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Luna Stage Enters A New Era

originally published: 07/16/2018

Luna Stage Enters A New Era

(WEST ORANGE, NJ) -- Luna Stage Company launched a new era on July 1, when it welcomed Ari Laura Kreith as Artistic Director and Miriam Gardin as Managing Director. The new team has announced a MainStage season featuring four new plays set in locations ranging from Malawi to Manhattan. They are committed to developing work that inspires empathy, provokes dialogue, catalyzes action, and reflects local voices as well as national and international conversations. 

“I want people to walk out of Luna’s plays inspired to connect. I want them to see the world more deeply and to take action about things that matter to them,” said Kreith. “I’m excited to produce theatre that reflects the vibrant community we inhabit—and to stage plays that grapple with the central issues of our time.” Luna’s pre- and post-show conversations initiate the process of dialogue and connection, as does the company’s Context Room, an exhibit space displaying historical, dramaturgical, and other relevant materials for audience members before performances and during intermission. This exchange, jumpstarted at Luna, then continues on into people’s daily lives. 

In its 25-year history, Luna Stage has nurtured more than 80 plays, and countless playwrights, actors, and audiences. “Luna has become known for its high-quality, adventurous work and, more recently, for its bold educational opportunities for both children and adults,” Gardin said, “yet we’ve been told that Luna is New Jersey’s best-kept secret. We aim to build on Luna’s first 25 years, deepening our connection with our local community, broadening our connection with theatre-goers beyond our neighborhood, as well as extending our link to the wider theatre industry. We want to spread the message, draw back the curtains, let the secret out, and thereby ensure another 25 years of excellent and transformative theatre work.” 

Now a Montclair resident, Kreith comes to Luna from Theatre 167, the company she founded in Jackson Heights, Queens in 2009. She named it for the number of languages spoken in the neighborhood, which has been called the world’s most diverse community. At Theatre 167, Ari conceived and directed The Jackson Heights Trilogy—three full-length plays collectively written by 18 playwrights, performed by 37 actors playing 93 roles in 14 languages. Other world premieres Kreith directed at Theatre 167 include Mourning Sun in Manhattan and Uganda, Pulitzer-finalist Tina Howe’s climate change drama Singing Beach, and Pirira, which received the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation’s Award for Outstanding Premiere of a Play and will inaugurate Luna’s 2018-19 Season this October. 

"I’m thrilled to be at Luna, and to build on the tradition of artistic excellence that has been a hallmark of Luna’s first quarter century," Kreith continued. “I’m a strong believer in the importance of local regional theatre. Powerful theatre is wonderful no matter where it happens, but the opportunity to experience dynamic plays that inspire connection and conversation in your own community is especially meaningful. I’m so grateful to be able to share this work with my friends and neighbors.” 



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Gardin, originally from Detroit, resides in West Orange, where she curated and produced the New Jersey Jewish Film Festival and ReelAbilities: NJ Disabilities Film Festival. She served as Director of Development at The Ensemble Studio Theatre, and worked with Situation Interactive, serving clients such as Disney Theatrical Group, 2econd Stage Theatre, and The Broadway League. Gardin produced The Divine Mr. Average in Washington, DC’s 2006 Capital Fringe Festival and has won international awards as a performer. She got her start in arts management with Performing Arts Chicago, where she helped produce the International Festival of Puppet Theatre in 2000, and she formalized her training at Brooklyn College’s MFA program in Performing Arts Management. 

Luna’s founder, Jane Mandel, served as Artistic Director until 2010, when Luna moved from Montclair, New Jersey to its current home in West Orange. Cheryl Katz succeeded Mandel for the following eight seasons. Mandel is eager to welcome Kreith and Gardin to Luna. “One of Ari’s great strengths is community engagement, which will be exciting for the Valley Arts District and surrounding neighborhoods,” Mandel said. “Miriam and Ari are a great team and they have my wholehearted support!” 

“Luna is rekindling its role as an engine for community and arts engagement in the Valley Arts District” added Luna Stage Board President Rita Woodard, who has been with Luna since 2012. “Ari's and Miriam’s skills and experience will build theatre that builds community. They will continue Luna's tradition of producing work that inspires powerful conversations. I am beyond delighted about Luna's evolution.” 

Kreith and Gardin’s inaugural MainStage season will feature four new plays filled with humor, heart, and imagination. They include J.Stephen Brantley’s Pirira, set simultaneously in Malawi and Manhattan, and exploring the challenges of international aid across cultural divides; Camilo Almonacid’s The Assignment, in which a college student and his professor form a bond, only to discover that they were once on opposite sides of a similar violent act; the world premiere of Christina Gorman’s Roan @ the Gates, a fictional investigation into cyber-security; and Gabriel Jason Dean’s Heartland, a multilingual celebration of literature, loss, language, and love set in both Maidan Shar and Omaha. Season Passes are on sale online or by calling 973-395-5551. 

“Luna’s home in the heart of the Valley Arts District of Orange and West Orange is such an exciting place to be!” Kreith said. “The best theatres exist at a sort of community crossroads. Plays invite us to come together, carrying our own stories and experiences, and sit and share with one another. And then, if the play has done its work, we continue on our journeys, changed.” 

About Luna Stage - Luna Stage develops and produces thought-provoking theatre that gives voice to emerging American playwrights and new life to contemporary and classic plays that speak to our times. Committed to creating vibrant, inclusive, and catalytic experiences onstage, in our classes, and in the communities we serve, Luna collaborates with artists from diverse disciplines, backgrounds, and aesthetics to explore the myriad perspectives of our society. 

Luna’s classes for children and adults, and its developmental programs for early career artists, inspire community members to nurture their own creativity and vision. 

Luna Stage has contributed to the development of over 80 new works for the stage, earning a reputation for artistic excellence. Some of those plays have gone on to productions in New York City and beyond. Luna’s unique approach to producing, as well as the work itself, fosters an environment of inclusivity, understanding, and infinite possibility. 

PHOTO: Gardin (left) and Kreith (right) at Luna Stage Company





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(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning East Lynne Theater Company has seen many successes since its founding in 1980, but none like "Arsenic and Old Lace."  Although first produced on Broadway in 1941 by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, Joseph Kesselring’s comedy is still the most produced play in this country today. Yes - It' just that good!
Old Library Theatre Presents "Bat Boy"
(FAIR LAWN, NJ) -- Old Library Theatre, Fair Lawn Recreation Department's resident theater company and NJACT's 2017 Community Theater of the Year, presents "Bat Boy" from September 14-16.  When a half boy/half bat creature is discovered in a cave near Hope Falls, West Virginia, the local sheriff brings himto the home of the town veterinarian. Though he’s eventually accepted as a member of the family, when he naively tries to fit in with the narrow-minded townspeople, they turn on him.
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Event calendar
Saturday, Aug 18, 2018


MUSIC

90s By Nature Dance Party @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 10:00pm

BALLYHOO! @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park - 9:00pm

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 5:00pm

ZEBRA @ The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park - 9:00pm

Blake Shelton @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

Legendary Beatles Recording Engineer Geoff Emerick @ The Vault at Victor Records , Berlin - 8:00pm


HAIR in Concert @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 10:00pm

AMERICAN IDOL: LIVE! 2018 @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:30pm

Billy Walton Band with Joe D'Angelo @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 8:00pm

REMEMBERING THE KING @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

Funky Feat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Fuel (20th Anniversary Tour) w/ Ropetree, New Theory @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville - 6:00pm

Ronnie Penque’s Panama Dead @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Saturday Night Fever @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

The Lion In Winter @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 8:00pm

Fern Hill @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 3:00pm and 8:00pm

Bob Goss and his Silver Sizzles @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

Shakespeare in the Park' Twelfth Night & Macbeth @ Various Bergen County Parks, Teaneck - 7:00pm



COMEDY

HASAN MINHAJ: BEFORE THE STORM @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:00pm and 9:30pm

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