« November - 2017 »

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Austrian Stage presents the US and English language premiere of In the Dead Mountains, a staged reading of the absurd drama by Austrian playwright Thomas Arzt. The performance will be followed by a talk with the playwright, translator Neil Blackadder, author and psychiatrist Jacob Appel, as well as director Guy Ben-Aharon.


Playwright | Thomas Arzt
Translation | Neil Blackadder
Director | Guy Ben-Aharon
Featuring | Xanthe Elbrick*, Robert Eli*, Donnetta Grays*, Eric T. Miller*, McKinley Belcher III*

In the Dead Mountains takes place in a psychiatric facility. In contrast to other plays dealing with the subject, in Arzt’s play the patients do not embody some kind of anarchic alternative to mainstream society, but rather are just as “sick” as the world from which they have fled into this closed environment. The melancholy head doctor has long since recognized that the therapy she can offer individuals is not more than patchwork in the face of the deficiencies of society. The new arrival Raimund appears to have turned to stone, Nepomuk is suffering from brain damage following drug abuse, and Emanuel, who has been unemployed for years, gave up on himself a long time ago. Only the nurse Anton remains optimistic and is preparing a puppet show for New Year’s, while Nepomuk remains convinced about the world’s imminent apocalyptic ending.


Guy Ben-Aharon is dedicated to sharing diverse, international voices with American audiences. Since 2010, Guy has directed and produced over 40 plays in translations from the Hebrew (through Israeli Stage), German (ACFNY, Goethe Institut, swissnex), French (French Cultural Center, swissnex) and Swedish (Scandinavian Cultural Center). A proud Emerson alum, his dedication to international theatre has resulted in tours throughout the East Coast from Toronto to Atlanta at over 30 academic institutions. Since its debut in 2014 with Thomas Bernhard’s World Fixer, Ewald Palmetshofer’s the unmarried woman (2015), and last year’s Jägerstätter by Felix Mitterer, In The Dead Mountains is the fourth annual cooperation and Austrian Stage production.


Thomas Arzt (b. 1983) is an Austrian playwright. His early writings are influenced by the old Austrian folk-comedies of Raimund and Nestroy, but also by political plays of Brecht, Horváth and Soyfer. After completing high-school he first worked in a home for the elderly before a one year stint at the Munich Film Academy. Back in Vienna he began writing for theater. In 2008, he was awarded the Hans Gratzer Fellowship for his first play, Grillenparz (Chirping Hill), “a poetic social study of a whodunit. Hardly ever has such applied brutality ventured so compellingly on a stage.” (Nachtkritik). Grillenparz was subsequently premiered at Vienna’s Schauspielhaus, where Arzt was a writer in residence from 2010 to 2011. Alpenvorland (Alpine Blues), his second play, won the Authors’ Award at the 2012 Heidelberg Play Market. It was staged in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland and also featured at the International Theatre Festival in Buenos Aires. His most recent play, Totes Gebirge (In the Dead Mountains), is the third play named after an Austrian region and so far the end of his “Trilogy of Homeland”. It is also the third translation work together with the translator Neil Blackadder.


Neil Blackadder translates drama and prose from German and French, specializing in contemporary theatre. He grew up in England and since 1994 has taught theatre, first at Duke University then at Knox College. His translation of Ewald Palmetshofer’s the unmarried woman was presented by Austrian Stage in 2015, and his translations of plays by Palmetshofer and by Lukas Bärfuss have been produced in London, New York, Chicago, and elsewhere. Neil developed In the Dead Mountains through a residency at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre; he has also held residencies at Art Omi, and received grants from the Howard Foundation and PEN. His translation of Thomas Arzt’s Alpenvorland was developed and presented at hotINK at the Lark in 2014.


Xanthe Elbrick* (Josefine) trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and The Actors Studio in New York City. She appeared in the Broadway-show Coram Boy (Theatre World Award, nomination for the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award) and in the Off Broadway productions Candida (nomination for the Drama Desk Award), Leaves of Glass, The Alice Complex, Age Of Iron, Sea Marks, Mrs. Warrens Profession, Venus Fly Trap, Anything Goes, Spring Awakening (Williamstown Theatre Festival) and ROW (The Public). Furthermore she had roles in the films Body Of Lies, Wall Street 2, Into The Woods, The God Phone and the TV-shows Fringe, All My Children and Doctors (BBC 'Act Up' Award). Xanthe is the voice of Sith Inquisitor for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Robert Eli* (Anton) is a proud graduate of The Juilliard School, Group 37. Most known for his recurring role as Principal Gilchrist on The Oa, he has appeared on Broadway and Off Broadway in Tartuffe, Saturn Returns, Perfect Arrangement and The Pretty Trap.  Regionally and international he has worked at Hartford Stage, The Alley, Westport, Williamstown, Long Wharf, Old Globe, Chautauqua and The English Theatre of Frankfurt.  His film and TV credits include House of Cards, Blue Bloods, Fringe, Chicago Med, Blindspot, Odd Mom Out, Elementary, Hostages, the pilot Civil and upcoming films A+ and Parked.

Donnetta Grays* (Theresia) is a Brooklyn based actor and playwright. Her acting credits include Broadway’s In the Nest Room or The Vibrator Play and Well. She also appeared in Twelfth Night, Earth, Men on Boats, Shipwrecked!, In the Footprint and Be the Death of Me with The Civilians as an associate artist. Regionally she is a 2-time Connecticut Critics Circle Award recipient and Helen Hayes Award nominee performing at American Conservatory Theater, Portland Stage Company, Westport Country Playhouse, Arena Stage, Hartford Theaterworks, Centerstage, The Huntington Theatre, Barrington Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company. Her Film and TV credits include Mating, Book of Henry, Wild Canaries, The English Teacher, The Wrestler, The Night of…, Blue Bloods, The Blacklist, Law & Order, Mercy, Rubicon, The Sopranos and A Gifted Manwww.donnettagrays.com

Eric T. Miller’s* (Emanuel) theatre credits include Mope, Couriers and Contrabands, Awake and Sing!, Ripcord, rogerandtom, Sweet Storm, Wink, Safe Home, and Betrayed. He also appeared in TV-shows and film as Blacklist, Limitless, I Love You but I Lied, Forever, Person of Interest, Elementary, The Unusuals, Kings, Law & Order, Shame, Ceresia, Reaching Home, Fly Away, The Waiting Room, Coffee, LVJ, Home:_, Tom’s Dilemma and in the web series AdFirm.  www.erictroymiller.com

McKinley Belcher III’s (Nepomuk) off-Broadway credits include The Royale (Lincoln Center-Drama Desk Award), Romeo & Juliet and Fidelis. He is best know as Agent Trevor Evans in Jason Bateman’s Netflix crime thriller Ozark and as Samuel Diggs in two seasons of Ridley Scott’s PBS civil war drama Mercy Street. Other film and tv credits include: Ed Zwick’s Trial by Fire, Show Me a Hero, Mapplethorpe, Go for Sisters, Power, Chicago PD, Madam Secretary, Elementary, Louie, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Rizzoli & Isles, Law & Order: LA. He recently starred in the world premiere of Ken Urban’s A Guide for the Homesick at Huntington Theatre Company. He’s also performed at Hartford Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, and many more. He graduated from USC’s School of Dramatic Arts with an MFA in Acting.


Jacob M. Appel is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and an attending physician at Mount Sinai Hospital, Beth Israel Hospital, and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.  He taught previously at Brown University, the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, Yeshiva College, Pace University, Hunter College, William Paterson University, Manhattan College, Columbia University and New York University. Jacob holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Brown, an M.S. in bioethics from Albany Medical College, an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Columbia, an M.D. from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, an M.F.A. from N.Y.U. and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He publishes in the field of bioethics and contributes regularly to such publications as the Journal of Clinical Ethics, the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, the Hastings Center Report and the Bulletin of the History of Medicine. His essays on the nexus of law and medicine have appeared in The New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, Orlando Sentinel, The Providence Journal and many regional newspapers. Jacob is also the author of the novels The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, which won the 2012 Dundee International Book Award and The Biology of Luck. His story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the Hudson Prize. Other collections include Einstein's Beach House, The Magic Laundry and Phoning Home: Essays. His prose has won the Boston Review Short Fiction Competition, the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for the Short Story, the North American Review’s Kurt Vonnegut Prize, the Missouri Review’s Editor’s Prize, the Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, the New Millennium Writings Fiction Award on four separate occasions, an Elizabeth George Fellowship and a Sherwood Anderson Foundation Writers Grant. His stories have been short-listed for the O. Henry Award, Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Pushcart Prize anthology. 


Thomas Arzt (c) Nina Grünberger