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Cast is Set and Rehearsals Have Begun for 'A Play Is a Poem' at Taper


The cast is set and rehearsals have begun for the world premiere of Ethan Coen’s “A Play Is a Poem” at Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum. Directed by Neil Pepe and presented in association with Atlantic Theater Company, “A Play Is a Poem” begins performances on September 11 and continues through October 13. The opening is set for September 21.

The cast includes, in alphabetical order, Ro Boddie, Max Casella, Micaela Diamond, Peter Jacobson, Jason Kravits, Nellie McKay, Saul Rubinek, Miriam Silverman, Joey Slotnick, Sam Vartholomeos and CJ^ Wilson.

The creative team features scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez, costume design by Sarah Laux, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau and sound design by Leon Rothenberg with original music by Nellie McKay. The production stage manager is David S. Franklin.

“A Play Is a Poem” is a new collection of five one acts by Ethan Coen set in the hillbilly hollows of Appalachia, the executive suites of Hollywood, a New York tenement apartment, the smoke-filled office of a Los Angeles private eye and a magnolia-scented gazebo in Natchez, Mississippi. Each place holds a different story – together they offer an eccentric look at life across America that only Ethan Coen could deliver.

Ethan Coen has written three previous evenings of one acts, “Happy Hour,” “Almost an Evening” and “Offices,” all three directed by Neil Pepe. His full-length play “Women or Nothing” was directed by David Cromer and premiered at Atlantic Theater Company. He contributed a play to “Relatively Speaking,” a Broadway trio of one acts whose other contributors were Woody Allen and Elaine May. Coen has written a collection of stories, “Gates of Eden,” and two collections of poems, “The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way” and “The Day the World Ends.” Coen has also written, produced and directed films with his brother Joel for 35 years.

Neil’s recent directing credits include the New York premiere of Simon Stephens’ “On the Shore of the Wide World,” and the world premieres of George Brant’s “Marie and Rosetta,” Kenneth Lonergan’s “Hold On To Me Darling” and David Mamet’s “The Penitent,” all at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York. Broadway credits include the musical, “Hands on a Hardbody” the acclaimed revival of David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow” and “A Life in the Theatre.” Off-Broadway credits at Atlantic Theater Company include John Guare’s “3 Kinds of Exile;” Moira Buffini’s “Dying For It;” Jez Butterworth’s “Parlour Song,” “Mojo” and “The Night Heron;” Ethan Coen’s “Happy Hour,” “Offices” and “Almost an Evening;” Harold Pinter’s “Celebration and The Room;” Adam Rapp’s “Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling;” Joe Penhall’s “Blue/Orange;” Hilary Bell’s “Wolf Lullaby;” David Pittu’s “What’s That Smell?;” Howard Korder’s “Sea of Tranquility;” Edwin Sanchez’ “Clean;” Quincy Long’s “Shaker Heights.” Additional off-Broadway credits include David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” (Donmar Warehouse, Atlantic Theater Company); “Romance” and “Two Unrelated Plays by David Mamet” (Center Theatre Group, Atlantic Theater Company); Zinnie Harris’ “Further Than the Furthest Thing” (Manhattan Theatre Club); Jessica Goldberg’s “Refuge” (Playwrights Horizons); Tom Donaghy’s “The Beginning of August” (South Coast Repertory, Atlantic Theater Company); Frank Gilroy’s “The Subject Was Roses” with Martin Sheen (Center Theatre Group) and Eric Bogosian’s “Red Angel” (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Neil has been the Artistic Director of the award-winning off-Broadway company, Atlantic Theater Company, since 1992.

Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, which, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, Managing Director Meghan Pressman and Producing Director Douglas C. Baker, programs seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2100-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.

Tickets are available online at, by calling Audience Services at (213) 628-2772 or in person at the Center Theatre Group Box Office (at the Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles). Tickets range from $25 – $110 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Mark Taper Forum is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

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August 16, 2019; ^Updated 8/27/19