Based on one audience suggestion (a title of a show that has never been written), The Improvised Shakespeare Company creates a fully improvised Shakespearean masterpiece right before your eyes. Nothing has been planned out, rehearsed, or written. All of the dialogue is said for the first time, the characters are created as you watch, and if ever you’re wondering where the story is going…so are they! You’ve never seen the Bard like this before!
Due to the improvised nature of the show, the performance may contain mild mature content.
Featuring an all-alumni cast: Joey Bland ‘00, Brendan Dowling ‘98, Greg Hess ‘03, Martin Wilson ‘02
About The Improvised Shakespeare Company
The Improvised Shakespeare Company was founded in Chicago in 2005. In 2006 it began an open run at the iO Theater where its hit show, Improvised Shakespeare Chicago, still performs today. The ISC performs regularly at The Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles and continues to entertain audiences around the globe. The ISC has been featured at The Kennedy Center, Bonnaroo, San Francisco Sketchfest, the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, The Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, and Outside Lands in San Francisco. They are featured regularly in NYC at Theatre 80 St Marks and the 92nd St Y and recently completed a run at the Soho Theatre in London where they were presented by Sir Patrick Stewart. The ISC was named Chicago’s best improv group by both the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Examiner and has received numerous awards in LA (Best of LA-LA Weekly), New York (New York Nightlife Awards), and Chicago (The Chicago Improv Foundation).
Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses is dedicated to Jen Shyu’s late mother and father who are now reunited: Ana Lay Shyu 徐轉寄 (May 16, 1944 – December 8, 2021) and Tsu Pin Shyu 徐澤濱 (January 19, 1941 – April 2, 2019).
Commissioned by John Zorn, the premiere in October 2019 of Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses was dedicated to Jen’s father, who passed away unexpectedly during a nap in his favorite chair while she was on a 5-month research fellowship in Japan. Unable to wake Jen’s father, Jen’s mother called 911, who arrived with their local Texas sheriff, who then sent Jen an email—which she first thought was spam—that her father had passed.
Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses is a raw, coming-of-age exploration of grief, legacy, family, race, sexuality, fertility, technology’s effect on our connection with nature and to each other, and our own conflicting ambitions. It’s an investigation of life, stemming from the moment Jen’s mother handed her Jen’s childhood diaries from a shelf in her father’s closet. Embodying Zero Grasses’ closing song, “Life As You Envision,” it was Jen’s parents who inspired her to live life as she envisions it.
About Jen Shyu
Guggenheim Fellow, USA Fellow, Doris Duke Artist, multilingual vocalist-composer-multi-instrumentalist-dancer Jen Shyu is “one of the most creative vocalists in contemporary improvised music” (The Nation). Born in Peoria, Illinois to Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrants, she’s produced eight albums available on her record label Autumn Geese Records on Bandcamp. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Theater of Korea, Rubin Museum, was named Downbeat’s 2017 Rising Star Female Vocalist, and is a Fulbright scholar speaking 10 languages. She is a Paul Simon Music Fellows Guest Artist, a Steinway Artist and co-founder with Sara Serpa of M³ (Mutual Mentorship for Musicians), a radical model of mentorship for underrepresented women and non-binary composer-performers around the world.
Psychedelic Cinema Orchestra is a band composed of “survivors of the silent film wars” featuring Ken Winokur (Alloy Orchestra), Jonathan La Master (Cul de Sac) and Russ Gershon (Either/Orchestra). Together they meld their signature repurposed junk percussion, bass clarinet, baritone sax, electric violin and guitars into an energetic live musical score for the astonishing record of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-16 Endurance expedition to Antarctica, a landmark documentary has been recently remastered by the BFI National Archive.
About the Film
When Sir Ernest Shackleton set sail on The Endurance on August 8, 1914, he was already an internationally renowned Antarctic explorer and national hero. He planned a brave attempt to cross the continent of Antarctica via the Pole. Raising money for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic (ITA) expedition was a huge struggle. With an eye toward profiting from their adventures, Shackleton hired experienced cameraman Frank Hurley, whose films and photographs would hopefully pay for part of the expedition. But within a day’s travel (80 miles) of land, the Endurance was trapped in unusually heavy pack ice. Completely stuck, Shackleton and his crew drifted helplessly northward during the long Antarctic winter night while listening to the shrieks and moans of the Endurance slowly being crushed by the mounting pressure. What followed is one of the greatest adventure stories ever and an unbelievable tale of courage and survival.
The Fanoos Family Ensemble was re-established in freedom in 2022, following its members’ flight to freedom in the US from Taliban threats. Composed of members of the renowned musical family and joined by special musical guests, the group performs songs in the Afghan classical style, at the crossroads of Persian poetry, Hindustani rhythms, and Central Asian harmonies. They perform on traditional Afghan and classical Western instruments, and their Afghan source material is fused with contemporary sounds and enriched with original improvisations. The group reunited in the U.S. in December 2021 after five years apart, and made their US debut in the spring of 2022. In 2021, The Fanoos Family Ensemble performed under the “Heart of Afghanistan” project sponsored by American Voices. These performances include Musical Instrument Museum, MIM, in Phoenix, Arizona, Lincoln Center’s Summer For The City Music Series, Presented by Globalfest. Last September, they also performed and held workshops at Bard College, Accordion Festival at New York’s Bryant Park, ARTFARM in Middletown, Connecticut, White Eagle Hall in New Jersey, Kaufman Interfaith Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Old Town School of Folk Music, in Chicago, Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. The Fanoos Family Ensemble has performed at Folklife Festival in Washington D.C., hosted by Richard Kurin and Yo-Yo Ma. Their most recent performance was at Middlebury College, in Vermont.
Production by Nassim Soleimanpour.
No rehearsals. No director. No set. A different actor reads the script cold for the first time at each performance.
Forbidden to leave his country, playwright Nassim Soleimanpour distilled the experience of an entire generation in a wild, utterly original play. White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a work about contemporary Iran and of Nassim’s generation. A generation born amidst the hardship of the Iran-Iraq war. A generation of computer-literate, well-informed young people who have never known an Iran other than the Islamic Republic.
Since its joint premiere in 2011 in Edinburgh and Summerworks festival White Rabbit Red Rabbit has been translated into more than 25 different languages and been performed over 2000 times by some of the biggest names in theatre and film including actors John Hurt, Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane, Stephen Rea, Sinead Cusack, Marcus Brigstocke, Dominic West and film director Ken Loach.
Each performance of the play will feature a different William & Mary theater student as the central solo performer. Produced in association with Aurora Nova Productions and Boat Rocker Entertainment. White Rabbit Red Rabbit was originally produced by Volcano Theatre in association with Necessary Angel and Wolfgang Hoffmann. Dramaturgy by Daniel Brooks and Ross Manson.
Uncle Ty-Rone The Kid’s Comedian is a masterful Ventriloquist/Entertainer who has a profound gift for captivating children of all ages. Uncle Ty-Rone brings to the stage his team of puppets, better known as his ventriloquppets, self-produced kid friendly music and comedy with thirty-plus years of experience and a motivating message to get his point across. Through his comedy, puppetry, and ventriloquism, he very effectively entertains and motivates his audiences to READ and SUCCEED. He also brings with him positive energy. He is a prime example of what can be accomplished when you challenge your imagination and turn your dreams into reality.
About Hernan Diaz
Hernan Diaz is the author of two novels translated into thirty-four languages.
His first novel, In the Distance, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and it was the winner of the Saroyan International Prize, the Cabell Award, the Prix Page America, and the New American Voices Award, among other distinctions. It was also a Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book of the Year and one of Lit Hub’s 20 Best Novels of the Decade.
Trust, his second novel, was a New York Times Bestseller, the winner of the Kirkus Prize, and longlisted for the Booker Prize. It was listed as a best book of the year by over thirty publications and named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and Time magazine, and it was one of The New Yorker’s 12 Essential Reads of the Year. One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2022, Trust is currently being developed as a limited series for HBO.
His stories and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Granta, The Yale Review, Playboy, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere.
He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Ingmar Bergman Estate.
He holds a PhD from NYU, edits an academic journal at Columbia University, and is also the author of Borges, between History and Eternity.
This Hayes Writers Series event will feature Laura Warrell, author of Sweet Soft Plenty Rhythm, which has been named a “best book” of 2022 by several publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Vanity Fair. The novel has been long-listed for the Carnegie Medal in Fiction and short-listed for the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize. Laura will be reading from her work, discussing her craft, and signing books in a reception to follow.
About Laura Warrell
Laura Warrell is the author of Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm, named a ‘best’ or ‘must-read’ book by Vanity Fair, People, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Apple Books, The Root, The Millions, Hollywood Reporter, Bustle, Today, Debutiful, and elsewhere. The novel was chosen as a Good Morning America Buzz Pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, and an Indie Next List Pick.
Laura, named a “Writer to Watch” by Publishers Weekly, grew up in Kent and Columbus, Ohio. She graduated from the Creative Writing Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and she has attended residencies at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Tim House Writer’s Workshop taught Creative Writing and Literature through the Emerging Voices program at PEN America Los Angeles, at Writing Workshops Los Angeles, and the Berklee College of Music and other academic institutions in Los Angeles and Boston.
This event will feature Shawnna Graham, granddaughter of Billy Graham, in conversation with Omiyẹmi (Artisia) Green, Professor of Theatre and Africana Studies, about her grandfather’s work and legacy.
About Billy Graham (1935 – 1997)
Billy Graham was the first African American hired by Stan Lee to work at Marvel Comics. His art in both the Black Panther and Luke Cage, Hero for Hire titles helped define the style and develop the fictional worlds that have remained immensely popular to this day. His contributions to the comic book community began creating a space for Black artists to call their own and brought Black readers characters that looked and talked like them in relatable situations. Graham also worked in theater, writing plays that were produced around the country and designing sets. His career even extended to film, where he had several small roles including appearing on screen with Woody Allen in Scenes from a Mall.
About Shawnna Graham
Shawnna is one of the granddaughters of the late artist Billy Graham. Since 2017, Shawnna has been working to keep her grandfather’s work and legacy alive through sharing his art and written work via social media and Inks Of Color, a platform for creators of color to share their work. Through this journey, Shawnna has attended and participated in exhibition shows, panel discussions, movie/show premiers and media interviews inspiring generations of comic and theater fans through the work of her grandfather, Billy.
Erika Fabian–photojournalist, author, playwright and actor–was born in Hungary. Four years old when the Nazis invaded, Fabian’s father was sent to a prison camp and did not survive the war. Fabian, her seven-year-old sister, and mother managed to survive thanks to their resilience and friends and strangers who risked their own lives to help. After the war, the family’s troubles did not end, as Hungary was under a Stalinist regime. The three tried to escape to the West but were captured and imprisoned at the border. They ultimately escaped to Austria and then to the U.S. after the 1956 uprising.
Fabian’s tale of survival will captivate, at times shock, but definitely inspire.
Erika Fabian is the Reves Center Artist in Residence.
Hush is an attempt to raise awareness by taking the mystery out of what is unknown to many and making it more accessible through dance, an art form capable of transcending verbal expression. It is my way of providing a voice or alternate means of expressing the experience of living with autism through physical, often very simple, gestures.
Within Time is an intersection of live performance and video projection by collaborators Joan Gavaler ’85 and Grace Helmick ’21. The piece explores outwardly driven, distracted, struggling, and confused energies that lead to a new understanding.