Lewis D. Wheeler and Amanda Collins
Gloucester Stage Company continues its 37th season of professional theater on Cape Ann with the New England premiere of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s The Totalitarians from September 1 through September 24 at 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA. Gloucester Stage Managing Director Jeff Zinn makes his Gloucester Stage directing debut with this off-the-wall-satire of the zany world of politics. Peter Sinn Nachtrieb has written a not-so-tall-tale of an oligarchic takeover led by a Palinesque Manchurian candidate, and possibly thwarted by a hapless one-man commando squad…in Nebraska? This raucous dark comedy about the state of modern political discourse, modern relationships, and how easy it is to believe truths without facts features a cast of GSC veterans Amanda Collins and Lewis D. Wheeler, and GSC newcomers Breean Julian and Alex Portenko. According to Director Zinn, “As we all watch, with our jaws dropped, the daily excesses of candidates and hear the commentators remark, ‘you can’t make this stuff up,’ I am incredibly grateful to Peter Nachtreib for ‘making stuff up’ that rises to the occasion. Some may find the humor in The Totalitarians outrageous, but in this political moment I believe outrage is exactly what we need.”
San Francisco-based playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s play, The Totalitarians was commissioned through the National New Play Network and New Dramatists Full Stage USA program and premiered in 2014 at Southern Rep, Woolly Mammoth and Z Space. The Totalitarians will soon be published by Dramatists Play Service. Mr. Sinn Nachtrieb’s other works include boom, TCG’s most produced play 2009-10; BOB, the winner of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Award at the 2011 Humana Festival for New American Plays at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville; T.I.C. (Trenchcoat In Common), Hunter Gatherers, winner of the 2007 ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award and the 2007 Will Glickman Prize; Colorado; and Litter: The True Story of the Framingham Dodecutuplets. His work has been seen off-Broadway and across the country including at Ars Nova, SPF, Woolly Mammoth, Seattle Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, San Diego Rep, and in the Bay Area at A.C.T., Encore Theatre, Killing My Lobster, Marin Theatre Company, Impact Theatre, and The Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Projects in process include an original musical called Fall Springs: A MusicalDisaster (with composer/lyricist Nikko Tsakalakos) and the Z Space commission, A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion led by guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry. Mr. Sinn Nachtrieb holds a degree in Theater and Biology from Brown and an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. He is a member of New Dramatists and is the Playwright in Residence at Z Space in San Francisco.
Amanda Collins was last seen at GSC in the IRNE nominated role of Dotty in 2015’s Out of Sterno by Deborah Zoe Laufer. Previous GSC appearances include This Is Our Youth, 9 Circles and The Woman In Black. Regionally her credits include Saving Kitty with Jennifer Coolidge at the Nora Theatre Company Taste of Sunrise at Wheelock Family Theatre; The Seagull with Harbor Stage Company; A Behanding in Spokane, The Bald Soprano,Speech and Debate, Shortstack, Colorado, and What Then at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater; When The World Was Green and An Ideal Husbandat American Stage in Florida; 9 Circles with the Publick Theatre in Boston;The Island of Slaves with Orfeo Group; No Exit at the Payomet Performing Arts Center; Brecht’s The Life of Galileo with Underground Railway Theater; and Jester’s Dead with The Outfit in New York City. Her television credits include Olive Kitteridge on HBO, and the ABC pilot, Boston‘s Finest.On film she has appeared in Sea of Trees. Ms. Collins received her BA in History and Theatre from Regis College
Lewis D. Wheeler most recently appeared at GSC in last season’sGloucester Blue by Israel Horovitz. His other GSC credits include acting in Doubt: A Parable and An Ideal Husband and directing Kenneth Lonergan’sThis Is Our Youth. Mr. Wheeler’s regional credits include No Man’s Land at American Repertory Theater; Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Pattern of Life, and Muckrakers at New Repertory Theatre; Chosen Child at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre; The Importance of Being Earnest, A Number, andThe Glass Menagerie with Lyric Stage Company of Boston; Arcadia, andTroilus and Cressida with the Publick Theatre; five seasons at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre (WHAT); as well as productions at American Stage (Florida), the Nora Theatre Company, Underground Railway Theater, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Huntington Theatre Company, Stoneham Theatre, Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, and Wheelock Family Theatre. A founding member of Harbor Stage Company, Mr. Wheeler performed in The Seagull and Hedda Gabler and directed David Rabe’sSticks and Bones for the company. His film and television credits include PBS’ Louisa May Alcott and the films The Company Men, Pink Panther 2,Black Mass and the upcoming films Manchester-by-the-Sea and Live by Night. Lewis’s father was renowned director David Wheeler, whose GSC credits include Speak Well of the Dead and The Crazy Girl in 2002 with Jill Clayburgh and her daughter, Lily Rabe. Lewis Wheeler earned his BA in Theatre and Film Studies at Cornell University and an MFA from American Film Institute.
Breean Julian performed in New York City for many years and then took a hiatus to pursue a career in drama therapy, eventually making Boston her new home. Locally, she has worked with the Huntington Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, The Merrimack Repertory Theatre and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. Her regional credits include: The Old Globe, The Guthrie Theater and Stamford Center of the Arts. Her television credits include Guiding Light, Lifetime Television for Women and local commercials and voice work. Ms. Julian holds an MFA in Acting from the Graduate Acting Program at New York University and a MA in Drama Therapy from New York University
Originally from Uzbekistan, Alex Portenko earned his BFA in theatre arts from Salem State University.
Mr. Portenko’s regional credits include The Merry Widow with Boston Lyric Opera; O Happy Port! and Six Degrees of Separation with Bad Habit Productions; and The Normal Heart at Salem Theatre Company. Alex is an alumnus of the First Stage Program with the Lyric Stage Company of Boston and has worked as an assistant director and choreographer for Brookline High School.
GSC Managing Director and The Totalitarians director Jeff Zinn has been acting, directing, teaching, and writing about theater for more than 30 years. Before coming to GSC he was best known as the longtime artistic director of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT) on Cape Cod where he produced almost 200 productions, many of which he directed. Under his leadership WHAT became a nationally recognized regional theater presenting provocative new American plays for a diverse and appreciative audience. During his time there he also led a multimillion dollar capital campaign culminating in the construction of the Julie Harris Stage, a year-round 200 seat venue described as “a gem” by the architecture critic of the Boston Globe. As an actor he had his equity debut as Danny in the original off-broadway production of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity In Chicago, and appeared on Broadway with Derek Jacobi in The Suicide. As a director he developed new plays at Ensemble Studio Theater, The White Barn Theater, The West Bank Cafe, Theater for the New City, the Berkshire Playwright’s Lab, New Jersey Repertory Theater, Boston Playwrights Theater, and as a member of the Circle Repertory Company Lab. Locally he has directed for the Nora Theater and the New Repertory Theater. His Book, The Existential Actor: Life and Death, Onstage and Off (Smith and Kraus Publishing) was released in 2015.
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s The Totalitarians runs September 1 through September 24 at Gloucester Stage. Performances are Wednesday throughSaturday at 7:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Following the 2 pm performances on Sunday, September 11 and September 18 audiences are invited to free post-show discussions with the artists from The Totalitarians. Single ticket prices are $28 to $38 with discounts available for Preview Performances, Cape Ann Residents, Senior Citizens and Patrons 25 years old and under. In addition to regular reserved tickets, Pay What You Wish tickets are available for the Saturday, September 10 matinee at 2 pm. Pay What You Wish tickets can only be purchased day of show at the door. All performances are held at 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA. For more information about Gloucester Stage, or to purchase tickets, call the Box Office at 978-281-4433 or visit www.gloucesterstage.com.