WHEN: September 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 26, performances 7:30-9:30pm. September 17 (Thursday) & September 24 (Friday) include Talk-Back promptly at 9:30
WHERE: Jersey City Theater Center, Merseles Studios, 339 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302
ADMISSION: $24 online (visit: www.JCTcenter.org), $28 day of show.
Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) presents the world premiere of American Dreamers, a topical and thought-provoking dark comedy by Lia Romeo, a Hoboken-based playwright whose work has been produced in theaters in New York, New Jersey and around the country. (Above: Annabel Barrett with Madalyn Pedone)
Set ‘somewhere in central New Jersey,’ American Dreamers follows a group of recent college grads whose high aspirations are constantly lowered by the harsh realities of adult life. In the play, Becca Barrington had big dreams when she graduated college, but underemployed and saddled with enormous student loan debts, she decides to become an escort. When her first client turns out to be her former high school teacher, the consequences disrupt her life and those of her friends. American Dreamers looks at how we navigate through a 21st century world that values power, wealth, sex, and fame far more than genuine happiness. (Above: Saddled with enormous student loan debt, a recent college graduate decides to become an escort, but when her first client turns out to be her former higher school teacher, life is never the same again. Madalyn Pedone and Alan Niebuhr try to find genuine happiness )
“American Dreamers was inspired by my own post-collegiate experiences,” said Romeo. “I never worked for an escort service, but I did spend a lot of time drifting between random jobs that didn’t make me happy, didn’t make me very much money, and did make me wonder what the point of spending four years and many thousands of dollars getting a college degree had been.”
The characters in her play seem stuck at this juncture of uncertainty in their lives, where foundations are shifting and hopes are fading. “They’re all kind of wandering around and bumping into each other and trying to figure out what would make them happy, and they’re confused, and they’re cynical, and they’re idealistic, and they drink too much and spend their money on the wrong things and have sex with the wrong people,” said Romeo. “Of course, in many ways they’re tremendously privileged to live in a country and at a time where they can spend a few years in that kind of limbo, where ‘being happy’ rather than ‘staying alive’ is the thing they have to worry about. But they’re also having a really hard time.” (Above: Tina Wong-Lu, Daniel Rutz and Madalyn Pedone)
A JCTC production, the world premiere of American Dreamers runs for seven shows at the newly upgraded Black Box Theater at JCTC’s Merseles Studios, 339 Newark Avenue, Jersey City.
American Dreamers is directed by Olga Levina, Artistic Director of JCTC and a theater professional with more than 25 years experience. “From a weak job market to high student loan debt, today’s young people face a very challenging world,” said Levina. “American Dreamers is a compelling new play by a gifted and talented writer and whose subject matter is very relevant to the pressures many people are faced with these days. Lia explores issues of financial insecurity, underemployment, immigration and personal relationships in ways everyone can relate to.”
The American Dreamers cast is a talented ensemble of emerging actors: Madalyn Pedone, Alan Niebuhr, Daniel Rutz, Tina Wong-Lu, and Annabel Barrett.
A resident of Hoboken, New Jersey, Romeo has had her plays produced or developed at Project Y Theatre Company, Unicorn Theatre, 59E59, the Lark Theatre, the Kennedy Center, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, New Jersey Repertory Theatre, New Origins Theatre Company and elsewhere. She is also the author of a novel, Dating the Devil and a humor book, 11,002 Things to Be Miserable About.