Critically acclaimed playwright Oren Safdie's GRATITUDE, directed by Maria Mileaf gets New York Premiere ay Urban Stages - beginning June 5
Last Edit: Official_Press_Release 11:12 am EDT 05/19/22
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 11:11 am EDT 05/19/22

Acclaimed Playwright OREN SAFDIE's
coming-of-age play gets New York Premiere


Directed by MARIA MILEAF


Beginning Performances at Urban Stages on June 5, 2022
Opening Night, Thursday, June 9, 2022

"Gratitude is an unflinchingly dark (and darkly funny) exploration of sexual powerplay … A bracingly provocative and ferociously entertaining 75 minutes of theatre." Jim Burke, Montreal Gazette

New York -Critically acclaimed playwright Oren Safdie (critically acclaimed and controversial Unseamly at Urban Stages) will get a New York premiere of his newest play, Urban Stages (Frances Hill, Artistic Director) presents MainLine Theatre's ( Amy Blackmore, Artistic Director) production of GRATITUDE. Directed by Maria Mileaf, performances will begin on June 5 in advance of its opening night on Thursday, June 8, and will run through June 30, 2022. The subject matter can be disturbing and deals with sexual material. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by visiting www.UrbanStages.org . For ages 16+.

GRATITUDE tells the story of 15-year-old Najaf, a Muslim girl from a devout family, who attends an exclusive private high school where she becomes infatuated with Drew, the class stud. Torn between her traditional upbringing and family expectations and her new sexual awakening, Najaf, finds herself caught in a web of her own making that promises liberation even as it might simultaneously lead to her undoing.

"Oren's work is powerful, smart, and provocative, but also highly entertaining. We are thrilled that he is returning to Urban Stages as we present Montreal's MainLine Theatre and their production of , Gratitude. They have assembled an amazing cast of young performers and a talented creative team of seasoned theatre professionals."
Urban Stages Artistic Director, Frances Hill

The cast includes Jalen Xavier Ford (Film: Listen to the House Party), Jake Guthrie (NY Theater Barn's Ashes to Ashes), Erik Larsson (Regional: Brighton Beach Memoirs), and Aline Salloum (Rattlestick's The Meltdown), This creative team includes Neil Patel (set design), Greg MacPherson (light design) and Laurie Churba (costumes), Fiona Misiura (Stage Manager) and Isabel Davison (assistant stage manager) . Safdie, Mileaf, Patel, and Churba reunite for the first time in nearly two decades after collaborating on the Off Broadway hit Private Jokes, Public Places.

Urban Stages team includes Frances Hill (artistic director), Antoinette Mullins (development & literary director), Olga Devyatisilnaya (company manager/financial administrator), Ilanna Saltzman (outreach director), Kim T. Sharp (technical director), Bara Swain (creative consultant), Vincent Scott (director & school consultant), and Disnie Sebastien (social media).

Gratitude received its world premiere at Montreal's MainLine Theatre, where critics raved - " The 75-minute play begins rather innocently, but dissolves into so much sexual tension and human desperation with a great deal of simplicity and humour." Montréal Times; "Gratitude offers a topical look at high school lust and longing …. The scenes are well-paced, engaging, and funny. "The Globe And Mail; "Safdie has hit the proverbial ball out of the court with his new play Gratitude. Safdie's play captures youthful stirrings with all their passions and insecurities to devastating effect. Gratitude is a brave, provocative story exploring the realities around sex, love, consent, duty, gender roles, and rebellion." The Suburban / Jewish Mag; "Oren Safdie's triumphant return to Montreal with Gratitude, he does an ingenious job of bringing the conundrum to the forefront for all generations in a thought-provoking fashion … Join the humanistic and captivating game of human, moral and ethical chess, running at the Mainline." - OrcaSound Arts & Entertainment.

The kernel of Safdie's newest work grew out of his own experience attending St. George's School in Montreal. The day he was to start Grade 11, he received a phone call from the boyfriend of a girl in his class, threatening to put two bullets through his head if he showed up at school. From this, he has woven a story of four characters grappling with their newfound sexual urges while discovering the power their bodies have on others. Add to that the emotions of first love, peer pressure, sexual identity, and cultural discrepancies, and you have a story that captures the youth of our time in all its complexities.

Urban Stages presents MainLine Theatre's production of GRATITUDE Begins performances on June 5, 2022
Opening night is Thursday, June 9, running through June 30, 2022
Tuesday - Saturday at 7:30 PM
(Added performance: Monday, June 6 at 7:30 PM)
The running time is 75 minutes no intermissionUrban Stages is located at 359 West 30 Street
Tickets: $40 ($30 during previews); Student Tickets $15
Please visit www.UrbanStages.org to purchase tickets
Due to the nature and subject matter of the show it is recommended for people ages 16+

This production is made possible with the support of The Québec Government Office in New York.

Oren Safdie, Maria Mileaf, and/or any company member of Gratitude are available for interviews. To arrange interviews or press tickets, please contact JT Public Relations/ joe@jt-pr.net /(973) 568 8236.

MARIA MILEAF (Director) , an NYC-based director whose credits include the West End production of Underneath The Lintel, Sharon Washington's Feeding the Dragon, Lee Blessings' Body of Water and his Going to St. Ives at Primary Stages; Vijay Tendulkar's Sakharam Binder and Maria Milisavljevic's Abyss for the Play Company; Courtney Baron's Here I Lie and Alan Zweibel's Playing God for Summer Shorts @ 59E59; Alexandra Gersten-Vasillaros' The Argument at The Vineyard; and Kira Obolensky's Lobster Alice at Playwrights Horizons. Favorite regional directing credits include Patricia Wettig's F2M and Joanna Murray-Smith's Ninety at New York Stage and Film; Nash's The Rainmaker at The Old Globe; Lisa D'Amour's Detroit and Lynne Nottage's Ruined at the Philadelphia Theatre Company where Mileaf won a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Direction of Tracey Scott Wilson's The Story; Lucy Prebble's Sugar Syndrome, John Belluso's A Nervous Smile and Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit at the Williamstown Theatre Festival; Wendy Wasserstein's Third at The Geffen; and Kwame Kwei-Armah's Let There Be Love at ACT in San Francisco.

OREN SAFDIE (Playwright) attended the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University before turning his attention to writing. Private Jokes, Public Places was an off-Broadway/London sensation set in the world of academia, which sent shock waves through the architecture community. (The Wall Street Journal named it as one of the top ten new plays of the decade.) His next play, The Last Word, also ran off-Broadway and starred two-time Emmy Award Winner Daniel J. Travanti. Other New York productions include Unseamly, West Bank, Uk, Jews & Jesus, False Solution, The Bilbao Effect, and LA COMPAGNIE, which he developed into a ½-hour pilot for CBS. (5 of his productions were NY Times Critic's Pick.) As a screenwriter, Oren scripted the film You Can Thank Me Later, starring Ellen Burstyn, and the Israeli film Bittersweet. His new film, The Sunflower, directed by Emil Ben-Shimon (The Women's Balcony), starts shooting in June. Oren has also been a contributor for Metropolis and Dwell and published essays in The Forward, Jerusalem Post, National Post, and The New Republic. Oren has taught Playwriting and Screenwriting at the University of Miami, Douglas College, California School of the Arts, Interlochen Arts Academy, and St. Olaf College.

MAINLINE THEATRE is a hub of multidisciplinary and indie performing arts located in the heart of Montreal's vibrant Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood. With Amy Blackmore at the helm as Executive and Artistic Director, the company exists to support the development of the performing arts by favouring artistic practice and models of production centred around the democratization of the arts. It supports artists through its leadership in the community and by providing opportunities for presentation, professional development and affordable space availability. Famous for its annual production of Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show, MainLine's recent presentations have included Gratitude by Oren Safdie, Malunderstood by Kenny Streule and the award-winning Sapientia by Scapegoat Carnivale.

URBAN STAGES is an award-winning, not-for-profit, Off-Broadway Theatre Company founded in 1984 by current Artistic Director Frances Hill. For over 35 years, Urban Stages has produced dozens of world, American, and N.Y. premieres, including Pulitzer Prize Finalist Bulrusher (2007) by Eisa Davis. We have been honored with awards, nominations, and recognition from the Drama Desk, Obie Awards, Audelco, Outer Critics Circle, and more. Plays produced at Urban Stages also often move on to larger venues and/or publication. Charmed Life from Soul Singing to Opera Star by Lori Brown Mirabal (2021) and Bars and Measures by Idris Goodwin (2019) were critically acclaimed. Death of a Driver (2019) by Will Snider went on to a regional production at The Salt Lake Acting Company. In our 2017/18 season, A Deal by Zhu Yi (world premiered at Urban Stages) toured China, and Dogs of Rwanda by Sean Christopher Lewis (New York premiered at Urban Stages) toured regionally. Other notable productions include the world premiere of the musical Langston In Harlem by Walter Marks (music and book) and Kent Gash (book and direction) garnered a Drama Desk Nomination, a Joe A. Calloway award, and 4 Audelco awards including Best Musical Production of 2010. Critically acclaimed hits Mabel Madness by Tony-winner Trezana Beverley (2016), Communion by Daniel MacIvor (2016), and Angry Young Man by Ben Woolf (2017), which transferred to the John Drew Theatre at Guild Hall in East Hampton, have premiered at Urban Stages. In addition, Unseamly, by Oren Safdie (2015), was an N.Y. Times Critics' Pick. Jim Brochu's Character Man (2014) was nominated for a Drama Desk, and an Outer Critics Circle award for Best Solo Performance, and Honky (2013) by Greg Kalleres saw a regional run at San Diego Rep and was televised nationally on PBS in late 2015. 1996's Men on The Verge Of A Hispanic Breakdown by Guillermo Reyes and Minor Demons by Bruce Graham both moved to commercial theatres. Chili Queen, a play by newscaster Jim Lehrer, transferred to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (1989). My Occasion of Sin (2012) by Monica Bauer won critical acclaim when it moved to Detroit Rep. Bill Bowers has toured regionally and internationally with his two Urban Stages' premieres blending mime and theatre - Beyond Words (2012) and Under A Montana Moon (2002)! Some Urban Stages premieres have even been developed into film and television projects, such as Scar by Murray Mednick, Conversations with The Goddesses by Agapi Stassinopoulos, and Cotton Mary by Alexandra Viets. In addition to plays and musicals, annually, we hold a music festival - Winter Rhythms - that features famous and up-and-coming Cabaret musicians, lyricists, and other music artists. In 2016, Winter Rhythms was honored with the Bistro Award for Outstanding Series, and in 2015, it received the Ruth Kurtzman Benefit Series M.A.C. Award from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs.

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