VOL. 26 - NO. 34
NOV 28 - 5, 2021
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OAKLAND, CA 94661-0283

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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre Present World Premiere Digital Co-Production "The Catastrophist"

Jan 08, 2021
Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre have announced full casting and production details for "The Catastrophist" by Lauren Gunderson, a world premiere digital co-production based on the life and work of award-winning 'virus hunter' Nathan Wolfe. Directed by Marin Theatre Company Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis, "The Catastrophist" is available for streaming January 26 through February 28, 2021.

Lauren Gunderson, America's most produced playwright, has written a story for this moment in time about Dr. Nathan Wolfe, the award-winning virologist who proposed a plan to protect the economy from pandemics years before the COVID-19 outbreak. He also happens to be Lauren’s husband. "The Catastrophist" is a one-person show starring William DeMeritt ("Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole World," HBO's "The Normal Heart") that explores Nathan’s work combatting epidemics like Ebola and swine flu, his life as a loving father and son, and Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept of healing at the center of it all.

Says Gunderson: “You think you know your partner of a decade. And then you attempt to write a play about them. When Jasson Minadakis posed the idea of writing a new play about my husband, I initially rejected it. But the idea started to make more and more sense. Of course, I told Nathan what I was writing and asked his permission, but I didn’t let him read it or see it until the very first rehearsal with our brilliant actor, Bill DeMerritt. I wanted him to not only be the subject of the play, but its first audience. He laughed. He cried. He gave me several notes on the science. This play has both the hardest play I've ever written and the most meaningful. What a joy to share it so widely so soon.“

Adds Marin Theatre Company Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis: “When the reality sunk in that we would not be in theatres in 2020, Lauren and I began discussing projects that could live between the worlds of theatre and film in a virtual space, and 'The Catastrophist' went straight into development as a new commission. A work of great intimacy and immediacy, 'The Catastrophist' is like nothing Lauren has attempted before, a startling portrait of one of our most important scientific thinkers. I’m delighted to be partnering with Ryan and Round House on this unique experience and look forward to the conversations it sparks across our country.”

“There really couldn’t be a more timely production than 'The Catastrophist,' in content or presentation,” says Round House Artistic Director Ryan Rilette. “In the midst of a global pandemic, Lauren Gunderson has created a deeply personal story about the man who has been sounding the alarm on them for years. I had read Dr. Wolfe’s book, The Viral Storm, years ago when I was still Producing Director at Marin, and I immediately wanted to see a stage adaptation. I was thrilled when Jasson reached out to say that he and Lauren were finally going to make that happen, and I’m thrilled to work with them to share that story with audiences in the DC metropolitan area, the Bay Area, and everywhere in between.”

Filmed on stage in Marin’s Boyer Theatre, "The Catastrophist" is presented entirely digitally and will be available for on-demand viewing for one month. Audiences are encouraged to gather a small list of household items which will be cued during the play to experience and interact with. DeMeritt is joined by a creative team that includes producer Nakissa Etemad, dramaturg Martine Kei Green-Rogers, costume designer Sarah Smith, lighting designer Wen-Ling Liao, composer and sound designer Chris Houston, director of photography Peter Ruocco, assistant director Christina Hogan, and COVID compliance officer Liz Mastos.

How do you plan for catastrophe? Virologist Nathan Wolfe, named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for his work tracking Ebola and swine flu, proposed pandemic insurance years before the novel coronavirus outbreak. No one bought it. Now, in a post-COVID world, we hear his story—presented entirely digitally. "The Book of Wil"l playwright Lauren Gunderson returns with a time-jumping tale based on the life and work of Nathan Wolfe (who also happens to be her husband). A deep dive into the profundities of scientific exploration and the harrowing realities of facing your own mortality, "The Catastrophist" is a world premiere theatrical experience built of and for this moment in time.

"The Catastrophist" runs from January 26 to February 28, 2021. Tickets for on-demand streaming are available for $30. Tickets can be purchased by calling 415-388-5208 or ordering online at marintheatre.org. If ticket buyers have questions, they can reach Marin Theatre Company Box Office associates Monday through Friday between 12–5 p.m. by calling 415-388-5208 or emailing boxoffice@marintheatre.org.

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Photo caption: William DeMeritt (Nathan) in "The Catastrophist" produced by Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Marin Theatre Company).


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