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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

White Rabbit Red Rabbit at Alleyway

Twelve Actors; Twelve nights; Zero rehearsal

12 actors posing with white rabbits and a red ladder
The 12 actors who will appear in "White Rabbit Red Rabbit" over 12 nights at Alleyway Theatre. From left to right, we are: Brandon Williamson, Victoria Pérez, Melinda Capeles, Darryl Semira, Joyce Stilson, Alexandria Watts, Don Gervasi, Anthony Chase, Charmagne Chi, Norm Sham, Todd Benzin, and Peter Horn.

ALLEYWAY ANNOUNCES CAST FOR FIRST PLAY OF 42ND SEASON -- INCLUDING ME! So here we are. The dirty dozen set to perform Nassim Soleimanpour's script, "White Rabbit Red Rabbit" as the first production of Alleyway Theatre’s 2021/22 season. Yes, I will perform the script on the opening night, but I intentionally know very little about its content, except that it is a one person play, and that each of us will be handed a sealed envelop containing the script on stage in front of the audience. Each of us opens the envelope and performs a play we have never seen before. The play is a worldwide smash hit, having been performed thousands of times in more than 20 languages since its premiere in 2010. Never before seen in Buffalo, the play will be performed by twelve of Buffalo’s bravest (or most foolish) actors. Heaven help us!

Below are the press materials, provided by Alleyway Theatre and a personal confession from me. THE PLAY “It’s the true meaning of one-night-only,” says Artistic Director Chris J Handley. “RABBIT is a play about obedience and power. It asks the audience to question our surroundings, beliefs, and reasons for following rules, following advice, following the pack. It basically says, ‘Everyone is jumping off that bridge. The question isn’t do you or don’t you join them, but are you even able to make up your own mind?’”

Soleimanpour wrote the play while in exile in his home country of Iran, where he was a conscientious objector to the government mandated military service requirement. Stripped of his passport, he wrote the play so his words could travel even if he could not. WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT is a large metaphor, investigating what happens when we are free to make our own choices and what happens when we aren’t. “It’s funny, it’s serious, it’s daring, it’s full of surprises … it’s everything great theatre should be. Plus, it relies on the instincts of each actor to share it with us, totally moment by moment,” Handley said. “I can’t wait to see what happens every night.” The playwright and his agents require the following disclaimer in all press releases: URGENT: All media and press agents: This play is NOT overtly political, and should not be portrayed as such. It operates on a deeper, metaphoric level, and very expressly avoids overt political comment. We therefore ask the press to be judicious in their reportage. THE SCHEDULE Each actor will perform the play only one time. Once someone has seen the play or performed it, they are never allowed to perform it again – anywhere – so, every night is an opening night.

Okay, so now I am obliged to admit that I have never seen the play, despite the fact that the original New York producer, Tom Kirdahy is a personal friend who performed our wedding ceremony and gave me the "White Rabbit Red Rabbit" souvenir baseball cap I am wearing in the photo as a gift when he and his husband, the late Terrence McNally, visited Buffalo. In my defense, I was waiting for Chita Rivera to do it, and she never did! Therefore, never having seen or performed the play before, I am eligible to kick off the festivities at Alleyway. (Going first allows me to see everybody else!) The Alleyway schedule is below. All performances at 7:30 p.m. Anthony Chase September 9 Alexandria Watts September 10 Darryl Semira September 11 Melinda Capeles September 16 Victoria Pérez September 17 Todd Benzin September 18 Peter Horn September 23 Don Gervasi September 24 Joyce Stilson September 25 Charmagne Chi September 30 Brandon Williamson October 1 Norman Sham October 2

TICKETS Alleyway Theatre: 1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo NY 14202 Individual tickets $42. Under 30: $30. Regular subscriptions to see all four 2021/22 shows : $150. Discount subscriptions available for industry professionals, teachers, frontline workers, members of the military, and those under age 30.

SPECIAL FRIENDS DISCOUNT CODE: Use the last name of the performer you are seeing, good only for the day of his/her performance. In other words, to see me on September 9th, the code is CHASE. The discount is good for 2 tickets for $70 (+fees). You must buy two tickets to qualify for the discount; it won't work for just one. (Normal rate would be $84+fees for two tickets.) This code is only good through August 20, so get them now! FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS AND TICKETS, VISIT ALLEYWAY.COM OR CALL 716-852-2600 THE PLAYWRIGHT NASSIM SOLEIMANPOUR is an Iranian playwright, theatre maker and the Artistic Director of the Berlin based theatre company Nassim Soleimanpour Productions. His plays have been translated into more than 30 languages and performed globally in over 50 countries. Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit, written to travel the world when he couldn’t, his work has been awarded the Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe) as well as picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award. White Rabbit Red Rabbit had a 9 month Off-Broadway run casting celebrated actors like Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane, Martin Short, Bobby Cannavale, Wayne Brady, F. Murray Abraham, Cynthia Nixon among other notables. Nassim’s second play Blind Hamlet commissioned by the London based Actors Touring Company premiered at The LIFT 2014 and has toured in the UK and was received well in Edinburgh, Bucharest and Copenhagen. His third play BLANK premiered in November 2015 simultaneously in Amsterdam, Utrecht and London and so far has been performed in the UK, Australia, Spain, Mexico, US, Argentina, India, Finland, Denmark, Canada and etc. His most recent play NASSIM produced by the Bush Theatre in London was premiered in August 2017 and won a Fringe First Award followed by more than 300 shows in 12 languages across the world. NASSIM had a successful five-month Off-Broadway run featuring celebrated American actors like: Michael Shannon, Zachary Quinto, Tracy Letts, Carrie Coon, Kate Walsh, Carla Gugino, Cory Michael Smith, Kathey Najimi, Richard Kind, Reed Birney and others. NASSIM won the 2019 Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Unique Theatrical Experience. Soleimanpour’s recent play Down by the Creek was published by New York Times as part of America 2024. He’s been commissioned to write a new play for the audiobook platform Audible.

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