LOVE & INFORMATION BY caryl churchill

English & Drama Department at Notre Dame of Maryland University, April 2016

In her most recent tour de force, Caryl Churchill, widely considered Britain's greatest living playwright, examines the interplay of the heart and the brain on every conceivable scale. How does a couple navigate a secret long-kept? Can you trust the voices in your head? Is every choice in the universe actually predetermined? Always suiting her structure to her content, Love & Information features glimpses of the lives of dozens of characters as they struggle to know themselves and connect with each other. In a grungy motel, at roller derby practice, at a pool, or in a park, Churchill asks how, in an increasingly isolating world, do we find connection?

The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep by Diana Grisanti

Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, September 2015 

Ada is a customer service specialist with a thirst for justice and bout of insomnia. When she receives a call from a woman in need, she takes a trip and tries to help. But things go wrong. Terribly wrong. With the aid of pop psychiatry and divine intervention, Ada must confront her regrets, past and present, if she's ever going to sleep again. 

Formerly known as "Inc.", The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep was voted as the winner of ATC's third annual nuVoices Festival.

“Sleep” has less of a conventional structure than “River City,” less of a happy ending (less of an ending at all, really), less optimism and less sense of psychological closure. Yet it might be a stronger play. [...] Director Elissa Goetschius underlines Ada’s unsettled mental state with quick, fluid staging. - Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer

In an earlier incarnation as “Inc.,” Grisanti’s play received a staged reading at ATC and won its nuVoices contest last January. Now the developed version is getting a full production with a new director—Elissa Goetschius—and cast. It has become weightier than the script I recall hearing eight months ago. But it still mixes comical wonder with tragic passion through the journey of the heroine, Ada, from sleep deprivation to social action. [...] The play works best when mixing comic and tragic views of religion and feminism, through Ada’s righteous protests and yet sacrificial mistakes. - Mark Pizzato, Charlotte Viewpoint

Nicia Carla gives us a vivid account of Ada as she deals with the insomnia stemming from her misdeeds; and her supporting cast, meticulously directed by Elissa Goetschius, stir up a lively mix of comedy and drama. - Perry Tannenbaum, Art on My Sleeve 

The play offers a new perspective on the issues surrounding gender equality and violence against women, and emphasizes the systematic nature of these problems. The main character’s (Ada) journey to discover how best to be an advocate plays out alongside her struggles to fight against institutional interests that often sacrifice the individual for the corporate good. - Brianna Smith, Charlotte Five 

Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl

English & Drama Department at Notre Dame of Maryland University, April 2015

In Eurydice, Sarah Ruhl reimagines the classic myth of Orpheus through the eyes of its heroine. Dying too young on her wedding day, Eurydice must journey to the underworld, where she reunites with her father and struggles to remember her lost love. With contemporary characters, ingenious plot twists, and breathtaking visual effects, the play is a fresh look at a timeless love story.

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Glass Mind Theatre, September 2012

As the moon rises over Athens, four lovers escape a tyrannical judgement and seek solace in the woods only to be caught up in the machinations of a fairy plot. Bejeweled beings in the twisted wood spin and sway the innocents to and fro in the propulsive rhythms of the fairy realm – so quick bright things come to confusion.

Mischief borders on malevolence and devotion devolves into obsession in Shakespeare’s “most lamentable comedy,” presented by Glass Mind Theatre.

Directed by Elissa Goetschius, this production wafts like a cloud as a dream through your mind bringing a darker edge and more macabre feeling to the faeries of the night. - Amanda Gunther, DC Metro Theatre Arts

A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits by C Denby Swanson

EMP Collective, May 2012

In 1726, Mary Toft was a pregnant English peasant who chased a rabbit through the field for supper. Something happened, something that was simply too much to reveal as itself and she began to miraculously give birth to pieces of rabbits. Mary became a national sensation, drawing the attention of the Royal Court and bringing people the country ‘round to witness and examine her maternal impressions.

That story was a hoax. This is not.

Mare is a dreamy, imaginative young woman. Kitty, her pragmatic sister, dreams of only one thing: a child. Mare reluctantly agrees to give surrogate birth for Kitty’s child.

Everything goes exactly according to protocol until Mare gives birth to a rabbit instead. . . followed by 24 more. . .

Led by The Stork himself (yes, that one) and featuring a three-ring circus of puppets, hospital magic tricks, giant vaginas, and people turning into animals, A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits explores infertility, creation, science, and the imagination.

All the more credit to the EMP Collective and director Elissa Goetschius for finding ways to make the impossible possible... [Rabbits'] was still not polished, but it earns high marks for chutzpah and oddity. - J. Wynn Rousuck quoted in Style Magazine Baltimore

So for the profound moments, or for the comedy; be you interested in puppets in the lady bits, or the rabbits that are there also, this particular production will keep you engaged even if you do leave the theatre a little confused and asking yourself what it was you really just saw. The EMP Collective’s birthing of this rabbit narrative is one for the baby book. - Amanda Gunther, DC Metro Theatre Arts

WYPR Theater Critic J. Wynn Rousuck's Review

Night Sweats by Dan Caffrey, Rachel Lane, Josh Mikel, and Cameron Stuart

co-directed with Rachel Lane and Carly J Bales

EMP Collective, January 2012

Night Sweats follows 17-year-old, Gordon on the hunt for his missing psychiatrist-prescribed beloved puppet, Bluebarb. As Gordon searches for what has been his only friend and safety blanket he must fight against a long-time fear that has plagued Gordon for years: a 7-foot-tall anthropomorphic bird character from the popular children’s show, Poppyseed Place.

This immersive, on-your-feet, devised theatre piece is a true collaboration featuring over 30 writers, actors, musicians, film makers, designers, dancers and artists from Baltimore, Washington, DC and beyond. Through this collaboration, EMP Collective hopes to not only display the individual talents of each artist but also nurture new growth and connections amongst the different collaborators involved. These talented contributors are in the process of creating the nightmarish world of Gordon’s subconscious, which will take the audience on a journey through the middle of a dark sea, a Technicolor tripped-out children’s show, and the wooded swamps of Florida. In the end, Night Sweats is about the irrational fears that don’t just haunt our hero, but us as well.

The subject of the piece is ambitious and could have easily lost the audience within its twist and turns but EMP delivered a production that captured the essence of impossible adventures and fantastical conversations we have with ourselves while sleeping. - Brooke Hall & Justin Allen, What Weekly

Reflections: Plays from St Elizabeths Hospital by Individuals in Care at St Elizabeths

directed by Andy Wassenich, associate director Elissa Goetschius

Wandering Souls, summer and fall 2011

Over the course of the summer in 2011, Andy Wassenich (Wandering Souls company member) with the help and guidance of the Saint Elizabeths staff led a playwriting intensive with a handful of individuals in care at the hospital.   At the end of this 8 week course each of the students had written ten minute plays on the themes of recovery, overcoming adversity, and hope.

In late August, a team of professional artists, designers, directors, and dramaturgs came together to help bring these plays to life. Throughout the month of October the show hit the road and brought the performance to DC's homeless shelters, retirement homes , schools, hospitals, and other community centers. Free, public performances were held at Bloombars and Church of the Pilgrims.

Layered Portraits

24 Hour City Project, June 2011

Team Leader: Elissa Goetschius, Team: Michelle Herman, Dallas Lillich, and Christopher Mabry

How does our perception of someone change as we learn more about them? Layered Portraits begins with isolated, glamorized video portraits of DC residents, and gradually adds facts, figures, and audio tracks — challenging and deepening the audience’s first reaction to the subject. Ultimately, through the juxtaposition of faces, voices, and numbers, the project questions how we view our neighbors in our urban environment.

Video courtesy of the Russell Brothers. Layered Portraits begins at 3:20.

Amazons & Their Men by Jordan Harrison

co-directed with Michael Dove

Forum Theatre, February 2009

Famous (and infamous) for glamorizing a fascist regime in her propaganda films, a young director seeks artistic vindication. In her latest film, she creates a fantasy world of drama and beauty—casting herself in the role of an Amazon Queen, tormented by love for the war-hero, Achilles. But in the real world, another war is brewing. Set in Third Reich Germany and based loosely on the life of Leni Riefenstahl (director of Triumph of the Will), Amazons And Their Men chronicles the creation of art—and the collapse of a society.

'Amazons and Their Men' explores nexus of fascism and mythology - Peter Marks, Washington Post

Forum looks at a self-deluding filmmaker - Chris Klimek, Washington City Paper

Amazons and Their Men - Phil Calabro, DC Theatre Scene

The Skriker by Caryl Churchill

Columbia University Performing Arts League, December 2004

Drawing from British folklore, the eminent English playwright drops the Skriker, an ageless shapeshifter, into contemporary London.