" ("the off-off-broadway review"). Chatterton started the MITF as a way to present "the finest Off-Off-Broadway talent in convenience, comfort, and safety." For 11 seasons, "OOBR" has been passing judgment on Off-Off-Broadway theatre; now, as he says, he is "putting his money where his mouth is." For more information, please visit

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