Next up at the Echo Theater Company: the world premiere of Sheila Callaghan’s newest play – a funny, sexy and unconventional romance with music. Jennifer Chambers directs Kate Morgan Chadwick, TW Leshner and Johnathan McClain in BED, opening Feb. 6 at Atwater Village Theatre.
Witty, raw, racy, spanning 10 years in less than 90 minutes and featuring original songs by Sophocles Papavasilopoulos and Maxwell Gualtieri, BED explores issues of love, abandonment and betrayal as seen through Callaghan’s unique and inimitable lens.
According to Callaghan, this “little bomb of a relationship play” is her most personal work to date.
“It’s certainly not autobiographical in any way,” she emphasizes. “The situation and the characters are all complete fiction. But I was inspired by a traumatic event in my life. It’s very unusual for me, because I never write personal stories. I feel really good about exploring this with the Echo.”
“This is a very different kind of love story from what we’re used to,” notes Chambers. “It’s not about people learning from their mistakes or changing. It’s about being able to accept one’s nature, and the natures of the people we love, in order to move forward together. The character of Holly is wild and sexy and talented – and that’s what Cliff loves about her. But how do you live with that everyday?”
Sheila Callaghan’s plays have been produced and developed with Soho Rep, Playwright’s Horizons, Yale Rep, South Coast Repertory, Clubbed Thumb, The LARK, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, New Georges, The Flea, Woolly Mammoth, Boston Court, and Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre, among others. Sheila is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award for emerging artists, a Jerome Fellowship from the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis, a MacDowell Residency, a Cherry Lane Mentorship Fellowship, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, and the prestigious Whiting Award. Her plays have been produced internationally in New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Germany, Portugal and the Czech Republic. These include Scab; Crawl Fade to White; Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake); We Are Not These Hands; Dead City; Lascivious Something; Kate Crackernuts; That Pretty Pretty, or the Rape Play; Fever/Dream; Everything You Touch; Roadkill Confidential; Elevada; and Women Laughing Alone with Salad. She is published with Playscripts.com and Samuel French, and several of her collected works are published with Counterpoint Press. She has taught playwriting at Columbia University, University of Rochester, College of New Jersey, Florida State University and Spalding University. Sheila is an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb and a member of the Obie-winning playwright’s organization 13P. Sheila is also an alumna of New Dramatists. In 2010, Callaghan was profiled by Marie Claire as one of “18 Successful Women Who Are Changing the World.” She was also named one of Variety magazine’s “10 Screenwriters to Watch” of 2010. Sheila is currently a writer/producer on the hit Showtime comedy Shameless and a founder of the feminist activist group The Kilroys. She was recently nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her work on the Hulu comedy series Casual.
Jennifer Chambers’ directing credits include critically acclaimed productions of Better by Jessica Goldberg at the Echo, where she is associate artistic director; Bruce Norris’ The Pain and the Itch at the Zephyr Theatre, Complete at the Matrix Theatre; Play Dates at the Asylum Theatre (L.A. Times “Critic’s Choice”); the world premiere of Stephen Belber’s The Muscles in Our Toes at the El Portal; Yog Sothoth, The Third Best Debater and Here to Serve You at San Pedro’s Little Fish Theatre; and Suzan Lori Park’s 365 Play/365 Days at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She has assisted Jonathan Moscone on Cal Shakespeare’s production of Man and Superman and Liz Diamond on Catherine Treischman’s Crooked at the Women’s Project Theatre. She was the assistant director of the Piedmont Children’s Theatre and has directed autobiographical theater pieces at the Living Arts Center in Berkeley, California. She is a professional actress who has performed on Broadway, has numerous regional credits, and has written and performed two autobiographical solo pieces, Choices at the Marsh Theatre and Mine at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She has an undergraduate degree in theater arts from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology with a concentration in drama therapy from The California Institute of Integral Studies.
Dedicated to producing new work, the multiple award-winning Echo Theater Company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly in its 2014 Best of L.A. issue and was a recent recipient of the “Kilroy Cake Drop”- one of only 13 theaters in the country to be surprised by cakes to honor the efforts they are making to produce women and trans writers. Under the leadership of founding artistic director Chris Fields, the Echo has introduced Los Angeles to playwrights such as David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp, Sarah Ruhl, Tommy Smith and Miki Johnson among many others. The company is also recognized for its acting ensemble; in the Los Angeles Times, theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Echo Theater Company, which has cultivated a community of top flight actors, would be my go-to place in Los Angeles for symbiotic ensemble acting.” Following a two-decade itinerant existence, the Echo moved to Atwater Village Theatre in 2014 – its first permanent home.
Scenic design for BED is by Se Oh; lighting design is by Sean Mallary; sound design is by Jeff Gardner; costume design is by Michael Mullen; graphic design is by Elizabeth Hale; production photography is by Darrett Sanders; and the production stage manager is Samantha McCann. Emyli Gudmundson and Tara Karsian produce for The Echo Theater Company.
BED runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., Feb. 6 through March 13. There will be three preview performances, on Wednesday, Feb. 3, Thursday, Feb. 4 and Fri., Feb. 5, each at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25, except previews which are Pay-What-You-Can. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.