Persou to Premiere this Spring at the cell Theatre
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 10:28 am EDT 05/05/21


Created by Ellpetha Tsivicos
and Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez

(New York, NY – May 5, 2021) – Co-creators Ellpetha Tsivicos and Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez are proud to present the world premiere of Persou, an experiential festival celebrating Spring. Performances will be held at Nancy Manocherian's the cell Theatre in Manhattan Wednesdays through Saturdays from May 19 to June 5, 2021.

Persou is directed by Ellpetha Tsivicos and written by Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez, who previously collaborated in August 2020 on the immersive, socially-distanced outdoor play Quince, dubbed "endearing and exhilarating" by The New York Times. A co-production with The TEAM, Quince marked the first live theatre event in NYC during the pandemic.

Persou invites audiences to a mysterious, ancient ceremony welcoming the rebirth of Spring and bidding farewell to the dark, barren Winter. Drawing on Homeric hymns, the poetry of Giorgos Seferis and traditional dances, Persou will transport audiences to the Temple of Aphrodite in Paphos, Cyprus. As audiences enter the Temple, they become party to the goddess Demeter's sneaky plot to make a deal with the gods that would eradicate Winter forever by creating a kingdom of endless Spring. Exploring loss, death, displacement and grief, Persou's women seek to build their own mythology that challenges the cruel order of the world.

Persou is a participatory experience in which guests will feast upon sights, sounds, and tastes as they are transported to an ancient celebration in Cyprus. Audience members will be free to inhabit the temple and join fellow pilgrims seeking communion amid live music, bitesize snacks, and a vivid dream-like surrounding. Accessibility accommodations will be available upon request for guests who are unable to walk or stand for the duration of the performance.

After the long journey through Winter, join your fellow pilgrims seeking communal catharsis. Join a festival of gratitude for the new season. Draw on ancient wisdom and unite your journey with ours into a new season of growth and shared experience. ?a??? ???sate!

Persou features set design and art direction by Kendra Eaves, lighting design by Megan Lang, mask design by Zoë Andrea Batson and Gamma Lister, costume design by Scarlet Moreno, and prop design by Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez and Emma Lauren Fasulo. The cast features Anthoula Katsimatides, Ioanna Katsarou, Katherine Hreib, Vassilea Terzaki, Alia Scheirman, Kristina Maria Headrick and Stefani Charitou Segal. By engaging with artists and ancestral traditions from the Eastern Mediterranean diaspora, the production seeks to unseat familiar colonial interpretations of Hellenism, bacchanals and Anglicized portrayals of Eastern Mediterranean and Hellenic culture.

The cell's sweeping, ornate 18-foot front windows will remain open throughout the performance, leading into the vaulted ceilings of the main room and backyard via a fully retractable back wall, which will remain open throughout the performance to allow for airflow, social distancing, and an indoor-outdoor experience. In addition, the cell has been equipped with a new air filtration system. Audience sizes will be limited to 20 people per performance, and everyone will be required to wear masks and provide information for contact tracing. All safety precautions will be overseen by an OSHA certified Production Infection Control agent.

Tickets for Persou start at $35 and are available at https://www.tickettailor.com/events/thecelltheatre/519624. Please reach out to PersoutheShow@gmail.com to request a ticket priced on a sliding scale. As capacity is limited, tickets must be reserved in advance for admission.

Follow Persou at @ellpetha @camiloooo @onewhalestale
To purchase tickets: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/thecelltheatre/519624

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About Co-Creators Ellpetha Tsivicos + Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez

Ellpetha Tsivicos (Co-Creator/Director) is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. She is first-generation Cypriot-American, a dual identity that has inspired and shaped much of her artistic work and life. Ellpetha graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Drama and a minor in Art and Public Policy. Her minor focused on Dialogical Art, which removes the barrier of "the audience" and engages the community by making them co-creators instead of spectators. In 2012, Ellpetha co-founded a multimedia production company, One Whale's Tale, where she serves as a producer, director, writer, editor and performer. One Whale's Tale has produced award winning shorts, web-series, music videos, and documentaries. Collaborating alongside visual artist Mariah Robertson, Ellpetha co-developed an aesthetic of organized chaos, and performed at the MoMa, Ps1, Art Basel, and the Art in Embassies Gala at the Smithsonian Institute. In 2019, Ellpetha completed her second artistic collaboration as a designer and performer on the immersive spectacle Leonora's World with Double Edge Theatre. Ellpetha was the Associate Producer of Primer for a Failed Superpower, a concert of intergenerational protest music, directed by Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin of The TEAM. In 2020 Ellpetha co-created and directed, Quince, the first live theater performance in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic. Performed outdoors at The People's Garden in Bushwick, Quince incorporated all social distancing and safety protocols into the narrative and artistic world of the show. Quince was a co-production with The TEAM as part of the Petri Project Series and was supported by a grant from The Venturous Theatre Fund. Quince was featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, American Theatre, Broadway World, Playbill, and Token Theatre Friends. In the Fall of 2020, Ellpetha co-created a Dia de los Muertos event hosted by the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, creating a community altar and a space for guests to share items, memories, and celebrate loved ones who had passed away. Ellpetha finds power in the spirituality and mysticism of Hellenism and in the rural traditions of her ancestral village which are diligently kept up by her family in an isolated farming community in Cyprus. Her book, A Life Into Lands which tells the stories of her family's rural traditions through the lens of her dual Cypriot and American existence, was recently published in English and Greek-Cypriot by Cypriot Arts & culture center Phaneromenis70 in Lefkosia, Cyprus.

Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez (Co-Creator/Writer) is a Chicano theater artist, filmmaker, and visual artist from the mythical land of Aztlán. He began his artistic journey at a community arts center, Plaza de La Raza. This education inspired and empowered him to study at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Through his production company and an ongoing 10-year collaboration with Ellpetha Tsivicos, Camilo has written and co-produced two award-winning short films: Dolores, a drama about colorism in the Mexican-American community, and Fruit Detective, a slapstick noir. In 2018 Camilo first collaborated with The TEAM on a short documentary around the creation of Primer for a Failed Superpower. Camilo has developed his love of spectacle and collaborative performance through training and artistic collaborations – spanning eight years – with the Double Edge Theatre ensemble. In 2020 Camilo wrote and co-produced Quince, an immersive comedy about a queer Chicana coming to terms with her identity on the eve of her quinceañera. Quince was one of the first live shows to premiere in NYC during the Covid-19 pandemic and was reviewed in the New York Times, American Theatre, Token Theatre Friends, Playbill, and Broadway World. In 2021 his piece Night Descends on Svalbard premiered as part of the Exponential Festival. Camilo's work is driven by the stories, songs and dances of his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, friends, neighbors, and spirits who intimately shared the spaces of his childhood.

About the Cast + Company of Persou

Kendra Eaves (Set Design/Art Director). Brooklyn-based Production Designer, Art Director, and Prop Master Kendra Eaves' recent credits include collaborations with Daniel Antebi (God's Time, currently in post-production with Amazon Studios), author/director Emma Cline (Jagger), Michael Walker (Paint) and several Netflix Food featurettes for David Chang and Antoni Porowski. Upcoming feature projects include the Sundance Lab-accepted You Mean Everything to Me (Actors Ben Rosenfield, Morgan Saylor), Fepo (Eleanor Pienta, Sherilyn Fenn, Ray Wise), and Tribeca Film Fest-premiered Honeydew (Sawyer Spielberg). Eaves has also designed music video sets for artists including Santana, Meghan Trainor, Riley's Lanez, American Authors, Ashley Tisdale, Pentatonix, and the 2019 UK Music Award-nominated Shura. Eaves is a foley artist in NYC, and has feature credits including Bad Education (Hugh Jackman and Alison Janney), The Mountain (Jeff Goldblum), and Midsommar (Florence Pugh).

Megan Lang (Lighting Design) has designed lighting at BAM, La Mama, Abrons Arts Center, EST, Under St. Mark's, the Wild Project, Dixon Place, 59E59, JACK, and Atlantic Stage 2, among others. Recent designs include JACK & (BAM Next Wave and US tour, dir. Kaneza Schaal), Riot Antigone (La Mama, dir. Seonjae Kim), and Oye! For My Dear Brooklyn (Abrons Arts Center and UTR, dir. Artem Yatsunov). She is the resident lighting designer for the Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Rwanda. Assistant/ associate special effects work includes Sting's The Last Ship, Our Lady of Kibeho, An Act of God and Pip's Island. BA: Fordham University.

Scarlet Moreno (Costume Designer) is a bilingual, Los Angeles based actor, artist, and designer. Born and raised on the border of Mexico in a South Texas town called Laredo, she attended NYU where she received her double major in Acting & Journalism. Scarlet is a stylist & costume designer, and has her own brand, Scarletinni Originals which uses vintage textiles to create one of a kind pieces. She designed the costumes and custom masks for Quince (One Whale's Tale + the TEAM) at the People's Garden in 2020. She has directed shorts premiering in festivals across the country and the world, as well as her first feature film, Phaedra which she made under the guidance of director Robert Rodriguez. Moreno's Tex-Mex roots permeate all that she does, and her work strives to be as colorful as the bi-cultural town she was born in.

Zoë Andrea Batson (Design Team) (They/Them, He/Him) is an artist specializing in creating immersive environments for physical laboratory theatre and art-tech destinations. Zoë has worked as a Maker at the Art-Tech destination The Fairgrounds in Saint Petersburg, Florida and as the technical director and lighting designer at Open Flame Theatre, a surrealist queer physical theatre ensemble based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Zoë received their theatre training over five years at Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield, Massachusetts as an associate lighting designer and resident artist. Zoë is from Te-Jop, Wisconsin on traditional Ho-Chunk land also called Madison.

Anthoula Katsimatides (Performer) is an actor, writer, producer, host and voice-over artist. A true artist at heart, her love for performing on screen is matched by her passion for theatre work. In addition to appearing on several network and cable television shows and in big budget films, Anthoula has performed Off-Broadway. She has also developed an autobiographical solo show called What Will People Think, which she will be performing again soon post-covid. She also executive produced Olympia, the official documentary on Olympia Dukakis. To learn more, please visit www.anthoula.com. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram @AnthoulaKats.

Ioanna Katsarou (Performer) is the co-artistic director of Eclipses Group Theater NY and founding member of Aktis Aeliou Theater, honored as "the Best Regional Theater in Greece'' by the Greek Critics Association (2006). She is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors' Lab (2017). Recent directorial credits include Hercules in Search of a Hero, awarded by the Queens Council on the Arts (LaGuardia Performing Arts Center and Abrons Arts Center); The Bacchae (2021) and Trojan Women (2020) at American Academy of Dramatic Arts; Farewell, awarded Best Poetic Monologue at the International Solo Festival (2018). Her work as an actor and director have been presented in Greece, U.S., Canada, and Egypt. Some of her leading roles: Clytemnestra at the Classic Stage Company, Cassandra at the Ellen Stewart stage of La MaMa, Queen Atossa at La MaMa and the St-Ambroise festival in Montreal, Phaedra at the Delphi European Festival for Ancient Greek Drama, Catherine in Suddenly Last Summer, and Medea.

Katherine Hreib (Performer) is a multi-instrumentalist and philosopher of Greek and Syrian descent. Recently learning the craft of luthier, she is building the instruments that she plays and musing on the material origins of sound. She draws on a background as a classical horn player, having studied in Turkish and Bengali music, and focuses on meeting traditions of rag and makam music, Anatolian, Baul and Tasawwuf music. Additionally, she is laying the groundwork for a seed-saving farm that is a living library of conflict zone and drought resilient plants.

Kristina Maria Headrick (Dramaturge/Performer) is the Greek-American founder of Greek lifestyle brand Yia Mas. Yia Mas synthesizes Kristina's Greek upbringing with a lifelong study of Greek philosophy, dance (Greek, ballet, modern), design, and culture. Kristina's unbounded curiosity and appreciation for self-inquiry led her to pursue alternative ways of presenting Greek folk remedies and ancient traditions. With a background in writing and digital marketing, her work attempts to bridge the gap between our increasingly digital realities and tactile experiences. She balances digital work with teaching movement and meditation, including corporate and co-working space settings in New York City. She holds a degree in history from the University of Virginia.

Vassilea Terzaki (Performer) was born and raised in Greece, on the island of Crete. She moved to the US in 2008 and graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. In the last decade, she has worked as an actor, dancer, producer, and set decorator in theater, film, and tv-series.

Alia Scheirman (Performer) is a newly-NYC-based violinist and teacher currently involved in Filmelodic's Socially Distant Orchestra. Recent performances in NYC have been with Dance in Bushwick, Green Space's Fertile Ground, and Masra7 al-Mahjar. Formerly a member of Vermont-based Middle Eastern band Grup Anwar, Alia has also performed with various small ensembles and orchestras in her home state of Minnesota. While having been western classically trained, in recent years Alia's Saudi background has led her to find interest in learning musical styles from the Middle East.

Stefani Charitou Segal (Performer) has been performing in Israel for the last 4 years. Born in Cyprus, she moved to New York to study at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. She currently lives in Tel Aviv with her husband.

John Murchison (Bass) is a Brooklyn-based bassist and multi-instrumentalist. He is known for his active role in several musical circles, performing primarily in pop and musical theater, jazz and avant-garde, and traditional music from the Middle East and Africa. John is one of the most in-demand bassists for traditional Arabic music in the United States. In addition to his work on bass, he also performs regularly on qanun, gimbri, oud, ney, and percussion. He is cofounder of Brooklyn Maqam, an organization dedicated to presenting, promoting, and building community around Arabic music in the NYC area. He has performed in a variety of theater productions from downtown to Time Square. He played bass in Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 (Ars Nova, Kazino, Broadway), qanun in In the Green (Lincoln Center), and bass/qanun/oud in James and Jerome's The Conversationalists (Bushwick Starr). He has also performed with an array of pop and theater artists such as Josh Groban, Cristin Milioti, Philippa Soo, Brittain Ashford, Grace Mclean, Shoba Narayan, and many more.

Tommy Kavounidis (Bouzouki) discovered his love for the bouzouki at age 13. Highly influenced from Rock, Classical, Jazz, and world styles Tommy created a unique and tasteful approach to his instruments that paved the way for his musical journey. These diverse influences have helped inspire Tommy during his time at Berklee college of Music. Born and raised in Queens, New York.

David Chorowski (Percussion) has been studying and performing music from the Balkans to the Middle East since a young age. Being exposed to Klezmer as someone of Ashkenazi heritage and music from the Arab world through the bellydance community as a child, David picked up the Darbuka (tabla, toubeleki), Tar (frame drum) and other percussion and has dedicated much of his personal and professional life to these rich cultures of music. Fresh out of grade school David was recruited to play and perform around the country at various different venues performing a repertoire of music from the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Mediterranian and Medieval Spain as a lead instrumentalist playing Lavta, Oud and Saz while continuing to master techniques and rhythms as a percussionist. After a few years of travelling David is back in New York and performing with various different acts around the city, recording and producing music with various artists and working in composition and sound for film as a student at the competitive Sonic Arts Center at the City College of New York.

Sarah Jones (Stage Manager) (she/her) is a stage manager, producer, and theatre administrator based in NYC. Sarah is currently devising a degree in Theatre Production and Management at Hunter College through the CUNY Baccalaureate program. Recent projects include Ludlow Fair (Graphic Designer/Social Media Manager; Hunter Theatre Company), Missing Spoons (Director; CUNY Theatre Festival), Eurydice (Stage Manager/Production Manager; Hunter Theatre), LEAR (Assistant Stage Manager/ Wardrobe Supervisor; Hunter Theatre Company). She also serves as the secretary for the Hunter Theatre Company and volunteers as a social media assistant for the Ring of Keys organization.

Nicole Moutis (Associate Producer) is a creative producer and consultant based in New York City. With over 10 years' experience in the fashion industry, Nicole has garnered over 50 clients from business management to content creation. She is a first- generation Greek American who places her identity at the forefront of her integrity, inspiring and helping others to tell their personal stories.

Gamma Lister (Design Team) is a sculptor, puppet maker and set designer living in rural Wisconsin. They focus on bringing physical form and power to the illusive sensations and desires in our world that strain to be expressed. Gamma is particularly elated to be collaborating with One Whale's Tale in the telling of Persou.

Tradition Now (Folk Props) is a homeware and clothing brand devoted to reviving threatened folk arts and crafts of the island of Cyprus.

Taryn Mack (Assistant Stage Manager/Assistant Production Designer) is a 2020 graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. She is overjoyed to be doing live theatre again after a year and half break due to the pandemic.

Talisa Velazquez (Production Assistant/Performer) is a recent graduate from CUNY BA with a BA in Latin American Art & Performance. A multidisciplinary artist, Talisa holds a deep devotion to community and social engagement.

Nancy Manocherian's the cell theatre (Artistic Director Kira Simring) is a not-for-profit dedicated to the incubation and presentation of new works that mine the mind, pierce the heart, and awaken the soul. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the cell has successfully moved into the digital sphere by streaming virtual concerts and programming such as Tolerance Party (TimeOut NY "Best Theater to Stream this Week"), the Room | to | Breathe series with Bright Shiny Things, Nourishment "Bites" with HOLDTIGHT, Apex Sky, Liquidverse as well as in-person visual art programming such as Life is Drag featuring the video portraits of Rachel Rampleman, Tranquility Base, and Garden of Eden by Dark Matter Immersive (NY Times' "7 Things to Do This Weekend"). For 2021 the cell is excited to premiere a season of live performances including Persou conceived by One Whale's Tale, What Keeps You Going? conceived and performed by HOLDTIGHT, and Hoard co-produced with Pittsburgh-based company Off The Wall. Past productions include Found, Hoard, The Pink Unicorn (starring Alice Ripley co-produced with Out of the Box), The Evolution of Mann, Bastard Jones (Drama-Desk Nominated), Crackskull Row, Hard Times: An American Musical (now entitled Paradise Square), The McGowan Trilogy, Hey Jude, Horse Girls and more. thecelltheatre.org @thecelltheatre
Link http://thecelltheatre.org

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