Live Production by Award-Winning Playwright
Harrison David Rivers Makes World Premiere
I COULDN’T TELL YOU WHY
May 22 – 30
** part of NYC’s Open Culture program **
Refracted Theatre Company will present the World Premiere of I COULDN’T TELL YOU WHY
as part of NYC’s Open Culture program May 22 – 30. This audio immersive theatrical experience is written by award-winning playwright Harrison David Rivers (When Last We Flew, This Bitter Earth) and directed by Refracted’s Artistic Director Tova Wolff (The King’s Speech, Monica: This Play is Not About Monica Lewinsky). I COULDN’T TELL YOU WHY
centers on the experience of a young gay Black man struggling to free himself from wounds left by his father.
I COULDN’T TELL YOU WHY challenges the audience to accept what is both heard and seen, as we enter the mind of a young man torn between past and future. Can Casey hold his history of his father, a history of both love and pain, as he drives toward a new level of intimacy with his boyfriend? It’s his call…and yours.
For the live site-specific production of I COULDN’T TELL YOU WHY, a socially-distanced audience will gather on East 47th Street in Manhattan and will be given headphones to listen to the audio portion of the play while an ensemble of live performers present a movement-based version of the story that contextualizes and complicates the audio narrative.
The audioplay, which features sound design by Drew Sensue-Weinstein and original music by Noah Therrien, will be released as three distinct episodes on Refracted’s audio immersive short-play podcast, The Swell (available on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify) on June 7. The audio cast stars Jonathan Burke (The Inheritance, Choir Boy, Tuck Everlasting), Daniel K. Isaac (Billions, According to My Mother), Ivan Moore (Luke Cage, Bull), and Stevi Incremona (In Pieces, Play/Date); the live ensemble stars Kyle Starling, Marcus Zebra Smith, and Azi Coppin.
I COULDN’T TELL YOU WHY runs May 22, 23, 29 and 30 at 5pm. The performance begins in front of 884 2nd Avenue, on the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue at 47th Street. Runtime is 35 minutes. Audience members must be able to stand for the duration of the event as the action of the play moves around them on the street. Tickets are $20 – $40 at www.refractedco.com.
Harrison David Rivers is a St. Paul based playwright. His plays include The Bandaged Place (Relentless Award), When Last We Flew (GLAAD Media Award), Sweet (AUDELCO nominee), Where Storms Are Born (Berkshire Theatre Award nomination), This Bitter Earth (Jeff nomination, MN Theatre Award) and the musicals Five Points with Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar (MN Theatre Award) and Broadbend, Arkansas with Ellen Fitzhugh and Ted Shen (Antonyo and AUDELCO nominations). Harrison was named a Runner-up for the 2018 Artist of the Year by the Star Tribune and a 2017 Artist of the Year by City Pages. He is the recipient of McKnight, Jerome and Van Lier Fellowships, and residencies with the Bogliasco Foundation, Siena Art Institute, the Hermitage, Duke University, NYTW, New York Stage & Film and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Harrison is a member of the Board of Directors of the Playwright Center and The Movement Theatre Company. www.harrisondavidrivers.com
Tova Wolff is a Director and Producer based in New York. Her recent directing credits include Clearing House (The Swell), Contrition: A Long Voicemail (The Swell), The King’s Speech (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre & National Tour, Associate Director), Monica: This Play Is Not About Monica Lewinsky (59E59 Theaters & Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019), Security (Secret Theatre), A Bad Night (The Frontier), Fade (Victory Gardens, Associate Director), For the Loyal (Athenaeum Theater, Associate Director), Still Rising (The Tank), Pam’s Key (Gallery Players), and Bachelorette (Walkerspace at Soho Rep.). In 2016 Tova won Best Director for her production of Between Men at the Midtown International Theatre Festival. She was a 2017/2018 Directing Fellow at Victory Gardens Theater and a 2017 participant in the Director’s Lab Chicago. She is a co-founder and Artistic Director of Refracted Theatre Company. Tova received her BA from Northwestern University. www.tovawolff.com
Drew Sensue-Weinstein (he/him) is a theatre and sound artist whose work involves the integration of electroacoustic sound and music with live performance. Drew has created original works that have been presented at venues including HERE Arts Center, JACK, The Brick, The Hive, Jersey City Theatre Center, and Leimay’s Soak. He has directed projects at the New Ohio Theatre, The Wild Project, Vital Joint, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and Dixon Place, and has designed works with companies including HERE, the Oye Group, Leimay, Quantum Theatre, Convergence Theatre, Target Margin Theatre, and Taragano Theatre. drewrweinstein.com
Refracted Theatre Company was started by Co-Founders and Co-Artistic Directors Graham Miller and Tova Wolff in 2019. Refracted aims to combat bias and reinvigorate nuance by telling the other side of the story. After presenting a Refracted Reading of Bekah Brunstetter’s Be A Good Little Widow at Medicine Show Theater, theaters were shuttered by the pandemic in March of 2020. However, Refracted forged ahead as the small theatre that kept creating in crisis. By delving into audio theater, Refracted has found ways to present safe, live, immersive engagements. In the summer of 2021, Refracted launched their audio immersive podcast series, The Swell, featuring short plays by emerging playwrights meant to be enjoyed in specific locations. This led to the creation of Park ‘n Swell, wherein audiences were offered silent disco headphones and taken on tours of the locations where The Swell episodes were meant to be enjoyed, such as green spaces and bodies of water in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. In October 2020, Refracted produced Homeless Garden by Matt Minnicino and Co-Developed and Directed by Artistic Director Graham Miller. A future-tinted and climate crisis-geared adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, Homeless Garden was presented as both audio and physical theatre, as audiences in Prospect Park and Central Park enjoyed a fully curated audio play while live actors performed the play, masked and socially distanced, as a silent panto-performance. As Refracted enters its second season in the second year of the pandemic, I Couldn’t Tell You Why marks the evolution of a relationship between audio and live theatre that is sure to inspire and provoke.
###Attached photos: Kyle Starling, Marcus Zebra Smith, and Azi Coppin. Photos by Jeff Buckholz.