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"Occasionally Nothing" by Natalie Menna (Theater for the New City, 6/4-20)
Last Edit: Official_Press_Release 07:29 pm EDT 05/12/21
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 07:28 pm EDT 05/12/21

THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY TO PRESENT "OCCASIONALLY NOTHING,"
ABSURDIST PLAY BY NATALIE MENNA
Life, the play says, is the time in between the sometimes which sometimes happen.
Is that post-truth enough for you?

WHERE AND WHEN:
June 4 to 20, 2021
Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM
Tickets $18
Presented by Theater for the New City (Crystal Field, Artistic Director)
Box Office: (212) 254-1109, www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Running Time: 70 minutes. Critics are invited on or after Sunday, June 6.


NEW YORK -- It was inevitable, perhaps, that post-truth politics would seep into 21st century absurdist theater. One sunny example is "Occasionally Nothing" by Natalie Menna, which takes us to an upsetting time-to-come when something can become a profound, obvious nothing. Life becomes the time in between the sometimes which sometimes happen. The piece was presented in Theater for the New City's Dream Up Festival in 2018. It won awards in Planet Connections Festivity for developmental stagings, with critics cheering the playwright for her mastery of Theater of the Absurd. Theater for the New City will present the piece fully staged from June 4 to 20. Ivette Dumeng directs.

The short two-act play is set in the foreseeable future, when the world is nearing its end. An older man, a young man and a woman, all British expats, are sheltering from nearby bomb blasts in a bleak room. They cope by taunting each other with warped games of verbal wordplay and by blurring each other's realities while losing touch with their own. The older man is the uncle of the younger man, who is a punk rocker. The woman, wife of the older man, is a former West End dancer who's lost her marbles and thinks she was a Rockette. The trio's ordeal is meant to offer a rarified, deathly glimpse at life in a dystopian era, when wars abound and words have lost their meaning. Playwright Natalie Menna has written that the play reflects the lack of distinction between fact and fiction that would characterize a country's slide into authoritarianism.

Two actors of TNC's Dream Up Festival production are returning: Sean Hoagland as the younger man and Brad Fryman as the older man.

A truncated version of the play won prizes for Outstanding Playwriting of a One-Act and Outstanding Overall Production of a One-Act at Planet Connections Festivity in 2016. Reviewer Anthony P. Penning (The Modernist Beat) praised "Menna's sure command of the tools of the Theatre of the Absurd," writing, "Menna focuses not on political polemics but on the spiritual and emotional devastation that our less-than-brave new world is wreaking. The writing here is spare, brutal, and emotionally resonant." He praised her dialogue as crackling with energy and wit.

Menna is also author of "Committed," which will be presented by TNC in 2022, and a resident playwright of August Strindberg Rep, for which she adapted "Journey in Light and Shadow" by modern Danish playwright Stig Dalager. She has received awards at Planet Connections Festivity. Her play "Roberta!" was presented twice at United Solo Festival. Her other plays include "Zen A.M.," "I-POD" and "Hiroshi-Me," which won awards in other festivals. "Roberta!," "I-POD" and "Zen A.M." were published by indietheaternow.com. She is also an actor and appeared at Theater for the New City in lead rôles in three Strindberg plays: Elise in the world premiere of "Pelican/Isle of the Dead," Laura in "The Father" and Tekla in "Creditors," all in new translations by Robert Greer.

Director Ivette Dumeng is Producing Artistic Director and founding member of Nylon Fusion Theatre Company (www.nylonfusion.org) and a member of The Actors Studio Playwrights Directors Unit and League of Professional Theatre Women. Among her directing credits are "Elephant Girl" by John Patrick Shanley and four plays by Don Nigro: "Marina," "Mata Hari," "Jack in the Box" and "Front Porch."

Lighting design is by Alexander Bartenieff, whose work has been praised in the New York Times and Village Voice and covered in the Village Sun, the new online newspaper.
Link http://www.nylonfusion.org
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