May 22, 2013 was opening night for two off Broadway plays called SAWBONES and THE DIAMOND EATER. The celebrated Tony-nominated costume designer Carrie Robbins (Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS, GREASE, OVER HERE!), who has designed over 30 Broadway productions, turns playwright this spring with the world-premiere of the two one-act plays. SAWBONES and THE DIAMOND EATER, are currently running May 21st through June 7th Off-Broadway at the HERE Arts Center which is located at 145 Sixth Avenue in NYC.
Directed by Tazewell Thompson (Toni Morrison's MARGARET GARNER at NYC Opera) and with original music by Scott Munson, SAWBONES and THE DIAMOND EATER are one-act historical dramas based on true events memorialized in the short stories of the late RD Robbins, a long-time NYC surgeon who turned to writing fiction during the last years of his life, becoming a much-published author and 4-time Push Cart Prize nominee for excellence in short story writing.
SAWBONES is set in a Civil War Field Hospital in Virginia in 1862 – where medicine is sparse and need is great – and depicts what ensues when a freeman of color brings in a teenage Rebel requiring immediate attention for his shattered leg.
THE DIAMOND EATER is based on a true story, as told to RD Robbins. The play is set in a German camp in 1945 where a senior squad leader undertakes an experiment: he enlists a Jewish surgeon to transplant a gypsy's kidney into a Jew to determine if the Jew will survive.
Together, the plays consider the large scale and individual human cost of war.
The casts of the plays feature Wynn Harmon, Eric Kuttner, Thomas Leverton, Tony Naumovski, Lynn Writght, Gregory Marlow, Alexander Salamat and Jenny Vath and Timothy Roselle. Mr. Munson's original compositions for THE DIAMOND EATER include a melody based on the tune “Ani Ma'amin” (I Believe), sung by Jewish camp prisoners, with the traditional rendition of Maimonides' 13-point version of the Jewish principles of faith as text. His compositions for SAWBONES feature haunting melodies performed on the saw by Natalia “Saw Lady” Paruz.
Design credits for the plays are: scenic design by Brandon McNeel; lighting design by Jorge Arroyo; projection design by Robert Figueira; sound design by Erik T. Lawson; and costume design by Carrie Robbins.
A renowned costume designer on Broadway and Off as well as abroad, Carrie Robbins is the recipient of the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Costume Design. She has designed over 30 productions on Broadway, including the celebrated production of IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS on Broadway and national and international tours. She was nominated for the Tony Award for her costume designs of the musical OVER HERE! and the original GREASE. Other Broadway credits include SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH (with Lauren Bacall), AGNES OF GOD, CYRANO (with Frank Langella), CLASS ACT and YENTL. She has also designed extensively for opera and television, including SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Previously, Ms. Robbins' plays have been selected for reading series at Abingdon, La MaMa and The Actors Company Theatre (TACT). She co-authored the catalog “Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance,” for the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Tazewell Thompson has directed classic and contemporary plays at theaters across the country and around the world. His production of PORGY & BESS, broadcast on PBS Live from Lincoln Center, was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Classical Production and Best Director. He directed NYC Opera's MARGARET GARNER, Toni Morrison's first opera, and many operas for Glimmerglass, among others. Scott Munson's extensive list of credits include having served as arranger/orchestrator for such renowned musicians as Brandford and Wynton Marsalis, Jazz @ Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and Harry Connick, Jr.
Previous credits for the cast include: Wynn Harmon (NYC Opera's PORGY AND BESS); Eric Kuttner (THE BAKER'S WIFE/Mint); Lynn Wright (THE ELEPHANT MAN/Broadway; AS BEES IN HONEY DROWN/Off-Bway); Tony Naumovski (FINAL ANALYSIS/Signature); Thomas Leverton (Jean Dalrymple Award, Best Shakespearean Actor); Jenne Vath (THE TOOTH OF CRIME/La MaMa); Alexander Salamat (RESTORATION/directed by Mark Wing-Davey); Gregory Marlow (Negro Ensemble Company); and Timothy Roselle (EQUUS, THE ELEPHANT MAN.
Scheduled May 21-June 7, SAWBONES and THE DIAMOND EATER play a varied schedule with performances at 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.. Tickets are $18 and $15 for group sales and students with ID. For performance and reservations, visit www.HERE.org or call Theatermania at 212-352-3101.
This production is part of SubletSeries@HERE, HERE'S curated rental program which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment as well as technical support. These plays have been chosen for fiscal sponsorship by FRACTURED ATLAS, a national non-profit artist service organization providing a range of support for the independent arts community.