PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH II: The Constellationist
Lead Artists: Molly Rice & Christine Bethea; Written & Conceived by Molly Rice; Directed by Rusty Thelin
REALTIME, Pittsburgh’s community-fueled performance company, presents the World Premiere of PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH II: The Constellationist at Attack Theater Studios (212 45th Street, Lawrenceville) on July 12-16, 2023. The show is a live biographical play- meets- variety show illustrating the life of Mary Carey, a living ray of light and a cornerstone of the community of Braddock, PA. For tickets, visit www.realtimeinterventions.org starting June 12.
The Constellationist is the second installment of RealTime’s PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH series: shows about extraordinary, ordinary Pittsburghers created by multidisciplinary artist teams. This brand-new devised theater work is conceived and written by RealTime Co-Artistic Director and Lead Playwright Molly Rice, who has teamed up with fiber artist, sculptor and newly-appointed Arts Commissioner for the City of Pittsburgh Christine Bethea to tell Mary’s story in a multidisciplinary way.
But The Constellationist isn’t being created by just a team of two. “Mary is a ‘we’ person,” Rice said. “When we approached her as the subject of our next PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH, Mary said, ‘You can write a play about me– but it has to include everybody.’ So we designed a creation process that includes…everybody,” says Rice.
No stranger to sprawling collaborations, for this PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH RealTime has brought together a core team of award-winning public artists as well as a devising ensemble of performers from myriad walks of life– including a few of Mary’s own Braddock neighbors, friends and family members– to engage in a unique co-creation process. Based on interviews of Mary and her loved ones that Rice has been gathering since 2021, Rice crafted prompts upon which Ensemble members based short original compositions–songs, original jokes, trumpet solos, dance pieces, guitar compositions, stories, even animated video storyboards. After they shared these in group workshops, Rice wove these compositions together with audio interviews into a “constellation” of moments from Mary’s life– brought to life by an entire community.
Sanford-Mark Barnes, longtime jazz trumpet player and Mary’s neighbor, is in the show’s devising ensemble. (You may remember him from RealTime/ Bricolage’s 2015 “Saints Tour.”) Barnes says of Mary,
“She is the embodiment of what a neighbor and a community person is supposed to be here in Braddock. She knows the culture of Braddock, she knows the history of Braddock, and she will do anything that she can to help everybody get to where they need to get to. This show is honoring her and bringing a legacy for her and her kids, grandkids, family members, to really get a perspective of how other people see Mary. And I think that is absolutely beautiful and a wonderful thing.”
The core artist team for The Constellationist is comprised of Lead Artists Molly Rice (writer and conceiver) and Christine Bethea (environmental design and installation art); Cheryl Cappezzuti (original puppets); Deavron Dailey (set and environmental design); Bayley Brown (sound design); and Rusty Thelin (director.) The Devising Ensemble includes Aerin Addams, Sanford-Mark Barnes, Lish Danielle and her children Azriel and Elliott Rose, Erika Denae J, Travis Matuke, Calise Cowans-Rini, and Jasmariah, Mary’s 10-year-old niece. The production team includes Zev Woskoff and Jess Levine.
PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH, launched in 2022 with The Alchemist of Sharpsburg, is RealTime’s live, performance-based series of theatrical portraits celebrating the personalities, lived experiences and personal histories of extraordinary, ordinary Pittsburghers.
The series marks a new level of collaboration for RealTime’s founders Molly Rice and Rusty Thelin, and is in many ways a love letter to the fellow artists and residents of the city they call home. Each PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH show will unite artists from different artistic disciplines, challenging them to collaboratively craft a compelling work that captures a Pittsburgh-area resident, and encouraging innovations in form to match the unique blend of personality and experience that makes up an individual’s life. Says Thelin,
“The only criteria RealTime has for the shows are that the subjects are everyday Pittsburghers– not ‘Pittsburgh famous’ or widely recognized– and that the artistic team doesn’t limit itself to pure docudrama in the telling of the story. We feel that everyone, if you look closely enough, is a work of art, and the way a unique human being is depicted should be as original as the person themselves.”
The next PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH production is slated for the Summer of 2024. It will feature a new artist team and focus on another amazing resident of Pittsburgh, PA, chosen in a voting process by audience members of the earlier installments.
PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH II: The Constellationist will be presented at Attack Theatre Studios at 212 45th St, Pittsburgh PA, Wednesday July 12th through Sunday, July 16. All shows will begin at 7PM.
CLICK THIS LINK FOR TICKETS! All tickets Pay What You Can for Braddock residents. $20 tickets for Preview Performance, July 11.
NOTE: The show contains adult themes. For content warnings, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original songs and music by Erica Denae J., Aerin Addams,
Sanford-Mark Barnes, and Travis Matuke
Environmental Design by Christine Bethea and Deavron Dailey
Puppet Design by Cheryl Capezzuti
Sound Design by Bayley Brown