TFA Presents Staged Reading of McDonald’s ‘The Rivers and Ravines’

Posted: November 19, 2009 at 1:01 am, Last Updated: November 18, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Theater of the First Amendment (TFA), Mason’s professional theater company, will present a staged reading of “The Rivers and Ravines,” written and directed by Professor of Theater Heather McDonald and featuring a cast of professionals, students and members of the Northern Virginia community.

With a focus on community, TFA celebrates its new presence in theSPACE in Old Town Fairfax, where the reading will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m.

Set during the farm crisis of the early 1980s, “The Rivers and Ravines” celebrates the hope and spirituality of a community facing economic hardship.

The play, which has a cast of 26, was commissioned by the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and premiered during the theater’s 1987-88 season. In 1988, The Washington Post hailed “The Rivers and Ravines” as “‘Our Town’ for the ‘80s.”

The play had its New York City premiere at the Village Theater in 1991. In a review of that production, The New York Times said, “McDonald’s message echoes with clarity, an emergency signal about hard times and more difficult days to come.”

Kevin Murray, TFA’s managing director, says, “TFA’s revisiting of the play is sure to resonate as a modern parable for our time.”

Heather McDonald received a MFA degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has taught playwriting for Mason’s Theater Department for 17 years and is co-artistic director of TFA.

An accomplished director and playwright whose work has been produced on Broadway, McDonald boasts an oeuvre that includes “An Almost Holy Picture,” “The End of the Affair,” “When Grace Comes In” and “Dream of a Common Language.”

McDonald has been honored with four Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Resident Production. She has received a Pulitzer Prize nomination and has been awarded the National Endowment of the Arts Playwriting Fellowship three times. She is one of eight writers across the United States invited to attend Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat at Ucross in February 2010.

The evening will include a pre-show reception with a cash bar starting at 7 p.m. and a brief discussion with McDonald after the reading.

TFA will also collect canned goods at the door for Food for Others (www.foodforothers.org) of Fairfax. Tickets are pay-what-you-can at the door and available at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall box office.

TheSPACE is located at 3955 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA 22030, in the Old Town Plaza retail complex. Free parking is available in the underground garage, accessible from either Chain Bridge Road or University Drive. Pedestrian entrance is on North Street, next to the fountain.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu