The Unfortunates

by Jon Beavers, Casey Hurt, Ian Merrigan & Ramiz Monsef. Additional material by Kristoffer Diaz
directed by Shana Cooper
originally produced at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR.
March 27, 2013 through November 2, 2013

About the Premiere Production:

A musical pilgrimage through uniquely American genres delivers five prisoners of war to salvation — or at least keeps the terror at bay. As the prisoners languish behind bars and their guards periodically enter to drag another away, they sing “The St. James Infirmary Blues” to steel themselves for death. Facing an uncertain end, they bring to life the story of Big Joe, a tough bartender who risks everything to save the armless courtesan Rae from a deadly plague. Reality slips away as they are drawn into the story of the song. Combining the heat of a gospel revival with the sweet sorrow of the blues, The Unfortunates convinces us that any great challenge can be faced with dignity, grace and compassion.

Artistic Statement

Bill Rauch, Artistic Director: Watching The Unfortunates bubble up from within our company and come to life onstage has been inspiring. There is something quite thrilling in the way this musical has been built. From three guys on a rooftop riffing on “The St. James Infirmary Blues”, it has progressed steadily outward, finding its way through OSF’s company-produced Midnight Projects to our Black Swan Lab for the development of new work and finally to full production in the Thomas Theatre. The play makes a case for music and storytelling as a means of survival and as a potent bond across generations. Listening to music ranging from blues to Americana to hip-hop, audiences will be moved, delighted and intrigued by sounds both new and familiar.

Grant Statement

Bill Rauch, Artistic Director: The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award is funding two weeks of extra rehearsal in preparation for The Unfortunates’ March 2013 premiere. The additional rehearsal time allows the creative team critical opportunities to devise, test and integrate script revisions with their collaborator, Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Kristoffer Diaz, as well as time for the full team to incorporate the creators’ collaborative working style. The organic, free-wheeling process of creating The Unfortunates has yielded impressive results to date. Continuing this process with all the artists in the room is vital to achieving a fully realized work.

Director: Shana Cooper
Set Design: Sybil Wickersheimer
Lighting Design: Jiyoun Chang
Sound Design: Corinne Carillo
Costume Design: Katherine O’Neill
Dramaturg: Lue Morgan Douthit & Seth Gilbert
Choreographer: Tiffany Rachelle Stewart
Associate Director, Additional Arrangements & Sound Designer: Paul James Prendergast
Phil Killian Directing Fellow: Dawn Monique Williams
Voice & Text Director: David Carey
Fight Director: U. Jonathan Toppo
Cast: Kjerstine Rose Anderson, Jon Beavers, Rodney Gardiner, Casey Hurt, Cristofer Jean, Ian Merrigan, Ramiz Monsef, Barret O'Brien, Isabell Monk O'Connor, Chavez Ravine, Christina Acosta Robinson, Ken Robinson

Additional Funders:

Oregon Cultural Trust, George and Claudette Paige, Sandy Farewell, Karen Easterbrook and Alex Sutton.

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