A new play by Laura Zlatos
Directed by Sherri Eden Barber
“Happily After Ever strikes at the heart of today's charged debates around sexual roles and gender identity. Laura Zlatos entertains and enlightens with this hilarious, innovative, and ultimately wise new play.”
David Henry Hwang
Newlyweds Darren and Janet want nothing more than to build the perfect life together. But when Janet gives birth to a baby with both male and female genitalia, they find themselves in the unlikely position of having to choose a gender for their child—all while competing with the perfect couple next door and dealing with a misunderstood family dog—in this hilarious battle of the sexes.
SETTING: The right place, the right time.
70 Minutes. No Intermission.
“By turns whimsical, campy, hallucinatory and poignant, it nods to scads of classic sitcoms, unfolding in a Technicolor world where the men are men and the women are bored at home.”
“Review: In ‘Happily After Ever,’ a Couple’s Impossible Choice“
Laura Collins-Hughes – New York Times, April 6, 2016
“Love and fear face off with each other in this witty sitcom-like battle of the sexes […] The stylistic staging is beautifully helmed by Sherri Eden Barber and crisply played by the accomplished actors, never missing a beat in an entertaining little gem […] Everything merges perfectly” ★★★★
“Happily Ever After“
Patrick Christiano – TheaterLife, April 9, 2016
“...goofy and fun...Zlatos’ script is larger than life...a sugar-coated cartoon of a play that will make you laugh but then might lead you to examine that laughter and whether what caused it was funny or actually really tragic.”
“Happily After Ever…“
Victoria Teague – New York Theater Review, April 11, 2016
“...even the sexual identification of a dog can be suspect and relativistic. As played by Anderson, the droll and downcast Tommy adds further comic relief to an unusual and entertaining production.”
“HAPPILY AFTER EVER at 59E59 Theaters“
Allan Miller – A Seat in the Aisle, April 7, 2016
“...turns stereotypic notions about marriage, gender and fulfillment upside down using irony, farce and pathos."”
“Happily Ever After: A Farce of Gender-Bending Cultural Expectations“
Carole Di Tosti – Theather Pizzazz, April 6, 2016
“Barber has handled her perfectly cast actors with such a creative and unique touch that I had moments of feeling like Woody Allen and Guy Ritchie had given birth to a slick, punchy, well-edited, unconventional film that I was now experiencing in real life.”
“Review: Happily After Ever“
Tania Fisher – Stage Buddy, April 7, 2016
“...a brilliant piece of comedic theater that has, at its core, a deeply loving and careful heart. Playwright Laura Zlatos has crafted an incredibly endearing play, with characters that are absurdly lovable despite of, or possibly because of, how outright bizarre they can be, it has the power to break your heart.”
“Happily After Ever Charms and Provokes“
Marti Sichel – Woman Around Town, April 14, 2016
MOLLY-ANN NORDIN* as
JEFFREY BRIAN ADAMS* as
MARLON MEIKLE as
BRENAN LOWERY as
JIM ANDERSON as
Tues-Thurs at 7:30pm,
Fri-Sat at 8:30pm, Sun at 3:30pm
Located at 59 East 59th Street
between Madison and Park Avenues.
All images by Erik Carter
The exclamation “It’s a boy!” or the equally enthusiastic “It’s a girl!” make up the first few words that welcome us into the world. They engender ideas of how we should dress and act, what jobs we should pursue, and whom we should love.
These ideas are so ingrained in both our minds and society that we often don’t notice them.
We assume our choices are organic, that men are biologically coded to play sports and women are predisposed to love cooking.
Happily After Ever takes a satirical look at the categorization of gender. Drawing from what can only be described as the epitome of gender normativity—the sitcom—this play questions the categories that define our lives and the extent to which we can exercise choice.
Gender, Intersex, and Unpredic-tability
by Stephen Christensen
The world and the West in particular have for the past several decades experienced a slow dissolution of the idea of a fixed gender binary and with it the notion of gendered normativity. That we still live in a society that reads gender as paramount in determining a person’s social and political well-being and efficacy is obvious, but the long-constricted spheres of expected and acceptable interests and actions for men and women, respectively, are expanding and co-mingling in ever richer ways—a development that has both re-enforced and been propelled by an increasing visibility and social acceptance of transgendered people.
Yet even with the dissemination of a broader, more fluid notion of gender, the general perception and treatment of sex, as it pertains to the measurable physical and chromosomal make-up of an individual, remains staunchly in a dichotomy of the male and the female. While the exact relationship between sex and gender is not fully understood and persists as a controversial point of debate among academics and researchers, there is little argument that it is the sexual characteristics of an infant that result in the initial assignment of a gender role.
This imperfect process can fail typically sexed individuals, assigning a person a fate into which they will never grow comfortable, but acutely endangers the psychological and physical health of children born with an intersexed condition—when neither their genitalia nor chromosomes place them clearly into the male or female category.
The prevalence of intersexed individuals varies based upon the measurement criteria being employed, but most estimates put the total number of individuals somewhere in the thousands to tens of thousands in the US alone. There is no consensus as to how to exactly define intersex conditions, indeed in many children the cause still today can go unidentified, but the majority of experts now divide the condition into four umbrella categories for intersex, also called disorders of sex development (DSDs); 46, XX Intersex; 46, XY Intersex; True Gonadal Intersex; and Complex or Indeterminate Intersex.
Each of these disorders can express itself in myriad ways from ambiguous genitalia, to a lack of puberty, to unexpected virilization and sexual development.
The treatment protocol for addressing the condition of an intersex infant comes out of John Hopkins University, where John Money infamously asserted the now largely debunked philosophy that gender is entirely a social fabrication. From this position, it was believed that through regimented social affirmation a person could be habituated to a desired gender. Thus the working solution to what many doctor’s perceived as a medical and social emergency was to recommend genital surgery and social gender enforcement on the child as quickly as possible—a process where the child’s genitals would be reshaped to whatever was most medically convenient followed by a strict program of consistent gendering and often secrecy about the existence of the condition.
This lead to mismatches of imposed identity, innate identity, and biology. Perhaps worse than these mismatches, however, were the irreversible effects of the genital reconfiguration surgeries. Often, this course of action left intersexed individuals with mutilated, dysfunctional genitals as doctors excised parts of the newborn’s body that they did not recognize as under or over developed organs.
It would be inaccurate to describe these efforts as completely misguided or destructive—data on its implementation is scarce—but the harsh, lifelong consequences of gender assignment through surgery have caused a growing host of activists to demand that surgery be delayed until the child can make their own determination, to either get the surgery to appear male or female, or to leave their body intact. From an outside perspective, there is an intuitive empathy to this approach. But parents of intersexed children, usually thrust into a scenario for which they were entirely unprepared, find themselves beleaguered by social and medical pressures to “fix” their babies as fast as they can, which means in most cases deference to the prevailing medical expertise.
Intersex activists and some doctors alike are beginning to agree that the extremely personal and often unique experience of any intersex condition mean that at the minimum, there can be no universally effective treatment; some individuals may even feel they don’t want or need any treatment. It is at this point where Happily After Ever intersects most fully with the issues surrounding disorders of sex development. Perhaps a perfunctory treatment of the medical substance and history of these disorders, Happily After Ever collides the hermetic, predictable lives and images entailed by the tropes of scripted narratives with a condition that is only mediated by the asymmetric grit of real life—a reminder of the daunting complexity of the world but also an invitation to embrace it.
Set Designer: Rebecca Lord-Surratt
Costume Designer: Stephanie Levin
Lighting Designer: Megan Dallas Estes
Composer & Sound Designer: Mark Van Hare
Asst. Lighting Designer: Victoria Bain
Stage Manager: Ryan Ostendorf
Assistant Stage Manager: Melanie Aponte*
Clown Consultant: Ilan Ben-Yehuda
Fight Director: Alex J. Gould
Production Manager: Brandon Pape
Dramaturg: Stephen Christensen
Casting Director: Christine McKenna
Title Design: Julian Leon
Social Media Manager: Tessa Slovis
MOLLY-ANN NORDIN* (Janet) UNCSA grad and member of Oh Force Theatre Co. Last seen in Happily After Ever (59E59, Edinburgh Fringe) and Telephone Play (Kymberle Project). Original shorts: Kiss Kaboom at South Oxford and The Last Supper with Ugly Rhino Productions. Worked with Theater Plastique in House of Emily at Materials for the Arts, and Emily Dickinson Outer Space at the Bushwick Starr. Other theatre credits: Stalled (Unchained Theater), Remission (Signature), Family Furniture (The Flea), The Wizard of Odd (Lincoln Center Education). Festivals include: Blks (Kraine), Who are you NY (Rattlestick), The Music Man, Once Upon a Mattress (Signature), and Women and Wallace (Second Stage).
JEFFREY BRIAN ADAMS* (Darren) is thrilled to return to NYC for his Ricochet debut. West Coast credits: Dogfight, Promises, Promises, Into the Woods (SF Playhouse), Death of a Salesman, The Addams Family (San Jose Stage Company), HAIR (BAM!), and Spelling Bee (Hillbarn). NYC credits: Women and Wallace (Theatre Row), the NY Fringe Festival world premiere of Animals, and a reading with the incomparable Nathan Lane with Naked Angels. Adams holds his MFA from The New School for Drama and is a proud member of AEA. He would like to extend his gratitude to friends and family for their ongoing love and support. jeffreybrianadams.com
MARLON MEIKLE (Dharma) Marlon Meikle / Indigo Dai is a Brooklyn based arts educator, performance artist and drag queen whose work has been featured at Le Poisson Rouge, Incubator Arts Project, California Institute of the Arts, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Joe's Pub. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts and currently serves as Assistant Director of Academics at The School of Drama at New School University.
BRENNAN LOWERY (Jerry) recently appeared in Melissa Sweeney's Enemy (Portman) as part of Fringe San Miguel. He also appeared in Liz Duffy Adam's Or, (King Charles II/William Scot) as part of the New Visions Directing Festival, Lewis Black's One Slight Hitch (Harper), Romeo and Juliet (Lord Capulet), and King Lear (Knight, u/s Kent) on the Boston Common. He is thrilled to make his debut at 59E59!
JIM ANDERSON (Tommy) graduated from the New School for Drama in 2013 and is a founding member of New Dance Theatre and Hazard Rep here in New York. Jim recently completed work in Hazard Rep’s inaugural production of CLIFF by Ryan Feyk (NY International Fringe Festival). Theatre credits: Henry in Mud, King Duncan in Macbeth, Friar Laurence in R&J: The Web-Series, Pericles in Pericles, Claudius in Hamlet, Meneleus in The Trojan Women, Harry Druggist in The Cradle Will Rock, Tupolski in The Pillowman, Montfluery in Cyrano de Bergerac, and Van Helsing in Dracula.
LAURA ZLATOS (Playwright) is a Brooklyn-based theater artist and resident playwright at the Exquisite Corpse Company. Recent playwriting credits include: Happily After Ever (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, East to Edinburgh Festival/59E59 Theaters, and Signature Theatre), September: Orange County (#serials@theflea/The Flea Theater), Secession 2015 (New Orleans Faux/Real Festival of the Arts and Governors Island), Exposure (Gene Frankel Theater), The Weird Tree (New York International Fringe Festival), Things I Never Learned in Physics (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), and Three Hours (HERE Arts Center). Laura is currently pursuing an MA in Performance Studies at NYU. She received her MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and her BFA in Dramatic Writing and Gender and Sexuality Studies from NYU. www.laurazlatos.com
SHERRI EDEN BARBER (Director) is a New York-based theatre director and Artistic Associate at Rattlestick Theater. Recent credits: Gordy Crashes (Ricochet Collective, Artistic Director), Mr. Landing Takes A Fall (The Flea), Herman Kline’s Midlife Crisis (The Beckett), 24 Hour Plays (American Airlines Theatre), Inadmissible (Canal Park Playhouse), Latrell: Live Tonight! (Joe’s Pub), Remission and Happily After Ever (Signature Theatre/Columbia), Carthaginians, Angels in America, and Perestroika (Stella Adler Conservatory/NYU), Tapefaces (Ars Nova/ANTFest), Dance Lessons (Theatre Row, winner of the Samuel French Short Play Festival). She has developed new work with Rattlestick, Orchard Project, New York Theatre Workshop, Harlem Stage, Classic Theatre of Harlem, Primary Stages, Flea Theater, Culture Project, 24 Hour Play Company, and Old Vic. Sherri is a Drama League Directing Fellow, recipient of the US/UK Exchange Award, and co-founder/Artistic Director of Ricochet Collective. MFA: The New School for Drama. www.sherriedenbarber.com
REBECCA LORD-SURRATT (Set Designer) is a Set Designer for theater and Art Director for Television & events. Recent theater projects include Summer Shorts (59e59), Pimm’s Mission (59e59), Drawer Boy (Soho Playhouse), Anon(ymous) (The New School for Drama at LAByrinth Theater), Hand to God (EST, premiere). Associate Designer for The Long Schrift and Charles Ives Take Me Home (Rattlestick) Henry V, (Two River Theater). Assistant Designer for Rimbaud in NY (BAM), Brownsville Song (LCT3), Sex with Strangers (Second Stage Theater), El Gato con Botas (Gotham Chamber Opera), Streetcar Named Desire (Virginia Opera), Food & Fadwa (NYTW), Reverberation, Whipping Man (Hartford Stage), The Yellow Hour, Massacre (Rattlestick). Recent TV projects include Billboard’s "Women in Music Awards," "Papal Visit to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum," MTV’s "Woodie Awards" (Festival Art Director), MTV’s "Girl Code Live," and Nickelodeon "HALO Awards" (Associate). MFA, NYU Tisch. Thanks always to Jason and Wyatt.
STEPHANIE LEVIN (Costume Designer) is a NYC based costume designer. Selected Recent: Student Body (Flea), Red Flamboyant (Firebone, Cavalry St George), Midsummer Night's Dream (Stages on the Sound), Tropic Blunder (Princeton), Mother Jones (NYMF), <50% (NYC Fringe Encores), Deepest Man (3LD); Too Many Lenas (Carroll Simmons, ANTFest 2014, Ice Factory 2014); Once Upon a Bride, Jane the Plain, Hearts Like Fists, DEINDE (Flux); Latrell: Live Tonight! (Joe's Pub); Death 4 Sydney Black, Animals Commit Suicide (terraNOVA); White Hot (Flea); Oy Vey (Theater Row). Associate Designer: Nat’l tour of Cabaret. Assisted William Ivey Long on It Shoulda Been You, Cabaret (B’way), Little Dancer (JFKC). Upcoming: Rizing (Flux) www.designedbylevin.com
MEGAN DALLAS ESTES (Lighting Designer) is a Brooklyn-based lighting and scenic designer. Lighting design credits: Hedda Gabler, Morality Play, Marie Antoinette (The Gamm Theatre, RI), A Star has Burnt my Eye (The Brick). Assistant Scenic Design: Trinity Rep (RI), Public Theater (NYC), Old Globe (CA), and Dallas Theater Center (TX).
MARK VAN HARE (Composer & Sound Designer) is a composer and sound designer working in New York City. He composed original music and designed the sound for Polaroid Stories at The New School for Drama, Icarus at University Theatre at Yale University with The Dramat, In Fields Where They Lay at the New Ohio Theatre, Remission at the Ford Studio at Signature Theatre, All God's Chillun Got Wings at JACK, and Look Upon Our Lowliness at Harlem School of the Arts Theatre. markvanhare.com
VICTORIA BAIN (Master Electrician/Asst. Lighting Designer) Victoria is a lighting designer based in Chicago and New York. She most recently assisted at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Goodman Theatre, and The Paramount. Victoria spent the last two years working at Actors Theatre of Louisville and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Victoria is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and a recipient of the Michael Merritt Award for Design.
RYAN OSTENDORF (Stage Manager) Ryan is originally from California and is incredibly grateful to be pursuing Theatre in NYC. He trained as an actor and stage manager at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and AMDA New York. Ryan currently provides administrative and production assistance to Broadway artists through "Straight From New York". Past shows include: Butcher (SM), Bombed (SM), Love, Sex, and the IRS (Actor), Fool's (SM).
MELANIE APONTE* (Assistant Stage Manager) Past credits include Julie Taymor's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Billy Porter's "Ham: A Musical Memoir", and John Rando's revival of "All in the Timing". She graduated from Rutgers University with a BFA in Stage Management.
ALEX J. GOULD (Fight Director) is an actor/fight director in NYC. Off Broadway: The Woodsman (59E59 Theaters.) He is a member of the Bats, the resident acting company at the Flea Theater and has appeared in The Mysteries, a cautionary tail, Thomas Bradshaw's JOB, and #serials@theflea. Readings/workshops with McCarter Theater, Rattlestick Theater Company, Epic Theater Company and Jewish Plays Project. Regional: Williamstown Theater Festival including Whaddabloodclot by Katori Hall. Edu. AMDA
BRANDON PAPE (Production Manager) Brandon is a NYC-based producer and Executive Director of Ricochet Collective, originally from Dubuque, Iowa. Producing credits: Gordy Crashes, Jagged Little Pill: Live In Concert, Happily After Ever (Ricochet Collective), Latrell Live Tonight! (Ars Nova, Dixon Place, Joe’s Pub), Make Me Love You: an evolution of love, Look Back In Anger, The Shape of Things (The Verge). Brandon is a Drama League Directing Fellow and graduate of Loyola University Chicago. @midwestrunaway
STEPHEN CHRISTENSEN (Dramaturg) is a writer, dramaturg, critic, scenic carpenter, and hermit. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Worked across the Midwest and East Coast, mostly in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York. Recent dramaturgy credits: Happily After Ever (Columbia Stages 2015: New Plays Now Festival presented at the Signature Theatre), Rum for Sale (Columbia Stages 2015: NPN), Scrapland (Columbia Stages 2015: NPN), WASPS (2014 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference Semifinalist). MFA Dramaturgy candidate at Columbia University. 2014 Eugene O'Neill National Critics Institute Criticism Fellow. BA Theater Arts and Drama and History, University of Wisconsin at Madison.
GAGE STEENHAGEN (Technical Director) is a multifaceted artist. As Creative Director of Ricochet Collective he is part director, designer, technician, and problem solver. Outside Ricochet, he works as a freelance technician and artist throughout the city. Gage recently co-founded a nonprofit organization called Second Story Arts which works to support and invigorate the arts in small communities in his home state of Iowa, and for which he serves as President of the Board of Directors.
JULIAN LEON (Title Design) A graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Julian has worked both as a freelancer and within the in-house and design agency contexts. He now works independently (as part of The Missive) to better focus on design, language, and communication; to reach different audiences self-initiated and commissioned work. www.themissive.info
TESSA HOPE SLOVIS (Social Media Manager) Tessa is a SAG-AFTRA Actor, Writer and Theatre Administrator. As an actor, she has appeared on “Law and Order: SVU,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Affair” and Off-Broadway at The Robert Moss Theatre/Playwrights Horizons as well as regionally. Her cabaret series Swipe Right/Swipe Left will headline at 54 Below on April 6th. Select marketing clients: Signature Theatre, Slightly Altered States, IRT Theater, The Flea, Organic Magnetics. Thanks to Ricochet and the entire #HAE team! www.TessaHopeSlovis.com
RICOCHET COLLECTIVE (Producer) Founded in January 2015, Ricochet Collective (Sherri Eden Barber, Artistic Director; Brandon Pape, Executive Director) is a collection of theater artists whose goal is to explore and expand the potential of live art by producing visceral, arresting experiences that fully immerse the audience in each storytelling event. Previous productions include Sam Byron’s Gordy Crashes, Jagged Little Pill: Live In Concert, and a run of Happily After Ever at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.
*Equity Approved Showcase. These actors are appearing courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association.