Inis Nua Theatre Company turns a new page at The Drake with the American premiere of Spine, by English playwright Clara Brennan. Spine is a heart-warming, funny and defiant love-song to libraries, an increasingly endangered species under Britain's austerity government. A fiery and wise-cracking teenager forges an unlikely friendship with an elderly widow living in a house of stolen books. Together, the two discover they may be each other’s last resort in life. Spine opens on Friday, February 19 at 8:00pm, with previews on Wednesday, February 17 and Thursday, February 18 at 7:00pm. Spine runs for a total of 16 performances, through March 6, 2016, at the Louis Bluver Theatre at The Drake (1512 Spruce Street). Tickets are on sale for $25-$30 by calling (215) 454-9776 or visiting inisnuatheatre.org. Patrons will have their choice of $5.00 off tickets at the door for Spine (or off upcoming The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning) by donating a new children’s book to the Free Library of Philadelphia. Collection bins will be available at all performances.
Reading becomes an act of class warfare as Spine tackles the reality of Britain’s austerity cuts head-on. Amy, an average teenager from West London with poor grades and even poorer prospects, strikes up a friendship with a strong-willed old woman (Glenda) looking to leave her own fierce political legacy. Is there anything more terrifying than a teenager with something to say? In an era of budget cuts and disillusionment, has politics forgotten the people? Decide for yourself on this young woman’s journey to find her own voice. Glenda feeds Amy books and ideas in this modern day ‘call to arms’ that is perfect for booklovers and anarchists alike...as well as anyone who loves to root for the underdog.
Spine is a fan favorite from last year’s Inis Nua reading series. Artistic Director Tom Reing knew he wanted to mount a full production of this spunky tale about a girl, an old lady, and books, books, books.
“The austerity budgets of the last five years have forced very hard choices in the UK and are straining the social fabric,” said Artistic Director Tom Reing. “I look for new plays that blend the storytelling traditions of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales with the events and cultural changes happening there today. Spine is a perfect fit for Inis Nua’s mission.”
The American premiere of Spine is directed by Inis Nua’s Literary Manager Claire Moyer and stars newcomer Emily Johnson. Moyer is a Philadelphia-based director, dramaturg and teaching artist. For Inis Nua, she was the dramaturg on Long Live the Little Knife and has directed The Letter of Last Resort. In Philadelphia, Moyer has directed for the PYP New Voices Festival, Drexel Players, Fringe in the Market, and Assistant Directed for The Wilma, InterAct and Revolution Shakespeare. Johnson is a theater, film, and visual artist. She is a member of Found Theater Company where she has worked as a performer (This is the Twilight Kingdom, Deep Blue Sleep), and assistant director and production designer (City of Woes). She has also performed with Mauckingbird Theatre Company, PlayPenn and Philadelphia Young Playwrights. The show’s honorary producer is Louis Bluver.
Meghan Jones (set), Rebecca Kanach (costumes), Amanda Jensen (lights), Jen Burkhart (props) and Ashley Turner (sound) will recreate Glenda’s house that resembles "an Amazon f---ing warehouse.” Lauren Tracy serves as Production Manager, Alyssa Cole as Stage Manager, and Georgia Schleissman as the Technical Director.
New British playwright Clara Brennan debuted Spine at the Edinburgh Festival in 2014. Spine went on to win a Fringe First and Herald Angel, and a Stage Award for Acting Excellence. “This is a play … which isn't afraid to wear either its heart or its politics on its sleeve.” - Lyn Gardner, Guardian. “If the script has a certain fairytale wish-fulfillment about it as Amy finds a better life for herself, it is based on such a vibrant celebration of language and female strength that you hardly notice.” - The Stage.
Inis Nua will use Spine to start a new chapter as the company moves into their new home at The Drake, 1512 Spruce Street. Inis Nua joins lead tenant InterAct Theatre Company, along with Azuka Theatre, Simpatico Theatre Company and PlayPenn at what will become an epicenter of new theater works in Philadelphia.
Spine opens on Friday, February 19 at 8:00pm, with previews on Wednesday, February 17 and Thursday, February 18 at 7:00pm. Pre-show “setting the scene” talks will precede performances on February 24, 2016 with Siobhan Reardon (President of the Free Library of Philadelphia) and on March 2, 2016 with Derick Dreher (John C. Haas Director of Rosenbach Museum & Library. Tickets are on sale for shows at $25 and $30 by calling (215) 454-9776 or visiting inisnuatheatre.org.
As a special benefit for the Free Library of Philadelphia, all patrons who donate at least one new children’s book at any performance receive $5.00 off for their ticket to that night’s show. For patrons purchasing tickets ahead, they will receive a $5.00 off coupon for a ticket to Inis Nua’s next production, The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning.
The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, by Tim Price, runs from April 27-May 15, 2016 at The Drake. “Do you have an attitude problem?” “Do you have a problem following orders?” In this wholly imagined version of the mind and life of Chelsea Manning, these are only some of the questions to be answered. Known to the world as Pfc. Bradley Manning in 2010, her leaks of classified information to Wikileaks ignited a firestorm of much more crucial and challenging questions. Bradley Manning is directed by Tom Reing.
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ABOUT INIS NUA THEATRE COMPANY
Inis Nua’s mission is to produce contemporary, provocative plays from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales which reflect those cultures’ new identities in today’s world. Inis Nua also seeks to cultivate and produce contemporary, provocative work from American playwrights who deal with the Irish-American, Welsh-American, Scottish-American and Anglo-American experiences.
To date, Inis Nua has produced one world premiere, ten American premieres and thirteen Philadelphia premieres. Our 2015-2016 season boasts three American premieres. Inis Nua Theatre Company has been the recipient of grants from the Wyncote Foundation, the Independence Foundation, the Fels Fund, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Charlotte Cushman Foundation. Inis Nua Theatre has also had seven playwrights visit during production of their shows.