Cast Announced for Off-Broadway Premiere of [PORTO]
New York, NY – WP Theater (formerly known as Women’s Project Theater) and The Bushwick Starr, in association with New Georges, are pleased to announce the cast and dates for the Off-Broadway premiere of [PORTO]. Written by Obie Award Winner Kate Benson (Super Magic Wild Forest, Desert) and directed by Obie Award winner Lee Sunday Evans (Bull in a China Shop, Caught), the play will star Noel Joseph Allain (Luft Gangster, Queerspawn), Kate Benson, Ugo Chukwu (Ripcord, JOB), Jorge Cordova (Moment of Zen, Hillary), Leah Karpel (The Harvest, Pocatello) and Julia Sirna-Frest (Welcome to the Gun Show, A Tunnel Year). [PORTO] will begin performances at WP Theater (2162 Broadway) on Sunday, January 28 and run through Sunday, February 25, with opening night set for Tuesday, February 6.
A woman walks into a bar. Her name is Porto. She’s a regular. She likes this bar: serious food, serious wine, serious bartender–a staple in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood (perhaps Bushwick?). Her friends, her wine, and her artisanal snacks are there; her doubts about being a Modern Woman are put on snooze. A handsome stranger walks in and orders something special. Disruption ensues: an upside-down romantic comedy unfolds inside and outside her head. Desires of all kinds are awakened with a ferocious thump. A nice smile is a nice smile, but can we enjoy the sausage once we know how it’s made? [PORTO] reunites Benson and Evans, whose last collaboration, the Obie Award-winning A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes, was a smash success at WP Theater in 2015.
[PORTO] will feature set design by Kristen Robinson (Company – Barrington, Esais’ Table) costumes by Obie Award winner Ásta Bennie Hostetter (The Wolves, Smokefall, John), lighting by Amith Chandrashaker (Twelfth Night – The Public, Her Requiem), and sound design by Kate Marvin (Somebody’s Daughter, Happy Days). WP Lab alum Rachel Karpf (Stuffed, Queens) and John Del Gaudio (the food was terrible, Comfort Dogs: Live from the Pink House) are the line producers for this production
[PORTO] was initially produced by WP Lab alum Rachel Karpf, John Del Gaudio and The Bushwick Starr (Noel Allain- Co-Founder, Artistic Director, Sue Kessler- Co-Founder, Creative Director), where it received its world premiere in their 2016-17 Season. The New York Times called the production, “A stealthily ferocious, comfortingly hopeful, very funny new play! An exhortation to get out of your head and live, in thoughtful pursuit of joy.”
Tickets for [PORTO] are now on sale via http://wptheater.org/tickets/(212) 765-1706. The performance schedule is as follows: Tuesday-Thursday at 7pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; and Sunday at 3pm.
KATE BENSON (Playwright, Performer) is a writer and actor living in Brooklyn. Plays include: [PORTO] (The Bushwick Starr), A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes (Obie winner), (New Georges with the Women’s Project Theater), Super Magic Wild Forest (Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission), and Desert (for Now). She has an MFA from the Brooklyn College Playwriting program. Performances include: I’ll Never Love Again (Bushwick Starr), Tiger, Tiger (on the Nature of Violence) (Dixon Place), Fondly, Collette Richland (Elevator Repair Service at NYTW), Nomads (the Incubator), Good Person of Szechwan (the Public & LaMama), and home/sick (the Assembly).
LEE SUNDAY EVANS (Director) Recent Credits include: Bull in a China Shop by Bryna Turner (LCT3), [PORTO] by Kate Benson (Bushwick Starr), Caught by Christopher Chen (Play Co.), Macbeth (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), Wellesley Girl by Brendan Pelsue (Humana Festival), D Deb Debbie Deborah by Jerry Lieblich (Clubbed Thumb), A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes by Kate Benson (OBIE Award – New Georges/Women’s Project). Her work has been presented/developed at: Baryshnikov Arts Center, Sundance Theater Lab, BAX, CATCH, LMCC, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, Juilliard. Lee received the 2016 Susan Stroman Directing Award from The Vineyard Theater. Upcoming: Miller, Mississippi by Boo Killebrew (Dallas Theater Center), Dance Nation by Clare Barron (Playwrights Horizons).
NOEL JOSEPH ALLAIN Noel is the Founding Artistic Director of the Bushwick Starr Theater. New York credits include [Porto], Heartbreak, the food was terrible, On a Clear Day I Can See to Elba, Jericho, Luft Gangster, Queerspawn Motel Cherry, How Much Is Enough, The Wife, Sa Ka La, Tender, and Now That Communism is Dead, My Life Feels Empty. Regional credits include Asher in My Name Is Asher Lev (Cleveland Playhouse), Tom in The Glass Menagerie (Arizona Theater Company), Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (Playmakers Rep), and Transition with Reggie Watts and Tommy Smith (On the Boards). Awards: Indie Theater Award for Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role for Luft Gangster and Xammie for Best Male Actor for The Glass Menagerie. TV: Blue Bloods, Law and Order:SVU, Damages, Guiding Light. FILM: The Outpatient, Marcy, InContact
UGO CHUKWU Recent credits include Today is My Birthday (Page 73), Ripcord (Huntington Theater in Boston), Adventure Quest (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), [PORTO] (Bushwick Starr) and Minor Character: Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time (New Saloon; NYIT award winner – BEST ENSEMBLE). Ugo has also been in numerous readings, and workshops with various companies such as Target Margin, Ars Nova, Atlantic Theater, The Flea, Clubbed Thumb, Playwrights Horizons, The New Group, EST, and more. BFA at Brooklyn College. www.ugochukwuactor.com
JORGE CORDOVA Theater: [PORTO] (Bushwick Starr, upcoming: Women’s Project/New Georges), Universal Robots (Gideon Productions/Sheen Center), Lady Day (The Little Shubert), Family Play: 1979 – Present (Collaboration Town), Bonedive Scrounger (The Brick). Television: “Seven Seconds” (Netflix, Fall 2017), “Blue Bloods” (CBS), “Madame Secretary” (CBS). Film: The Visit.
LEAH KARPEL Off-Broadway: The Harvest (LCT3); Pocatello (Playwrights Horizons); [PORTO] (Bushwick Starr). Regional: Miller Mississippi (Dallas Theatre Center); Residence (Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival); Appropriate, The Whale, We Are Proud to Present…(Victory Gardens Theatre); Buena Vista, The Glass Menagerie, The Hot L Baltimore (Steppenwolf Theatre); The Diary Of Anne Frank (Writers Theatre); The Commons of Pensacola (Northlight Theatre); 4000 Miles (Long Wharf Theatre); Punk Rock (Griffin Theatre); Ten Chimneys (Milwaukee Repertory). Film/TV: Chicago Med; Patriot; Olympia.
JULIA SIRNA-FREST was most recently seen as Margit in Seder at Hartford Stage. NYC: [Porto] (The Bushwick Starr); A Tunnel Year (The Chocolate Factory); The Offending Gesture (The Connelly); Comfort Dogs: Live from the Pink House (JACK); Founding member of the Obie award winning Half Straddle Company, productions include: Ghost Rings (TBA/PICA); Ancient Lives (The Kitchen); Seagull (Thinking of you) (The New Ohio, International Tour), In the Pony Palace/Football (The Bushwick Starr, International Tour); Nurses in New England (The Ohio); The Knockout Blow (The Ontological). Composer/Performer for theatre rock duo Chapman/Sirna-Frest: Welcome to the Gun Show (Ars Nova); IceBand (HERE Arts Center/Target Margin) Co-front woman of Doll Parts, Brooklyn’s Premiere Dolly Parton cover band. www.juliasirnafrest.com
WP THEATER (formerly known as Women’s Project Theater) is the nation’s oldest and largest theater company dedicated to developing, producing and promoting the work of female-identified and trans theater artists at every stage in their careers. For nearly four decades we have served as leaders at the forefront of a global movement towards gender parity, and the example we set and the artists we have fostered have grown into to a robust and thriving community of artists in theater and beyond.
WP empowers female-identified artists to reach their full potential and, in doing so, challenges preconceptions about the kinds of plays women write and the stories they tell. As the premiere launching pad for some of the most influential female theater artists today, our work has had a significant impact on the field at large. Nearly every prolific female theater artist has been through our doors, including Eve Ensler, María Irene Fornés, Katori Hall, Pam MacKinnon, Lynn Nottage, Leigh Silverman and Anna Deveare Smith. These powerful women found an early artistic home at WP, and are a testament to our role as a driving cultural force.
WP was founded in 1978 by visionary producer, Julia Miles, to address the significant under-representation of women in theater. Today, WP accomplishes its mission through several fundamental programs, including: the WP Lab, a two-year mentorship and new play development program for women playwrights, directors, and producers; the Domestic Partner residency program; the Developmental series; and the Main Stage series, which features a full season of Off-Broadway productions written and directed by extraordinary theater artists.
THE BUSHWICK STARR is an Obie Award-winning nonprofit theater that presents an annual season of new performance work. We are an organization defined by both our artists and our community, and since 2007, we have grown into a thriving theatrical venue, a vital neighborhood arts center, and a destination for exciting and engaging performance. We provide a springboard for emerging professional artists to make career-defining leaps, and we are a sanctuary where established performance companies come to experiment and innovate. Our past seasons have included new work from groundbreaking artists such as The Mad Ones, Clare Barron, Dave Malloy, The Debate Society, the TEAM, and Half Straddle.
“The work they program is boldly experimental. It’s also a lot of fun… a bright spot on the Off Off Broadway map” – New York Times
“A home for gutsy experimental work.” – 2012 Village Voice OBIE Award for Outstanding Work
“Brooklyn’s hottest incubator. One of New York’s best-curated off-off venues.” – Time Out New York
New Georges, founded in 1992, is a strategically small theater company with a national reputation as a productive home and launchpad for exuberantly theatrical women artists – individually, as collaborators, and as a community. We cultivate our boundary-pushing aesthetic in a nimble, artist-driven production environment: committing to projects early on, equipping them with processes rooted in strong collaborations, and providing steady artistic support. We serve and sustain the largest ongoing working community of women theater artists in New York City — more than 200 playwrights, directors, actors and designers – with premiere productions; play and artist development programs (such as the New Georges Jam and the Audrey Residencies); and The Room, our permanent workspace and the year-round hub of our activities. Our 22-year commitment to providing our artists with free or low-cost workspace in The Room is unique among small theaters and has incubated thousands of new plays.
Honors for New Georges, our plays and our people include 3 Obie Awards, the Lilly Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn and Kesselring Prizes. And the influx of New Georges artists into the field over the last 25 years has had marked impact on the representation of women nationwide in theater, film, television and arts education.