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2 Plays From Catalyst: A Theatre Think Tank On Themes of Genetic Engineering and Incarceration

By Michael French on February 16, 2021 in University
 "Perfect" (with DNA) and "A Bee in a Jar" (with a bee in a jar)

The Department of Theatre and Dance and Catalyst: A Theatre Think Tank, a launching pad for new works, raise the remote curtain this week on two productions examining diverse contemporary themes.

Jonathan Luskin, whose Kill the Wabbit was workshopped at UC Davis in 2018, is back with Perfect, three interwoven stories exploring the boundless desire for flawless children and the impossibility of objectively defining what that means.

Six actors portray 13 characters, including a cell biologist and her brilliant, wheelchair-using son who discover their research is being used to clean disabilities from the human genome; and a young couple who turn to an app to design the “perfect” child.  They will present the play as an informal reading at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 17).

Perfect is directed by alumna JanLee Marshall (M.F.A, dramatic art, ’15) and features actor Danny Gomez, recipient of the 2020 Media Access Award, which recognizes depictions of disability that are accurate, inclusive and multifaceted. The cast also includes undergraduate students Sophie Brubaker, Cheryl Kuo, Kyle Nagasawa and Aubrey Schoeman. Undergraduate student Sam Votrian is the stage manager.

In A Bee in a Jar by Andrew Nichols, three men with very different temperaments try to figure out why they were seized a month earlier and locked together in a featureless room. The play will be performed at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Feb. 19 and 20).  

Nicholls is a television writer and author who has worked on The Tonight Show and numerous Nickelodeon shows. He is the author of the recently published Comedy Writer: Craft Advice From a Veteran of Sitcoms, Sketch, Animation, Late Night, Print and Stage Comedy. His play {LOVE/logic} was staged at UC Davis in 2019.  

Theatre and television actor Laura Hall, who appeared on Broadway in Wonderland and in the national tour of the revival of Pippin, is the director. She has recently relocated from New York to Sacramento County.

The cast includes alumni Jordan Brownlee (B.A., cinema and digital media, ’20), Nate Challis (B.A., theatre and dance, ’20) and Noah VanderVeer-Harris (B.A., theatre and dance, 20), as well as undergraduate students Erolina Kamburova and Hailey Peterson. Undergraduate student Shachar-Lee Yaakobovitz is the stage manager. 

As a virtual new works festival this year, Catalyst’s online process allows actors and creative teams to collaborate from various locations across time zones.

Broadway veteran Mindy Cooper, professor of theatre and dance, and Lisa Quoresimo (Ph.D., performance studies, ’18) are co-founders of Catalyst.

The Department of Theatre and Dance is producing the 2020-21 Catalyst season with support from the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Bike City Theatre Company, Southern Utah University and San Francisco Youth Theatre.

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About the author(s)

Michael French Michael French is the arts marketing specialist for the Arts Administrative Group. Reach him at 530-752-5863 or