On March 13th, Aurora Nova - an international theatre booking agency based in Berlin, makes available a remarkable play by Iranian playwright, Nassim Soleimanpour, called White Rabbit Red Rabbit. They offer, only on that day, a free license for theatres to produce the show. This is to mark the time of the pandemic when theatres closed their doors and to celebrate the return of theatre after and beyond. It's called, "Let There Be Theatre!" Aurora Nova licenses the play for free on March 13th, all around the world.
There are a total of 66 producers taking part, some of them producing the play in multiple cities and some presenters will do multiple performances. There will be around 75 performances on Monday, March 13th showing in 32 countries:
Australia, Aruba, Bermuda, Brasil, Canada, Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Romania, Saudi-Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, Ukraine, USA, Zimbabwe. Wow!
In 2019, I had my first experience with White Rabbit Red Rabbit as an actor. I was invited to encounter the play at Ani Collier's Black C Gallery. They had paid for and secured the rights to produce the play for three performances. Here's what I can tell you about the play: The actor gets some instructions about 48 hours before performing it. Then, the actor is presented the script at showtime. The actor is not to learn anything about the play nor read the script ahead of time. In a way, it's a staged reading, but with no rehearsals and some surprisingly random audience participation. That's really all I can say about the play except to add it involves the power of free speech, and is not--repeat, is not--to be intended as a governmental critique nor as a political piece. Though some may interpret it that way.
I was performing the play as one of three actors - the Black C Art (Produced by Ani Collier & Lauren Warhol Caldwell) presented the play three times, each time with a different actor. Come to think of it, if you have acted in the play, you are expected to never do it again. You honor the rules of the playwright because ... this is the show. The other actors at the Black C Production were the great Sara Morsey, and Ani Collier herself. The Black C was honored to be the first venue to premiere the show in Gainesville, Florida, in 2019.
Now, in 2023, the Hippodrome Theatre is staging the play with its actor and star, Stephanie Lynge. Stephanie's an extraordinary actor, director, producer, teacher, coach and colleague. When I was in my final year at U.F. there was a play called Miss Whitherspoon. There are other actors in that show, but most of the play resides with the central character. It was Stephanie's thesis role, and to put it mildly, she absolutely KILLED. One of the most memorable performances I ever saw at U.F. Flash forward: She is the current artistic director of the Hippodrome Theatre. Only extraordinary people can handle such a role, with Lauren Warhol Caldwell setting an impossibly high bar in her remarkable tenure there.
On March 13th at 7 P.M., Stephanie Lynge will encounter White Rabbit Red Rabbit as the actor, and more information about the Hippodrome's production is here:
As a fellow Creative for Black C Art, we had a discussion to take advantage of the free production rights offered by Aurora. Although the Hippodrome was first in line to obtain the contract this particular 2023, they graciously extended a courtesy such that we could also license the production to be performed on the same day, even as we are physical neighbors.
Our audiences have some crossover but as a boutique part-time intimate black box theatre, our experience is in no way competitive; rather it's entirely different and complementary. We've scheduled our performances with respect to the Hippodrome's production. Theatres in my estimation pretty much have an obligation to perform this play, especially in light of numerous threats to freedom of speech sweeping Europe and the United States.
At Black C Art, we will be conducting three performances to small gatherings of 25-30 people throughout the day and evening. At 3 p.m., Mayor Harvey Ward will take on the challenge. At 5 p.m., fabulous artist and musician Gosia will appear. Our evening show at 9 p.m. features mercurial actor Shamrock McShane. If you really wanted, you could see them ALL and it would be like spending the day at a fringe festival. One could enjoy the comparisons between all the actors who will be encountering this play for the first time. All the performances are free of charge, although donations are welcome and encouraged.
More about the shows at the Black C Art can be found HERE!
The Black C Gallery is located at 111 S.E. 2nd Place between the tattoo parlor and the Cat Cafe. (How I love saying that.) If you are interested in seeing the show at Black C Art, please drop us an email: blackcproductions.gmail.com and let us know which time or times you'd like to visit and how many in your party. We will hold seats for you.
As for the play itself, (don't read this if you plan to be an actor and ever perform this piece) this link will give you some idea of what you're in for. May all the actors break their legs accordingly, and may these productions honor the author's vision and the artistic ambition of Aurora Nova. May theater be as alive as ever, and "... butts in seats."
I'll leave you with this thought. I always say, "Storytelling is the root of all culture. Without storytelling, there is no culture. And without culture, human beings cannot exist on the face of the Earth." If that isn't reason enough to see these productions, I don't know what is. We'll do our part. Do yours. It'll be engaging, important, and FUN, you silly rabbit.
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