Bristol, PA - Bristol Riverside Theatre kicks off the new year by introducing audiences to rising star Abby Rosebrock with the Philadelphia premiere of Singles in Agriculture. In the virtual show, a resilient young South Carolina army widow, who loves Modern Family and talks to her Pygmy goats, angles for romance with a religious dairy farmer from Oklahoma.
Bristol Riverside Theatre Presents Philadelphia Regional Premiere of Singles in Agriculture
BRT’s Co-Producing Director Amy Kaissar will direct the two-hander, starring Jennifer Byrne and Timothy C. Goodwin. Four performances between January 26-30, 2021 at 7:30 pm (EST) will stream live, directly from the real-life couple’s apartment. Tickets for this virtual performance are $30 each until January 17, after January 17 tickets are $35. Tickets are now available online at brtstage.org or by calling the box office at 215-785-0100.
“Singles in Agriculture struck a chord for us at this moment in history,” said Kaissar. “In some form or another, we all enter 2021 with a new and deeper understanding of what it means to be removed from interpersonal connection for long periods of time. The show talks about that isolation but without addressing COVID directly. While the subject matter is important and topical, Rosebrock’s script had us laughing the entire time. We truly appreciate and want to share the honest awkwardness of her writing.”
In this hilarious and awkward comedy, audiences get a glimpse into the lives of two lonely people who meet up at a farming dating convention. Priscilla is a resilient young army widow, and Joel is a jaded Oklahoma dairy farmer who still hasn't shaken the tent-revival dogmas of his youth. On their last night together at the convention, Priscilla angles for romance, while Joel has his own, mysterious intent. Inspired by research on the real-life organization, Singles in Agriculture offers a glimpse into a rural landscape where social isolation and economic exploitation intensify the hopes, anxieties, and losses that we all sign up for when we search for love.
For casting, Kaissar tapped Jennifer Byrne as Priscilla and Timothy C. Goodwin as Joel. Byrne and Goodwin live together in New York City. When the theatre looked for actors for a live online performance, they specifically sought out actors who were quarantined together to ensure the safety of the cast. Rosebrock’s script was selected specifically for these actors whom the BRT co-producing directors had worked with in the past.
“When we experimented with staging plays online earlier last year, we learned that a new strategy for dealing with the pandemic and safety concerns was to start with actors who quarantine together, and then pick the materials that best fit those actors,” said BRT co-Producing Director Ken Kaissar. “We started to think about actors that we love working with and whether or not they live with other actors. We met Jennifer about 15 years ago when Amy was running The Epiphany Theatre Company in New York. We loved her comedic demeanor and fearless attitude. Since then, she’s been in several readings of my work. She was even in one of the early readings of A Leg Up which was supposed to premiere at BRT last May if not for COVID. In talking to Jen and Tim, it became clear that they enjoyed the adventurous attitude that turning your home into a set requires. In Abby’s play, we found equal parts comedy and tenderness, and we knew Jen and Tim would hit this material out of the park.”
The rest of the talented team for Singles in Agriculture includes Hope Villanueva, the Stage Manager, who is calling the show from a distance. BRT Resident Costume Designer Linda Bee Stockton is designing the costumes. Shannon O’Brien is the Props Designer. BRT will tap Overture+ Ticketing Services to stream the performances.
While the show is being streamed, Kaissar wants to remind everyone that this is still very much a-live production. “We’re performing live, so anything can happen the night of the show,” said Amy Kaissar. “It’s the same dangerous thrill that live theatre provides on stage. We’re not immune to errors or technical problems. But most of all, they can expect a witty and intelligent script from Abby Rosebrock that reminds us how important it is to connect with other human beings, and what happens to our spirit when we feel isolated. Just like the comical awkwardness that comes with any first date, audiences can expect to laugh and cringe with two characters trying to find that romantic spark.
Abby Rosebrock is a New York-based playwright and actress from South Carolina. She played Priscilla in the off-off-Broadway premiere of Singles in Agriculture. She taught writing on a literature fellowship and earned a doctorate in medieval English from Columbia University. Rosebrock has written for Little Star (poetry, playwriting), Opera News, Publishers Weekly, and Backstage. Excerpts from her play Different Animals appear in best-of anthologies by Smith & Kraus and Applause; her new play Singles in Agriculture is a 2015 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference finalist. Rosebrock’s work has been produced or read at Cherry Lane, Playwrights Horizons, Ensemble Studio Theatre (winner, 2014 EST/Sloan Commission), IRT, Nylon Fusion Collective, Silent Barn, Hearth Gods/Jimmy's No. 43, Littlefield, The Flea, C.O.W., INTAR, and more. Her web series MY EX IS TRENDING, co-created with Layla Khoshnoudi and Jennifer Wilson, is produced by ControlTopTV. Abby is a member of The Tank NYC's TV- and new media-writers’ collective and Ensemble Studio Theatre's Obie Award-winning playwriting group, Youngblood.
Singles in Agriculture runs January 26-30 online. Tickets start at $30 and are available online at brtstage.org or by calling the box office at 215-785-0100. The show follows BRT’s sold-out run of Vinny DePonto’s Mental Amusements. The theatre is currently offering online classes in partnership with Theatre J from Washington D.C. and is working on a spring and summer line-up. Stay tuned for what is coming next from the Bucks County-based cultural staple.