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The Originalist
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The Originalist

By John Strand
Directed by Molly Smith
A Co-Production with Asolo Repertory Theatre
and Pasadena Playhouse

July 7 — August 6, 2017
Kreeger Theater

Four-time Helen Hayes Award winner Edward Gero returns as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, offering audiences another opportunity to see his “lively performance” (Washington Post) in this special limited engagement. When a bright, liberal, Harvard Law School graduate embarks on a nerve-wracking clerkship with the conservative Justice, she discovers him to be both an infuriating sparring partner and an unexpected mentor. How will their relationship affect one of the most incendiary cases ever to reach the nation’s highest court? Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the show afresh with a brand-new staging for the Kreeger Theater.


EDWARD GERO (Antonin Scalia)’s Arena Stage credits include Benjamin Hubbard in The Little Foxes and Mark Rothko in Red. He is a four-time Helen Hayes Award winner and 15-time nominee. Regional credits include The Originalist (Asolo Repertory, Pasadena Playhouse); Red and Gloucester in King Lear (Goodman); Nixon’s Nixon and Night Alive (Round House); Sweeney Todd (Signature Theatre); Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (Ford’s Theatre); and American Buffalo, Shining City and Skylight (Studio Theatre). In 32 seasons with Shakespeare Theatre Company, his over 70 roles include Helen Hayes turns in Henry IV, Richard II and Macbeth. Film/TV credits include House of Cards, TURN: Washington’s Spies, Die Hard 2, Striking Distance and narrations for Discovery Channel and PBS. He is a Ten Chimneys 2015 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow and associate professor of theater at George Mason University.

JADE WHEELER (Cat) makes her Arena Stage debut. She is ecstatic to return to the role following productions at Pasadena Playhouse and Asolo Repertory. Jade has performed extensively along the east coast from Massachusetts to Florida. Most recently she appeared in The Legend of Georgia McBride at GableStage. Her onewoman show Who is Eartha Mae? played Off-Broadway at the 2016 United Solo Fest and won for Best Cabaret. Local credits include Debbie Allen’s Alex in Wonderland and Lost in the Stars (the Kennedy Center); An Octoroon (Woolly Mammoth); The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare Theatre Company); and Ruined (Everyman Theatre). Regional credits include GableStage, Central Square Theatre and Stoneham Theatre. She received her B.A. in theater and French from George Mason University and additional training from La Ferme de Trielle and The Actors Space.

BRETT MACK (Brad) is honored to be making his debut at Arena Stage. Past regional theater credits include The Great Society (Asolo Repertory); Mezzulah 1946 and The Muckle Man (Pittsburgh City Theatre); Leveling Up and The Tempest (The Hippodrome Theatre); Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre); and The Illusion (Chautauqua Theatre). Brett is a recent M.F.A. graduate from Florida State University. He can be seen in season two of Scandal on ABC. Brett is grateful to be a part of the team behind The Originalist and would also like to thank his family for their constant support.


JOHN STRAND (Playwright)’s Arena Stage commissions include Snow Child, The Originalist, The Miser, Lovers and Executioners (MacArthur Award) and Tom Walker. Recent works include the book and lyrics for Hat! A Vaudeville (South Coast Repertory); Lincolnesque (Old Globe); and Lorenzaccio (Shakespeare Theatre Company), and the book for the musical The Highest Yellow (Signature Theatre). Additional plays are The Diaries (Signature Theatre, MacArthur nomination); Otabenga (Signature Theatre, MacArthur nomination); Three Nights in Tehran (Signature Theatre); and The Cockburn Rituals (Woolly Mammoth). Strand spent 10 years in Paris, where he worked as a journalist and drama critic, and directed NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing in Paris. His novel Commieland was published by Kiwai Media, Paris in 2013. He is currently at work on a new play about President Teddy Roosevelt for Arena Stage and on the film adaptation of The Originalist.

MOLLY SMITH (Director) has served as Artistic Director since 1998. Her more than 30 directing credits at Arena Stage include Carousel, Oliver!, The Originalist, Fiddler on the Roof, Camp David, Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!, A Moon for the Misbegotten, My Fair Lady, The Great White Hope, The Music Man, Orpheus Descending, Legacy of Light, The Women of Brewster Place, Cabaret, South Pacific, Agamemnon and His Daughters, All My Sons and How I Learned to Drive. She most recently directed Our Town at Canada’s Shaw Festival. Her directorial work has also been seen at The Old Globe, Asolo Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, Montreal’s Centaur Theatre and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998. Molly has been a leader in new play development for over 30 years. She is a great believer in first, second and third productions of new work and has championed projects including How I Learned to Drive; Passion Play, a cycle; Next to Normal; and Dear Evan Hansen. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Lawrence Wright, Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 39 world premieres, staged numerous second and third productions and been an important part of nurturing nine projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In 2014, Molly made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage. She was awarded honorary doctorates from American University and Towson University.

MISHA KACHMAN (Set Designer) has worked at Asolo Repertory, Baltimore Center Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Kennedy Center, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Opera Lafayette, Opera Royal Versailles, Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Round House, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, Signature Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, Studio Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Theater J, Wilma Theater and Woolly Mammoth, among many other companies in the United States and abroad. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth and an associate artist at Olney Theatre Center. Misha is a Helen Hayes Award recipient, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy and serves as the associate professor of scene and costume design and head of M.F.A. in design at University of Maryland.

SEEMA SUEKO (Associate Director) joined the Arena Stage staff in July 2016 as deputy artistic director, and recently directed Smart People. She previously served as associate artistic director at Pasadena Playhouse and executive artistic director of Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company in San Diego. Her directing and acting credits include Pasadena Playhouse, People’s Light, The Old Globe, San Diego Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse, Yale Repertory, 5th Avenue Theatre, Native Voices and Mo`olelo, among others. As a playwright, she received commissions from Mixed Blood Theatre and Center Stage. Her work has been recognized by the California State Assembly, NAACP San Diego Branch, San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, Chicago Jeff Awards, American Theatre Wing and American Theatre magazine. Seema serves on the Diversity Committee of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

MISHA KACHMAN (Set Designer) has worked at Asolo Repertory, Baltimore Center Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Kennedy Center, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Opera Lafayette, Opera Royal Versailles, Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Round House, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, Signature Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, Studio Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Theater J, Wilma Theater and Woolly Mammoth, among many other companies in the United States and abroad. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth and an associate artist at Olney Theatre Center. Misha is a Helen Hayes Award recipient, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy and serves as the associate professor of scene and costume design and head of M.F.A. in design at University of Maryland.

JOSEPH P. SALASOVICH (Costume Designer) is the costume director at Arena Stage, where he has worked for 17 seasons in various capacities on over 100 productions. He most recently designed costumes for Molly Smith’s Mother Courage and Her Children and the world premiere of The Originalist. He held internships with Williamstown Theatre Festival and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Joe studied at the University of Dayton. For Karen and Marjan.

COLIN K. BILLS (Lighting Designer) is pleased to return to Arena Stage, where his credits include Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof and the premiere of The Originalist. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth where he has designed over 45 productions, including An Octoroon, HIR and Black Side of the Moon. As a conspirator with the devising company dog & pony dc, he has collaborated in the writing, direction and design of A Killing Game, Beertown and Toast. His recent work includes Macbeth at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Midwestern Gothic at Signature Theatre and Transmission with The Welders. Colin is the receipient of three Helen Hayes Awards and a Princess Grace Fellowship in Theater. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College.

ERIC SHIMELONIS (Sound Designer) returns to Arena Stage after having composed music for Orpheus Descending and Anna Christie, and creating the sound design for the original production of The Originalist. Other recent projects include Grounded (Everyman Theatre, Olney Theatre Center and Northern Stage); The Nether (Woolly Mammoth); and The Flick (Signature Theatre), for which he received a Helen Hayes Award nomination.

JANA LLYNN (Stage Manager) is delighted to return to her hometown area and Arena Stage where recent credits include Intelligence and Sweat. Broadway credits include The Drowsy Chaperone, Bridge & Tunnel, Company and The Moliere Comedies. Off-Broadway credits include SILENCE! The Musical, SHOUT! The Mod Musical, Matt & Ben (starring Mindy Kaling), The Shawl (director Sidney Lumet, starring Dianne Wiest), and Beau Jest (three years Off-Broadway, director for Boston production). Additional credits include two tour stops of The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (Philadelphia Theatre Company and Laguna Playhouse), The Hard Problem (Studio Theatre) and The Night Alive starring Edward Gero (Round House). PSM for Pfizer-Brazil’s Viagra launch.

ALLIE ROY (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to make her Arena Stage debut with The Originalist. Allie’s other D.C.-area credits include Diner, West Side Story, Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing and Elmer Gantry (Signature Theatre); Straight White Men, Animal, Silence! the Musical and Murder Ballad (Studio Theatre); and Ulysses on Bottles, When January Feels Like Summer and After the War (Mosaic Theater Company). Before moving to D.C., Allie worked in Los Angeles for 10 years, where she was the resident stage manager for Cabrillo Music Theatre. With Cabrillo, Allie stage managed over 20 productions including The Producers, 42nd Street, Legally Blonde, CATS and 1776. Allie is a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.

JOCELYN CLARK (Dramaturg) is currently Theatre Adviser to the Arts Council of Ireland and Dramaturg at American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He has taught dramaturgy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Columbia University and Trinity College Dublin. He was the Commissioning and Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre for four years, and lead theater critic with The Sunday Tribune for nine years. He is an associate artist with The Civilians and Theatre Mitu in New York. He has written six plays for Anne Bogart and the SITI Company — Bob, Alice’s Adventures Underground, Room, Score, Antigone and Trojan Women (After Euripides) — and Chess Game No. 5, his new collaboration with the company, will premiere in New York in March.

ASOLO REPERTORY THEATRE Now in its 59th season, Asolo Repertory Theatre is recognized as one of the premier professional theaters in America and one of the largest in the Southeastern United States. As a center for theatrical excellence, Asolo Rep crafts the highest quality productions of classical, contemporary and newly commissioned work all performed in the rarest form of rotating repertory. Asolo Rep’s highly-skilled acting company and extensive craftsmanship bring to life this unique performance method that offers audiences a unique and dynamic theatre experience. Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards and Managing Director Linda DiGabriele, this world-class institution has taken a bold step toward the future, building landmark partnerships and collaborations which will add to its success for generations to come.

PASADENA PLAYHOUSE Celebrating its centennial this year, Pasadena Playhouse is one of the most prolific theater companies in America. Its legacy includes world premieres by beloved American playwrights Eugene O’Neil and Tennessee Williams and productions that have transferred to Broadway like Sister Act: The Musical. In 1937, the Playhouse was officially recognized as the State Theater of California for its contribution and commitment to the dramatic arts. Today it continues that tradition of excellence under the helm of Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman. Dedicated to enriching lives through theater, community programs and learning, Pasadena Playhouse is a living force in the community.


Arena Stage’s production of The Originalist, starring Edward Gero as the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and directed by Molly Smith, was broadcast on PBS’s THIRTEEN in March 2017.

Photo Gallery

In the news

Washington Post | Peter Marks
Edward Gero will forever savor the first words Antonin Scalia ever spoke to him. “I’m not coming to see the play,” the justice declared that afternoon in the late fall of 2014, as Gero entered his chambers… Read more

New York Times | Adam Liptak
In December, after more than a year of research and reflection, Edward Gero went to see an argument at the Supreme Court. He was in the final stages of preparing to portray Justice Antonin Scalia onstage… Read more

NBC Meet the Press | Chuck Todd
John Strand and Edward Gero discuss their new play, The Originalist. Learn more

NPR | Rachel Martin
Drama, suspense, monologues, arguments—what could be more theatrical than the U.S. Supreme Court? A new play called The Originalist takes a look at one of its real-life stars… Learn more


Arena Stage will host special post-show conversations with notable guest panelists during the run of John Strand’s critically-acclaimed political drama The Originalist, based on the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The conversations will bring together guests with expertise on Justice Scalia and the Supreme Court, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, NPR’s Nina Totenberg; The Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin; former Congressmen Tom Davis (R-VA) and Martin Frost (D-TX); Georgetown Law Professor Lawrence Solum; and former Political Science Professor Joe DiGangi, a member of the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Post-Show Conversations

Wednesday, July 19, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
• Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio
• Former Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), author of The Partisan Divide
• Jess Bravin, Supreme Court correspondent for The Wall Street Journal
• Playwright John Strand
• Actor Edward Gero

Saturday, July 22, following the 8:00 p.m. performance
• Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court
• Artistic Director Molly Smith

Tuesday, July 25, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
• Lawrence Solum, law professor and originalism scholar at Georgetown Law
• Playwright John Strand
• Actor Edward Gero

Thursday, July 27, following the 8:00 p.m. performance
• Former Congressman Martin Frost (D-TX)
• Joe DiGangi, former political science professor, member of the Supreme Court Historical Society
• Playwright John Strand
• Actor Edward Gero


Audio Described

July 22, 2017 – 2:00 p.m.

Open Captioned

July 20, 2017 – 8:00 p.m.

Reading list

Needless to say, the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia shook up U.S. politics deeply. Scalia’s influence on the court was profound, and it is no surprise that writers have engaged both his legal career and writing as well as his overall personal presence on the court in trying to understand him.

Below is a reading list curated by Arena Stage and the D.C. Public Library with further reading about Scalia’s life and legacy. More information can also be found on the D.C. Public Library’s website here:

American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by Joan Biskupic Learn more

Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges by Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner Learn more

Scalia’s Court: A Legacy of Landmark Opinions and Dissents by Antonin Scalia and Kevin A. Ring Learn more

Other plays by John Strand: Hat! A Vaudeville, Harnani, Lincolnesque, Lorenzaccio, Otabenga, Three Nights in Tehran Learn more

The Originalist