suddenly last summer mud lab

Mississippi Mud will share five Suddenly Last Summer open lab performances:

August 11, 15 & 18 @ 8pm
August 12, @ 3pm
August 13, @ 8:30pm

The Alexander Technique Center for Performance and Development
330 West 38th Street, Room 805, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Mud friends on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are welcome.

Free admission - RESERVATIONS REQUIRED!! Please email date, name and number of tickets to Anyone without reservations will be put on a standby list and seated pending available seats.


Mrs. Venable -- Johanna Leister*
Dr. Cukrowicz --Austin Pendleton
Miss Foxhill -- Jody Prusan
Mrs. Holly -- Maureen Mooney*
George Holly -- Steve Sherman*
Catharine Holly -- Jen Danby*
Sister Felicity -- Emily Davis
* Member of Actors Equity

Johanna Leister JOHANNA LEISTER (Violet Venable) most recently played in Beyond the Horizon at Irish Rep in NYC and in a 2012 Roland Emmerich pilot for ABC. She grew up in Texas, started her training at American Conservatory Theatre Training Congress in San Francisco, and studied acting at HB Studio with Uta Hagen and Carol Rosenfeld. She continues to study with Austin Pendleton. Broadway: Whose Life Is it Anyway w/Mary Tyler Moore, Tartuffe w/Victor Garber, Dracula w/Raul Julia, and Whodunnit w/Fred Gwynne. Television: 4-years as Phoebe Smith on The Edge Of Night, Mariane in Tartuffe for PBS Great Performances, and Liz Posen in the Kennedy mini-series starring Martin Sheen. Film: Thanksgiving, A Size Too Small, and A Picture is no Substitute. Regional: Long Wharf, Geva, Actors Theatre Louisville, Alley, Pioneer, Walnut Street, Two River. Additional NY Theatre: Rattlestick, Gorilla Rep, Dodger Theatre Productions, Riverside Shakespeare, HB Playwrights, Samuel French Festival. National Tour: Jill Mason in Equus. Directors she has worked with include Ciaran O'Reilly, Roland Emmerich, Jon Jory, John Dexter, Michael LIndsay-Hogg, Pamela Berlin, Stuart Vaughan, Stephen Porter. For HB Playwrights & HB Ensemble: The Chase, Bury the Dead, and The Sleeper Awakens. Ms. Leister taught acting for four years In the Saturday program of American Academy of Dramatic Arts and has the privilege of teaching at HB Studio. Thanks to Jim and Andrew.

WORKING ON WILLIAMS: I would love to have heard his cackle coming from the audience while I was performing - I know an actress who has.

FUN FACT: I felt compelled to jump off the high diving board in a lake, not knowing how to swim - and to depend on the kindness of strangers who were already in the water to get me back to shore. Somehow that worked. 
Austin Pendleton AUSTIN PENDLETON (Dr. Cukrowicz) Mr. Pendleton's numerous acting roles in theatre, film, and television include Mother Courage with Meryl Streep and recurring characters on Homicide and Oz. Select directing credits: Detroit at the National Theatre in London after having directed it in Chicago at Steppenwolf; Time Stands Still at Steppenwolf; A Loss of Roses at Arkansas Rep; The Little Foxes on Broadway, starring Elizabeth Taylor; and Three Sisters at Classic Stage Company (Obie award for Best Director and where he will direct Ivanov this fall). In April 2011, Lincoln Center Theater presented the New York premiere of A Minister's Wife, Mr. Pendleton's musical adaptation (with Josh Schmidt and Jan Tranen) of Shaw's Candida, and he is currently directing Boston Midsummer Opera's Don Pasquale. He teaches acting regularly at HB Studio, and has taught several sessions at the educational wing of the Mississippi Mud Productions company. He co-directed (with Brian Lady) Mississippi Mud Productions' A Streetcar Named Desire, with Jen Danby as Blanche DuBois and Toshiji Takeshima as Stanley at the Cherry Pit of NYC's Cherry Lane Theatre in summer 2010, which arose out of work with the HB Studio Ensemble. He is also serving as director on an unfolding Mud Lab of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which first performed in July of last year and is being revived this summer.

WORKING ON WILLIAMS: Rehearsing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1986 I decided I wanted to write plays. Every day, every night of rehearsal I kept thinking, "Look where you can go when you write a play!!! Look at all the places you can go!!!" Now, at Mud, I'm having the same feelings and in fact wrote a new play after our Mud lab of Cat last summer, the first play I've been moved to write in years. (Mud's production last fall of my play Orson's Shadow also helped to excite me into writing something new.) This play now awaits a score by Josh Schmidt, with whom I collaborated on the musical A Minister's Wife that was done last year at Lincoln Center. All because of Tennessee Williams. All because of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. All because of Mud.

FUN FACT: I got so into Cat that after the evening rehearsals I would go across the street and drink Irish coffees til they closed.  I was that jazzed.  I would of course not sleep all night.  All I wanted to do was thing about these people, riotously.  Now, working with Mud on the play, I'm equally jazzed but a little bit more in control of myself.  I actually sleep some nights.  But what dreams!!!!!!

Jody Prusan JODY PRUSAN (Miss Foxhill) is delighted to be working again with Mississippi Mud! A proud member of AEA, SAG/AFTRA she has appeared on stage and screen: Most recently DealNews.Com on air reporter, American Globe 15 minute play festival and numerous productions at HB Studio. Regional: Showboat at Saint Louis MUNY, She Loves Me at the Ahmanson and Lobero. Television: Guiding Light, Sesame Street and numerous commercials. Staged readings: Luna's Bracelet at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, Whole - Dramatists Guild, The Psychiatrist at The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre Company. Creator of Connecting Talent Company.

WORKING ON WILLIAMS: Sometimes wonderful memories are formed simply - recently the cast of Suddenly Last Summer rehearsed in my living room with it's director Austin Pendelton at my side and my one bedroom Upper West Side Apartment circa 2012 transformed into a "salon" from days of old. It was a very special moment to gaze around at the actors and I was reminded of the many rehearsals and moments that had occurred without an audience in this space.

FUN FACT: My most precious and realized moments have been singing for kids in hospitals. The objective is so pure and clear "deliver joy". Its so simple and often occurs in the privacy of a hospital room without reviews or an audience - somehow receiving a smile or seeing a response from a child in need makes my life seem worthy the rest is commentary.
Maureen Mooney MAUREEN MOONEY (Mrs. Holly) celebrates over 30 years in show business. Theatre credits include: Mod Donna (Public Theatre), L'Ete (Cherry Lane Theatre), The Possibilities (American Theatre of Actors) and touring with The Borstal Boy and The Prime of Jean Brodie. Television audiences remember Maureen originating the role of "Ann Jeffers" on the Guiding Light, "Stacey Coles" on All My Children," Diane Flannery"on Another World and the “Nanny” on One Life to Live. Film credits include The French Connection, Midnight Cowboy, Hell High and BL Stryker. Maureen has sold from soup to nuts, singing and dancing in over 100 network TV commercials. Her training includes work with Austin Pendleton, Lee Strasberg, William Esper, Kristin Linklater, and Judith Liebowitz . AEA, SAG-AFTRA.

WORKING ON WILLIAMS: Seems to touch on a universal theme even in today's society. “ ‘Family dysfunction’... it's everywhere I go and I am part of it.”

FUN FACT: I like working with my hands renovating old buildings and bringing them back to their original splendor. I live a bit in the past.
Steve Sherman STEVE SHERMAN (Geroge Holly) found Mississippi Mud through their first course offering with Austin Pendleton, spring 2011. He had just seen Austin's Uncle Vanya at Classic Stage, of which the cast included an old college classmate, Peter Sarsgaard, who'd recommended studying with him. He has since become a Mud Associate, and will be playing George Holly in this summer's Mud Lab of Suddenly Last Summer, also directed by Austin. Other regional roles: Father Flynn in Doubt, Picasso in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Ross in Spinning into Butter, & Osvald in Ghosts. Classically trained at Washington University in St. Louis and The British American Drama Academy (Oxford-Yale). AEA/SAG-AFTRA.

WORKING ON WILLIAMS: I love working on Tennesee Williams' writing. The key is the language- it offers everything you need about the complexity of the character. I also find it some of the easiest to memorize- each thought naturally moves to the next.

FUN FACT: Steve is running his 5th marathon in November.
Jen Danby JEN DANBY (Catharine) is thrilled to be playing Catharine Holly under Austin's direction and alongside him for this Mud Lab and with a lovely cast and team. She's the founder and director of Mississippi Mud Productions. Select stage credits: Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire with Mississippi Mud, co-directed by Brian Lady and Austin Pendleton; born from work at HB with Toshiji Takeshima and other fine actors; Vivien Leigh in the solo piece Vivien Leigh: The Last Press Conference, by Marcy Lafferty, directed by Austin Pendleton, which just toured to Blue Heaven in Key West; Belle in Stupid and Terrible, and with HB Ensemble the roles of Hedda Gabler, Delfina Treadwell in Valparaiso, and Helena in Fornes's Lust, Vivien Leigh in Austin Pendleton's Orson's Shadow off-Broadway with Mississippi Mud. She has performed in three experimental vlogisodes with The Wooster Group, including Paula in Paula and Bad Pictures opposite Jim Fletcher (GATZ). Film/TV: Melinda in Hollywood Sitters, Ann in Run #3, and a fashion stylist opposite Susan Lucci on the daytime soap All My Children. Representation: Ken Park Talent 212.566.8672 – AEA, SAG-AFTRA.

WORKING ON WILLIAMS: Catharine's good but no angel, sins but no devil, she is dealing with the trauma of violence and breaking silence and that is primal, possessing. It's about seeing horror yet light of hope the heart, actress. surfs that.

FUN FACT: I once rode a horse named Devil.
Emily Davis EMILY DAVIS (Sister Felicity) is originally from Virginia and lives in New York City. She has worked on playwrights from Eugene O'Neill to Shakespeare. Emily earned her BFA in theatre from Texas Christian University and then moved to New York City where she began studying with Austin at HB who "has taught me almost everything I know I about acting." She also studies with Austin in the Mud "Gym" in Mississippi Mud's educational wing," and says she's excited to be part of Mud and "looks forward to our future explorations"! With Mud, she has taken part in exploratory Tennessee Williams lab work and is currently part of mud laboratory work on Maria Irene Fornes' Fefu and Her Friends, in a lead role as Julia, and the gym reading and gym exploration of this play, an unfolding project, with Austin Pendleton.

WORKING ON WILLIAMS: My greatest joy and challenge about working on Tennessee is how exquisitely, excruciatingly, haunting his characters are. It's an honor and a huge challenge to inhabit characters so meticulously and masterfully crafted. Jen and I were talking last night about how they get under your skin and haunt you... I'm so excited that my first 2 characters with Mud get to be his -- Laura, from The Glass Menagerie and Sister Felicity, in our upcoming production of SLS! And that I get to work with Austin in SLS, as my director and co-actor both for the first time, after many years as my beloved mentor, all has me giddy to the moon and back!!!

FUN FACT: There are 10 beings living in my household, with 26 feet and 7 tails!
Charles Black REANNA ARMELLINO (Summer Intern 2012 Mud Lab Assistant) has been performing on stage since she was 6 years old. Growing up in New York has given her the opportunity to study under some of the finest talent the industry has to offer. Since graduating from Manhattan's professional Performing Arts School she has continue fine tuning her craft. She's studied at the T. Schrieber Studio, worked with commercial actor and teacher John Howard Swain as well as Voice Over coach Joan Baker, and studied Standard American English at the Sam Chwat Speech Center. Currently, Reanna is excited to be studying under Jen Danby, founder of Mississippi Mud in Mud's educational wing. She continues to work extensively with singing coach Jane Seaman, performing musical showcases, with accompanist Eddie Rabin, throughout the city. Composing original pop music in her spare time she has 12 copy-written songs to date. In the past year she was involved with both the New York Fringe Festival as well as the Long Island Fringe Festival, performing as well as working behind the scenes .Reanna is a current member of SAG-AFTRA and is training in the dance styles Tap & Theatre Jazz. Reanna loves every aspect of the theatre and lives for the magic created in every show.

WORKING ON WILLIAMS: Working in the world of Tennessee Williams has been an adventure for me. He writes the way we live and breathe, not an imitation of it - he forces one to be real.

FUN FACT: I am terrified of the ocean, and most water in general.
AUSTIN PENDLETON (SLS Mud Lab Teacher/Director) Mr. Pendleton's numerous acting roles in theatre, film, and television include Mother Courage with Meryl Streep and My Cousin Vinny. This fall, Mr. Pendleton will direct Detroit on Broadway, which he directed with Steppenwolf in Chicago. He also directed The Little Foxes on Broadway, starring Elizabeth Taylor, and Three Sisters at Classic Stage Company, among his many credits. In April 2011, Lincoln Center Theater presented the New York premiere of A Minister's Wife, Mr. Pendleton's musical adaptation (with Josh Schmidt and Jan Tranen) of Shaw's Candida. He coached and co-directed (with Brian Lady) Mississippi Mud Productions' A Streetcar Named Desire, with Jen Danby as Blanche DuBois and Toshiji Takeshima as Stanley at the Cherry Pit of NYC's Cherry Lane Theatre in summer 2010, and Vivien Leigh: The Last Press Conference with Mud. He teaches at HB Studio and studied with Herbert Berghof and Bobby Lewis. Austin is thrilled to be able to work with this Cat tribe on one of his favorite plays.

About the Mud Lab: The Mud Lab is a developmental space for actors to work on craft as ensemble with key plays and as a company. For four weeks this summer, Mud will be in residence at the Alexander Technique Center for Performance and Development in midtown Manhattan to explore Suddenly Last Summer and a reprise of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof under the guiding eye of Broadway director and master teacher and actor Austin Pendleton, working with a fine and curious tribe of actors. This is a continued journey that included a Suddenly Last Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof class with Austin through Mud's educational wing as part of this unfolding. The work is in essence a gym space for actors' muscles and for ensemble, and so we want to open our process up to artistic friends, associates, and family for performances as the final part of our exploration. Acting is storytelling, after all. Our sharing of the work will be followed by a talk back with the cast and team. Our desire is in the fluxus of process to dive deeply and freely.

We will share Suddenly Last Summer lab runs at the Alexander Technique Center for Performance and Development at 330 West 38th Street, Room 805, between 8th and 9th Avenues. Mud followers on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are welcome.

For more information please contact