WE ARE A MASTERPIECE by Gina Femia
Directed by DeLisa M. White
at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y
344 East 14th Street, New York City
Stage Manager: Elizabeth Ramsay
Set Designer: Rebecca Cunningham
Costume Designer: Viviane Galloway
Original Compositions and Sound Designer: Jacob Subotnick
Properties Designer: Sara Slagle
Lighting Designer: Asa Lipton
Press Representative: Alton PR and Production
Photographer: Connolly Photo NYC and Ric Sechrest Photography
Featuring: Heather E. Cunningham*, Pilar Gonzalez, Sam Heldt*, Chad Anthony Miller, Ben Schnickel, Ric Sechrest*, Sara Thigpen* and Matthew Trumbull*
*Appeared courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.
"Those who remember the 1980s in general and the preventable spread of AIDS in particular may be worried about those who don't. Thank goodness for this play. All aspects of this play will induce a sense of wonder. Viviane Galloway's costumes range from down-to-earth nurses to a rainbow priest; Galloway also did the makeup for the lesions that cover many of the AIDS patients. This brings me to DeLisa M. White's direction as another great force for revealing our common humanity. Rebecca Cunningham's very open sets include the art galleries we cannot see and the spaces where so many loved ones are buried. All is subtly illuminated by the soft white and red tones of Asa Lipton's lighting. There is great power in Heather Cunningham as Joan's rejection of the rules that never worked for her, just as there is great warmth in Ric Sechrest's Tom bringing a dying man a self-help book. If some of these characters are inspired by real people let's think of individuals we may have known who died of AIDS. Who could have been saved if the government had treated the infected as people? When will the cure for AIDS be available? In a world where ignorant politicians encourage hate groups, Gina Femia's writing gives us a great opportunity to see the world in a more cooperative light. You might say that this is a universal story which all kinds of audiences could apply to a variety of situations." - Theater in the Now
"The production - which is wonderfully directed by DeLisa M. White - is staged in a beautifully lit atmosphere, with a purple lighting background that served the tone of the overall play well. The many set pieces included also perfectly capture the scenery of each scene. Indeed, it's probably one of the few productions I've reviewed where I can say that there's plenty to be appreciated, in terms of set design, which I find often tends to be quite minimalistic for many other shows.
"So far in 2018, I've reviewed quite a fair amount of excellent indie theatre productions. I feel hard-pressed to find one that's brought me as close to tears as this one has. While it takes some time for the story to build up, as I've said, the last few scenes of the play - which I will not spoil here - are among the most powerful I've seen in recent productions, are are ones that still leave me feeling sad for the characters, even as I write the review. If you get the chance to see it during its final performances, be sure to do so, as it's easily among my top shows of 2018 thus far." - OnStageBlog.com
"Some of the most emotional parts of the play are the broader, non-character-sepcific reminders of how horribly people with AIDS, and gay men generally, were treated during the Reagan 80s, but the cast brings an intimate specificity to the individuals impacted by the AIDS crisis, and Cunningham's Joan makes us all hope that we would have acted as she did. The camraderie between Cunningham and Thigpen as Joan and Shelly is lively and excellently observed, giving real heft to the later troubling of their relationship. Miller's portrayal of Ryan is touching and sensitive, whether he is asking to dig his partner's grave or discussing painting with Joan; and Sechrest's always friendly, upbeat Tom is consistent good-hearted comic relief. Femia ultimately suggests that we find value in other people. Relatedly, Ryan, speaking in 2017, admonishes his audience that while it would be easy to forget what happened to so many promising individuals during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, it is vital that we and future generations remember, and WE ARE A MASTERPIECE makes a substantial contribution to that memorialization." - Culture Catch
"WE ARE A MASTERPIECE is a strong and substantial play that helps us understand our own social history while reminding us of the need for courage and understanding during difficult times. It is moving, especially in the second act which brought tears to many eyes in the audience. The actors are up to the difficult material, particularly Ben Schnickel, Ms. Cunningham and Ric Sechrest. Pilar Gonzalez does a nice turn as Joan's daughter... WE ARE A MASTERPIECE is a valuable and important work, cleverly constructed and reminds us that even in the worst of times, there is hope amid darkness and despair." - Hi! Drama
Listen to the GO SEE A SHOW podcast about WE ARE A MASTERPIECE!