Amaryllis Theatre Company produces award-winning, professional theatre that is fully inclusive and accessible. Founded in 1999 by Linda Merians, Mimi Kenney Smith and Stephen Smith, Amaryllis is one of only a handful of professional theatres in the country that regularly hires actors with disabilities. Over the last eleven years, Amaryllis has opened its productions to all, producing plays featuring actors with and without disabilities. Amaryllis provides universal accessibility for both the actors and the audience members. The company has produced plays in American Sign Language and provides programs in traditional print, large print and Braille and not only provides captioning and audio description but also shares this equipment and trains its colleagues statewide in accessibility. Amaryllis is the theatrical producing arm of VSA Pennsylvania, the state organization on Arts and Disability and, through VSA, of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Amaryllis Theatre Company presents Lydia, April 12 – 23, 2011 @ The Playground at the Adrienne
By Octavio Solis, Directed by Josette Todaro
PHILADELPHIA – Amaryllis Theatre Company will present the Philadelphia Premiere of the intense, lyrical, and magical new play Lydia by Octavio Solis. One of the most talked-about works of 2009, the controversial play transports audiences to a 1970s Texas border town and into the home of a struggling Mexican immigrant family. Directed by Amaryllis Managing Director Josette Todaro, Solis’ “fresh, penetrating, often blissful play” (New York Times) is an unflinching and deeply emotional portrait of a family caught in a web of dark secrets.
Lydia runs from April 12 – 23, 2011 (opening night is Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m.) at The Playground at the Adrienne, located at 2030 Sansom Street in Philadelphia. All tickets are $10 and are available by calling the Amaryllis box office at (267) 273-9823 or online at www.amaryllistheatre.org.
In the 1970s on the Texas border separating the United States and Mexico, the Flores family welcomes Lydia, an undocumented maid, into their El Paso home to care for their daughter Ceci, who was tragically disabled in a car accident on the eve of her quinceañera, her fifteenth birthday. Lydia’s immediate and seemingly miraculous bond with Ceci sets the entire family on a mysterious and shocking journey of discovery. Lydia is recommended for mature audiences only. This play contains nudity and extreme situations. It is not appropriate for children.
The cast of Lydia includes Caitlin Elizabeth Reilly as 17-year-old Ceci with Anjoli Santiago as Lydia; Mário Canavarro as Misha, Ceci’s 16-year-old younger brother; Joe Guzmán as Claudio, the father; Johanna Carden, as Rosa, the mother; Jonathan Rivera as Alvaro, a 22-year-old cousin of the Flores family; and Robert DaPonte, as Rene, Ceci’s 19-year-old brother.
Lydia is a play of uncommon emotional and physical intensity, one that immediately engrossed Director Josette Todaro. “When I first read Lydia, its visceral passion and poetic beauty almost frightened me, but I could not turn away from the story,” says Todaro. “The elements which make Lydia such a beautiful play are also that which make it so incredibly challenging – that deep chasm between reality and magic, American and Mexican, legal and illegal, physicality and sexuality, gay and straight, life and death. The divide (or border) between two worlds is often fraught with secrets, ignorance and fear, and so it is here with Lydia, making the cross risky but well worth the journey for audiences.”
Octavio Solis is a playwright and director living in San Francisco. His widely-produced works include Man of Flesh, Prospect, El Paso Blue, The Seven Visions of Encarnacion, andBethlehem, among others. Lydia was first produced by the Denver Center Theater Company at the Space Theatre in 2008.
Solis’ work often examines the unique Mexican-American experience and projects its point of view onto the stage. The Latino playwright grew up in a family not unlike the one depicted in Lydia. His parents first came to the U.S. in the late 1950s without documentation, later earning citizenship in the 1980s. The idea of borders – the literal border between El Paso and Juarez and the metaphysical – is omnipresent in Lydia. Solis says the border is also a metaphor he explores in many of his plays.
In an interview broadcast in April 2009 on NPR’s All Things Considered, Solis remarked, “The border is right there. The border is a presence… That’s so much a part of my fabric now of the way I see things. There’s always a threshold one crosses, between light and dark, death and life, between one country and another, between one consciousness and another.” [Access the interview online here.]
In addition to imaginative story, Lydia presents Amaryllis Theatre Company with the opportunity to explore several key objectives represented in the company’s mission.
Amaryllis has been searching for a play that would appeal to a bi-lingual audience and provide artists of Latino heritage a unique acting opportunity.
Barrymore Award-winner Joe Guzmán, who plays Ceci’s father in the play, was personally inspired by the story of the Flores family and their journey from Mexico to the United States. Guzmán is of Mexican descent and grew up in Arizona and California before settling in Philadelphia. “I do not know whether my grandparents came to the U.S. legally or illegally to have their son, my father,” says Guzmán, “But I am proud to live in a country whose laws include the 14th Amendment.”
“Immigration issues are just one aspect of Lydia,” continues Guzmán. “One thing I love about this play is that it examines issues in the most basic human terms. It is not a political tract, but a family story. Relations between cultures and nations come down to how we are with each other as people, as human beings to other human beings, as families.”
To continue the discussion off-stage about themes represented in the play, Amaryllis will host two post-performance discussions during the run: Life on the Edge: Mexican American Culture (following the Friday, April 15 7 p.m. show) and Life and Death and Disability (following the Sunday, April 17 2 p.m. show). Panelists include Jose-Francisco Moreno and Mimi Kenney Smith, among others.
Lydia is written in English and features some characters who also speak Spanish within the play. For Spanish-speaking audiences, Amaryllis has translated the entire play into Spanish. During the Friday, April 15 show at 7 p.m., the Spanish translation will be delivered live through personal audio receivers to audience members by request.
In addition, Audio Description will be provided for audience members who are blind or who have low vision on Sunday, April 17 at 2 p.m. Open Captioning will be provided for audience members who are deaf or hard-of-hearing on Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m. Braille and large print programs as well as wheelchair seating and accessible rest rooms are available at every performance.
Anjoli Santiago, in the tile role of Lydia, is a Philadelphia-based actress and playwright. She is a graduate of Temple University and currently teaches playwriting, poetry and theater throughout the Philadelphia region. As a theater educator, Santiago has worked on projects with InterAct Theatre Company, Theatre Exile, The Wilma Theater, and the Norris Square Neighborhood Project, among others. She is the Director of Education for Nova D Productions and is currently a Teaching Artist with Philadelphia Young Playwrights.
Caitlin Elizabeth Reilly, in the role of Ceci, has worked as an actress in Philadelphia, Boston and Pittsburgh, where she frequently worked with the Pittsburgh CLO. Recent projects include Montgomery Theater’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Olive) and Picnic (Millie). Reilly is a University of the Arts alum, where she received her B.F.A. in Musical Theatre.
Barrymore Award-winner Joe Guzmán, who plays Claudio, appeared earlier this season at the People’s Light & Theatre Company as Martini in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and as Injun Joe/Schoolmaster/Minister in Tom Sawyer. Other recent credits include Philadelphia Theatre Company’s The Light in the Piazza as Roy (Barrymore Award-nominee for Best Ensemble), Hedgerow Theatre’s The Don (Marco), and Lantern Theatre’s Hamlet (Claudius). He has also worked regionally with the Arden Theatre Co., InterAct Theatre Company, Montgomery Theatre, Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, and Theatre Exile, among others.
Johanna Carden (Rosa) has worked regionally with the Walnut Street Theatre, Abingdon Theatre, Philadelphia Young Playwrights and Teatro Legasi. Recent credits include Walnut Street Theatre’s Philadelphia premiere of Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue (Ginny).
Robert DaPonte (Rene)has performed on stages throughout the region, appearing in productions with Theatre Exile, InterAct Theatre Company, Flashpoint Theatre Company, and Shakespeare in Clark Park, in addition to working with many other area theater companies. Recent credits include The Lieutenant of Inishmore with Theatre Exile (Davey), the Wilma Theater’s Macbeth (Donalbain/Messenger), Waiting for Godot with EgoPo (Estragon) and Prof. Broom in the 2008 Philly Fringe Festival hit The Giant Squid.
Mário Canavarro (Misha) will make his professional debut in Lydia. He is currently a student at Delaware County Community College where he is active in the theatre department. A recent graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, Jonathan Rivera(Alvaro) has acted regionally in productions by the Walnut Street Theatre (Curtains), Plays & Players (Carousel), and the Theatre Arts Program at Penn (Urinetown, Spring Awakening, Angels in America).
THE PRODUCTION TEAM
The Lydia production team includes Director Josette Todaro, Managing Director of Amaryllis Theatre Company, and Jose-Francisco Moreno, Assistant Director, Dramaturg and Translator. Lydia features costume design by Maggie Baker, sound design by Parris Bradley, fight choreography by J. Alex Codaro, lighting design by Jerold R. Forsyth, and set design by Production Manager Lance Kniskern. The production Stage Manager is Jessica Simkins.
Following Lydia, Amaryllis Theatre Company’s 2010-11 Season will continue with Song of Extinction by EM Lewis (June 7-19, 2011).
Tuesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. Preview
Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. Opening Night
Thursday, April 14 at 7 p.m.
Friday, April 15 at 7 p.m. *Talkback
Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m.
Sunday, April 17 at 2 p.m. **Talkback; Accessibility
Sunday April 17 7p.m. ***Accessibility
Tuesday, April 19 at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 21 at 7 p.m.
Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m. ****Accessibility
Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m.
Friday, April 15 at 7 p.m.
Talkback: “Life on the Edge: Mexican American Culture” (after show)
Sunday, April 17 at 2 p.m.
Talkback: “Life and Death and Disability” (after show)
Accessibility: Audio Description for audience members who are blind or have low vision
Sunday April 17 at 7 p.m.
Accessibility: Spanish Translation available for Spanish-speaking audiences
Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m.
Accessibility: Open Captioning for audience members who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
Cast (in alphabetical order)
Mário Canavarro Misha – the younger brother, 16
Johanna Carden Rosa – the mother
Robert DaPonte Rene – the older brother, 19
Joe Guzman Claudio – the father
Caitlin Elizabeth Reilly Ceci – the sister, 17
Jonathan Rivera Alvaro – the cousin, 22
Anjoli Santiago Lydia – the maid
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|Download a PDF of the LYDIA press release||144.68 KB|
|Download a SPANISH TRANSLATION of the LYDIA press release||141.34 KB|
To request photos and more information, please contact: Canary Promotion, (215) 690-4065
Emaleigh Doley, emaleigh [at] canarypromo [dot] com