Clare Barron’s ferocious, tender, and raucous comedy Dance Nation takes the stage at the Wilma Theater, October 22 through November 10, 2019.
A 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Dance Nation follows a troupe of pre-teen girls (and one boy!) in a competitive dance team on the road to Nationals as they vie for the trophy, discover their bodies and their desires, and unleash the power they carry within.
“This is a raw, moving, subversive piece about female ambition and desire. It captures so accurately the emotional experience of what it was to be a teenage girl,” director Margot Bordelon said.
Adult actors of all ages play the dancers, celebrating the passion and ambition of young women, exploring the relationship between adults and our younger selves. As the dancers train and compete, they also learn to glory in their changing bodies, intense emotions, and shifting relationships.
Barron was inspired by the Lifetime reality TV show Dance Moms, using it as a jumping off point for a more complex examination of girlhood. “I wrote this play because I wanted to explore ambition and how that intersects with gender.”
At the heart of the show is the dance team, featuring Wilma HotHouse members Campbell O’Hare, Brett Ashley Robinson, Taysha Marie Canales, Suli Holum, and Justin Jain, joined by Philly favorite Kimberly S. Fairbanks (the Wilma’s Passing Strange) and Wilma newcomer Kimberly Chatterjee. Rounding out the cast are the adults, played by Julianna Zinkel and HotHouse member Keith Conallen.
When it played Off-Broadway in 2018, the New York Times hailed Dance Nation as a “glorious new work” that “conjures the passionate ambivalence of early adolescence with such being-there sharpness and poignancy that you’re not sure whether to cringe, cry or roar with happiness.”
Centering women’s stories was part of the Wilma’s goal in producing Dance Nation. Says Artistic Director Blanka Zizka, “At a time when many politicians believe they have the right to control women’s bodies, I’m thrilled to produce Clare’s unexpectedly hilarious, tender, ferocious, and insightful play about the wonderful and terrible complexity of girlhood.”
Dance Nation received the 2016-17 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, which recognizes women who have written outstanding works for the English-speaking theater.
“The Wilma’s commitment to ensemble and fully embodied physical work make it the perfect match for this ferocious, passionate play,” Bordelon added.
About the Playwright: Clare Barron is a playwright and performer from Wenatchee, Washington. Other plays include: You Got Older (Page 73; Steppenwolf) which received two Obie Awards for Playwriting and Performance, a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Play, and was a Susan Smith Blackburn finalist and the #1 most-recommended play on the Kilroys’ List; I’ll Never Love Again (The Bushwick Starr); and Baby Screams Miracle (Clubbed Thumb; Woolly Mammoth). She is the recipient of a Whiting Award for Drama, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award at The Vineyard, and the Page 73 Fellowship; and is a member of New Dramatists.
About the Director: Margot Bordelon is a Brooklyn based director who specializes in new work. Recent projects: Wives by Jacklyn Backhaus (Playwrights Horizon); Eddie and Dave by Amy Staats (Atlantic Theater Company); Plot Points in Our Sexual Development by Miranda Rose Hall at LCT3; Wilder Gone by Angela Hanks (NYT’s Critic’s pick) (Clubbed Thumbed); Do You Feel Anger? (ATL’s Humana Festival), A Delicate Ship by Anna Ziegler (The Playwrights Realm) (NYT’s Critic’s pick), and Okay, Bye by Joshua Conkel (Steppenwolf), among others. She is a proud graduate of the Yale School of Drama where she received an MFA in Directing, and Cornish College of the Arts where she received her BFA in Theater with an emphasis in Original Work. She’s currently on faculty at PACE University in Manhattan where she teaches BFA acting.
Café Chats: Post-show after every performance, we have an informal discussion about the production with Wilma artists and staff, held in Good Karma Café.
Open Mic: HotHouse member Jaylene Clark Owens hosts Open Mics based on the themes of the shows in the current Wilma season. Participants are encouraged to showcase poetry, artwork, or songs inspired by the play. Our Dance Nation Open Mic will be held Monday, November 4 at 7:00pm.
Beer Night: Stop by the Good Karma Café bar to taste a selection of beers from local brewing companies- Friday, November 1 at 6:30pm before a 7:30 show
Young Friends Night: Join our Young Friends Committee as they serve up the best of Philly bites and drinks, and network with other young professionals- Friday, November 8 at 6:30pm before a 7:30 show
Open Caption Performance: Saturday, November 2 at 2:00pm
Tickets: Full price tickets from $48-52, with discounts available for Seniors, Young Friends, Students, and Theater Industry Professionals. Tickets are available at the Wilma’s Box Office by visiting wilmatheater.org, calling 215-546-7824, or coming to the theater.
Mission: The Wilma Theater creates living, adventurous art. We engage artists and audiences in imaginative reflection on the complexities of contemporary life. We present bold, original, well-crafted productions that represent a range of voices, viewpoints, and styles.