QTC favorite Audrey Cefaly’s THE GULF receives rave reviews at Signature Theatre


Maria Rizzo and Rachel Zampelli in The Gulf. (photo by Margot Schulman)

For an evening of thought provoking drama, see Quotidian Theatre Company alum and playwright Audrey Cefaly spread her wings with her latest play, The Gulf, at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. Cefaly’s play portrays two lovers drifting along in a spare boat, adrift in the middle of a backwoods Southern river delta, as they sort through their six-year relationship, realizing that moving forward may well mean moving in different directions.

The Gulf has drawn rave reviews for its ability to portray the joys and heartbreak of love. As John Stoltenburg of DCMetro Theatre Arts observes, “Audrey Cefaly’s The Gulf is as memorable as anyone’s own first broken heart and as enduring as anyone’s longing for lasting love.”

According to Amanda Gunther of Theatre Bloom, Cefaly’s story is “profoundly crafted with a striking emotional core. [She] articulates her work with nuance and finesse while doing so in the practiced patois of the gulf vernacular” and is “practically a poet with the give and take, push and pull, ebb and flow of the way these two women interact.”


Maria Rizzo and Rachel Zampelli in The Gulf. (photo by Margot Schulman)


The acting is also first rate. Ryan Taylor of DC Theatre Scene observes, “Maria Rizzo and Rachel Zampelli make a cracking pair, evoking a couple that has been together long enough to know each other inside and out, just enough to effectively wound in argument, with full knowledge that both have a killing blow stored, just in case.”

Jeffrey Walker of Broadway World proclaims that Cefaly is “an exciting new voice for the theatre,” and he adds that Rizzo and Zampelli give “two of the most riveting performances I have seen this season so far.”

David Siegel of DC Metro Theatre Arts agrees, enthusing “The portrayals by Maria Rizzo and Rachel Zampelli will be talked about beyond DC, as they should. They set a high bar for those who come after them, when The Gulf becomes a play produced through[out] the United States, as I am sure it will be.”

Further accolades come from Peter Marks of the Washington Post for director Joe Calarco, who ensures “the 85-minute comedy-drama is invested with an assured, soulful intimacy.”

The Gulf is a play that is not to be missed!

Tickets, $40-$89. Through Nov. 6 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Visit sigtheatre.org or call 703-820- 9771.

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Quotidian’s Take on THE NIGHT ALIVE

Why in the world, you might ask, would Quotidian Theatre Company choose to stage ConorTNA CultureSpot McPherson’s NY-Drama-Circle-Award-Winning Play The Night Alive after its Bethesda neighbor, Round House, so successfully produced the play just one year earlier? Well, let’s go back to December 2013, when QTC co-founders Jack Sbarbori and Stephanie Mumford saw the difficult-to-categorize work at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York. As usual, we saw the play a couple of times and sat as close as possible to the stage in the intimate performance space, a former church, so we could feel a part of the action. We were spellbound by the authenticity and humanity of the quirky, yet entirely recognizable characters. The dramatic shifts between the everyday and otherworldly, the seediness and sublime, the despair, and laugh-out-loud humor enthralled us.

So of course, Jack–McPherson’s number one fan and noted director of McPherson’s plays in the D.C. area—had to do it. He immediately applied for the rights, but was chagrined to learn that a larger regional theatre had it in reserve for a staging in the distant future. In the meantime, Jack mollified his disappointment by directing another McPherson play on his “to-do” list, This Lime Tree Bower, and just as soon as Round House completed its production of The Night Alive in the fall of 2015, Jack successfully obtained the rights.

One of QTC’s core missions is to examine the canon of works by its cornerstone playwrights—Anton Chekhov, Horton Foote, and Conor McPherson. Having previously staged McPherson’s The Weir, Dublin Carol, Port Authority (D.C. area premiere), The Seafarer, Shining City, The Birds (D.C. area premiere), The Veil (U.S. premiere), and This Lime Tree Bower, QTC is running out of McPherson’s plays to explore, while garnering a reputation for expert and insightful stagings of the master Irish playwright’s works. Despite Round House’s fine production last season, D.C. Theatre Scene’s Tim Treanor still put QTC’s 2016 offering of the same work on his annual list of “won’t-miss shows.” According to Treanor, “Quotidian… specializes in the subtle and the underplayed, which is just perfect for this play.” In July 2015, D.C. Theater Scene’s Roy Maurer praised QTC as “the best stage to experience McPherson’s plays in the Washington, D.C. area.”

So, even if you have already seen this play, QTC’s special affinity for McPherson’s work is likely to make you see it in a different light, particularly its mystifying ending.

The Night Alive runs October 21 – November 20, 2016 at The Writer’s Center, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now

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Meet the Artists of THE LADY WITH THE LITTLE DOG: Christine Kharazian

Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with Christine Kharazian, who plays the Violinist and Gurov’s wife.


Zach Roberts and Christine Kharazian in LADY photo by St. Johnn Blondell

What was your first theatrical experience? While I have been involved in many productions as a musician, my first truly theatrical experience was with Quotidian’s A Little Trick a couple of years back. However, while I was on stage and in a costume, there was little acting involved and the only sound I produced came from my violin.

What’s different about this role/project for you? How does this rehearsal process differ from others? Music and Theatre are both performing arts, so you might expect that the creative process is similar for the two art forms. However, I found the theatrical experience to be very different. At the first rehearsals, everything felt really disconnected, like big pieces of a puzzle that were so far from each other it was hard to imagine they would ever come together. As the time progressed, the pieces came closer and closer and it was fascinating to see how everything finally fell into place and started to flow. Keeping that flow is probably one of the biggest challenges. For a musician, the best performance state is internal – when you go inside yourself and disconnect from reality, your music will be better. I sometimes imagine that I don’t really play it, but that I just hear someone else playing and my physical body isn’t even there. With theatre, however, you need to be very aware of yourself, your fellow actors, furniture, props, everything around you. Everyone depends on everyone else.

What is most exciting about this play? What is most challenging? As I mentioned, this is the first time I’ve actually done any acting, so that has been quite exciting. The most challenging part is the mental switch between acting and playing music. Also I think it’s a challenge to convey musical beauty if you only get to play a very short excerpt. You don’t have much time, just few notes and that’s it. I try my best to be disconnected enough to play well and connected enough to know it’s time to play.

Why should audiences come to see this play? I think this play has many visually charming scenes. Our director, Stephanie Mumford has made many interesting decisions that make this play different and appealing to open-minded audiences. The tastefully presented cultural references turn it into, as one reviewer said  “an intimate one-hour visit to late 19th-century Russia.” I think it is a really nice piece of dramatic art. Come see for yourself.

The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now

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A Word From Audience Member Rita Rubin

COLOR (2).JPGIn his short lifetime—he died of tuberculosis at age 44—Anton Chekhov wrote more than 400 short stories and numerous plays (and all while practicing medicine, which helped to inform his writing).

As a writer myself (although, of course, one far less prolific, despite having lived more than a decade longer than Chekhov did), I can’t help but wonder whether Chekhov ever puzzled over which form, short story or play, best-served the tale he wanted to tell. Did he always know when he sat down to write that this one would work best as a play and that one as a short story? Or did he wait for his characters to direct him?

The Quotidian Theater Company’s adaptation of “The Lady with the Little Dog” demonstrates that some of Chekhov’s works could have gone either way.

In anticipation of seeing the play, I read the short story for the first time a few hours before Saturday’s performance. I was curious to see how the stage version would handle the exposition that makes up roughly half of the short story. Plus, how would a stage production, especially a production on QTC’s relatively small stage, convey a promenade along the sea along with multiple interior settings? Perhaps one factor Chekhov considered when deciding whether a tale was better suited for the page than the stage was the number of settings in which it took place. And finally, what about that titular dog? Would I see “animal trainer” listed among the production staff?

“I made up very little,” director and QTC co-founder Stephanie Mumford, who adapted the short story for the QTC production, told me before the performance began.

Stephanie incorporated much of the short story’s exposition as narration and dialog spoken by a character named Anton Pavlovich, a name that doesn’t appear in the short story. But, as in the play, the character Pavlovich is present throughout the short story. That’s because Pavlovich happens to be Chekhov’s middle name.

“In any story, the author is part of the story,” Stephanie noted. I loved that Pavlovich, played by QTC regular David Dubov, occasionally jotted notes in a small notebook, suggesting that the action on stage provided a glimpse into the writer’s imagination as he worked. Dmitri Dmitriyevich Gurov, played by Ian Blackwell Rogers, and Anna Sergeyevna, the lady with the little dog (I won’t spoil how Mumford handled that part of the story), played by Chelsea Mayo, sometimes finish Pavlovich’s sentences. Audience members also get to peer into Gurov’s head by way of recordings of Ian speaking the character’s thoughts, taken directly from the short story.

As for conveying the sea on stage, projections of images of the shore and the sound of the waves and seagulls left me feeling like I could almost smell the salt air.

“I think it will feel very much like you’re alive in the story,” Stephanie told me before the performance.

That was especially the case toward the play’s end, when Dmitri, hoping to run into Anna, travels to her hometown of Saratov and attends the opening night of an operetta. The QTC theater, of course, doubles for the Saratov theater. Four antique chairs placed in front of the Bethesda theater’s first row are reserved not for QTC subscribers but for the turn-of- the-20 the century Russian audience (the night I saw the play, Stephanie had to shoo a 21st -century audience member, obviously someone who wanted to get up close and personal with the action on stage, out of one of the antique chairs).

Dmitry, who turns to chase Anna up the stairs of the QTC/Russian theater, appears to be genuinely surprised and at least a little annoyed to see the audience. “Oh, heavens!” he exclaims. “Why are these people here?”

To see this fine adaptation of Chekhov’s love story, of course.

Rita Rubin, a Bethesda resident, is a long-time journalist who earned an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins in 2010. She earned a BS in journalism from Northwestern University. Rita has published several short stories and personal essays as well as thousands of news articles and features on websites and in publications ranging from Forbes.com to the Journal of the American Medical Association.


The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now


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Meet the Artists of THE LADY WITH THE LITTLE DOG: Zach Roberts

Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with Zach Roberts, who plays the Pianist, Anna’s husband, and many other roles.


Zach Roberts (center) with Ian Blackwell Rogers (left) and David Dubov (right) in The Lady with the Little Dog.

What was your first theatrical experience? My mom is an opera director, so my first experience was as a shepherd in a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors when I was about 3 years old!

How did you begin performing in DC? After moving back from London in 2010 I began studying at the Studio Theatre Conservatory. I think my first official paid acting job in DC was understudying Edgar and Annabel at Studio 2nd Stage.

What’s your dream role/project? So many! I’m an artist of big dreams! A role that’s always been on my mind is Mozart in Amadeus. I would love to bring my own idiosyncratic take to that role!

What appeals to you about the DC theatre community? The DC theatre community is made up of some of the most passionate people I have ever met in any field.

How did you get involved with The Lady with the Little Dog? My career aspirations have been moving more towards music design rather than just acting, and it was an exciting proposal to get to play the piano in a production. I played a little bit in Madwoman of Chaillot at WSC Avant Bard and had a blast. I was eager to do it again!

How has the process been so far? Interesting and challenging. It’s a play in which the subtext and mood are key. It’s easy to mess up but satisfying when everything clicks.

What’s different about this role/project for you? I have never been in a show in which my back faces the audience for 99% of the show before!

What is most exciting about this play? The music, of course!

What is most challenging? I think anytime you need to rapidly shift characters it’s particularly challenging. That happens a few times in this play.

Why should audiences come to see this play? To feel fully immersed in an entirely different world.

The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now

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Meet the Artists of THE LADY WITH THE LITTLE DOG: Ed Moser

Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with Ed Moser, Sound and Projections Designer.

What was your first theatrical experience? My first experiences performing were earlier than I can remember, actually. My mother was an award-winning documentarian who, among other things, played Norfolk’s first Romper Room hostess. I was on the show whenever the tv studio needed more kids to go to air. My father was Jackie Gleason’s deck manager in Miami, and I remember the week day rehearsals: a world premiere hour-long musical production for national air on a weekly basis. Since my parents were so active in that community, I saw a great deal of backstage production, from car commercials to puppet theatre.

How did you begin designing in DC? I’d been back to school in an attempt to keep up with youngsters breaking into industrial video and music production. Their fresh certifications with softwares were proving superior to my experience in the job market, so here I was, back at home looking to complete my required internship, when out of the blue an old mutual friend of Tim Thompson’s called me with a sound engineering question. Tim is the sound master at Arena and was then looking for some production help with Señor Discretion Himself. It was lucky timing.

What appeals to you about the DC theatre community? In film, when the project strikes, no one wants to go through that kind of work again anytime soon, so finding steady work with artistic satisfaction has become impossible since the Reagan era. In theatre, we’re nutty enough to move right on the the next show. The scale is small, but the community is large and active enough to keep you busy through the whole year, if you want it bad enough. Very few cities have that.

How did you get involved with The Lady with the Little DogI love working with Quotidian Theatre. It’s that simple; it’s my favorite company. The people here make Emma Peel look incompetent. The secret to the quality of shows you see here is that the artists get to work far in advance. For Lady, we’ve been actively designing since last fall. When you have that much lead time for revisions it pays dividends.

What’s different about this role/project for you? How does this rehearsal process differ from others? Most productions divide and conquer by department, then merge everything in the final week before opening. So the performers usually have weeks to get everything to a certain standard, and memorization, before adding costumes, lights, etc. But for this show, our director, Stephanie, knows that the key to achieving the tone that she’s so good at setting (marked by A Little Trick a couple of years ago) is to integrate early. In particular, the blocking is detailed to word by word, moment by moment, step by step blueprinting that amounts to choreography. Everything about this process has been so much more collaborative.

How has the process been so far? Rewarding. Being a small company in a small venue, our challenge is always to squeeze more than is possible out of our resources— or at least I’m one of those responsible for making sure we do— and on this show we’re really taking a home run swing. We’re adding a multi­-level set and projections, which invariably tax the ingenuity of production teams, but now comes the payoff on the investment, and I can’t wait for opening night. This is a good show.

The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now


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Meet the Artists of THE LADY WITH THE LITTLE DOG: Ian Blackwell Rogers

Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with Ian Blackwell Rogers, who plays Dmitry Dmitriyevich Gurov. 


Ian Blackwell Rogers

What was your first theatrical experience? Clowning, like literally trying to be a clown, under the awning at an aunt’s wedding, around age 6.

What appeals to you about the DC theatre community? What a great community! I’ve found it tremendously supportive, and friendly, and there’s a lot of spark to come up with good ideas. You work with people, and you want to work with them again, and you probably will. Fortunately, people seem to want to work with me again too!

How did you get involved with The Lady with the Little Dog? Chelsea recommended that I read for this project, and I liked it a lot. I felt it would be a good stretch for me. I could imagine the production, and I wanted to see how it would come together.

What’s different about this role/project for you? How does this rehearsal process differ from others? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of Shakespeare and other early modern verse plays, which demand a more presentational style. Lots of words; gestures and emotions are big; there’s a heightened quality. Here, we’re trying to say a lot while actually uttering a little less, if that makes sense.

What is most exciting about this play? What is most challenging? I think the answer is the same for both of these questions— the precision demanded as we use our words, our movements, our music, and the delicate interactions between people to create this world that we hope will be absolutely realistic, but not rigid in time and place. I love this style of work, but it is demanding!

Why should audiences come to see this play? 
I think there is a unique mood in the words, the Russian setting, and the music. The music! That’s probably the best short answer.

The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now

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