A Briefing on Zombie: The American


Welcome to Woolly Mammoth’s latest production: it’s the climactic finale of Season 35, it’s the latest work from playwright-in-residence Robert O’Hara, and it’s a world premiere of epic proportions. First, let us brief you on a few things…

1.
The play was commissioned by our
FREE THE BEAST! campaign

Zombie: The American is the first of Woolly’s FREE THE BEAST! commission projects to reach the Woolly stage. FREE THE BEAST!, a Woolly initiative founded in 2012, is supporting the production of 25 new plays over a ten-year period.

This commission in particular was developed with Woolly, and the city of Washington, DC, in mind. Working closely with Associate Artistic Director Miriam Weisfeld, Robert O’Hara created the play over a three year period marked by frequent trips to DC, a major creative retreat in Lake George, NY, and an event in Woolly’s Appetizers series featuring scene reading and zombie physicality workshops for a live audience.

Woolly hosted several movement workshops around the Zombie Appetizer event. Here’s a video of a physicality class with students from Howard University led by the show’s fight choreographer, Robb Hunter.

2.
It’s not just about zombies

Described by the playwright as “a cross between Jacobean tragedy and Dr. Strangelove,” Zombie: The American is a political satire, a dystopian cautionary tale, a sci-fi thriller, and a postmodern comedy all in one. Zombies are just the tip of the iceberg.

From Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), cited by Robert O’Hara as a key inspiration for the play

3.
Four Woolly Company Members will appear on stage!

The cast, featuring more Woolly Company members than any other show in Season 35, includes Sarah Marshall (Marie Antoinette, Civilization), Dawn Ursula (Marie Antoinette, The Convert), Jessica Frances Dukes (Bootycandy) and Tim Getman (Detroit, Appropriate).

It also features Sean Meehan (The Totalitarians) and Woolly newcomers James Seol, Thomas Keegan, and Luigi Sottile.

The Woolly Company Members of the Zombie: The American cast: Sarah Marshall, Jessica Frances Dukes, Tim Getman, Dawn Ursula

4.
Howard Shalwitz is directing

Our Artistic Director, who garnered a Helen Hayes Award nomination for his direction of Stupid Fucking Bird, is leading the creative team for Zombie: The American.

“What does Robert O’Hara dream about at night? The answer must be something like Zombie: The American, a play of reckless daring that asks if the White House is our castle, what are we hiding in the dungeon?”
— Howard Shalwitz

Howard (left) and the cast at the first read of Zombie: The American

5.
There will be blood

We’re warning you now…we’re gonna get wild with the special effects. But hey: no guts, no glory, right?

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