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ABOUT THE PLAY
Directed by award-winning French director, Frederique Michel, at the critically acclaimed City Garage Theatre in LA, this “funny yet brutal” play, loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is a conglomeration of images that rule over our modern, global, virtual sexuality.  A postmodern tale of love and sex in a fragmented world of questionable values is “both an homage to and critique of a landmark theatrical composition, 1979’s Hamletmachine by Heiner Müller.” – The Hollywood Reporter

An uncompromising vision. … fiercely confrontational new play.

Though Ophelia’s quest for self-determination teeters on the brink of inevitable annihilation, she “fails better” (in Samuel Beckett‘s sense).

With few traditional theatre points of reference to navigate by, her uncompromising journey is not for the intellectually incurious.

CAST

Saffron Mazzia

An actress, known for The Golden Age (2017), The Wanger Files – Dr. Willy Hooks Up (2014) and Passions (1999).

Kat Johnston

An actress and writer, known for Everybody Hates Hipsters (2016), The Purgation (2015) and Walking Through the Angels (2014).

Joss Glennie-Smith

An actor and producer, known for Criminal Minds (2005), TURN: Washington’s Spies (2014) and Double Bind (2015).

Megan Kim

She appeared in Everybody Hates Hipsters (2016), Emergency LA (2016), and A Brief History of Women (2009).

R.J. Jones

Appeared in Paul in Six Degrees of Separation at Raven Theatre, Frozen Assets at Shattered Globe, and Romeo and Juliet at Beverly Art Center. Film credits include Flat Iron Blues and Loving Right.

Cynthia Mance

Acclaim includes L.A. Weekly Awards nomination for Best Female Comedy Performance.  She is a longtime member of “L.A.’s Best Theatre Company,” City Garage.

Joss Glennie-Smith

An actor and producer, known for Criminal Minds (2005), TURN: Washington’s Spies (2014) and Double Bind (2015).

Kat Johnston

An actress and writer, known for Everybody Hates Hipsters (2016), The Purgation (2015) and Walking Through the Angels (2014).

R.J. Jones

Appeared in Paul in Six Degrees of Separation at Raven Theatre, Frozen Assets at Shattered Globe, and Romeo and Juliet at Beverly Art Center. Film credits include Flat Iron Blues and Loving Right.

Saffron Mazzia

An actress, known for The Golden Age (2017), The Wanger Files – Dr. Willy Hooks Up (2014) and Passions (1999).

Megan Kim

She appeared in Everybody Hates Hipsters (2016), Emergency LA (2016), and A Brief History of Women (2009).

Cynthia Mance

Acclaim includes L.A. Weekly Awards nomination for Best Female Comedy Performance.  She is a longtime member of “L.A.’s Best Theatre Company,” City Garage.

Difficult comedy of ideas and ideologies honestly stimulates with its perceptiveness.

Romanska consciously concocts both an homage to and critique of a landmark theatrical composition, 1979’s Hamletmachine by Heiner Müller. Romanska dramatizes the wisdom that confrontation comprises only the first essential steps. This funny yet brutal play needs the inventive mise-en-scene to support its fecundity of ideas amidst the tumult of its conflicting impulses. And don’t be afraid: It is OK, even purgative, to laugh.

Romanska owes more to the tradition of astringently feminist, linguistically challenging playwriting which includes Sarah Kane and Elfriede Jelinek than she owes to Muller. A worthy heir to this legacy, Romanska carves out a space of critical resistance in Opheliamachine, a space where the ugliest and the most beautiful of our desires can exist, as they do in life, side by side, where the death-dealing and life-giving vie for dominance.

TEAM

Magda Romanska
Writer
Frédérique Michel
Director
Charles Duncombe
Designer

Magda Romanska is an award-winning writer, dramaturg and theatre and performance theorist. She has taught at Harvard University, Yale School of Drama, Cornell University, and Emerson College. She has worked on over 30 theatre and opera productions, and served as the resident dramaturg for the Boston Lyric Opera. She is currently developing her own multimedia opera, The Life and Times of Stephen Hawking, with acclaimed composer Molly Joyce. Currently, Magda Romanska is an Associate Professor of Theatre Studies and Dramaturgy at Emerson College in Boston, a playwriting fellow at Lark Theatre in NYC and a Research Associate at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University.  She graduated with honors from Stanford University and earned her Ph.D. from Cornell University’s Department of Theatre.

Frédérique Michel was born in Paris and studied theatre at the Conservatoire. She received a Dramalogue Award for her direction of Dissident. Her 1998 production of George Sand: An Erotic Odyssey in Seven Tableaux was nominated for four L.A. Weekly Theater Awards, including Best Director. She was nominated again for Best Director for MedeaText: Los Angeles/Despoiled Shore (2000). In 2005 she won the LA Weekly Award for Best Direction (one-act) for La Leçon. Her production of The Battle: ABC was nominated for Best Direction and received the 2006 LA Weekly Award for Best Ensemble. She once again won Best Direction (one-act) for Quartet at the 2008 LA Weekly Theater Awards and was also nominated for her direction of The Bald Soprano.  At the 2009 LA Weekly Theater Awards, she received (along with Charles Duncombe) the “Queen of the Angels Award” for “decades of directing and producing scintillating, politically charged theater that challenges audiences to reconsider their assumptions about the nature of politics and the nature of theater itself.” In 2011, City Garage received the Los Angeles Drama Critic’s Circle Award for Sustained Excellence in Theater. In 2012 she worked with Neal LaBute on a new, west coast version of Filthy Talk for Troubled Times.

Charles Duncombe is a writer, director, and designer. He began his partnership with Frédérique Michel in 1985, and he has designed all of her work since then. He has won two Dramalogue awards for production design, and in 1999 won the L.A. Weekly Theater Award for Best Lighting Design. He has been nominated three times for Best Production Design by the L.A. Weekly, and won the awards in 2006 for the entire Three By Mee season of Agamemnon, The Bacchae, and Iphigenia. He has been nominated four times by the L.A. Weekly for Best Adaptation for his works MedeaText: Los Angeles/Despoiled ShoreFrederick of Prussia/George W’s Dream of SleepThe Mission (Accomplished), and The Trojan Women: LA/Darfur Dreamscape. His play Patriot Act: A Reality Show won the Fratti/Newman Award for Political Playwriting in 2005. With Michel, he has also won the 2010 L.A. Weekly Award for Best Translation for Beaumarchais’s The Marriage of Figaro, along with the 2009 L.A. Weekly “Queen of the Angels” Award, and the 2011 Los Angeles Drama Critic’s Circle Margaret Hartford Award for Sustained Excellence for the work of City Garage.

A vigorous deconstruction of the feminine psyche, image and gender roles.

Romanska’s script—heavy laden with dense imagery and symbolism—explores love, sex, violence, politics, class sensibilities, feminist aesthetics, the vacuities of mass culture and the timeless mystery of death. This is theatre that’s not easily accessible and is devilishly bleak at times, but it’s not without shards of humor, and is relentlessly provocative and challenging.

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The play itself, written by Magda Romanska, is a series of scenes that explore the themes of femininity, power, sex, rage, love, and madness through a faceted portrayal of Ophelia. Our title character is split in three: we have Ophelia the Brain—typing away at a vintage typewriter complete with bell; Ophelia the terrorist clad in black fatigues with a .45 tucked into her bare midriff; and finally Ophelia the Mad confined to a wedding dress and, at times, a wheelchair. If you’re willing to tackle a play as much as experience it—you won’t be disappointed you spent 60 minutes in their world. 

REVIEWS

“The play itself, written by Magda Romanska, is a series of scenes that explore the themes of femininity, power, sex, rage, love, and madness through a faceted portrayal of Ophelia. Our title character is split in three: we have Ophelia the Brain—typing away at a vintage typewriter complete with bell; Ophelia the terrorist clad in black fatigues with a .45 tucked into her bare midriff; and finally, Ophelia the Mad confined to a wedding dress and, at times, a wheelchair. … If you’re looking for a play or a company that ties everything into neat little knots—this probably isn’t for you. If you’re willing to tackle a play as much as experience it—you won’t be disappointed you spent 60 minutes in their world.”

KCRW/NPR

“If the modern take on Hamlet is that his consciousness inhibits his ability to act, then the ironies of Opheliamachine posit that radical analysis can be the enemy of effective political action, or put another way, that gender awareness is no refuge from the truism that each of us must reckon ourselves as our own most implacable adversary. […] If the world might be viewed more rewardingly without the arbitrary distinctions between the sexes, those prejudices must be confronted if any substantive change is to be accomplished in the world as it is. Romanska dramatizes the wisdom that confrontation comprises only the first essential steps. … This funny yet brutal play needs the inventive mise-en-scene to support its fecundity of ideas amidst the tumult of its conflicting impulses. And don’t be afraid: It is OK, even purgative, to laugh.”

The Hollywood Reporter

“An uncompromising vision. … fiercely confrontational new play. … In her own fashionably postmodern fashion, the title character in the visually stylish Opheliamachine at Santa Monica’s City Garage is a tragic figure, though she bears only slight textual ties to Shakespeare’s original archetype. […] stream-of-consciousness monologues as densely associative and enigmatic as Müller’s. …. Though Ophelia’s quest for self-determination teeters on the brink of inevitable annihilation, she “fails better” (in Samuel Beckett‘s sense). With few traditional theatre points of reference to navigate by, her uncompromising journey is not for the intellectually incurious.”

The Los Angeles Times

“A vigorous deconstruction of the feminine psyche, image and gender roles, Romanska’s script—heavy laden with dense imagery and symbolism—explores love, sex, violence, politics, class sensibilities, feminist aesthetics, the vacuities of mass culture and the timeless mystery of death. This is theatre that’s not easily accessible and is devilishly bleak at times, but it’s not without shards of humor, and is relentlessly provocative and challenging.”

LA Weekly

“Stunning piece of performance art. … Frederique’s vision and creativity along with the brilliant writing of Magda Romanska take us on a visionary exploration of love, politics and confused emotions. …. Both Ophelia and Hamlet are separated by Ocean, unable to connect with their physical emotions. Frederique uses TV screens with constant news footage to convey the message of the world in gloom while the large over screen shows us beauty, sex and the complexity of the world we live in. Hamlet (Joss Glennie-Smith) is glued to the TV using that acts as his medium for understanding the world around him. … The metaphors are nonstop, making this an intense and complex work of art. … What I can say is please don’t miss this. Whether you fully comprehend it or just enjoy, is a fabulous treat for your psyche.

The Los Angeles Post

“In the case of City Garage, once again this outstanding local company engages in thought provocation. … The City Garage takes Ophelia out of her poor, put-upon, mad girl role and places her in the context of a media-saturated, social-network-driven 21st-century world, in which she faces down the forces that shape her image as a woman. … In Polish playwright Magda Romanska’s Opheliamachine, we find multiple characters and voices representing Ophelia as she confronts a world of contradictory images for women, while considering her choices about a brooding Hamlet who ‘wants to understand the world but all he can do is stare at it.'”

Santa Monica Daily

“Difficult comedy of ideas and ideologies honestly stimulates with its perceptiveness . … In this world premiere play at City Garage in Santa Monica, Magda Romanska consciously concocts both an homage to and critique of a landmark theatrical composition, 1979’s Hamletmachine by Heiner Müller, the successor to Brecht as both director of the Berliner Ensemble and groundbreaking German experimental playwright. … Since City Garage has been conscientious over its two decades in presenting Müller’s work locally, it’s appropriate that it should mount Romanska’s fiercely meditative mirror, which quotes excerpts from Hamletmachine at the beginning and the end in both deference and defiance.”

The Hollywood Reporter

“Romanska gives us an unsettling and internally conflicted picture of global gender relations. … She owes more to the tradition of astringently feminist, linguistically challenging playwriting which includes Sarah Kane and Elfriede Jelinek than she owes to Muller. A worthy heir to this legacy, Romanska carves out a space of critical resistance in Opheliamachine, a space where the ugliest and the most beautiful of our desires can exist, as they do in life, side by side, where the death-dealing and life-giving vie for dominance.”

The Cultural Weekly