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Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts


Launch Pad Staging Alison Tatlock’s New Play, ‘Untitled IV By Ruth Markofsky’

By Maureen McFadden for Launch Pad |

Now in its 10th year of exploring new plays and gifting playwrights with the opportunity to see their work fully produced while still in development, Launch Pad brings Alison Tatlock’s newest play, Untitled IV By Ruth Markofsky, to life on the Hatlen Theater stage Feb. 27 through March 8.

You are invited to be among the first audiences to witness the birth of this new play. Risa Brainin, chair of the Department of Theater & Dance who founded the Launch Pad program, directs the show.

The tight six-character play jumps into life at full speed for a 24-hour period breaking open the notions of what makes family. It's set in Joshua Tree — the geography reflects the tones, heat and expanse of the these deep and colorful relationships.

Brainin brings back her longtime creative team of Indy Award-winning set designer Nayna Ramey, costume designer Devon Painter and lighting designer Michael Klaers. New to the team is Santa Barbara native, musician and composer Randy Tico. Although he has been creating soundtracks for theater and film for several years, this production is the first time he’s had his work produced in his hometown. The play features Anne Torsiglieri and Victoria Finlayson with four UCSB students.

This year’s production, Untitled IV By Ruth Markofsky, is a dark and funny drama — much like real life. It is about place and family — the kind we’re born into, and the kind that we build, sometimes haphazardly. At the center of the story is Ruth, a Boston native, who settled in Joshua Tree to make a life for herself and her young son, adopted from Ethiopia. A well-known artist struggling with a big loss, Ruth gathers an eclectic group of characters around her as she reveals her new work and her old wounds. The play is both sad and funny, as the characters argue about addiction, death, motherhood and violence — and whether it’s really bad to put plastic in the dishwasher.

Describing the process, Tatlock brings many talents to bear.

“As a stage actor turned playwright turned television writer, I’m ecstatic about returning to theater," she said. "I’ve been fortunate to work on creative, challenging material (HBO’s In Treatment, ABC’s Betrayal), but the confines of TV can be stultifying. Theater, at its best, can really bust things open. It’s a remarkable opportunity to create a new play in the context of a university, which holds a myriad of resources and potential partners.

"Launch Pad offers a unique alternative to the usual development process, which is often rushed and limited. Launch Pad gives writers a chance to incubate a script, to sharpen the language and dig into the story until its guts are truly exposed (and then to cover it up again if necessary). What a gift! I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to develop a new play through the innovative Launch Pad program.”

Leading the cast is professor and Launch Pad veteran Anne Torsiglieri, supported by Lit Moon Theater Co. member Victoria Finlayson and four student actors — Adrian Carter, Zackery Humphries, Tonea Lolin and Skarlett Redd.

Untitled IV By Ruth Markofsky opens at the Hatlen Theater on Thursday, Feb. 27 and runs through Saturday, March 8. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2.

Tickets are available online by clicking here or by phone at 805.893.3022. Tickets to the show are $17 for general admission and $13 for students, seniors as well as UCSB faculty and staff.

The Hatlen Theater is located on Ocean Road, and parking is available in Lot 22 or 23.

— Maureen McFadden is a publicist representing Launch Pad.

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