Axis's "Strangers in the World" Starts This Week
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 10:54 am EDT 03/11/19


Celebrated Downtown Company’s New Season Burrows into the Darkness of American History with Strangers in the World and a Remount of Sharp’s Last Man Club, Then Turns Toward an Excavation of Personal History with Edgar Oliver’s First-Ever Musical, Victor. The Milestone Year Concludes w w ith Axis’s Beloved Annual Holiday Show, Seven in One Blow, or The Brave Little Kid.

Axis Company today announces its 20th Anniversary Season, which kicks off a bold new work: the world premiere of Strangers in the World, written and directed by Axis Artistic Director Randy Sharp (March 13-April 6). The company celebrates two decades of making raw, unblinking theater in its intimate West Village space with a lineup that exemplifies Axis’s body of work—its artistry in exploring dark moments in America’s past, and its mastery at staging moving first-person narratives.

The season-opening Strangers in the World, set in 1623—three-quarters of a century before the events depicted in The Crucible—stretches further back in history than Axis has ever gone, and taps into the combination of suffocating piety and existential dread that laid the groundwork for America. In the play, a small group of Puritans who arrive in the “New World” and, unable to venture far inland, build a poorly constructed village on the rocky shore. After two years, a ship arrives with more colonists and supplies, but the captain goes mad and sets the ship on fire, sinking it just beyond the harbor. A survivor from the burned vessel tells the settlers that others are coming to save them. Eight years pass, and at last they decide that tomorrow they will head somewhere south on a journey of certain hardship. Then, a visitor from another world arrives on the shoreline. The play depicts what happens when the values and morals of Puritans are set against the grinding agony of starvation, the constant death of their children, and the horror of murder. How can they choose between bonds of home, a godless southern city and the silent sweet promise of nothing?

Randy Sharp says, “Strangers in the World is about a failed attempt at creating paradise. For the Puritans, that paradise was questionable and had problems of its own—but they failed. The weather crushed them and the physical privation took their morals. And they’re now a very tiny isolated outpost of this attempted and failed Eden. Axis aims to enwrap audiences in the feeling of being in the places and times it depicts, without taking a literal approach to space. We’re not going to build a fake Puritan village—rather, through lighting and sound and movement, we’re going to show you what it felt like to be in the village.”

The cast of Strangers in the World includes Spencer Aste, Brian Barnhart, Andrew Dawson, Britt Genelin, Phil Gillen, Emily Kratter, Jon McCormick, and Katie Rose Summerfield. The creative team is Randy Sharp (Director), Chad Yarborough (Set Designer), Karl Ruckdeschel (Costume Designer), David Zeffren (Lighting Designer), Paul Carbonara (Composer, Sound Designer), Lynn Mancinelli (Props Designer), Jess Gersz (Assistant Costume Designer), and Amy Harper (Assistant Lighting Designer). Erik Savage is the Production Stage Manager, and Laurie Kilmartin is the Assistant Stage Manager.

As news stories about the acceleration of climate change and its human toll break daily, Axis returns to another era of environmental and economic strife catalyzed by unrestrained human greed, with a remount of Axis’s “atmospheric, expertly structured” (The New York Times), Drama Desk-nominated Dust Bowl drama Last Man Club (June 2019), first presented in 2013. From 1930-1939, the Great American Desert of the Texas and Oklahoma plains— destroyed by the expansion of wheat farming, which plowed beneath the bluestem and buffalo grass holding the dirt in place—blew up into the air in dust storms that packed enough static electricity to power the city of New York. Many refused to leave their dust-covered farms, even after all the animals died and they were eating bitter roots to survive.

Last Man Club is about one of the families who stayed. With no one else around for a hundred miles, Major's family lives in a one room dugout as he tries to reconcile himself to the fact that his own kin has taken the money and run. Out of the biggest storm in the history of the Dust Bowl—200 miles wide, 15,000 feet high—come two desperate men promising a way out.

Hilton Als of the New Yorker has described the work of performer, poet, storyteller Edgar Oliver’s work as “so beautiful—so enthralling in its undisguised but never tedious self-absorption, in its command of the spoken word, and in its demand for love.” Oliver collaborated with Randy Sharp on the entirety of his beloved New York Trilogy of evocative monologues (East 10th Street, In the Park, Attorney Street), and performed all three installments within Axis’ walls. In Victor (October 2019), Oliver’s lush, by turns humorous and haunted storytelling style will come to life through a form it has, perhaps, always been begging for: musical theater. Oliver will perform alongside a full cast.

Axis will conclude 2019 with the 18th annual production of its show for families, Seven in One Blow, or The Brave Little Kid, an interactive play with music, adapted from the classic fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm and directed by Randy Sharp (December 2019). In Seven In One Blow, or The Brave Little Kid, a child living in the city kills seven flies with a single swat and makes a belt emblazoned with “SEVEN IN ONE BLOW” to commemorate the event. As he is traveling about, most people think his belt refers to seven people and assign the Kid all kinds of difficult tasks based on this faulty presumption. Along the way a few interesting things are learned: an Ogre finds that you don't always have to show how strong you are... sometimes it's okay just to be quiet about it; a girl realizes that when you tease people you are hurting someone who may be just like you; and a scary monster understands that because she is loved, she may not be so scary after all. In the end, the Kid ultimately discovers that a parents' love and care has no bounds.

Strangers in the World Performance Dates and Ticketing Information

The production begins performances Wednesday, March 13 and runs through Sunday, April 6 (with performances March 13-16, 20-23, 27-30, and April 3-6 at 8pm). Critics are welcome Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16, for an official opening on Sunday, March 17.

Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors/students, and $10 for artists and people under 30, and can be purchased online at www.axiscompany.org or by calling 212.352.3101. All performances are FREE (with advance reservations) for veterans and active U.S. service members and their families.

Axis Theatre is located at One Sheridan Square in Manhattan’s West Village, just off 7th Avenue (accessible from the 1/9 train at Christopher Street or the A/B/C/D/E/F/M at West 4th Street).

About Randy Sharp (Writer, Director)

Randy Sharp is Axis Theatre Company’s founder and Artistic Director. Her plays include the Drama Desk Award-nominated Last Man Club (published by DPS), Nothing on Earth, Down There, Seven in One Blow (published by DPS and performed every December in NYC and around the country) and the long-running serial Hospital. Sharp wrote and directed The Vast Machine (2015), and co-wrote (with former Blondie member Paul Carbonara) and directed Evening – 1910, which premiered at acclaim at Axis in 2016. Sharp’s directing credits also include Last Man Club; Nothing on Earth; Down There; Seven in One Blow; Hospital; Edgar Oliver’s New York Trilogy (including East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House, winner of the Fringe First Award, Edinburgh Fringe, In the Park, and Attorney Street) and London Paris; A Glance at New York (Edinburgh Fringe & NYC), Julius Caesar; and the U.S premiere of Sarah Kane's Crave, starring Deborah Harry. She also directed the feature film Henry May Long, winner of 13 international awards, and is the host of the popular YouTube cooking show “Dinner Party Tonight.

About Axis Theatre Company

Randy Sharp founded Axis Company in 1996. The company acquired a permanent home in 1998 at 1 Sheridan Square in New York City’s West Village. Built in 1834 by Samuel Whitmore, the building once housed Café Society, the historic site of performances by Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughn, Art Tatum, Big Joe Turner and other jazz greats; and later was the home of Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company. Axis transformed interior performance space into one where audiences are totally immersed, surrounded by the experience of a theatrical production the moment they enter. Distractions from the material are minimal.

Among the wide variety of works Axis has produced in the theater are Beckett’s Play; Benjamin Baker’s 1848 vaudeville A Glance at New York (also at the Edinburgh Festival); the U.S. premiere of Sarah Kane’s Crave, starring Deborah Harry; the premieres of Edgar Oliver’s East 10th Street (New York Times Critic Pick; Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Spoleto Festival, USA) and In the Park; David Crabb’s Bad Kid (New York Times Critic Pick, now an acclaimed book published by HarperCollins Perennial); Marc Palmieri’s The Groundling; and Sharp’s The Vast Machine, Last Man Club (Drama Desk-nomination), Solitary Light, Nothing on Earth, Down There, Seven in One Blow, Hospital, Dead End, and High Noon.

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