by Elaine Romero
directed by Christopher Carlos
originally produced at Kitchen Dog Theater,
May 27, 2011
through June 25, 2011
At the center of Ponzi is Catherine, the sole heir to 22 million dollars. The heiress takes a naïve young woman under her wing – with her eye on landing the young woman’s husband. But the striving couple has their own agenda. The characters’ mutual neediness and shifting fortunes force them to duke it from their most primal places in this timely exploration of greed and identity. Ponzi was commissioned by Kitchen Dog Theater and the National New Play Network.
From KDT Co-Artistic Director Christopher Carlos & Elaine Romero:
Elaine was in New York at a writing retreat when news of Bernard Madoff’s multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme hit. Madoff’s crime sparked a painful memory for Elaine: a Ponzi scheme touched her family two years earlier. Elaine watched a family member lose a fortune, and understood the feeling of folly the victims felt.
Ponzi deals with money – something deeply private and taboo in our culture. The financial crash of 2008 exposed dozens of Ponzi schemes affecting millions of Americans; millions more saw their investments lose 30-70 percent of their value almost overnight. The sense of helplessness, and the anger, self-recrimination and regret that follow such losses are the same, whatever the cause.
The recession has prompted many of us to re-examine our relationship to money. In Ponzi, Elaine is creating a tale of intrigue, sex and power that probes our primal desires and fears around money, bringing the characters’ unexamined beliefs and motives to light.
We believe strongly that Ponzi will be an important addition to the contemporary repertoire. With the continuing fall out of the recent market crash, the unrelenting volatility of the stock market, and financial overhaul legislation making its way through congress, the issues that Ponzi explores will continue to be discussed and debated in public, and agonized over in private. As long as there is greed, the play will remain relevant. Moreover, the play is being crafted for a theater with a relatively small budget, and the current draft offers three dazzling roles for actors, making the script as producible as it is relevant.
The 2010 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award will allow us an additional full week of rehearsals, which will prove to be crucial in the development of this play. This extra funds will also afford us the opportunity to have all of the production team actively participating in that additional week as well. Elaine works best when she can hear the play and revise it in a room of thoughtful artists and we believe the work will thrive in an environment where it can be taken at its most nascent stage. We have a solid plan to develop this play in a multi-tiered process, which started in June 2010 with its first workshop at KDT and will culminate in its world premiere in June 2011. With the extra “breathing” room (both financially and time-wise), we will be able to consistently keep the play moving forward and we believe the resulting script will definitely benefit.
KDT has been hard at work developing a national profile. The prestige and exposure that accompanies this award will prove to be a huge boost for Kitchen Dog Theater. It certainly reinforces our efforts to make a contribution to the American Theater and our commitment to the development and production of new plays.
Director: Christopher Carlos
Set Design: Bryan Wofford
Lighting Design: Linda Blase
Sound Design: John M. Flores
Costume Design: Tina Parker
Properties design: Jen Gilson-Gilliam & Judy Niven
Cast: Catherine: Christina Vela