Rattlestick Playwrights Theater has appointed director Daniella Topol its new artistic director, succeeding David van Asselt, the leader of the organization since its founding in 1994.
In “passing the stick” to Ms. Topol, whose recent efforts include Ironbound by Martyna Majok that closed last week at Rattlestick, Mr. van Asselt said, “Daniella has that rare combination of artistic strength with administrative savvy. She brings years of experience working with new and emerging writers. We believe that Daniella is the ideal person to take the organization to the next level.”
Mr. van Asselt is in the process of creating Rattlestick West in Los Angeles with James Franco and Scott Haze www.rattlestick.org/rattlestick-la. Rattlestick will be a bi-coastal theatre company with one of its goals to provide playwrights with an opportunity for productions and exposure on both coasts.
Ms. Topol is in the process of programming Rattlestick’s 2016 – 2017 season and will continue Rattlestick’s commitment to work that is edgy, ambitious and courageous. “I love Rattlestick’s mission,” said Ms. Topol. “It’s commitment to produce daring plays by innovative artists. Rattlestick will always dare to do the impossible, such as producing five plays of Lucy Thurber’s simultaneously. There is a spirit of risk-taking – not just from the playwrights – but from the directors, designers, and actors.”
The mission of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater www.rattlestick.org is to provide a positive, nurturing experience for emerging playwrights, to present diverse and challenging plays that otherwise might not be produced and to foster the future voices of American theater.
Ms. Topol’s directing credits in New York include some of the most exciting and provocative productions of the last decade: When January Feels Like Summer by Cori Thomas, Row After Row and Charles Ives Take Me Home by Jessica Dickey, How The World Began by Catherine Treischmann and Dead City by Sheila Callaghan. Ms. Topol’s resume www.daniellatopol.com include Artistic Program Director for Lark Play Development Center; New Works Program Director for National Alliance for Musical Theatre; and Associate Producing Director of City Theatre Company. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in Directing and a Masters in Arts Management.
Ms. Topol will continue projects outside of Rattlestick, including Water a New Georges at 3LD production for 2017 created in collaboration with Sheila Callaghan. Also on her to-do list in the near future is Jacqueline Lawton’s Intelligence at Arena Stage in February 2017.
Mr. Van Asselt founded Rattlestick in 1994 with fellow playwright Gary Bonasorte. The first play they produced together, Two Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter’s Night, by James Edwin Parker, was mentored by Terrence McNally. Gary died in 2000, six months before 9/11, a year in which all the scheduled shows were postponed given Rattlestick’s downtown location opposite the hospital where many of the victims were treated. In essence, Mr. Van Asselt had to start a new company in 2001. “Gary’s spirit has infused everything we’ve done,” says Mr. Van Asselt. Since 1994, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater has created, developed, and produced many of the nation’s greatest playwrights and their works. Rattlestick demonstrates a commitment to the artist by guaranteeing them a second production – regardless of the reception of the first. It has produced the first plays and early works of some of today’s leading voices, including Lucy Thurber (The Hilltown Plays), Sheila Callaghan (Everything You Touch), Adam Rapp (The Hallway Trilogy), Craig Wright (The Pavilion), Jesse Eisenberg (The Revisionist), Samuel D. Hunter (The Few), and Annie Baker (The Aliens). Rattlestick has also produced works by some of our nation’s most important playwrights, including José Rivera (Massacre Sing To Your Children), Craig Lucas (Ode To Joy), Charles Fuller (One Night) and Dael Orlandersmith (Horsedreams).
Rattlestick’s next production, co-presented with Colt Coeur, is Cal in Camo by William Francis Hoffman, directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt. It runs now through June 12.