Jakie Cabe and Mark Shum
photo by Evan Michael Woods
Performance: October 14 through November 12, 2017
By: Aaron Posner
Life is, like, really hard sometimes. It's hard to be the hot chick everyone
wants, but no one understands. Or the not-so-hot chick with the heart of gold.
Or the middle-aged guy insightful enough to see the cavernous depth of his own
failings. Stage West presents Life Sucks., a quirky, charming, and deeply
human comedy which is the next installment in Aaron Posner's Chekhov cycle,
beginning a 5-week regional premiere run on Thursday, October 12.
A weekend at a country house with extended family-what could go wrong? As
Sonia puts it, "Family, right? It's like everyone is hard-wired to totally
upset everyone else." Living in the house are Sonia (who inherited it from
her late mother), Sonia's uncle Vanya, his semi-cousin Pickles, and Sonia's
mother's best friend Babs. Along for the weekend are Vanya's best friend Dr.
Aster, plus Sonia's pretentious father, the Professor, and his gorgeous third
wife, Ella. It's an uneasy mix of people, as both Vanya and Dr. Aster have
been in love with Ella for years, and Sonia is crushing on Dr. Aster. To add
to the awkwardness, the Professor has come to drop a bombshell on the group.
Inevitably, all the years of pent-up love, longing, and disappointments come
to an absurdly explosive head.
Sound heavy? It's not. Chekhov referred to his plays as comedies, and
Posner's adaptation is all of that, riffing on topics like work-life balance,
the environment, our love/hate relationship with the gym, and growing old. But
it's also a moving look at how we try to tell ourselves we actually matter,
and why we carry on, in spite of everything.
The Chicago Sun-Times said "...Posner's latest contemporary riff on the work of
Anton Chekhov...altogether wise, profoundly humane, hilarious, quirky, endearing
and, in countless clever ways, brilliantly faithful to its source."
Aaron Posner is a Helen Hayes and Barrymore Award-winning director and
playwright. He is a founder and former Artistic Director of Philadelphia's
Arden Theatre, is an Associate Artist at both the Folger Theatre and
Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, and has directed at major regional theatres
from coast to coast. His adaptations include Chaim Potok's The Chosen and
My Name Is Asher Lev (both of which have enjoyed successful runs at more
than 50 other theatres across the country. Aaron was raised in Eugene, Oregon,
graduated from Northwestern University, is an Eisenhower Fellow, and lives
near Washington, DC.
Life Sucks. will be directed by award-winning director Emily Scott Banks, who
most recently directed our production of Stupid Fucking Bird. Vanya will be
played by Stage West Managing Director Mark Shum, last on our stage in Wait
Until Dark, while Sonia will be played by newcomer Kally Duncan, seen as
Emilia in Royal Sockspeare Company's Othello. Michael Corolla, seen as Flip
Valentini in Dallas Children's Theater's Jackie and Me, will play
The Professor, while Sherry Hopkins, who appeared in WaterTower's hit
The Big Meal, will be seen as Ella. Dr. Aster will be played by long-time
Stage West fave Jakie Cabe, who played Victor LaPlant in the Circle Theatre
production of Funnyman. Sherry Jo Ward, star and author of the Critics
Forum Award-winning play Stiff, will appear as Pickles, while Cindee Mayfield,
seen at Circle Theatre as Silda in Other Desert Cities, will make her
Stage West debut as Babs.
Set Design will by N. Ryan McBride, with lighting design by Luke Atkison,
costume design by Aaron Patrick DeClerk, sound design by Dana Schultes,
and props/set décor by Lynn Lovett.
Life Sucks. will preview Thursday, October 12 at 7:30 and Friday,
October 13 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, November 12. Performance
times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00,
with Sunday matinees at 3:00. The opening night reception will be Saturday,
October 14. Ticket prices range from $31 to $35, with discounts for the
preview performance, and for students, seniors, and military. Food service
is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are necessary).
Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378),
or on the website, www.stagewest.org.
NOTE: This show contains strong language.
Sherry Jo Ward
Photo by Mark Oristano
Performance: October 17, 24, and 31, 2017
By: Sherry Jo Ward
You can call Stiff brave or courageous, and that would be true. But
this show is, at its heart, the result of a talented actress and storyteller
delivering one of the most honest, funny, compelling and unforgettable pieces
of theater you might see in your lifetime." TheaterJones
Award-winning actress Sherry Jo Ward will bring her solo, autobiographical
play Stiff to the Studio Theatre at Stage West for three Tuesday evening
performances October 17, 24, and 31. Stiff was the unanimous standout at the
Festival of Independent Theatres (FIT) in Dallas, and the great demand for
more performances led Ward with Risk Theater Initiative to Stage West. Stiff
also just received two DFW Critics Forum Awards, for Best New Play and
In 2015, after months of unusual symptoms Ward was diagnosed with Stiff
Person Syndrome, a very rare neuromuscular disease. There are just over 300
people in the United States who are afflicted by it. Ward, who has been seen
at Stage West in November (2011) and International Falls (2015) has worked to
maintain an acting career in DFW. As this became more and more of a challenge,
she ultimately decided to write a play for herself about her illness and her
yearning to still act professionally, which incorporates her physical
limitations and constant battle with random pain.
Also, the play is a comedy.
"There was no way I could tell the story without making it funny," explains
Ward. "My favorite way to deal with conflict is with humor, and those that
know me best are able to laugh along with me even in my lowest moments. My
hope is the play allows everyone in the audience to feel like they know me
well enough to find humor through the pain."
The play is, for the most part, an hour of Sherry sitting in an armchair
speaking directly and intimately to the audience, with some participation
required, of course. Audiences were so moved that following each FIT
performance, patrons would stand in line up to an hour to meet the actress.
"Even though my disease is so rare, it seems like everyone found something
specific in it that related to their life. By immediately breaking that
fourth wall between me and the audience, it seemed like the play suddenly
took on a universal quality," says Ward.
Sherry will be playing Pickles in Stage West's upcoming production of
Life Sucks by Aaron Posner, and her play Stiff will run on the Tuesday
nights during the run of Posner's play. They seem to be a natural complement
to each other. Not only does Ward lament her circumstances, with several
jokes sprinkled throughout, but Pickles, like Ward is a loyal optimist who
wants those around her to feel loved. Based on audience reactions from FIT,
that is exactly what she did with Stiff, and what we want to share with Stage
Stiff runs at 7 PM October 17, 24, and 31 with a brief post-show discussion
with Sherry Jo Ward and production director Marianne Galloway. Seating in
Stage West's Studio Theatre is limited. Tickets are $20 each or $15 for
season subscribers. Discounts are also available with purchase of a ticket to
Life Sucks which runs October 12 - November 12.
STAGE WEST ANNOUNCES 2017-2018 SEASON
Our 2017-2018 Season
Stage West is pleased to announces the lineup for its 39th season! The new
season will offer six plays plus a season extra, and patrons purchasing season
tickets before October 1 will be offered a discount on the season extra. It’s
an exciting mix of shows, featuring fresh takes on classics, can’t-miss regional
premieres, and a world premiere.
Here it is:
by Aaron Posner, sort of adapted from Chekhov's Uncle Vanya
October 12 - November 12
Directed by Emily Scott Banks
Life is, like, really hard. It's tough being the gorgeous woman desired by all
but understood by none. Or the homely girl with a heart of gold. Or the
middle-aged man insightful enough to see the cavernous depth of his own
failings. A quirky and deeply human new installment in the Chekhov cycle
from the playwright of Stupid F*cking Bird - full of all the delight and
charm that love and longing can inspire.
“Altogether wise, profoundly humane, hilarious, quirky, endearing and, in
countless clever ways, brilliantly faithful to its source” - Chicago Sun-Times
An Act of God
by David Javerbaum
November 30 - December 31
Directed by Harry Parker, and starring B.J. Cleveland
Direct from the pearly gates, and flanked by His ever-faithful and devoted
archangels, the Almighty Himself is back to set the record straight and answer
the deepest questions plaguing humanity since Creation. In this hilarious, no
holds barred, irreverent, and critically acclaimed new play, God takes the
stage to deliver a new and improved set of Commandments that are sure to have
audiences rolling in their seats with side-splitting glee while providing
angel-food for thought.
“Sinfully funny!” - Vanity Fair
Like a Billion Likes
by Erik Forrest Jackson
January 18 - February 11
Directed by TBD
Misty Riggs is a nobody. No, really, she is - that's an undisputed fact. But
just as she's starting sophomore year, she gets the notion she should try to
stand out somehow before it's too late. Misty's gambit, however, only cements
her loserdom, and after one blow too many, she makes a final, desperate bid for
glory - the terrible culmination of her burning desire to be recognized for
something, anything, no matter how she achieves it.
Winner of the 2016 Southwest Playwriting Competition
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City
by Halley Feiffer
March 8 - April 1
Directed by Lee Trull
A slouchy, foul-mouthed young comedian and an overwhelmed middle-aged man
embroiled in a nasty divorce are unexpectedly brought together when their
cancer-stricken mothers become roommates in the hospital. Tensions rise and
gauntlets are thrown, but appearances may be deceiving. Through confessions,
fights, and uproariously inappropriate jokes, these two unwittingly invest in
each other and help to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. A boisterously
brazen story of the strength it takes to learn to laugh through pain.
“A play that is as deeply felt as its name is long.” - The New York Times
by Taylor Mac
May 17 - June 17
Directed by TBD
After returning from the wars, Isaac arrives at his childhood home to discover
that the house and family he knew have been upended. His once-timid mother is
on a whirlwind crusade to subvert the patriarchy, his sister is now his
genderqueer brother who refers to hirself in gender-neutral pronouns. Meanwhile,
his stroke-ridden father slumps on the couch in a muumuu and clown makeup. As
Isaac attempts to reclaim structure in a household that refuses to be tamed, the
family is forced to confront what it is to live in a new world when one is stuck
in the past.
"A remarkable, audacious, uproarious black comedy with a daring combination of realism and madcap absurdity." - New York Times
Don't Dress for Dinner
by Marc Camoletti, adapted by Robin Hawdon
July 12 - August 12
Directed by Christie Vela
Hilarity and hijinks ensue when Bernard invites his mistress over for a weekend
romp while his wife Jacqueline is meant to be away. But when Jacqueline discovers
Bernard's friend Robert is also coming over, she decides to stay. Robert is
supposed to be Bernard's alibi for the weekend, but he is also Jacqueline's secret
lover. By the time the mistress and the cook show up, trysts and sweet-nothings
are postponed as mar?ital treachery, mistaken identities, and madcap chaos take
hold in an evening of adulterous mirth.
"Hurtling along at the speed of light, this breathtaking farce is a near faultless piece of theatrical invention.” - The Guardian
by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
August 30 - September 30
Directed by Akin Babatundé
The Terrebonne plantation is in upheaval - the Master has died. ?His naïve
young nephew tries to hold things together, but the evil neighbor is out to
buy the land. Meanwhile, the slaves chat and gossip, and the beautiful, young
ward of the estate has a secret that will change everything. Based on a
controversial classic, this Obie Award winning play is part period satire and
part meta-theatrical middle finger - it's a provocative and moving challenge to
the racial climate of ?"the land of the free?"? in both the antebellum South and
“Hilarious and harrowing... This decade's most eloquent theatrical statement on race in America today.” - The New York Times
Visit Stage West:
Season tickets range in price from $135 to $175 with discounts for students,
seniors, and teachers. Subscribers purchasing season passes prior to October 1
may purchase up to 2 tickets for Ann at $25 apiece.
For more information, call Stage West at (817) 784-9378. Tickets will be
available online at www.stagewest.org/season-tickets
821 W. Vickery St., Fort Worth, Texas 76104
Metro (817) 784-9378 (STG-WEST)