Urban Stages Presents
DEATH OF A DRIVER
Written by WILL SNIDER. Directed by KIM T. SHARP
Starring SARAH BASKIN and PATRICK SSENJOVU
New York: Urban Stages (Frances Hill, Founding Artistic Director), will close its 35th season with the World Premiere of Will Snider’s DEATH OF A DRIVER directed by Kim T. Sharp.
Urban Stages (259 West 30th Street)
Sarah is an American engineer. Kennedy is an East African taxi driver. They strike up a friendship and embark on a journey to change rural Kenya building new roads. But when a disputed local election lands Kennedy in jail and threatens the work, Sarah questions the integrity of their alliance and wonders how well she knows the man she thought was her friend. Death of a Driver is a bracing examination of “doing good” abroad, the limits of understanding another person, and what happens when personal and political obligations collide.
“We are thrilled to bring Death of a Driver to Urban Stages’ to help close our 35th season. It is a smart, well-written tale of people trying to help. It explores how good intentions may not always have the best results, especially on a global level. I look forward to seeing how audiences react to this piece.” Frances Hill, Founding Artistic Director
DEATH OF A DRIVER will be performed by Sarah Baskins (TV: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; NY: Wolves) and Patrick Ssenjovu (Theatre: Red Hills; Ga-aad at Uganda National Theater. Film: Sydney Pollock’s The Interpreter). The creative team includes: Frank Oliva (Set Designer), John Salutz (Lighting Designer), Ian Wehrle (Sound Designer), Vincent Scott (Assistant Director), TBA (Technical Director), Miriam Hyfler (Stage Manager), Lindsay Kipnis (Assistant Stage Manager). and Abou Lion Diarra (Original Music). Urban Stages staff includes Antoinette Mullins (Development & Literary Director), Olga Devyatisilnaya (Company Manager/Financial Administrator), Ilanna Saltzman (Outreach Director), Bara Swain (Creative Consultant), Vincent Scott (School Consultant), Myan Disnie Sabastien (Social Media) and Sylvia Haber, Perpetuart (Graphic Designer).
DEATH OF A DRIVER
Written by Will Snider. Directed by Kim T. Sharp
Vincent Scott – Assistant Director
Performed by Sarah Baskins & Patrick Ssenjovu
WILL SNIDER Playwright) was born and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. His play How to Use a Knife received a Rolling World Premiere through National New Play Network, won the Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play, and was a finalist for a PEN Center USA Literary Award. Other plays include The Big Man (Ensemble Studio Theatre’s 35th Marathon of One-Act Plays) and Strange Men. His work has been developed at MCC, NNPN National Showcase of New Plays, The Kennedy Center, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Salt Lake Acting Company, #serials@theflea, the claque, and MAKEHOUSE. He is an alumnus of Youngblood and received an EST/Soan Grant and The Kennedy Center’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award. He earned a BA in History from Columbia with a specialization in post-colonial East African political history and spent three years working in agricultural microfinance in Kenya and Ethiopia before earning an MFA in Playwriting from UCSD.
KIM T. SHARP (Director) works regularly with Urban Stages in their efforts to champion new works by artists of diverse cultural backgrounds. He served as Associate Artistic Director and Literary Manager for Abingdon Theatre Company for 16 seasons. He directed Abingdon’s production of Teddy Tonight! written and performed by Laurence Luckinbill, which had an extended commercial run, along with six other productions. Recent directing efforts include the world premiere’s of Anand Rao’s A Muslim In The Midst at the Hudson Guild Theatre and Kevin Daly’s comedy, Kitty Bomb, at Theatre Row. He continues to work with theatre artists to bring challenging and invigorating material to the stage. Thanks to Frances and Will for this opportunity as well as to the cast, the designers, stage managers and entire staff at Urban Stages for their time and talent to bring this work to the stage.
PATRICK J. SSENJOVU (Kennedy & Man) hails from Uganda. He started his career as a member of Alex Mukulu’s Impact International, Uganda’s foremost acting company. Recent works include: Red Hills by Deborah Asiimwe directed by Katie Pearl at Engarde Arts; Sean Lewis’s Red Hills directed by Katie Pearl at Quantum Theatre in Pittsburgh PA; Adong Judith’s Ga-aad at Uganda National Theater; Ifa Bayeza’s Amistad Voices directed by Carl Hancock-Rux at Rites and Reasons in Providence, RI; Workshops: Strange Men at National Play Network directed by Elio Gutierrez; Mrisho Mpoto’s Africa Kills Her Sun at Sundance Banff/Utah directed by Indhu Rubasingham; Lemon Andersen’s Toast Sundance Utah directed by Elise Theron; Death of a Driver by Will Snider at Salt Lake Acting Company Playwrights’ Lab directed by Kareem Fahmy. TV/Film: Living With Yourself (Netflix), Baby Won’t You Please Come Home (short), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (voice), The Interpreter directed by Sydney Pollock and Game 6 directed by Michael Hoffman. He is a longtime member of Ellen Stewart’s Great Jones Company at La MaMa.
SARAH BASKIN (Sarah): Off-Broadway: The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (Roundabout), Wolves (59E59), I Forgive You Ronald Reagan (Beckett Theatre), Caucasian Chalk Circle (Sonnet Repertory Theatre). Regional: The Oregon Trail (Portland Center Stage), Cardenio (American Repertory Theatre), The Unbelievers, Three Women Mourn The Apocalypse (Theatre Centre, Toronto), Beau Jest (Gulfshore Playhouse). Other NY credits include L’Amour Fou (Dangerous Ground Productions), R&J (Chasama), Retrospective (MTS). TV/Film (selected): “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “Divorce”, “Blindspot”, “Who Killed Chandra Levy?, Malaisia, Thanks for Sharing, The Lives of Hamilton Fish, iHeart (writer & actor). Company member of Virago, Subway Token Films, and The Actors Center. MFA: ART / MXAT at Harvard University.
FRANCES HILL (Founding Artistic Director) began her theatrical career in California as an actress. Since 1983, Ms. Hill has overseen more than 600 staged readings/workshops and 90 productions of new works for the stage. She has directed over 30 workshops and productions. Her favorite directing credits include: Gino DiIorio’s Apostasy, Roma Greth’s Our Summer Days, Jim Lehrer’s Chili Queen, (directed at Urban Stages and Kennedy Center), John Picardi’s Seven Rabbits on a Pole and The Sweepers (directed at Urban Stages and Capital Rep); Comfort Women by Chugmi Kim (Urban Stages 2004), 27 Rue De Fleurs , My Occasion of Sin, Mabel Madness, Dogs of Rwanda. Two of her plays have been produced, Our Bench and Life Lines. Under the guidance of Ms. Hill, Playwrights’ Preview Productions/Urban Stages have moved two plays into commercial Off-Broadway successes. Minor Demons opened the new Century Center Theater and Men on the Verge of His-Panic Breakdown won an Outer Critic’s Circle Award while playing to capacity audiences at the 47th Street Theater. Urban Stages’ African American Poets as Playwrights won eight Audelco Nominations and Coyote On a Fence received two Drama Desk nominations and a Pilgrim’s Project Award. Eisa Davis’s Bulrusher was one of three nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. 2010 production of Langston in Harlem won several drama desk nominations, a John Calloway award, and several Audelco nominations including a win for best music production of the year (2010), along with several other awards. Recently Character Man by Jim Brochu (2014) was nominated for a Drama Desk and Outer Critic’s Circle award and Mabel Madness by Trezana Beverley (2016) was nominated for an Audelco award.
URBAN STAGES (Producer) is an award-winning, not-for-profit, Off-Broadway Theatre Company founded in 1984 by current Artistic Director Frances Hill. For over 30 years, Urban Stages has produced dozens of world, American and NY premieres including Pulitzer Prize Finalist Bulrusher (2007) by Eisa Davis. We have been honored with awards, nominations and recognition from the Drama Desk, Obie Awards, Audelco, Outer Critics Circle and more. Plays produced at Urban Stages also often move on to larger venues and/or publication. In our 2017/18 season, A Deal by Zhu Yi toured China after its world premiere at Urban Stages and Dogs of Rwanda by Sean Christopher Lewis toured regionally after its New York premiere with uS. Our world premiere of the musical Langston In Harlem by Walter Marks (music and book) and Kent Gash (book and direction) garnered a Drama Desk Nomination, a Joe A. Calloway award and 4 Audelco awards including Best Musical Production of 2010. Critically acclaimed hits Mabel Madness by Tony-winner Trezana Beverley (2016), Communion by Daniel MacIvor (2016) and Angry Young Man by Ben Woolf (2017) which transferred to the John Drew Theatre at Guild Hall in East Hampton have premiered at Urban Stages. In addition, Unseamly by Oren Safdie (2015) was a NY Times Critics’ Pick. Jim Brochu’s Character Man (2014) was nominated for a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle award for Best Solo performance and Honky (2013) by Greg Kalleres saw a regional run at San Diego Rep and was televised nationally on PBS in late 2015. 1996’s Men on The Verge Of A Hispanic Breakdown by Guillermo Reyes and Minor Demons by Bruce Graham both moved to commercial theatres. Chili Queen, a play by newscaster Jim Lehrer, transferred to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (1989). My Occasion of Sin (2012) by Monica Bauer won critical acclaim when it moved to Detroit Rep. Bill Bowers has toured regionally and internationally with his two Urban Stages’ premieres blending mime and theatre – Beyond Words (2012) and Under A Montana Moon (2002)! Some Urban Stages premieres have even been developed into film and television projects such as Scar by Murray Mednick, Conversations with The Goddesses by Agapi Stassinopoulos, and Cotton Mary by Alexandra Viets. In addition to plays and musicals, annually we hold a music festival – Winter Rhythms – that features famous and up-and-coming Cabaret, musicians, lyricists and other music artists. In 2016, Winter Rhythms was honored with the Bistro Award for Outstanding Series, and in 2015, it received the Ruth Kurtzman Benefit Series MAC Award from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs.
Photos: Ben Hider