Out of concern for the health and safety of our community, we made the difficult decision to suspend our production of ACTUALLY, by Anna Ziegler, scheduled to run March 27–April 19, 2020.
Because this show should not be missed, we are thrilled to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stream a video of a fully-staged rehearsal performance, available on demand (cost $15) beginning April 3 through April 30, 2020. Access video here.
Mary MacDonald Kerr
Emily Fury Daly & Justin Jones
Approximate Run Time:
90 minutes with no intermission
About the Play
Tom and Amber are college freshmen at Princeton. They are overwhelmed, overstimulated, sleep-deprived, surrounded by strangers, full of tension, uncertainty, and alcohol. What could possibly go wrong?
ACTUALLY is a smart, profound exploration of the culture of sexual consent. A perfectly complex tale for our #MeToo Age.
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ACTUALLY effectively questions a lot of dangerous lessons that young adults absorb about body image, sex, drinking, consent and responsibility, even in the ranks of higher education.
- The Washington Post
About The Playwright
Anna Ziegler’s play PHOTOGRAPH 51, produced on the West End starring Nicole Kidman and directed by Michael Grandage, won London’s 2016 WhatsOnStage award for Best New Play. It was selected as a “Best of the Year” play by The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post (twice) and The Telegraph, and has been produced around the country and the world, most recently in Hamburg, Rome, and Stockholm. Her play THE LAST MATCH premiered at The Old Globe Theatre and was nominated for the 2016 San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Outstanding New Play award. BOY, which premiered off-Broadway in a Keen Company/Ensemble Studio Theatre co-production, was nominated for the 2016 Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award. A DELICATE SHIP was produced at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Playwrights Realm and was a New York Times and Time Out Critic’s Pick. Anna holds commissions from Second Stage Theatre, The Geffen Playhouse and Seattle Rep. Oberon Books has published a collection of her work entitled “Anna Ziegler: Plays One.” She holds a BA from Yale and an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Director- Mary MacDonald Kerr
Amber- Emily Daly
Tom - Justin Jones
Stage Manager- Bailey Wegner*
Technical Director- Anthony Lyons
Scenic Design- Jody Sekas
Lighting Design- Noele Stollmack**
Sound Design- Josh Schmidt**
Costume Design- Amy Horst
*Member of Actors' Equity Association
** Member of the United Scenic Artists of America
For the Shepherd Express by Harry Cherkinian
As [Production Manager] Wegner points out, “With bare bones technical elements, the story remains poignant and powerful.”
For Urban Milwaukee, by Jeff Jordan
"Renaissance Theaterworks ventured into the cyber theater by recording a rehearsal of Actually directed by Mary MacDonald Kerr. Again I was impressed with the work of two very young actors who muscled up and performed courageously with very challenging material. If you want to see veterans struggle, all you have to do is watch the late-night hosts trying to do their monologue without an audience. It’s a play that is going to make you angry and sad with a few laughs."
Due to the COVID19 crisis and the fact that ACTUALLY never became a final production, we didn't get reviews from the press; however, the streaming video of the fully staged rehearsal has received rave reviews. Here are just a few...
"I am still thinking about this play, which says a lot about how much it affected me. First, I am amazed at how much was accomplished within just a couple of weeks. Judging from the video, it looks as though the cast had been working on the timing and movements for a couple of months. This says a lot about the talent of the artists as well as the director.
Although the play moves back and forth through time and space, the viewer has no problem distinguishing where the characters are at any time. Again, it's incredible what they've achieved with limited rehearsal time. Not to mention that there are no visual clues with set pieces, lighting, etc. to give the viewer more information about what he/she is seeing.
As for the play itself, the playwright makes both characters very sympathetic. They are flawed individuals, to be sure, but they seem trapped in their circumstances rather than being the captains of their own ships. There is a lot of dialogue associated with fear, pain, confusion and self-loathing. The escape from these feelings - music for him, for example - isn't always readily available. But alcohol seems to be available everywhere.
In this time of self-isolation, it's interesting how the characters begin their interactions in group settings, whether in the classroom, ice cream parlor, bar, etc. It's almost as though they require these public settings as a way to steady themselves before moving toward more private settings, where anything is possible and they both become more vulnerable.
The playwright is skilled at offering facts without judgment, so that the viewer is required to insert his/her own belief systems into the play. Did a sexual assault occur? The answer to this question has as much to do with the observer as it does with the characters. The observer is forced to become an unseen member of the panel of school experts who eventually will make a ruling on this case. One's opinions are swayed by one's own belief systems, norms, morals and codes of conduct as much as by the facts of the case. The play ends by leaving these questions up to the viewer to decide.
Mary's direction keeps the action on point throughout.
Interestingly, the play doesn't go beyond the present to give observers a glimpse of what the outcome of the panel's decision will mean in the characters' lives. If one or both characters is forced to leave Princeton, for instance, what will that mean for their future? The outcome of this sexual assault case could be a turning point for each of them.
I really admired the abilities of these actors to make their characters come alive. I will keep an eye out for them in future productions, as both of them seem to have what's necessary to pursue a life in the theater, or on TV, or in films. They certainly kept my attention glued to the screen during this play.
Thank you for allowing me to watch your production of "Actually." Congratulations to the cast and director for doing an excellent job with the script, and to Suzan Fete for selecting this play for your audience."
~Anne Siegel, Theater Critic.
"Thanks, Renaissance Theaterworks, Emily Daly and Justin Jones, for this outstanding play and performance! My husband and I had been so disappointed when we couldn't attend "Actually" in person, but this production that we streamed was so terrific that we forgot we were watching it from home. The play itself is masterful and of-the-moment, raising so many important issues and dealing with them so thoughtfully, with both pathos and humor. And the acting by both Emily Daly and Justin Jones is so real and raw and moving; it is hard to believe this was a rehearsal! Please don't miss it. You will be supporting Renaissance, a Milwaukee theater gem, and you will be seeing a riveting play that you will not soon forget." ~Barbara P.
"Not a minute went by while watching "Actually" where I wasn't awestruck by an element of the show. The actors' vulnerable performances, the impeccable writing, or the highly nuanced perspective of an issue so many young people like me (I'm a Sophomore in college) face at one point or another. This production is a work of art that touched me deeply. Its portrayal of life as a college student, family burdens, mental health struggles, and all of the most profoundly challenging aspects of a young adult's life was candid yet profound. I'm so grateful to have gotten to watch this video; even without the experience of a live show, it was still deeply impactful." ~Gaby M.