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Blake Stadnik (This Is Us), Matt Monaco (Public Theatre) To Star In RIFT
(This Is Us)
Monaco (Public Theatre, American Conservatory
Theatre) will star in the World
Premiere of RIFT or White Lies at Luna Stage.
Most well known for his time as Jack Damon on NBC’s This
Stadnik will debut on the Luna Stage after making West Orange his
home this past summer. As a an actor who’s legally blind, Blake
strives to raise the industry’s awareness of disabled artists’ true
and formidable abilities, and he hopes to be an example and resource
for young people with disabilities hoping to thrive in the
arts. His theatre credits include Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables, 42nd Street,
Labors Lost. Blake holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from
Penn State University.
Monaco’s theatre credits include Lorin in Gloria at
Conservatory Theatre, Murderer/Henry VI/Bishop of Ely
III at The Public
Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park, Fred in Christmas Carol
at McCarter Theatre, Bill in Lobby Hero at Florida
Repertory Theatre, Young Scrooge in Christmas Carol at
American Conservatory Theatre, Mike in Seared at
Gloucester Stage Company, Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet at
Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, George in Stop Kiss
at TheatreFIRST, and Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross and
Altarena Playhouse. He holds a BA in Drama from San Francisco State
University and an MFA in Acting from American Conservatory Theatre. A
Montclair resident since September, Matt makes his Luna debut with
Stadnik and Monaco play estranged siblings in this World
Premiere by Gabriel
Jason Dean commissioned by Luna Stage, directed by Ari Laura Kreith.
WHEN: February 8-March 3, 2024, Fridays
at 8:00 p.m, Saturdays at 3:00 p.m and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 3:00
p.m., with a special midweek matinee on Thursday, February 15 at 1:00
p.m. WHERE: Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange TICKETS: $40 atlunastage.org/rift,
with a limited number of $20 and $10 tickets available as part of
Luna’s commitment to ensuring access for all.
Two brothers—one a progressive novelist, the other a
convicted murderer and high-ranking member of a white supremacist
prison gang–are united through their traumatic childhood. Now adults,
these men navigate the edges of their brotherly bond. Are they truly
so different? Is it possible to love someone whose beliefs you hate?
RIFT is a story of estrangement, ideological divide, and the fight to
change one another.
A work of fiction, RIFT
or White Lies is inspired by playwright Dean’s
relationship with his brother, a currently-incarcerated high-level
member of the alt-right. The two had been estranged since Dean’s
discovery of his brother’s affiliation in 2010. In creating the
piece, Dean reconnected with his brother to explore the roots of
their ideological differences and try to find common ground.
The play is the live culmination of a two-part project
commissioned by Luna. Part 1, #RIFT:
A Play Over Text Message, an eight-week interactive
virtual experience blending text message conversations, audio files,
and images, was delivered to subscribers’’ cell phones across the
country during the height of the pandemic. The project was awarded
grants from the Venturous Theatre Foundation’s Plays For Now program
and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance STAGES Festival, and was featured
as part of the National Day of Racial Healing.
This is Dean’s second in-person production at Luna
Stage. His play Heartland,
also directed by Kreith, explored familial estrangement across
geographic and cultural boundaries, and was selected as one of NJArts
Top 12 NJ Theater productions of 2019.
LUNA STAGE is a professional regional theatre dedicated
to developing and producing vibrant plays about local and global
experiences. Firmly rooted in New Jersey's Valley Arts District—a
crossroads of cultures—Luna brings its communities together for
artistic events that spark conversations and create understanding and
Luna received the JerseyArts People's Choice Award for
Favorite Small Theatre in New Jersey and has contributed to the
development of over 100 new works for the stage, many of which
premiered at Luna and have gone on to be produced in New York,
regionally, and internationally.
As producer, innovator, and educator, Luna is dedicated
to eliminating barriers to participation and allowing all community
members to nurture their own creativity and vision. Luna offers
classes for children and adults, as well as opportunities for early-career
and established theatre artists to develop and incubate new work.
All programs and productions at Luna are
pay-what-you-choose to support equity and access to professional arts
experiences in our region.