On Monday, November 3rd, 2008 Epic Theater Ensemble, in partnership with John Jay College of Criminal Justice, hosted a one-night only special event to benefit Epic's innovative, civic-minded in-school and after-school education programs. Some of today's top writers and performers honored a large group of First Time Voters with an evening of satirical, scandalous, and inspiring short plays, songs, sketches, and toasts. The performance took place The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (899 Tenth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets).
The writers and performers appearing included, Tanya Barfield, Mia Barron, Stephen Belber, Leila Buck, Julia Cho, Kathleen Chalfant, Colman Domingo, Melissa Friedman, Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, Rachael Holmes, Teri Lamm, Craig Lucas, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., Nilaja Sun, David Strathairn, James Wallert, Sarah Winkler, David Zellnik, with GorDon Elliott (TV's Food Network celebrity host/producer) as the non-citizen, non-partisan Master of Ceremonies!
Every year Epic Theatre Ensemble stages an election eve event honoring student alumnae from Epic's innovative, civic-minded education programs who will be voting for the first time the next day. This one-hour benefit weaves together a collection of short plays, spoken op-eds, music, comedy sketches, and toasts that take a satiric, passionate, and most often personal perspective on citizenship, democracy, and the experience of voting.
Epic Theater Ensemble is a company of Citizen-Artists using theatre to inspire dialogue about vital social, ethical, and political issues. Epic's mission is to build citizenship in communities throughout the city by producing socially-minded plays Off-Broadway, and connecting these plays to the NYC Public Schools via ground-breaking, fully-integrated artist residencies. Using theatrical participation to foster dialogue on the complex relationships between individuals and their civic context, Epic's artists champion the belief that a theatre which addresses social issues is critical to the health of our democracy.
Winner of OBIE, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics, American Theatre Wing, and OTTO Awards, Epic Theatre Ensemble was founded in 2001 by Zak Berkman, Melissa Friedman, Teri Lamm, Ron Russell and James Wallert. Additional Producing Artists are Will Pomerantz, Godfrey L. Simmons Jr. and Sarah Winkler. Epic's past productions include Nilaja Sun's No Child..., which Epic commissioned, developed and premiered before its commercial transfer and national tour, as well as premieres of Palace of the End by Judith Thompson (Epic Commission, 2008 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Winner), A Hard Heart by Howard Barker (featuring Kathleen Chalfant), Beauty on the Vine by Zak Berkman (featuring Epic Associates David Strathairn and Olivia Wilde), Hannah and Martin by Kate Fodor (featuring David Strathairn), Einstein's Gift by Vern Thiessen (featuring Aasif Mandvi and Shawn Elliott), Habitat by Judith Thompson and revivals of GB Shaw's Widowers' Houses (with Peter Jay Fernandez), Little Eyolf by Henrik Ibsen and Time and the Conways by J.B. Priestley.
Photos by Peter James Zielinski
Judith Light, Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody
Mia Barron, Bill Irwin, and Zak Berkman
Kathryn Grody and Lynn Cohen
GorDon Elliott and Judith Light
GorDon Elliott and Zak Berkman
Cast of the Off-Broadway play, The Castle. (Angel Ramos, Rory Anderson, Velma Ortiz, and Casimero Torres)