McLaughlin's Freshly-Knit Penelope, With Music, Gets NYU Run Oct. 29-Nov. 2

News   McLaughlin's Freshly-Knit Penelope, With Music, Gets NYU Run Oct. 29-Nov. 2
A new Trojan War-inspired music theatre piece by actress-playwright Ellen McLaughlin, widely known for originating the role of the Angel in Tony Kushner's Angels in America, will be seen at New York University this fall.
Ellen McLaughlin
Ellen McLaughlin

Penelope will get a Manhattan "workshop presentation" that will star the writer and feature a string quartet with original music by Sarah Kirkland Snider. Performances will play at NYU Gallatin School's new Labowitz Theatre, 715 Broadway, on Oct. 29, 20, 31 and Nov. 1 at 7 PM with a 2 PM matinee on Nov. 1.

In the work, according to production notes, "a woman's ex-husband appears at her door after an absence of 20 years, suffering from brain damage. A veteran of a modern war, he doesn't know who he is and she doesn't know who he's become. While they wait together for his return to himself, she reads him 'The Odyssey,' and in the journey of that book, she finds a way into her former husband's memory and the terror and trauma of war."

(Penelope was the patient wife who knitted while she waited for husband Odysseus to return from the Trojan War.)

Lisa Rothe will direct. The string quartet includes Olivia De Prato and Amie Weiss on violin, Beth Meyers on viola and Lauren Radnofsky on cello. The lighting designer is M. L. Geiger with set design by Eliza Brown and video design by Marilys Ernst.

Penelope was first produced in 2008 by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. It will play Princeton University's Taplin Auditorium Nov. 4-5 at 8 PM. Producer Jenn Harris said in a statement, "Gallatin is a school of individualized studies and many of the students are combining social change with their chosen art form. Having Ellen bring this beautiful piece of work to our institution is very fitting. Her ability to use art as a political canon is inspiring to many of us who are destined for the same path. The Labowitz Theatre is a new space at Gallatin and represents the growth that we have achieved thus far in our history. We are honored to have Penelope kick off our inaugural season."

McLaughlin has also appeared as The Homebody in Homebody/Kabul (Intiman Theater); Pirate Jenny in Threepenny Opera (Trinity Rep., Elliot Norton Award); Mrs. Alving in Ghosts (Berkeley Rep); and Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream (McCarter and the Paper Mill Playhouse). Her plays include Days and Nights Within, A Narrow Bed, Infinity's House, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, Helen, The Trojan Women, The Persians and Oedipus.

She is the recipient of grants from the Fund for New American Plays and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the winner of The Great American Play Contest, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Writer's Award from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. She has taught playwriting in numerous venues, from Yale School of Drama to Princeton University. She has been teaching at Barnard since 1995. She is a member of New Dramatists and has served on the board of T.C.G. for seven years.

Director Rothe has collaborated with McLaughlin on several plays, including the premiere of Mermaid at Blue Heron Arts Center, and has directed at Epic Theatre Center, The Women's Project, EST and all over the country.

Tickets for the five-performance engagement of Penelope at the Labowitz Theatre are $10, with free admission to NYU students presenting valid ID. Tickets are available online at and can be purchased at the Ticket Central Box Office in the Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South, on the day of performance.

Students must present ID at Ticket Central to obtain free seats. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

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