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Flea Theater Goes Green: Laurel Haines’s Future Anxiety

plastic bags

Playwright Laurel Haines spent a lot of time thinking about plastic bags. She could have been satisfied with just toting her canvas bags to Whole Foods. Laurel, however, had bigger plans and set out to truly change people’s minds. The result? Future Anxiety, a cautionary tale about what happens when our wasteful habits finally catch up with us. Haines’s play will soon have its world premiere at The Flea Theater and to underscore the importance of her work, an ambitious program to “go green” will be timed with the play’s run.

Recent events make the play’s message particularly timely. “The Gulf oil spill. Japan’s unfolding nuclear disaster. News of environmental catastrophes like these can make us want to stick our heads in the sand,” says Flea Artistic Director Jim Simpson. “This play is current, it’s now, and it makes us take notice. I’m certain that even our small theater can make a difference.”

The Flea Theater’s eco-awareness will include paperless programs, eco-education activities, and blogs/vlogs. Previews begin on April 15, with opening night scheduled for April 28. The play will run through May 26. This dark comedy is directed by Simpson and features The Bats, the Flea’s resident acting company.

Oscar-nominated actress and noted environmental advocate Sigourney Weaver (Avatar, Gorillas in the Mist) helps kick-off The Flea’s green initiative with a featured Future Anxiety advocacy blog for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Then starting on Earth Day (Friday, April 22), donations will be collected for both the NRDC and Earth Day Network after every performance.

In addition, Whole Foods is donating opening night catering for the cause, and every Wednesday throughout the show’s run will feature special talkbacks with the playwright and cast and fun pre-show awareness activities. The production promises to be thought-provoking as well as entertaining.

Future Anxiety sounds like a wonderful play and a very creative approach to building awareness about the environment,” says Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network, “It’s important to reach audiences in a number of ways, and we have been big fans of The Flea’s for years. We’re very grateful that The Flea chose Earth Day Network to support this year with a portion of the donations collected at the performances in honor of Earth Day.”

Future Anxiety is set in the not-too-distant future. Unfortunately, the planet’s become uninhabitable. Fortunately, Karl’s built a spaceship. In this fiercely intelligent and wildly conceivable vision of the apocalypse, a new generation tries to make sense of how to live on a planet with increasingly drained resources and suspect inhabitants.

The production features The Bats: Brett Aresco, Allison Buck, Holly Chou, Ugo Chukwu, Katherine Folk-Sullivan, Grant Harrison, Alex Herrald, Josephine Huang, Amanda Idoko, Raúl Sigmund Julia, Yvette King, Vin Kridakorn, Maren Langdon, Betsy Lippitt, Seth Moore, Joy Notoma, Reynaldo Piniella, Donaldo Prescod, Anita Sabherwal, Joann Sacco, Keola Simpson, Hansel Tan and Monica Wyche. The design team includes Kyle Chepulis (set), Brian Aldous (lighting), Sydney Gallas (costumes), Jill BC DuBoff (sound), David Prittie (graphics) Kate Sinclair Foster (props) and Michelle Kelleher (stage manager).

Laurel Haines writes plays and musicals. Her play The Dianalogues, about the public’s obsession with Princess Diana, has been produced in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and South Africa, and is published in Women Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2003 (Smith and Kraus) and Best Women’s Monologues for the Millennium (Applause Books). Future Anxiety, developed in the Lark Playwrights Week 2009, had staged readings at Chicago Dramatists, the Great Plains Theatre Conference, and Stage Left Theater, and was a finalist for the National New Play Network’s Smith Prize.

Jim Simpson is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Flea Theater (2004 Drama Desk cited for Downtown Adventurous Theater). Two-time OBIE-award winner, 2002 National Board of Review Excellence in Filmmaking, and cited for artistic leadership in Downtown New York by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in 2002. Jim has directed over 70 works for the theater and has also directed for film and television.

The Flea Theater, under Artistic Director Jim Simpson and Producing Director Carol Ostrow, is one of New York’s leading off-off-Broadway companies. (See our Woman Around Town profile).

Future Anxiety
By Laurel Haines
The Flea
41 White Street between Church and Broadway, three blocks south of Canal, close to the A/C/E, N/R/Q, 6, J/M/Z and 1 subway lines.
April 15 through May 26, Tuesday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.
There is an added performance 3 p.m. Sunday, April 17
Tickets are $25 and are available by calling
212-352-3101 or online at
Discounted $20 tickets are available for Earth Day and each “Eco-Wednesday” with the code GREEN20.
Please also note: all Tuesday performances are Pay-What-You-Can, subject to availability at the door, only one ticket per person.

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