Did you know there’s a resident theatre group in Astoria, Queens? Ophelia Theatre Group (OTG) has been around for thirteen years, first in California and then in New York, producing sketch comedy, immersive theatre, Shakespeare and even full-length musicals. And as more and more actors move to Astoria, earning the area the nickname “Actoria,” Ophelia Theatre Group has become an artistic home for many. OTG even run a theatre gym on Monday nights where directors, actors, and playwrights can bring in material to workshop in a supportive and judgment-free zone. There’s also a Monday night reading series where actors work on a play for one day and present it to the public for free.
So you get the idea. OTG is a very active community that constantly produces and provides opportunities to get involved. The cool thing about OTG this season specifically is the investment in female talent. OTG, originally founded by Californian Sarah Bennett, has always featured strong women, but this season marks a concerted effort to go above and beyond.
This season at OTG includes twists on classic literature, all adapted by women. The next production on the slate is the classic play Hedda Gabler, written by Henrik Ibsen and adapted and directed by Kelly McCready. The production also boasts an all female design team and crew. The adaptation itself is also a little unusual, clocking in at an electric 80 minutes with no intermission and featuring only five cast members. “Everything about the adaptation is condensed and immediate, but each character is still fully formed and complicated in their own way. It’s just much more arresting,” says McCready.
The play is about Hedda Gabler, an aristocrat who has given up her exciting high society life to settle down as the wife of an academic. But an old flame’s return resurrects old rivalries, shifts power dynamics and leaves one of the most iconic female characters of all time wondering: How can I be a woman when I have no talent for it? Published in 1890, the play originally resonated with audiences because of how Hedda is affected by the threat of scandal. That was the theme that audiences connected with the most. “The adaptation focuses less on scandal because I feel that doesn’t resonate as much with current audiences. It’s Hedda’s virtual imprisonment, frustration, and boredom that do. It’s very timely,” says McCready. “Feminism, although never mentioned by name, is also a huge theme that audiences will leave the theater talking about.”
Female talent and the issues that affect women are clearly at the forefront of OTG’s current season. McCready certainly notes the value: “Ophelia Theatre Group has provided me with an artistic home for the last year, and I’m incredibly grateful to have Hedda Gabler included in such a wonderful season that showcases women.”
Kaitlyn Schirard (Hedda Gabler), Lebron Lackey (Eilert Lovborg), Glenn Stoops* (Judge Brack), David De Almo* (George Tesman), Thea Elvsted (Maya Carter)
*Actors appearing courtesy of Actors Equity Association.
Sara Fellini (Costume Designer), Kelley Shih (Lighting Designer), Suzu Sakai (Scenic Designer), Theresa Buechler (Assistant Director), Kelly McCready (Adaptor/Director/Sound Designer), and Morgan Yachinich (Stage Manager)
October 28–November 19, 2016
Evening Performances: October 28 & 29, November 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 &19 @ 8pm
Matinee performances: November 6 & 13 @ 3pm
21-12 30th Rd, Astoria, NY 11102
The Ophelia Theatre entrance and parking lot is located in the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens off of 21st St.
Train: N or Q, 30 Ave. Stop
General Admission: $18
Sunday Nights: Pay What You Can
Online or at the door
Runtime: 80 minutes, no intermission.
OPHELIA THEATRE GROUP’S UPCOMING SEASON
Hedda Gabler (Written by Henrik Ibsen, Adapted by Kelly McCready), Some Night (Written by Sarah Victoria Bennett), and your, Alice (Written by Billie Aken-Tyers)
Photos by John Robert Hoffman, www.johnroberthoffman.com
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