Following the best-selling musical James Joyce’s The Dead and the critically-acclaimed drama A Walk in the Woods, Quotidian Theatre Company closes its 15th anniversary season with the D.C. area premiere of The Birds — celebrated playwright Conor McPherson’s unique, morally-challenging adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier short story that inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s film. Quotidian’s co-founder and artistic director Jack Sbarbori directs actors Jenny Donovan, Stephanie Mumford, Ted Schneider, and Matthew Vaky in the production, which runs July 12 – August 11, 2013 at The Writer’s Center (4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD).
When adapting The Birds, McPherson wanted to write a play from a female perspective. This is a departure for McPherson, says Sbarbori, but the apocalyptic drama still contains the dark humor and ethical dilemmas audiences have come to expect and appreciate from the Tony-nominated playwright and philosophy major. Echewing du Maurier’s political symbolism and Hitchcock’s focus on special effects, McPherson transforms the story into a mature, complex rumination on morality in the face of oblivion.
In an isolated, abandoned house with no electricity and only a little food, novelist Diane and new acquaintance Nat take refuge from the unnerving masses of birds that have overtaken the outside world. When a young woman with a mysterious background arrives, their fragile sense of sanctuary is destroyed. Using du Maurier’s story as a jumping off point, McPherson explores what happens when three flawed individuals are left in a world where there are suddenly no rules.
Playing the role of Diane is Quotidian co-founder Stephanie Mumford, who gave what Sbarbori calls “a glorious performance” in The Weir, the company’s first foray into McPherson’s oeuvre. Diane is a character unlike what QTC audiences have seen Mumford depict before. “All these characters are capable of murder,” Sbarbori says. Jenny Donovan appears for the first time at Quotidian after acting at Olney Theatre Center, Rorschach Theatre Company, and The Keegan Theatre. Donovan “may look innocent,” says Sbarbori, “but she has the gift of keeping the audience off guard with the most subtle choices,” making the actor perfect for the morally-dubious character of Julia. A former Guthrie Acting Company member, Matthew Vaky recently arrived in the D.C. area and has appeared at Bay Theatre Company and Theatre of the First Amendment, as well as in his own creation, Jesus at Guantanamo. Sbarbori says Vaky “combines a strong onstage presence with perfect instincts” to portray the complex character Nat. The cast is rounded out by Quotidian favorite Ted Schneider in his fourth McPherson performance playing the small but unforgettable role of Tierney.
The Birds is Sbarbori’s sixth time directing McPherson’s work at QTC; the play follows The Weir, Shining City, and The Seafarer, as well as the area premieres of McPherson’s Port Authority and Dublin Carol. At the close of the company’s 2013-2014 season, Quotidian will have the honor to present the U.S. premiere of McPherson’s Gothic thriller The Veil, also directed by Sbarbori.
Sbarbori finds himself returning to McPherson because the Irish playwright has “the courage to go to dark places” and an undying interest in philosophy as it relates to how everyday life is lived. Sbarbori anticipates the mystery and ambiguity of The Birds will leave audiences “arguing in the lobby about the characters’ motives and what actually happened” after the show concludes.
McPherson’s breakout hit, The Weir, won the 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, and his work has been produced at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, the Atlantic Theater Company in New York, the Manhattan Theater Club on Broadway, the Gate Theatre in Dublin, the Royal National Theatre in London, and the Studio Theatre here in Washington, D.C. The Daily Telegram described McPherson as “the finest dramatist of his generation.”
Quotidian Theatre Company presents
The Birds by Conor McPherson
July 12 – August 11, 2013
Featuring Jenny Donovan, Stephanie Mumford, Ted Schneider, and Matthew Vaky.
Directed by Jack Sbarbori.
Show times are 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm Sundays, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, August 10.
Tickets are $30, or $25 for seniors and students, and can be purchased by cash or check at the door, online at Brown Paper Tickets (http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/386453), or by phone at 1-800-838-3006 ext 1 (ask for Quotidian Theatre Company). $15 per ticket for groups of 10 or more (contact email@example.com for reservations).
Subscribers, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-816-1023 for reservations.
All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD.
The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.
Subscriptions are now on sale for QTC’s 16th season, which boasts The Iceman Cometh, an eighteen-actor masterwork by award-winning American author Eugene O’Neill (Long Day’s Journey into Night, Hughie); Faith Healer, an intimate and visceral three-person narrative by influential European dramatist Brian Friel (Dancing at Lughnasa, Afterplay); and the U.S. premiere of The Veil, a Gothic thriller by the company’s favorite living playwright, Conor McPherson (The Birds, Shining City, The Seafarer, Port Authority, Dublin Carol, The Weir).
Quotidian Theatre Company’s mission is to find truth and beauty in the everyday, presenting plays in an understated and impressionistic style, relying on piercingly truthful acting and no-frills storytelling. By providing realistic situations and dialogue, Quotidian lets audiences witness events as if over a backyard fence or through an open window, thus illuminating the depth and dignity of ordinary human experience.
“Quotidian hasn’t chosen its name by accident; it produces plays in which God is in the details.” – D.C. Theatre Scene