Fairfield University professor stars in NYC International Fringe Festival play


Image: SalvageMariah Sage teaches theatre at Fairfield University, but she'll be taking center stage later this month, when a play commissioned by her theater company begins a two-week run at the prestigious NYC International Fringe Festival. Sage, an assistant professor of visual and performing arts, will star in George Brant's "Salvage," which is also being produced by her theatre company, Theatre 4.

The play runs from Thursday, August 16 through Saturday, August 25, at The Living Theatre, 21 Clinton Street, New York City.

"We have spent the past year working with the playwright to help create these characters and shape this story," said Sage. "It was thrilling to present this show for the first time in New Haven. After each show, we talked with the audience about how they related to each character or the circumstances - and each person seemed to see something new and different in this rich story. Now we are so honored to continue working on this play and present it in the theatre capital of the world."

Directed by Maryna Harrison, "Salvage" is about obsession, ownership, and responsibility to family. In addition to Sage, it stars Theatre 4's other founding members, Janie Tamarkin and Rebecka Jones. As it opens, Danny, a 40-year-old record shop employee, has died in a car accident and his mother and sister (Tamarkin and Sage) go into his basement apartment to go through his possessions before they are lost in an oncoming storm and flood. Danny's old girlfriend, Amanda, (Jones) shows up at her high school sweetheart's home. What she doesn't see coming is a three-way tug-of-war over the rights to a dead man's life. From an eccentric new voice in American theater comes this riveting comic-drama about a devoted sister, a desperate mother, and a determined ex.

Sage, Tamarkin, and Jones founded New Haven-based Theatre 4 in 2007 and it has become known as a progressive theatre, which produces plays that are innovative and inspire thoughtful discussion. Sage herself is an actor by trade - She received an MFA in acting from Brown University and a BFA from New York University - but noted that starting a theatre company has been challenging in the best way possible. "In acting you tend to be at the whim of others and take what roles you're given," she said. "So starting a theatre company was empowering."

Sage took a pre-tenure leave in Spring 2012 to dedicate her time to commissioning, producing, and performing in "Salvage," which had its debut in New Haven in April. When it came time to commission the play, it wasn't difficult for Sage and her Theatre 4 partners to choose a writer for a play featuring the three actresses. "We immediately went to George [Brant]," said Sage. "He's right on the cusp of exploding and brings a lot of worth to his characters by combining humor and warmth in dark places."

The Cleveland playwright, who has won several awards for his work, had one stipulation to follow for the new play: there needed to be roles for all three actresses, aged approximately 30, 40, and 60. "It was daunting, but exciting," Sage said. "We had complete trust in him for the play."

"Salvage"has received positive reviews, particularly for playing to the strengths and talents of all three actresses. Sage, who noted that theatre is an exercise in empathy, said, "audiences consistently respond that this new play is 'compelling' and 'deeply moving.' They enjoy being surprised by the plot twists and turns. Critic Bonnie Goldberg wrote, 'Wow' is too small a word.'"

For more details on the New York performances or to buy tickets, visit www.fringenyc.com. For more information on the play and Theatre 4, visit www.t4ct.org.

Image: Janie Tamarkin and Mariah Sage in a recent production of George Brant's "Salvage."

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 7, 2012

Vol. 45, No. 21