by Bob Clyman
directed by Charles Towers
originally produced at Merrimack Repertory Theatre,
February 10, 2011
through March 6, 2011
In a situation that examines parenthood through a prism of conflicting definitions, two mothers from very different backgrounds are asked to make some difficult decisions regarding their uniquely gifted children. Gwen is a divorced professional; Allie is married, but less educated. Five years earlier, both mothers participated in a fertility program that matched their eggs with sperm from different members of a carefully cultivated group of high-intellect donors. Now Claire, the clinic's Parent Liaison, is offering the mothers a special educational opportunity for their offspring. Through a series of very human encounters, the play raises the question “how far would you go to give your child every possible opportunity?” The Exceptionals explores parenthood in the new millennium and the consequences of the utopian dream, while warning to “be careful what you wish for.”
From Artistic Director Charles Towers
I believe that new plays can be “workshopped to death” and what truly helps playwrights refine their writing is the opportunity to see and assess their work in full production. This is where Merrimack Repertory Theatre places its new-play emphasis. Building on a multi-year relationship with playwright Bob Clyman, which includes our off-Broadway production of Secret Order and the East Coast premiere of Tranced, we are excited to develop the world premiere of The Exceptionals, a play that brings to the stage a deep understanding of parental devotion, placed against the unique and still not completely understood world of infertility, artificial insemination and genetics. Set in the very near future, it explores the human and ethical contours of this world and the balance between morality and desire. Like Clyman's other work, The Exceptionals is language-driven; he meticulously shapes ideas, dialogue and pacing to turn speaking into dramatic action. The result is a compelling dramatic experience, at once emotionally charged and slyly humorous. He evocatively examines today's parental desire for perfection, and raises important questions for audiences.
This grant from the Edgerton Foundation will support an added week of rehearsal with the playwright in residence, which is highly desired when putting a new play into full production, following a minimum number of readings and workshops.
Director: Charles Towers
Set Design: Judy Gailen
Lighting Design: Brian Lilienthal
Sound Design: Jason Weber
Costume Design: Deborah Newhall