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April 10, 2019
NHTP presents White Rabbit Red Rabbit
by Nassim Soleimanpour
and RUSH40 Program
White Rabbit Red Rabbit by award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour runs April 26 - May 12. This experimental theatrical event has been performed around the world but no one is allowed to talk about it.
The premise of White Rabbit Red Rabbit is that a different actor performs the piece each night just moments after being handed the script. Each performer is strictly advised to know very little about the show going into it, which is difficult, because both the play and its playwright are quickly garnering international acclaim.
NHTP has brought together nine performers, each taking a single night in the three week run, to accept the challenge of performing an unseen text. Founding Executive Director Genevieve Aichele will be performing on Opening Night, Friday, April 26. “I am absolutely and utterly terrified,” says Aichele. “But I feel that way every time I'm about to go on stage. And then I'm out there and everything turns to magic.” With no rehearsal, and no director the actor is left to their own skill and intuition as they take to the stage. Once there, they will be handed a script from the production Stage Manager, Mary Langley, and instructed to read aloud to the last page of the text, without stopping.
“White Rabbit Red Rabbit represents the quintessence of theatre,” continues Aichele. “The experience for both performer and audience of being completely present as something totally new is created live on stage for the first and only time. I am honored to be a part of something that has become a worldwide phenomenon, and to follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest actors of our time.” Actors who have performed White Rabbit Red Rabbit include Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart, and Nathan Lane.
Along with Aichele, NHTP performers include Deborah Kinghorn, Professor in Theatre and Dance at the University of New Hampshire where she teaches acting, movement and voice courses for the department, and Peter Josephson, an actor and Professor of Politics at Saint Anselm College, along with NHTP regulars Blair Hundertmark, Kathleen Somssich, CJ Lewis and Monique Peaslee Foote. Other performers stepping onto the stage will be NHTP Youth Repertory Company alums Kyle Milner, and Robin Fowler. Visit www.nhtheatreproject.org to find out which day each performer will be taking the plunge.
White Rabbit Red Rabbit, which Entertainment Weekly described as “...a dazzling, transcendent piece of alive-and-kicking avant-garde theater,” was created when Soleimanpour was unable to travel outside of his native Iran. He wrote a play that was intended for the rest of the world. “I was like a man who doesn’t even exist,” says Soleimanpour. “I was a young playwright writing at home who thought, ‘I have a message,’ and so I put it in a bottle and gave it to the ocean.” The message was received. By the time he was permitted to travel in 2013, his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit had already been performed in 20 languages across the globe.
“We’re committed to new and different experiences,” explains NHTP’s Associate Artistic Director Catherine Stewart. “Going to the theatre is not just about spectacle, or rehearsed comedies and dramas - it’s also about adventure, and the unknown - that’s why we wanted to bring this play to our black box theatre in the West End.”
As part of NHTP’s mission to address accessibility, and to invite a more diverse audience into their space the company is launching a RUSH40 program. Thirty minutes before any performance of White Rabbit Red Rabbit, audience members aged 40 years and under can come to the theatre and receive a 50% discount on the regular ticket price. The RUSH40 program is only available at the theatre, and not for online purchases. ”For $15 you can experience something new with friends or family,” continues Stewart. “Waiting until 30 minutes before curtain to purchase your ticket means you take a risk, because a performance might sell out in advance - but we want to do our best to ensure that cost isn’t a barrier to a new generation of theatre-goers.”
Since 1998, New Hampshire Theatre Project has been providing nurturing professional environments for youth, artists and community members to be inspired and transformed through the art of theatre. NH Theatre Project is located at 959 Islington St, Portsmouth, NH