Stepping Downstairs

As we’ve grown our family of artists over the past 34 years, it is always especially fulfilling to bring back a playwright we consider one of our most supportive and dedicated family members. In 2014, we were fortunate to produce Theresa Rebeck’s wonderfully fierce and hilarious Poor Behavior during our tenure at The Duke on 42nd Street. Two years later, Theresa contributed a fantastic short work to Morning in America, our special evening of one-act plays and sketches written in response to the 2016 election. Theresa has also been kind enough to lend her home in Vermont for writers’ retreats we’ve held over the years for our writers groups and Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA). She is a beloved member of this family and one of the reasons Primary Stages feels like ‘home’ to so many artists.

At its core, Theresa’s newest play, Downstairs, is about family and home. Fittingly, Theresa wrote the play specifically for real-life siblings Tim Daly and Tyne Daly, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome them, as well as co-star John Procaccino and director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, into the fold. They comprise a unique artistic family well-suited to tackle the intricate dynamics found within this suspenseful tale. While the play deals with the complexities of power and fear on a domestic level, it also echoes much of what is happening in the world today on a global scale. Secrets are held tight… the perfect life is not what we think it to be… aggression becomes manifested in a way that leads people to feel both out of control and under tight grips.

Ultimately, the play speaks to what it takes to be a good person standing out amongst the bad. Luckily at Primary Stages, we are surrounded by truly good people. Our artists, our staff, and patrons like you make up this wonderful, close-knit group of theater lovers dedicated to inspiring, supporting, and sharing the art of playwriting season after season.

Thank you for making Primary Stages your Off-Broadway home,

The Primary Stages Family

 

The Primary Stages production of Downstairs by Theresa Rebeck runs through December 22, 2018 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Click here for ticket information and more!

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Primary Stages Profile: Andrew Diaz, Props Supervisor

The Props Supervisor of Theresa Rebeck’s Downstairs, Andrew Diaz, has done remarkable work adding the final touches to Irene’s dingy basement. This interview features his background, working on this show, and how it came to be what audiences are seeing now.

"Downstairs" at Primary Stages

Tim Daly and Tyne Daly in Theresa Rebeck’s “Downstairs” currently at Primary Stages.

When and how did you start your career in theatre?

I began, I assume like most, in high school drama club. I acted, built, and painted sets. I went to the University of Arizona, where I graduated with a BFA in Set Design and moved to New York City in 2009.

How did you work with the set designer/director to create the look of the show? Did you have any initial images in your head of how you wanted to dress the set?

Our set designer, Narelle Sissons, is actually an out-of-town designer so I never actually met her until we were loaded into the theater and beginning tech [rehearsals]. We chatted on the phone and had been emailing each other back and forth during rehearsals. Narelle had done a ton of research and kept sending images of what she wanted the space to be. We wanted to create a very naturalistic set so she would send me images almost daily.

"Downstairs" at Primary Stages

John Procaccino in Theresa Rebeck’s “Downstairs” currently at Primary Stages.

In order to make it “Gerry and Irene’s basement,” did you have to do character research? How did you go about finding the nuances of the characters to personalize the space?

Working with a group of actors like these, I didn’t really need to do any character research… they’re that good. They had previously done this play and already knew way more than I would, so I just listened to them. I tried to make myself as available as possible during rehearsals (which is difficult when you’re balancing many other projects). I would bring items into rehearsal for the cast to respond to. Whether a pipe wrench, a plastic spoon, or pillow, we always had options to choose from and work with until each item was right for the character, actor, and play. Their attention to detail is insane so and I wanted to make them as comfortable and supported as possible.

Upstage Left in the laundry area we made the “Irene corner”.  It’s the only part of the stage that seems to have any kind of organization. It’s her space so everything has its own place and put away neatly. The colors and textures are a little brighter and softer making it less hazardous than the rest of the stage.

How did you go about distressing the props to look old and dirty?

Thankfully I’m in the midst of cleaning out and remodeling my own basement at home. My husband and I were about to call a junk removal service when I was offered this play. So instead of trashing all of the things we had dug up, I repurposed them for this set. What’s on stage is straight from one old basement to another. I try to recycle and reuse props as much as possible, so the timing was perfect. Most of the distressing work was already done for us, naturally. I love to distress but this is such a natural and realistic environment I couldn’t do much faux treatment–that would make it a little fake and cartoony. To take it to the next level, however, I used a hot glue gun attached to an air compressor and blew cobwebs all over the set. When you’re onstage and look around you can see what looks like years of neglect.

How long does your design process typically take?

It all depends on the project. I love doing heavily set dressed/immersive shows (What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined; The View Upstairs). When I get shows like those, the more time the better. In theater we literally have days to make environments look like they’ve been lived in for years; it’s a challenge. There are times when I’m hired onto a show a couple of days before rehearsals begin and sometimes I’m given more time. Once rehearsals start, it’s me in a van for three weeks hitting every junk yard, flea market, or craigslist sale I can.

"Downstairs" at Primary Stages

Tim Daly in Theresa Rebeck’s “Downstairs” currently at Primary Stages.

What was your favorite part of designing Downstairs?

I had previously done Daniel’s Husband and The Tribute Artist for Primary Stages, both of which had such beautifully decorated and designed sets. I loved that Downstairs was the complete opposite of those two. With those previous shows I had to be very precise, elegant, and chic. This was a chance to relax, let my hair down, and just make a mess.

Can you tell us about your favorite prop in the show?

In the piles of dressing I dug up from my basement, there’s a Joe Namath popcorn maker from 1971 in its original box. I don’t know where it came from or why I love it so much, but I do.

The cake that Irene bakes and gives to Teddy is also good. It’s a great example of the relationship between actors and the props. Doing food onstage is always difficult but after numerous versions of this prop, we’re all happy.

Is there anything special audiences should keep an eye out for?

There are a couple of hidden gems. If you’ve worked with me before, you know I like to hide certain things on sets I work on. I can’t give too much detail what those things are, but they’re there. They’re always there.

 

The Primary Stages production of Downstairs runs until December 22nd at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and more information, click here.

Meet the Cast of DOWNSTAIRS

Tim Daly headshot TIM DALY (Teddy). Broadway and Off-Broadway: Coastal Disturbances (Theatre World Award); The Caine Mutiny Court Martial; Oliver, Oliver (MTC); Fables for Friends (Playwrights Horizons); Henry Flamethrowa (Studio Dante). Regional: Six Degrees of Separation, Cabaret & Main, A Study in Scarlet, A Knife in the Heart (Williamstown); Colorado Catechism (Dramalogue Award, Coast Playhouse); The Lion in Winter (Windham Rep.); Mass Appeal, Fifth of July, Bus Stop, Of Mice and Men, Buried Child (Trinity Square Repertory); Paris Bound (Berkshire Theatre Festival); Red, The Scene, Downstairs (Dorset). Film: Low Down, Against the Ropes, Bereft (also director and producer), The Object of My Affection, The Associate, Love or Money, Diner. TV: “Madam Secretary,” “Private Practice,” “The Sopranos” (Emmy Award nomination), “Edge of America” (Producer, Peabody and Humanitas Awards), “Execution of Justice” (Executive Producer, GLAAD Award), “Poliwood” (Executive Producer), “The Nine,” “Eyes,” “The Fugitive,” “Wings,” “Almost Grown.”

Tyne Daly HeadshotTYNE DALY (Irene) made her professional debut at the Cherry Lane Theatre in George S. Kaufman’s The Butter and Egg Man in 1966. She is delighted to have been invited to play here again.

 

 

 

 

 

John Procaccino headshot

JOHN PROCACCINO (Gerry). Broadway: Our Mother’s Brief Affair, A Time to Kill, An Enemy of the People, An American Daughter, A Thousand Clowns, Conversations with My Father, Art. Off-Broadway: Love and Information (NYTW); Blood and Gifts, Nikolai and the Others (Lincoln Center); The Qualms (Playwrights Horizons); Incident at Vichy (Signature Theatre). National tour: The Light in the Piazza. Regional: The Normal Heart (Arena); Art, Good Boys and True (Steppenwolf); Death of a Salesman (Old Globe); A Prayer for My Enemy, Curse of the Starving Class, A Moon for the Misbegotten (Long Wharf); All the Kings Men, Arms and the Man (Intiman); Tartuffe, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Seattle Repertory); Dinner with Friends, Side Man, The Crucible (ACT-Theater). Film and TV: A Most Violent Year, Little Men, The Runner Stumbles, Three Fugitives, Born to Be Wild, “Law & Order,” “NYPD Blue,” “Northern Exposure,” “Smash,” “The Good Wife,” “Elementary,” “Madam Secretary,” “The Americans.”

 

The Primary Stages production of Downstairs by Theresa Rebeck runs through December 22, 2018 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Click here for ticket information and more!

In the Kitchen with “Downstairs”

The Primary Stages production of Downstairs is officially underway and we would like you to be a part of the experience. In Theresa Rebeck’s gripping drama, siblings Irene and Teddy (played by real-life siblings Tyne and Tim Daly) bond over the foods they ate as children and the recipes Irene has mastered over the years. Here are some recipes from moments in the show to try for yourself! Bon appétit!

Ziti and Cheese and Sausage – The perfect comfort food for hanging out on the couch.

German Chocolate Cake with Pecans and Coconut Frosting – Just like Teddy and Irene’s mom used to make!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries – Great to send to a family member or to save for yourself.

Hungry for more? The Primary Stages production of Downstairs by Theresa Rebeck runs through December 22 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Click here for ticket information.

A Look Back at the Primary Stages 2018 Gala

This October, Primary Stages hosted its annual Gala to honor Tony Nominees Danny Burstein and Rebecca Luker; Board Member Eleanor Holtzman, and Corporate Advisory Board Member Jose M. Toro. The evening took place at Tribeca 360° with views overlooking downtown and the Hudson River. Here is a recap of the evening’s events filled with performances, tributes, and so much more.

The Gala kicked off with words from our Artistic Director Andrew Leynse and our Executive Director Shane Hudson. 

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Tim Daly, from our current production of Theresa Rebeck’s Downstairs, introduced Laura Osnes for a lovely performance of “Honey Bun” from South Pacific.

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Primary Stages Founder Casey Childs presented the first award of the night to Eleanor Holtzman. Eleanor is a member of Primary Stages Board of Directors and a trailblazing marketing executive. We are grateful for her dedicated guidance and support as we continue to engage new audiences for the future of the company.

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Playwright Leah Nanako Winkler and director Morgan Gould of the upcoming Primary Stages production of God Said This, introduced Quentin Earl Darrington for a beautiful performance of “Some Enchanted Evening”, also from South Pacific.

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Sharon Washington, performer and playwright of last season’s Feeding the Dragon, and our current Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence, introduced a video presentation of the Primary Stages Student Matinee Program.

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Emmy-winning writer, comedian and Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts instructor Judy Gold took charge as the auctioneer for the Paddle Raise! Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Student Matinee Program! (Our highest ever!)

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Board President Jose Mendez presented an award to Jose M. Toro. We are thankful to have him as a founding member of the Primary Stages Corporate Advisory board.

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Sarna Lapine, director of our upcoming production of Little Women, took the stage to introduce Kate Baldwin with a performance of one of honoree Rebecca Luker’s favorite songs, “When I’m Dead.”

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Tony Nominee Rebecca Luker was unfortunately unable to be there in person, but she joined us via video to receive her award. Rebecca is known for her Broadway roles in Mary Poppins and The Music Man, among others. She joined us at Primary Stages for A.R. Gurney’s Indian Blood in 2006.

Kecia Lewis-Evans performed a special mash-up from The Drowsy Chaperone and Cinderella and reminisced about her long friendship with Danny Burstein, which goes all the way back to high school.

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At last, Joel Grey presented the final award of the evening to Tony Nominee Danny Burstein. Danny was most recently on Broadway as Tevye in the revival of Fiddler on Roof, and has an extensive resume of outstanding performances.

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Primary Stages favorite Charles Busch (The Tribute Artist) and Board member Janet Rosen teamed up to announce the launch of our 35th Anniversary Campaign for the Future of Primary Stages. The campaign was established to stimulate strategic growth and fully support our artistic, educational, and outreach efforts, as well as organizational infrastructure for an artistically adventurous and prosperous future.

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All good things must come to an end. Shane Hudson and Andrew Leynse returned to close the evening, but there was one last special surprise! Delicious pumpkin bread for breakfast the next morning from our pals at  The Good Batch.

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Thank you to all who came to this year’s Gala and participated in our Paddle Raise and Silent Auction. If you want to learn more about supporting Primary Stages, visit our website.

Take “The Love Course” With Us!

In honor of The Love Course, one of the three one-act plays in our production of A.R. Gurney’s Final Follies, we invite you to read up on some of the works referenced in the piece! This should help you keep up with Professors Carroway and Burgess as they dissect some of the greatest works of romantic literature.

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

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via Wikimedia Commons

  • “If it be love indeed, tell me how much.”
  • “There’s beggary in the love that can be reckon’d.”
  • “I’ll set a bourn how far to be belov’d.”

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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  • “Don’t torture me until I’m as mad as yourself.”
  • “Well never mind! That is not my Heathcliffe. I shall love mine yet and take him with me—he’s in my soul.”
  • “His eyes wide, and wet at last, flashed fiercely on her, his breast heaved convulsively. An instant they held asunder; and then how they met I hardly saw, but Catherine made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought my mistress would never be released alive.”

Symposium by Plato

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  • “There are those people who are pregnant in soul, and give birth to ideas. And these people maintain a much closer communion than the parents of children. They share between them children more beautiful and more immortal.”

Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner

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Wikimedia Commons

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

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Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

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Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Troubadour Poets

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Final Follies by A.R. Gurney runs September 12 – October 21, 2018 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Click here for ticket information and more!

Wisdom & Inspiration from A.R. Gurney

Over his lifetime, A.R. Gurney shared many words of wisdom with audiences here at Primary Stages and at theaters across the country. Here are some of our favorite anecdotes of advice from one of the most prolific playwrights of the 20th century. (And follow us on Instagram for new wisdom each Wednesday!)

The Primary Stages production of Final Follies by A.R. Gurney runs through October 21, 2018 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Click here for ticket information and more!