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March 17 - April 1



Dr. Harold Banks is a retired professor of Comparative Literature and Afghan Studies, waiting for his adopted daughter to return from teaching in Afghanistan, her native country. When Nazrullah, an Afghan refugee, suddenly arrives at his Nebraska doorstep armed only with his daughter’s copies of The Diary of Anne Frank and The Old Man and the Sea – the two men become unlikely roommates. Set in both Maiden Shar and Omaha, Heartland is the story of a father, his determined daughter, and a surprising friendship. Featuring Artistic Director Mark Cuddy in his return to the Geva stage.

World Premiere

By Gabriel Jason Dean
Directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh
Part of the Fielding Studio Series

March 17 – April 1, 2018

Run Time: TBA

Suitable for ages 15 and up

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OWAIS AHMED | Nazrullah

OWAIS AHMED is excited to make his Geva Theatre Center debut. Owais is Chicago based, where he is a proud ensemble member of Definition Theatre Co. Theatre credits include The Invisible Hand (Steep Theatre, Milwaukee Rep), 20K Leagues Under The Sea (Lookingglass Theatre), The Hard Problem (Court Theatre), Orange (Mixed Blood Theatre), The Qualms (Steppenwolf Theatre), Blood and Gifts (Timeline Theatre), and Red Handed Otter (A Red Orchid Theatre). Other theatre credits include Anon(ymous),The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing and  Passion Play. Film/TV credits include Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Dir. Zack Snyder), Age Of Ice (Dir. Emile Edwin Smith), and Empire (Dir. John Singleton). This one is for all Refugees. We are with you.


MARK CUDDY has been the Artistic Director of Geva Theatre Center since 1995. His only other acting assignment for Geva was as Vladimir in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot on the Wilson Stage in January of 2000 – with his then 11 year-old son, Max, cast as the Boy. He is now honored to be on the Fielding Stage after his other son, Gus, acted in The Diary of Anne Frank. Some other favorite roles include Edward in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuiness, Charlie Fox in Speed-the-Plow by David Mamet, Pyne in the American Premiere of Volunteers by Brian Friel, Parolles in William Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well, and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew – which is when he met his beautiful wife, Christina Selian.


MARI VIAL-GOLDEN is a Brooklyn based actor who is thrilled to be making her Geva Theatre Center debut in Heartland. Off-Broadway and Regional credits include Echoes and White Rabbit Red Rabbit (Urbanite Theatre); Pentecost and Serious Money (Atlantic Stage 2); W;t and Common Enemy (Triad Stage). Other theatre credits include The Little Black Fish (Maaa Theater); Land Without Words (American Premiere, Middlebury College); In the Next Room…(Middlebury College); Cymbeline (Ovalhouse Theatre, London).  Education: B.A., Middlebury College; British American Drama Academy. marivialgolden.com


GABRIEL JASON DEAN is a Brooklyn / Austin based theatre-maker who originally hails from Atlanta, Georgia.  His plays have been produced or developed throughout the United States at places such as New York Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre, Araca Group, The Lark, The Flea, Oregon Shakespeare, The Kennedy Center, PlayPenn, InterAct, Abingdon Theatre, The Playwrights’ Center, Davenport Theatrical, ASSITEJ International, American Theatre Company, Red Orchid Theatre, Stage Left, The Vortex Theatre (502), Aurora Theatre, Dallas Children’s Theatre, People’s Light and Theatre, Dad’s Garage Theatre, Actor’s Express, Horizon Theatre, FronteraFest, Source Festival, the Cohen New Works Festival, Essential Theatre and the Illinois  Shakespeare Festival. Gabriel’s play In Bloom was a finalist for the Laurents/Hatcher Award,  received the Kennedy Center’s Paula Vogel Prize, and was Runner-Up for the New Dramatist’s Princess Grace Award.  His play for children, The Transition Of Doodle Pequeño, received the American Alliance for Theatre & Education Distinguished Play Award, the New England Theatre Conference Aurand Harris Award and was selected for the Kennedy Center new Visions/New Voices Conference, Theatre for Young Audiences Award and was Runner-Up for the Harold & Mimi Steinberg National Playwriting Award.  He is the recipient of the Essential Theatre New Play Prize and Austin’s 2013 B. Iden Payne Award for “Best Original Script” and “Best Comedy” for Qualities Of Starlight, received an Austin Critic’s Table Award for “Best Production” for Terminus and his play Pigskin won the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival.  Other awards include the Kennedy Center’s  ACTF Ken Ludwig Prize for a body of work from an emerging writer, “Favorite Local Playwright” in Creative Loafing – Atlanta, and the City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs Playwriting Award.  Fellowships include the Hodder Fellowshop from Princeton University, James A. Michener Playwriting Fellowship, the Dramatist’s Guild Fellowship and the Sallie B. Goodman / McCarter Theatre Fellowship. He has been a finalist for the O’Neill Theatre Conference, Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival, Bay Area Playwright’s Festival, Page 73 Fellowship, the Julliard Wallace Fellowship, NNPN Smith Prize and Aurora Theatre Global Age Project. His scripts are published through Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing and Playscripts.    Gabriel’s poetry, fiction and journalism has been published in Snake Nation Review, The Tower, Eclectica Magazine, The Melic Review, The Louisville Review and Creative Loafing. Gabriel is currently on faculty for Spalding University’s Brief- Residency MFA Program, is Visiting Writer in Residence at Muhlenberg College, an Affiliated Writer at The Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis and a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop. B.A.: Oglethorpe University,  M.F.A.: UT-Austin Michener Center for Writers.


PIRRONNE YOUSEFZADEH is a Brooklyn-based theatre director, writer, and educator who made her Geva Theatre Center debut last season with The Lake Effect. She has directed and developed new work at The Public/Joe’s Pub, New York Theatre Workshop, Atlantic Theater Company, Ars Nova, Soho Rep, New Georges, Partial Comfort Productions, Noor Theatre, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, La Jolla Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Geva Theatre Center, InterAct Theatre Company, and Hangar Theatre, among others. Her productions of In the Blood (Theatre Horizon) and The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane by Jen Silverman together received fifteen Barrymore nominations, including Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Production for both. She is a Usual Suspect at NYTW, New Georges Affiliated Artist, member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, Resident Director at Colt Coeur, a recipient of SDC’s Denham Fellowship and Williamstown’s Sagal Fellowship, and an alumna of the 2050 Fellowship at NYTW, Drama League Directors Project, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. She currently serves on the NYU faculty, and is a frequent guest director there, as well as Columbia, Juilliard, Fordham, and Yale School of Drama. Pirronne is a founding member of Maia Directors, a consulting group for artists and organizations engaging with Middle Eastern stories. M.F.A., Columbia University. Member, SDC. www.pirronne.com; www.maiadirectors.com

DINA EL-AZIZ | Costume Designer

Dina El-Aziz makes her Geva Theatre Center debut with Heartland. Theatre credits include Trouble in Tahiti (Opera) for The West Side Theater; The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Blood Wedding for The Atlantic Theater Company Stage 2; Freedom Riders for the New York Musical Festival at The Acorn Theater; Unity 1918, Wayward for The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute; Evensong for the Astoria Performing Arts Center; Motherf*cker With The Hat, Vieux Carré for New York University Tisch School of the Arts. International Theatre credits include: Mad Forest, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Dido and Aeneas (Opera), Who’s Having the Duck for the American University in Cairo. She was Assistant Costume Designer for the Off-Broadway production of The Band’s Visit for The Atlantic Theater Company. Film Credits include short films Keiko’s Hands, Jihadi Street, Shift, Prisoners of War, Lucy Barron, The Loneliest, and Costume Assistant for the feature Nigerian Prince. Webseries credits include Assistant Costume Designer for We Are All New York. Dina received her M.F.A. at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. www.dinae.me

SETH REISER | Lighting Designer

SETH REISER is a lighting and set designer who works in theatre, opera, dance and music.  He lives here in Rochester and teaches at the University of Rochester.  Last season at Geva Seth designed the lighting for The Lake Effect directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh. New York credits include Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at the Public Theater; The Mysteries at the Flea, directed by Ed Iskandar; Reggie Watts and Tommy Smith’s Radio Play at PS 122, directed by Kip Fagan; Taylor Mac’s Obie Award winning production of The Lily’s Revenge at HERE ArtsRegional credits include: Syracuse Stage: Chinglish, In the Next Room and Disgraced all directed by May Adrales; Shakespeare Theatre DC: Taming of the Shrew; Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Seattle Repertory: Vietgone directed by May Adrales; Dallas Theatre Center: Hair directed by Kevin Moriarty, Clybourne Park directed by Joel Ferrell, Tigers Be Still directed by Hal Brooks; Alliance Theatre: Edward Foote directed by Chris Coleman; ACT: Between Riverside and Crazy directed by Irene Lewis; Two River Theatre Company: As You Like It directed by Michael Sexton; Chautauqua Theatre Company: A Raisin in the Sun directed by Ethan McSweeny, Our Town directed by Paul Mullins.  Lighting for opera and music includes  Bernstein’s Mass (LA Philharmonic) directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer, The Indian Queen in Concert (MusicAeterna) directed by Robert Castro; St. Matthew Passion (Berlin Philharmonic) at the Park Avenue Armory directed by Peter Sellars; Des Canyon Aux Etoiles… (St. Louis Symphony, LA Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony) directed by Deborah O’Grady.  Mr. Reiser received his B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University and his M.F.A. at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.  sethreiserdesign.com


PORNCHANOK KANCHANABANCA is thrilled to be working with Geva Theatre Center. A Thai artist and sound designer composer, based in New York and Chicago. She graduated from Yale School of Drama. Recent productions include Cymbeline (Original music, Yale Rep), Be Here Now (original music, Cincinnati Playhouse) Frontières sans Frontières (The Bushwick Starr), The Humans (Theatresquared),  Alligator (New Georges and The Sol Project), Eurydice (original music, UCONN), Father Comes Home From The Wars (Juilliard),  Just Not That Women (Vancouver Fringe), and Ant’s Gonna Make it (ANT Fest).  She also has collaborated on the design with theatre companies in Thailand including B-floor, Babymine, Crescent Moon, Makharmpom, Democrazy since 2008. She is a member of TSDCA – Theatrical Sound Designers, US. wishnok-music.com

JENNI WERNER | Literary Director/Resident Dramaturg

JENNI WERNER is in her seventh season as the Literary Director and Resident Dramaturg at Geva Theatre Center. Ms. Werner has served as the dramaturg on twenty Geva productions, including world premieres of plays by Mat Smart, Jamie Pachino, Wendy MacLeod, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Cass Morgan and Nora Cole. She also produces Geva’s Festival of New Theatre and leads the development of new plays at Geva. Previously, she served as the Director of Programming at Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the non-profit theatre field. From 2005-2011, Ms. Werner produced TCG’s annual National Conference, curating the content and organizing the logistics for the largest national gathering of professionals in the non-profit theatre field. For six years, she was also an adjunct instructor in the Program in Educational Theatre at New York University, and the resident dramaturg of NYU’s Looking for Shakespeare program for high school students. She is now an adjunct instructor in the English department at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has an M.F.A. in dramaturgy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a B.A. in theatre and history from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Ms. Werner serves on the board of directors for ImageOut, Rochester’s LGBT Film Festival.


STEPHIE KESSELRING is delighted to return to Geva Theatre Center for her eighth season. Some favorite productions at Geva include In the Heights, Spamalot!, Little Shop of Horrors, The 39 Steps, Good People, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Perfect Wedding, Over the Tavern and Next to Normal. She has also stage managed The Lake Effect, Marvelous Wonderettes, Bob, A Body of Water, An Iliad, and Dancing Lessons in the Fielding Stage; Action and Reaction, a staged reading of Macbeth at American Globe Theatre; and the Off-Broadway production of Captain Marbles and His Acting Squad.