LIVES OF REASON
January 9, 2016 - February 7, 2016
A world-premiere play by Two River Founder Robert Rechnitz and Kenneth Stunkel. Set at an English Department faculty party, Lives of Reason brings audiences inside the world of academia— and what happens when one woman’s secret passions explode. Lives of Reason is directed by Jonathan Fox, the former Artistic Director at Two River and now Executive Artistic Director of the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara.
Runtime is approximately 100 minutes.
Matthew Lieff Christian
Matthew Lieff Christian (Jeffrey Cabot) Off-Broadway: Anthem (Baryshnikov Arts Center). Other New York Theater: Our God’s Brother (Storm Theatre/Blackfriars Rep), Unbirth (Planet Connections Theatre Festivity), various new musical workshops, including at Playwrights Horizons and The New Victory Theater. Regional: As You Like It (A.R.T.), Futurity: A Musical by the Lisps (A.R.T.), Legally Blonde (Summer Theatre of New Canaan, BroadwayWorld nomination for Best Featured Actor). Film: Principal role in Jason Reitman’s Labor Day (Paramount Pictures), Mona Lisa Smile (Columbia Pictures). BA: Harvard. MFA: A.R.T./MXAT Institute at Harvard. www.matthewlieffchristian.com
Philip Goodwin (Sam DeLuca) Two River Theater: Duke Senior/Fredrick in As You Like It. Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, DC: Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Timon in Timon of Athens, Mayor Stockbridge in An Enemy of the People (Helen Hayes Awards); King John, Henry VI, The Tempest, Volpone, and others. Broadway: The Diary of Anne Frank, The School for Scandal, Tartuffe. Off-Broadway: Cymbeline, Pericles, Macbeth and as the Fool in King Lear with Kevin Kline (Public Theater); The Broken Heart, Troilus and Cressida and as Henry VI in Henry VI (Drama Desk nomination) (Theatre for a New Audience); Grace (MCC); Drowning (Signature Theatre); The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek (New York Theatre Workshop); Richard III, Double Falsehood (CSC); Celebration (Atlantic Theatre Company). Regional: Kenneth Tynan in Tynan, The Lisbon Traviata, The Puppetmaster of Lodz, The Seafarer (Studio Theatre, DC); Dr. Tambourri in Passion, Golden Child (The Kennedy Center); other regional appearances include Hartford Stage, Cleveland Play House, Great Lakes Theater Company, Guthrie Theater, Portland Stage, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Intiman Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Contemporary American Theater Festival and The Acting Company. Film: The Pink Panther, The Pink Panther 2, Diary of a City Priest. Television: Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Gotham and Hamlet for PBS.
Maurice Jones (Carl Cooper) is proud to be making his Two River Theater debut! Interestingly enough, his favorite two rivers are the Hudson and the Zambezi. Credits include: Broadway: Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet. Off Broadway: Little Children Dream of God (Roundabout). Regional: As You Like It, Ruined, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Taming of the Shrew, A Christmas Carol (Denver Center); Butler (Barrington Stage Company); Julius Caesar (Folger Shakespeare Library); The Learned Ladies (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); Richard III, Charley’s Aunt, Fahrenheit 451, Topdog/Underdog, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Nicholas Nickleby, Our Town (National Theatre Conservatory); Glengarry Glen Ross, Six Degrees of Separation, Line, Suzan Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays (Cabaret Theatre); Ragtime, Once On This Island (Livingston Theatre Company). Television: 30 Rock, Conviction. Film: Winter’s Tale, And So It Goes. He joyfully thanks his family, the awesome team at DBA and his brilliantly beautiful teammate in life, T.H.! Training: Rutgers University and The National Theatre Conservatory, MFA. Philippians 4:13.
Mairin Lee (Ilona Cabot) made her Broadway debut in The Heiress, directed by Moises Kaufman. She has recently appeared Off-Broadway in Romance Language at Ars Nova and Measure for Measure with New York Classical Theatre. Her regional credits include Antony and Cleopatra (McCarter Theatre), Soldier’s Heart (Premiere Stages), In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Wilma Theater), Phedre and A Christmas Carol (American Conservatory Theater), Pride and Prejudice and Hamlet (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival), The Lion in Winter (Shakespeare Santa Cruz), Pericles (California Shakespeare Theater), Dracula (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), and the world premiere of The Farm (Shotgun Players). TV: The Good Wife, Elementary. Film: Marcy, Mortem Di Virgo. She holds an M.F.A. from A.C.T.
Patrick Monaghan (Jimmy) is incredibly excited to be a part of his third Two River production. Patrick previously enjoyed participating in Two River’s “A Little Shakespeare” productions of As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other credits include Laertes in “Scenes from Hamlet” with the Bradley Beach Arts Council and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at Red Bank Regional High School, where he is a senior and drama major. He would like to thank Two River Theater for this wonderful opportunity.
William Parry (Hartley Clare) returns to the Marion Huber Theater, having appeared here in the 2007 premiere production of The Ghost’s Bargain. On Broadway, he created roles in the original productions of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and Passion (both filmed for PBS), as well as Into the Light, The Leaf People, Agamemnon (Lincoln Center), and the rock musicals Sgt. Pepper’s..., Rockabye Hamlet (dir. by Gower Champion), and, in 1971, the original Jesus Christ Superstar. Also on Broadway: Camelot (HBO) as understudy to Richard Burton and Richard Harris, and Gypsy with Bernadette Peters (dir. by Sam Mendes). Off-Broadway credits include: original productions of Weidman and Sondheim’s Assassins (Playwrights Horizons), dir. by Jerry Zaks, and Wise Guys (New York Theatre Workshop), dir. by Sam Mendes, which later became Road Show at the Public Theater, dir. by John Doyle. Also at the Public: Cymbeline (dir. JoAnne Akalaitis), Dispatches (dir. Elizabeth Swados), and The Knife (dir. by David Hare); Once Around the City at Second Stage; and Dessa Rose (dir. Graciela Daniele) at Lincoln Center. National Tours: A Few Good Men (with Paul Winfield), Titanic (as Capt. E.J. Smith), and Memphis. Among some 40 regional productions, favorites include: Time and Again (Old Globe), All My Sons (Gulfshore Theater), The Gig (California Music Theater), The Rainmaker (Arena, DC), Saint Joan (Missouri Rep), and this season’s Alabama Story (Pioneer Theatre). Film and television credits include: In & Out, Domestic Disturbance, The Equalizer, The Pretender, several episodes of Law & Order. Two seasons on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.
Peter Rini (Matthew Livingston) is happy to be making his Two River Theater debut with Lives of Reason. His Broadway credits include the original company of Neil Simon’s Proposals, Arthur Miller’s revival of A View from the Bridge, and Tartuffe: Born Again. Peter also appeared on the first national tour of South Pacific, directed by Bart Sher. Off Broadway: The Talls (Second Stage Uptown); The Old Boy (Keen Company); Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight (Promenade); The Merchant of Venice (New York Shakespeare Festival); Somewhere in the Pacific (Playwrights Horizons). Regional: Much Ado About Nothing (Hartford Stage and Shakespeare Theatre, D.C.), An Enemy of the People and Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare Theater, D.C.); Wait Until Dark (Arizona Theatre Company, Geva); Heaven Can Wait (Westport Country Playhouse); Robbers and Saturday, Sunday, Monday (Long Wharf Theatre, Pittsburgh Public); The Provoked Wife (A.R.T. in Cambridge); Glengarry Glen Ross (Dallas Theater Center); Cyrano (Barrington Stage Company). Peter has also performed in several plays at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. On television Peter appears as Jason Figueroa on Orange Is the New Black and as Arthur Miller in Smash. Other recent television includes The Mysteries of Laura, Person of Interest and Blue Bloods. Peter also makes a cameo appearance in the Lifetime made-for-television movie Killing Kennedy commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Peter is a graduate of the Graduate Acting Program at Tisch School of the Arts and is also a Fox Fellowship recipient.
Jay Russell (Andrew Hedman) Broadway: End of the Rainbow, The Play What I Wrote. Off-Broadway: Travels with My Aunt (Keen Company), Our Town (Barrow Street), Around the World in 80 Days (Irish Rep), The Normal Heart (Public Theater), The Green Heart (Manhattan Theatre Club), and more. National Tours: Wicked, Beauty and the Beast, Applause. Regional: The Liar (Westport Playhouse), Amadeus (Baltimore CenterStage), End of the Rainbow (Guthrie), A Civil War Christmas (Long Wharf), Noises Off (Arena Stage), City of Angels (Goodspeed), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Utah Shakespeare), Gross Indecency (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), Importance of Being Earnest (Cincinnati Playhouse), Natural Selection (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Design for Living (Olney), Anything Goes (Ordway) and many more. International: Fully Committed (English Theatre, Vienna), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (English Theatre, Frankfurt and Vienna—directed by Jonathan Fox). TV: Boardwalk Empire, Louie, Ugly Betty, The Sopranos, Bored to Death, Law & Order(s), The Unusuals, Onion News. Film: Morning Glory, In Lieu of Flowers, Ride, All in Time.
Maureen Silliman (Edna Clare) previously appeared at Two River Theater in The Glass Menagerie and Uncle Vanya (both directed by Robert Rechnitz), The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (both directed by Jonathan Fox), The Real Thing, and Our Town. She appeared on Broadway in Shenandoah, I Remember Mama (with Liv Ullman) and Is There Life After High School and Off-Broadway in Blue Window (also on the West Coast—L.A. Drama Critics and Dramalogue Awards), Reckless, Three Postcards, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Marathon Dancing (Anne Bogart, director). Maureen toured in The Gingerbread Lady, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds opposite Shelley Winters (NJ Drama Critics Award) and Fiddler on the Roof as Golde opposite Theodore Bikel. Her regional work includes Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Gulfshore Playhouse), Rags (Paper Mill Playhouse), Ghosts (Ensemble Theater Company), Pride’s Crossing (TheaterWorks), I Capture the Castle and To Kill a Mockingbird (Shakespeare Theater of NJ), A Shayna Maidel and The Cocktail Hour (Delaware Theatre Company), Loves & Hours (Old Globe), Company and A Christmas Carol (Huntington), Blanco and A Fine and Private Place (Goodspeed Opera House), Going Gone and Pure Confidence (Cincinnati Playhouse—Acclaim Award). Last season she was in the cast of Angels and Ministers of Grace at NJ Rep (Best actress nominee—broadwayworld.com). Film and television: Blue Window (PBS), Dixie: Changing Habits, Sanctuary of Fear, Childhood’s End, Reckless, Law & Order, Feds, and two years as Pam Chandler on Guiding Light. Maureen won a MAC Award for the CD Pictures in the Hall.
John C. Vennema
John C. Vennema (Jacob Stein) played Tom in the Off-Broadway and Broadway premieres of The Ride Down Mt. Morgan by Arthur Miller. He has also been seen on Broadway in The Royal Family, Otherwise Engaged, The Elephant Man, and Racing Demon, directed by Richard Eyre. He recently played Larry Hastings in the Encores revival of Bells Are Ringing. Originally from Houston, Texas, John graduated from Princeton and trained at LAMDA. He toured Ireland and England in the Druid Theater production of Cripple of Inishmaan, which subsequently transferred to the Atlantic Theater and won a Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble. Other Off-Broadway roles include the Judge in The Freedom on the City and Sir Reginald Hall in Prisoner of the Crown at Irish Rep, John Hillcrist in The Skin Game at the Mint, Craig Hutto in Right Kind of People at Primary Stages, and Gavin Ryng-Mayne in House and Garden at Manhattan Theatre Club. He was also seen in The Illusion, directed by David Esbjornson, Mountain, After-Play, Later Life, In Celebration, Joined at the Head, Light Up the Sky, A Quarrel of Sparrows, and Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act. He played Brutus in Julius Caesar, Ford in Merry Wives of Windsor, and Warwick in Saint Joan at The Guthrie in Minneapolis. At Baltimore’s Center Stage, he was Sir Robert Chiltern in An Ideal Husband. On film John has had principal roles in Love Comes Lately, The Producers, Marci X (on the set of which he was lucky enough to meet his wife, Alexandra Neil), The Cat’s Meow, City Hall, Subway Stories, Sabrina, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Kiss of Death, Basketball Diaries, and Separate But Equal. On television, he has recently had recurring roles on Boardwalk Empire, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and House of Cards. And he has been seen on The Good Wife, Spin City, Law & Order (all three shows), Dellaventura, The High Life, and Empire of Reason.
Robert Rechnitz (Playwright) founded Two River Theater in 1994 and serves as the theater’s Executive Producer. An educator, writer, and director, he is one of New Jersey’s most esteemed theater leaders. He earned his PhD from the University of Colorado and was a Professor of American Literature at Monmouth University for 35 years, contributing scholarly articles and short stories to various academic journals. As Two River’s Executive Producer, he oversaw the theater’s move from Monmouth University in West Long Branch to the Algonquin Arts in Manasquan. While the company was in residence in Manasquan, he planned for and oversaw the building of a state-of-the-art, two-theater complex in Red Bank as Two River’s permanent home. He directed the opening production in the new building, the classic American comedy You Can’t Take It with You, in 2005. Among the other notable productions he has directed at Two River are Curse of the Starving Class (for which he received The Star-Ledger’s nomination for Best Director of a Comedy), True West, A View from the Bridge, The Glass Menagerie, Thieves’ Carnival, Uncle Vanya, American Buffalo, and Barefoot in the Park. He has been honored with Monmouth University’s 2001 Maurice Pollak Award for Distinguished Community Service, and the 2007 Celebration of Excellence Award from the Monmouth Country Arts Council. At the start of the new century, The Star-Ledger named him one of “20 New Jerseyans to Watch.”
Kenneth Stunkel (Playwright) earned a Ph.D. in history at the University of Maryland, where he also took an M.A. in philosophy and was University Fellow in sociology for a year. He was Professor of History at Monmouth University for many years. He served 13 years as Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences and Dean of Arts and Sciences. He taught Chinese history and oriental philosophy in the University Maryland’s East and Southeast Asian overseas program. He is author or co-author of nine books and numerous articles and essays about India, China, and Japan, ancient Greece and Rome, history of ideas, energy and the environment, technology and ethics, and world politics. He also taught the history of art and architecture, which took him to Princeton University as a Visiting Fellow for two years. He studied ballet and modern dance. For two years he was with the National Ballet, and was a lead dancer in the performing company of Ethel Butler, who was closely associated as dancer and teacher with Martha Graham. He came late to playwriting, which he describes as a daunting, tough, memorable experience with co-author Dr. Robert Rechnitz, a colleague and friend for nearly half a century.
Jonathan Fox (Director) is Executive Artistic Director of Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara. He joined ETC in 2006, and oversaw the company through the construction of its new 300-seat venue. Recent productions at ETC include Tom Waits’s musical adaptation of Woyzeck, Amadeus, Metamorphoses, A Little Night Music, and Crime and Punishment, among others. He recently directed Menotti’s The Consul for Opera Santa Barbara. Recent European productions include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Streetcar Named Desire, Visiting Mr. Green and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the English Theatre of Frankfurt, and Crimes of the Heart, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and the Austrian premiere of Old Wicked Songs at the Vienna English Theatre. In 1994, Mr. Fox joined Robert and Joan Rechnitz in establishing Two River Theater. He served as managing director through 1999 and artistic director through 2006. His production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at Two River was profiled in American Theatre Magazine, as was his festival of work by Samuel Beckett. Other TRT productions include Machinal, La Bete, and Abigail’s Party. His directing work has also been seen in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Cologne, and has received critical acclaim in The New York Times, Variety, the LA Times, and other publications. He received his MFA from Columbia University, and is a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship. He has served as an adjunct faculty member in theatre departments at UCSB, Columbia University, University of Utah, and Monmouth University.
Charlie Corcoran (Scenic Designer) made his Two River debut last season with Absurd Person Singular. Off-Broadway: Billy and Ray (Vineyard Theatre), The Emperor Jones (Hewes Design Award nomination), The Quare Land (Origin’s First Irish Award), Port Authority, The Weir, The Freedom of the City, The Banished Children of Eve, Sive, Prisoner of the Crown, Defender of the Faith, The Field (Irish Rep), Craving for Travel (Peter J. Sharp Theatre), Smash (Juilliard), The Last Smoker in America (Westside Theatre), A Perfect Future (Cherry Lane), The Late Christopher Bean (TACT), Sophistry, The Black Monk, The Bully Pulpit (Beckett Theatre), Exits and Entrances (Primary Stages). Regional: A Comedy of Tenors (Cleveland Play House and McCarter Theatre), Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike (Goodman Theatre), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Bucks County Playhouse), The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro (McCarter Theatre), The Night Watcher, Without Walls (Center Theatre Group), Fallen Angels (NJ Shakespeare Theatre). Opera: Fidelio (Santa Fe Opera), The Bartered Bride, Cosi Fan Tutte (co-production Metropolitan Opera and Juilliard), Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro (2015) (Juilliard), The Magic Flute (Music Academy of the West). TV: Believe (NBC), Madam Secretary (CBS), Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon)
Karen Perry (Costume Designer) previously designed Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, Guadalupe in the Guest Room, Third, Trouble in Mind, and August Wilson’s Jitney, Two Trains Running, and Seven Guitars at Two River. Recent credits include The Happiest Song Plays Last (Second Stage); Clybourne Park, A Raisin in the Sun (Dallas Theater Center); stop. reset. and The Piano Lesson (Signature); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (dir. Phylicia Rashad, Mark Taper); the 10th Anniversary production of Crowns, written and dir. by Regina Taylor (Goodman); Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky, dir. Sheldon Epps (Pasadena Playhouse); John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, dir. Ethan McSweeny (Arena); Regina Taylor’s Trinity River Plays, dir. McSweeny (Dallas Theater Center, Goodman); The Trip to Bountiful, Walter Mosley’s The Fall of Heaven, dir. Marion McClinton (Cincinnati Playhouse); The Brother/Sister Plays by Tarell McCraney, dir. Tina Landau (The Public) and Landau and Robert O’Hara (McCarter); Things of Dry Hours by Naomi Wallace (NYTW); Having Our Say, written and dir. by Emily Mann (McCarter); and Resurrection by Daniel Beaty (Arena). She has designed eight of the 10 August Wilson plays including: Gem of the Ocean, The Piano Lesson, King Hedley II, Radio Golf, Two Trains Running, and Seven Guitars. Honors include: three NAACP Image Awards (Joe Turner, Blues for Alabama Sky, Rosa Parks Story), eight AUDELCO Awards, two Chicago’s Ira Aldridge Awards, Ovation TV Theatre Award 2013, the 2007 San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award, the 2006 “Woodie” Award, and the 2005 National Black Theatre Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award; as well as Henry Hewes and Lortel nominations. Select film/TV credits include: Gregory Hines Show, Saturday Night Live, and The Brother from Another Planet by director John Sayles.
Gina Scherr (Lighting Designer) previously designed In This House and The Electric Baby at Two River. Recent credits include On Golden Pond at Bucks County Playhouse and Awake and Sing for NAATCO at The Public Theater. New York designs include productions at Roundabout Underground, City Center, The Women’s Project, The Kitchen, Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, PS122, La MaMa, Clubbed Thumb, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Company XIV and The New School. Regional credits include productions at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Old Globe, Milwaukee Rep, Asolo Rep, Weston Playhouse, and Yale Rep. Internationally, Gina’s designs have been seen in Ireland, Sweden, Edinburgh, South Korea, Canada, and Romania. Gina is a member of Wingspace Theatrical Design. MFA: Yale School of Drama.
Jane Shaw (Sound Designer) previously designed Guadalupe in the Guest Room and Pinkolandia at Two River Theater. New York credits include The Killer (Theatre for a New Audience); Food and Fadwa (New York Theatre Workshop); A New Morality (Mint Theater); Jackie (Women’s Project); Rose (Nora's Playhouse); Don Juan (The Pearl). Regional credits include Rear Window (Hartford Stage); Crimes of the Heart (Triad Stage); Sherlock Holmes... (Dorset Theatre Festival); 4000 Miles (Asolo Rep); and The Crucible (Cleveland Play House). Next: Ironbound at the Women’s Project, Women Without Men at Mint Theater, Steel Magnolias with Cleveland Play House. Recognition: Bessie Award, Henry Award, Drama Desk, Premios ACE 2012, Meet the Composer grant, Theatre Communications Group’s Career Development Program, and nominations for two Lortels, Connecticut Critics Circle, Henry Hewes and Elliot Norton Awards. She was born in Kansas and currently lives in Brooklyn.
J. Steven White
J. Steven White (Fight Director) is pleased to return to Two River (where he previously fight directed Guadalupe in the Guest Room, Camelot, As You Like It, and On Borrowed Time) and to be working again with his former colleagues from productions at The Public Theater, where his fight work has been seen in 22 shows including Julius Caesar, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, King Lear, A Language of Their Own, and Cymbeline with Liev Schreiber and Michael C. Hall, whom Mr. White trained at NYU Graduate Acting. Broadway credits include The Pillowman, Bombay Dreams, Uncle Vanya, A View from the Bridge, Golden Child, The Lion in Winter, All My Sons, as well as Shogun: The Musical (Assistant Director). His fights have been seen on the stages of every major New York theater including MTC, CSC, Playwrights Horizons, Roundabout, and the Irish Repertory Theatre. He has worked at McCarter on six productions including The Convert most recently. He is the fencing master for the Tulsa Ballet where his work will be seen in Edwaard Liang’s production of Romeo and Juliet in February of 2016. Mr. White spent 11 seasons at American Conservatory Theater, where he began his teaching career 43 years ago. He is on the faculties of the Stella Adler Studio and the Graduate Acting Program at NYU-Tisch. He wants to go on record that he is in love with Red Bank and the Jersey Shore.