Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour is a conscientious objector who refused to take part in military service, mandatory for all Iranian men. Forbidden to travel, Soleimanpour turned his isolation to his advantage with an absurdist, highly original play that blends comedy and drama. The MCA Stage co-presents the Midwest premiere ofWhite Rabbit, Red Rabbit with the Chicago Humanities Festival onNovember 3-9, in the Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago.
White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is a solo play written by Nassim Soleimanpour, which features a different, notable Chicago actor for each performance: Usman Ally, Fawzia Mirza, Yasen Peyankov, orMichael Shannon. Each actor receives the script just prior to going on stage, and as part of the intrigue, audience members do not know who is performing until the play begins.
In White Rabbit, Red Rabbit Soleimanpour distills the experience of an entire generation born amid the hardship of the Iran-Iraq war -- computer-literate, well-informed young people who have never known an Iran other than the Islamic Republic. His play has no director, no set, and a different guest performer for each performance. Using a menagerie of allegorical animals, the play is "not about Iran," but grapples with the social phenomena of power, obedience, and manipulation.
Usman Ally's credits include originating the role of Amir in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgracedat American Theatre Company (Jeff Award Nomination, Actor in a Principal Role), VP in the Pulitzer Finalist Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Victory Gardens Theater, and most recently, originating the role of Bagheera in The Jungle Book at the Goodman Theatre.
Attorney-turned-actor, producer and writer Fawzia Mirza's credits include The Happiest Song Plays Last at Goodman Theatre, Scorched at Silk Road Rising, and In the Heart of America at Theatre Seven, along with producing, writing, and staring in her own comedic web series Kam Kardashian.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble member Yasen Peyankov's credits include Morning Star(Jeff Award, Actor in a Supporting Role), Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Hysteria, The Duel, produced in association with European Repertory (co-founded by Peyankov), Three Sisters, and the upcoming production of The Wheel.
Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Shannon's credits span both stage and screen, with roles in the films Man of Steel and Revolutionary Road, the latter for which he received his first Academy Award nomination, HBO's Boardwalk Empire as agent Nelson Van Alden, and most recently on stage at A Red Orchid Theatre as Carter in Simpatico.
Nassim Soleimanpour is an independent multidisciplinary theater maker from Tehran, Iran. Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit, his work has been awarded the Dublin Fringe Festival 'Best New Performance,' Summerworks 'Outstanding New Performance Text Award,' and the Arches Brick Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award.
Artists Up Close
Following all performances
Yolanda Cesta Cursach, Associate Director of Performance Programs, and other invited guests lead discussions with the actor and audience immediately following each performance.
American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation Saturday, November 9, 3 pm performance
Performances of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit take place Sunday and Monday, November 3 and 4, at7:30 pm; on Tuesday, November 5 at 6 pm; and Saturday, November 9 at 3 pm in the Edlis Neeson Theater, 220 East Chicago Avenue. Tickets are $18 and a limited quantity of $10 student tickets are available. The MCA Box Office is at 312.397.4010 or www.mcachicago.org, the CHF Box Office is at312.494.9509 or www.chicagohumanities.org. One free museum admission is granted with an MCA Stage ticket stub, valid up to seven days after the performance.
About the MCA Stage
MCA Stage is a nationally recognized presenter of contemporary theater, dance, music, and multimedia performances. Featuring leading performers from around the globe, including Chicago's most innovative artists, MCA Stage is the most active interdisciplinary performing arts presenter in Chicago. MCA Stage enjoys working year round with numerous arts and community organizations for the co-presentations of the performing arts, making the MCA a shared resource for the cultural life of our city. MCA Stage celebrates artists and their creative process, connecting audiences with artists in meaningful discourse with its Artists Up Close series of post-show talks, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and residencies. Audiences at MCA Stage performances receive one free museum admission with each ticket stub on the performance date or during the following week. For information and tickets, call the MCA Box Office at 312.397.4010 or visit www.mcachicago.org.
About the Chicago Humanities Festival
The Chicago Humanities Festival began in 1989 as a dream shared by a determined group of Chicago's cultural leaders eager to extend the riches of the humanities to everyone. Since that first year, some of the world's most exciting thinkers, artists, and performers have come to Chicago each fall for a festival that celebrates ideas in the context of civic life. Past Festival themes include Laughter, The Body, Tech Knowledge, America, and this year's Animal: What Makes Us Human,Oct. 13, 20, and Nov. 1-10, 2013. Under the leadership of Executive Director Phillip Bahar and Artistic Director Matti Bunzl, CHF partners with Chicago's premier cultural institutions, and the festival has become an annual highlight for thousands of people from Chicago and beyond. In addition to the annual fall festival, CHF also presents the spring Stages, Sights & Sounds, a global performance festival for families, students, and theatergoers of any age, and programs throughout the year that encourage the study and enjoyment of the humanities. Visit chicagohumanities.org for more information.
Image: White Rabbit Red Rabbit. Image courtesy of Aurora Nova Productions.
Lead support for the 2013-14 season of MCA Stage is provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman. Additional generous support is provided by Graff, David Herro and Jay Franke, Caryn and King Harris, Lois and Steve Eisen and The Eisen Family Foundation, and Mary Ittelson. The MCA is a proud partner of the National Performance Network. Air transportation is provided by American Airlines, the Official Airline of the Museum of Contemporary Art. MCA Chicago is a proud member of Museums in the Park and receives major support from the Chicago Park District.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization accredited by the American Association of Museums. The MCA is generously supported by its Board of Trustees; individual and corporate members; private and corporate foundations; and government agencies including the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Museum capital improvements are supported by a Public Museum Capital Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The Chicago Park District generously supports MCA programs. Air transportation is provided by American Airlines, the Official Airline of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The MCA is located at 220 E. Chicago Avenue, one block east of Michigan Avenue. The museum and sculpture garden are open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and Tuesday from 10 am to 8 pm. The museum is closed on Monday. Enjoy free admission every Tuesday. Suggested general admission is $12 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Children 12 years of age and under, MCA members, and members of the military are admitted free. Information about MCA exhibitions, programs, and special events is available on the MCA website atmcachicago.org or by phone at 312.280.2660.