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hangar bpf Photo by Rachel PhilipsonThe Hangar Theatre's Big Play Festival! Directors- front row, left to right: Godfrey Simmons, Jr., Beth Milles, Bob Moss. Photo by Rachel Philipson
The Hangar Theatre Company wraps up its 45th summer season with the Big Play Festival! (BPF!), featuring lightly staged readings of three big plays, all featuring the theme of the American family. The festival includes: A Raisin in the Sun by Lorrainne Hansberry; August: Osage County by Tracy Letts; and You Can't Take It with You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The casts and directors consist primarily of artists who live in the Ithaca area or who have appeared in a Hangar Mainstage production this season. The BPF! runs August 22-31, and one ticket will grant access to all three plays.

Hangar's Artistic Director, Michael Barakiva, conceived the BPF! with the community in mind. "I was so impressed with the amount of talent in this area that I wanted to create programming that would feature it on our stage." He was also excited to share the form of the staged reading with the Hangar audiences. "The spoken word is the fundamental building block of our theatrical tradition," states Barakiva. "It's drama, boiled down to its most essential elements."

A Raisin in the Sun is the story of the Youngers, an African American family on Chicago's South Side. When an insurance payout follows their father's death, each family member has a different dream about how the money might improve their lives. Named the best play of 1959, this ground-breaking work by Lorraine Hansberry was the first play by a African American woman playwright to be on Broadway. A Raisin in the Sun is directed by Godfrey Simmons, Jr., a senior lecturer in Cornell's Department of Performing and Media Arts. He originally came to Cornell as an actor in their RPTA program, where he performed in A Raisin in the Sun. Godfrey is also the Artistic Director of Civic Ensemble, in addition to having an extensive national career on and off the stage.

August: Osage County chronicles one dysfunctional family, drawn back to their Oklahoma homestead by the disappearance of the patriarch. Their alcohol- and chemical-fueled confrontations escalate, unleashing memories, grudges, and a dark and twisted past. This riveting, hilarious, no-holds-barred drama is directed by Beth Milles, a director and associate professor in Cornell's Department of Performing and Media Arts. Milles most recently directed the world premiere of Rule of Thumb at the Cherry Artspace and Fast Blood with Civic Ensemble.

You Can't Take It with You (winner of the 2019 Subscribers' Choice) is a comedy classic of the American stage, a perennial favorite since it debuted on Broadway in 1936. When Alice Sycamore brings her fiancé and his conservative parents home to meet her peculiar collection of batty but good-hearted kin, lifestyles and values collide as mayhem and hilarity ensue. This lively romp is directed by former Hangar Artistic Director Bob Moss, who staged managed the first revival on Broadway in 1965, starring Rosemary Harris. In addition to his extensive career at the Hangar, which includes founding the Lab Company, Moss founded the Playwrights Horizons and the Queens Theatre in the Park and served as Artistic Director at Syracuse Stage. He has also taught at the Ithaca College Department of Theatre Arts.

The Hangar Design Fellows include Scenic Designer Matt Kornegay; Lighting Designer Caitlin Brown; Costume Designer Vicky Butler; and Sound Designer Tommy Truelsen. Matthew Luppino, who was the Assistant Stage Manager on the 2018 production of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, will return to the Hangar as the BPF! Production Stage Manager.

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