Press Release: AZUKA THEATRE PRESENTS THE WORLD PREMIERE OF READY STEADY YETI GO BY DAVID JACOBI FROM FEBRUARY 21 TO MARCH 11, 2018
Azuka Theatre continues its commitment to local playwrights with the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere and The Virginia & Harvey Kimmel New Professionals Production of Ready Steady Yeti Go by David Jacobi. Allison Heishman directs this uplifting, hilarious and tender comedy about young star-crossed lovers navigating the pitfalls of falling in love while dealing with prying eyes – and the “White Guilt Perfect Storm” that threatens to drown their relationship. Previews begin February 21, with opening night set for February 24. The show runs through March 11, 2018 for a total of 18 performances. All performances will take place at the Proscenium Theatre at The Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street. Tickets for shows this season are Pay What You Decide, whereas audience members see a show first, and pay what they decide after the performance. For reservations, visit azukatheatre.org. Azuka’s production of Ready Steady Yeti Go is supported by Production Sponsor Harmelin Media.
Ready Steady Yeti Go was the 2015 winner of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Darrell Ayers Playwriting Award for Outstanding Student-Written Play for Young Audiences, and the play was a 2016 Relentless Award Semifinalist. The play was featured by the National New Play Network as part of the 2017 National Showcase of New Plays. It is now a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, with partnering theaters to now include Rogue Machine Theatre in California and Stageworks Theatre in Florida.
“When you come across a play like that you leap first and then ask questions,” said Heishman. “David’s play really highlights the need to ask better questions and learn how to listen. We can take better care of our friends and neighbors, our families, ourselves simply by taking the time to listen and hear what’s being said. Most of us have no idea how to talk about race, and we are terrible at listening to those who are. I hope this play can inspire better conversations about race and systematic racism. Working on this production has been a humbling experience, it is an important play because of the voices that came together to breathe life into it.”
Ready Stready Yeti Go centers around timely subject matter that examines the ways the most well-intentioned people who are working to stand up to racism can still be guilty of perpetuating it. In the wake of a hate crime in a Junior High School, Goon befriends Carly, the only black girl in school. While the town plans a “Kill Racism Forever” rally (while unaware that they’re making things pretty uncomfortable for the victims), an innocent, youthful romance grows between Goon and Carly. The two young lovers must navigate the pitfalls of falling in love while dealing with overly watchful eyes, especially those of Wikipedia Jones, the smartest boy detective in town. Things start to go south when passive-aggressive antics, bad parental advice, and ill-formed gestures of kindness create a “white guilt perfect storm” that makes the course of true love a rocky road indeed.
Fellow playwright Hallie Palladino said, “This play is charming and funny with a sharp edge of heartbreaking truth. I also saw it at Ojai Playwrights Conference and found it clever, moving and ingenious. It takes on our assumptions about people’s character and the painful sacrifices we make for love and family. At its heart though it is an uplifting story about young star-crossed lovers wrapped in a comedy wrapped in a satire with a healthy streak of political commentary. ”
Jacobi wrote the first draft of Ready Steady while at UC San Diego back in 2014. His colleague, actor Jasmine St. Clair, helped develop the role of Carly. In 2016, he had the opportunity to workshop the play at Salt Lake Acting Company’s inaugural Playwright’s Lab, and shortly after, Ojai Playwrights Conference. “I had a lot of great minds helping me out through this process,” said Jacobi.
In Philadelphia, the team bringing Jacobi’s show to the stage included director Heishman and the show stars Adam Howard, Jenson Titus Lavallee, Frank Nardi, Jr., Kishia Nixon and Alison Ormsby. The production team includes Kevin Meehan (Scenic Design), Lindsay Stevens (Lighting Design), Ariel Wang (Costume Design), Daniel Ison (Sound Design), Kat Kelly (Stage Manager), Kasual Owens-Fields (Assistant Director), Joe Daniels (Technical Director), Christian Ortiz (Properties), Lauren Tracy (Production Manager) and Alexandra King (Dramaturg).
“I wanted to direct READY because it both terrified me and made me laugh,” added Heishman. “Also, David is such a generous collaborator and gifted writer. He brings the best people together through his writing and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Ready Steady Yeti Go marks the first time that Jacobi will work with both Heishman and Azuka. “I’ve been a big fan of Azuka since moving here a few years ago,” said Jacobi. “I think they’ve got great taste, and they do the kind of theatre that I respond to: twisted, dark, and poignant. I sent them Ready Steady about a year ago, and Allison Heishman really took a liking to it. We’ve been finding interesting new bits in rehearsal, and the room has been wonderfully generous and explosively innovative. Philadelphia Young Playwrights, an organization I’m connected to and very fond of, allowed us to bring in their Resident Playwrights. These hip teenagers have been indispensable in the room, and have really brought this play to a new level.”
Previews for Ready Steady Yeti Go begin on February 21 and the final performance is on March 11, 2018. The production runs for 90 minutes with no intermission. The show is appropriate for audiences 12 and up, with strong language and content. Performances for this production will take place at the Proscenium Theatre at The Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street. Parking is available in nearby garages and at meter spots in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood.
Special events associated with this production will include pre-show happy hours with Two Road Brewing Company on March 2 and 9 from 7:00pm to 8:00pm, post-show conversations after every performance starting February 28, and post-show talk-backs with the artists on February 28 and March 7, 2018.
Ready Steady Yeti Go is one of three world premieres this season by three nationally recognized, award-winning Philadelphia playwrights. The production follows The Gap by Emma Goidel, and it will be followed by Mrs. Harrison by R. Eric Thomas. The play follows Azuka’s recent sold-out world premieres of Sh_theads by Douglas Williams and The Arsonists by Jacqueline Goldfinger.
PAY WHAT YOU DECIDE TICKET RESERVATIONS
Azuka continues its commitment to the community by extending the innovative Pay What You Decide box office initiative for the 2017-2018 season. A city that celebrates so many historic “firsts” is the perfect place to launch the only full-season model of this kind in the United States. The program, that debuted during the 2016-2017, now enters its second season.
Audience members will make a reservation for a show, see the production first and then pay what they decide based on the value of the experience. Pay-what-you-decide is designed to bring in new audiences and remove financial barriers to theater. The program is supported by a $55,000 grant from The Barra Foundation.
No money is exchanged before the show. Tickets will be available to reserve in advance as usual, but there is no obligation to pay until after the show. Patrons can then decide on a price which they think is suitable based on their experience. Ticket payment can be made after the performance by cash, check or credit card. Patrons can also make a payment after the show on the Azuka website. All money collected helps to pay Azuka artists and further support future productions.
David Jacobi’s plays have been performed throughout the U.S. and in China, including the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, FringeNYC, Sideshow Theatre and Penghao Theatre. His work has been developed at Ojai Playwrights Conference, Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival, RISK IS THIS, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Kennedy Center MFA Playwright’s Workshop, SLC Playwrights Lab and PlayPenn. He is a winner of the Holland New Voices Award, Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences Award, a Relentless Award semifinalist, and has been nominated for the Weissburger. David was the 2015 Shank Fellow at Pig Iron Theatre Company, and is currently under commission from the Denver Center and South Coast Rep. He received a BFA in Dramatic Writing from Purchase College and an MFA from UC San Diego.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Allison Heishman is a freelance director and educator based in Philadelphia. With Azuka (Artistic Associate): The Arsonists (NNPN Rolling World Premiere), Local Girls (WP), The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence, Skin & Bone (WP), Failure: A Love Story, Hazard County, the terrible girls (WP), Azuka One Acts. Other credits: Tartuffe (Commonwealth Classic), Macbeth (Revolution Shakespeare), Rabbit Hole, Eurydice (Ruhl, Arcadia University), No Reservations (PNAA Productions, WP), Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll (Plays & Players), Pinkalicious, the musical (Walnut Street Theater, Kids’ Series), A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity, Spacewang (Tiny Dynamite, A Play A Pie A Pint, Barnes Foundation). Heishman was the Assistant Director under Blanka Zizka for the Wilma Theater’s productions of Angels in America, parts I and II. She has written and directed for Theatre Programs at the National Constitution Center, where she is the director of Living News, a fast-paced show geared towards middle and high school students that discusses current events and the Constitution. Senior Lecturer at the University of the Arts and Rowan University. Proud alumna of Washington College, Chestertown, MD. Up next: Ready, Steady, Yeti, Go (WP) by David Jacobi at Azuka.
ABOUT THE CAST
Frank Nardi, Jr. (Goon) is a graduate from The University of the Arts with a BFA in Acting. UArts: Servant of Two Masters; Love, too, will ruin us; I Know the Way Home; Ladybug Skins; God’s Ear; Pocatello and The Real Whisper. Off-Broadway: Tony and Tina’s Wedding. National Tour: Tony and Tina’s Wedding. Regional: Buzzer (Neighbor-Don Understudy/Theater Exile); Romeo & Juliet (Lord Montague/Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival); Lydie Breeze (Randolph’s Son, Mr. Pusey, ensemble/EgoPo Classic Theatre); Love, too, will ruin us (Stage-reading/Simpatico); Brutish (Stage-reading/InterAct). 11 operas with the Philadelphia Opera Company. Films: Hitch, Invincible, Tenderness, Shooter and Of Darkness. Bravo Channel Production Assistant and Cast Wrangler for Top Chef and Work of Art. One-Man-Show All Day Affair – Philadelphia SoLow Festival. http://phindie.com/8095-the-
Adam Howard (Gandry) is a recent graduate The University of the Arts and is ecstatic to be working with Azuka Theatre. Regional theatre credits include work at PlayPenn, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, People’s Light and Theatre Company, and The Arden Theatre Company. As always, for Mom.
Kishia Nixon (Carly) is excited to be part of Azuka’s production of Ready Steady Yeti Go! She has been previously seen in the Dragon Eyes Theatre production of Follow Me Through The Gates, PlayPenn’s reading of House of the Negro Insane, Azuka’s production of How We Got On and EgoPo’s production of The Children’s Hour. She holds a BFA in acting from Arcadia University where she trained under various talented professors. She’d like to dedicate this performance to her Dad who recently passed away. He always believed in everything she has done and was her biggest supporter – he will be missed beyond words. Thank you to all her family and colleagues. Next up: Sing! The Body Electric at Theatre Exile.
Jenson Titus Lavallee (Barry) is a Philly based devising actor. He is a graduate of The Pig Iron School. Jenson identifies as a clown and an idiot (in performance and in life). His recent credits include A Period of Animate Existence (Pig Iron Theatre Company), Unformed Consent(Lightning Rod Special), The Garden of Forking Paths (Nichole Canuso Dance Company), and This Is The Week That Is (1812 Productions). www.jensonlavallee.com
Alison Ormsby (Katie) is a graduating senior at the University of the Arts with a BFA in Acting (so close!) and a recent alum of the National Theater Institute at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Recent credits include: The National Trust of Clievden (Liberty to Go to See) and Edison (Edinburgh Fringe). Azuka debut! Thank you to Allison, David, and Azuka for the opportunity to continue this crucial conversation.
ABOUT AZUKA THEATRE
Azuka Theatre strengthens the connection and shared humanity among its diverse audiences by giving voice to the people whose stories go unheard. Located in Philadelphia, Azuka was founded in 1999 by a group of young artists participating in the Arden Theatre Company’s nationally recognized Professional Apprentice Program. Azuka Theatre has built a reputation for accessible, thought-provoking and socially conscious theater and been hailed as “a company to watch” and a “major player on the Philadelphia alternative theatre scene’” by Philadelphia Weekly. Azuka is currently at 40 productions, 19 world premieres, 17 Philadelphia premieres. Azuka is a Resident Partner at The Drake and an Associate Member of the National New Play Network.