World Premiere


Written by David Todd
Original score composed by Ben Chasny
Directed by Anjanette Hall

May 12 – 28, 2017
Friday – Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm

Half-price Preview: Thursday, May 11 at 7:30 pm
Half-price Industry Night: Monday, May 15 at 7:30 pm

Reinberger Auditorium (Upstairs Loft)
5209 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102 

Things as They Are is a dramatic exploration of American poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), a stoic visionary whose titanic imagination and confounding duality have lent him an unwavering mystique. This all-new multimedia work combines a script by David Todd, an original score performed by Ben Chasny, and licensed works by Stevens himself with movement, commedia dell’arte, and projections. Fusing these elements, Things as They Are looks past the stock image of its subject as an aloof executive with avant-garde leanings. From run-ins with Marcel Duchamp to Ernest Hemingway, and from crises with wife Elsie to daughter Holly, the play reveals the “real” Wallace Stevens to be a man of great insight, contradictions, whimsy, and desire.

Run Time: Approximately 2:30, with one fifteen-minute intermission.


David Todd’s plays have been presented or developed in NYC at theaters including 59E59, Dixon Place, the Little Theater, HERE, and NY Theatre Workshop, regionally in DC, Portland, and Chicago, and internationally at the LaMaMa Spoleto Open in Italy. His recent projects include Objectively/Reasonable, an ensemble-written play he conceived and edited on the 2014 Tamir Rice shooting, also produced by Playwrights Local. His playwriting residencies include Hangar Theater (Ithaca, NY), Classic Studio (NYC), and Chicago Dramatists. He earned his MFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU (Goldberg Award; Harry Kondoleon Award) and his PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a faculty member, he has taught writing, literature, and film at NYU, SUNY Stony Brook, and Otterbein University, and is currently teaching at Cleveland State University. He is a Usual Suspect at NY Theater Workshop and a collaborator with the NYC-based Monk Parrots. His nonfiction book Feeding Back: Conversations with Alternative Guitarists from Proto-Punk to Post-Rock was published in 2012 by Chicago Review Press, and his play Joy in Repetition: A Hauntological Romeo & Juliet was published in January 2014 by Connotation Press. He is the artistic director of Playwrights Local in Cleveland and the current Ohio Regional Representative for the Dramatists Guild. He was awarded an Individual Excellence Award by the Ohio Arts Council for 2016.


Ben Chasny is the primary creative figure behind the musical group Six Organs of Admittance, which has produced nearly twenty albums and EPs since 1998. Six Organs’ most recent recording, Burning the Threshold, was released in 2017 on Chicago’s Drag City label; previous releases include 2015’s Hexadic and Hexadic II, two sets of songs written with Chasny’s own chance-based composition method. Earlier outings include 2011’s Asleep on the Floodplain, 2009’s Luminous Night, and 2005’s School of the Flower, the last of which earned raves such as “a front-to-end lovely, beguiling work” (Arthur) and “another step in a remarkable journey…full of that certain mercurial grace that makes each new offering from Six Organs of Admittance an essential listen” (AllMusic). Six Organs of Admittance has been featured in The Quietus, Wire,  Uncut, Bomb, Noisey, The Village VoicePopMatters, and NPR, among many others. Chasny’s collaborations include songwriting duos New Bums (with Donovan Quinn of Skygreen Leopards) and 200 Years (with Elisa Ambrogio of Magik Markers), as well as the experimental trio Rangda (with Sir Richard Bishop and Chris Corsano) and the psych-noise band Comets On Fire. Chasny has been described by MusicOHM as “a bona fide guitar god” and by Pitchfork as “one of the most consistently inspired personalities in indie rock.” His previous soundtrack work includes the score to Joseph Mattson’s 2009 novel Empty the Sun and a box set of poems and compositions entitled Rick Gentry + Six Organs. Ben also has worked with filmmaker Cam Archer on the videos for his songs “Shelter From the Ash” and “Anesthesia.”


Anjanette Hall‘s recent directing credits include Charles Mee’s Big Love, Callings: A Devised Piece, Anton Chekov’s The BearPerformance EnsembleWhat is Love, and Broken Crown, all at Baldwin Wallace University, where she is an Assistant Professor of Theatre. Her recent acting credits include The Night Alive, An Octoroon, Becky Shaw, The Lyons, and The Motherfucker with the Hat at Dobama Theatre; Eric Coble’s A Carol for Cleveland at Cleveland Play House; Three Sisters and Heartbreak House at Mamai Theatre; Blithe Spirit at Coach House Theater; Snow Falling on Cedars at Baltimore Centerstage; Opus at Two River Theatre; and J.B. and Spring Awakening at Red Stage Theatre Company. She has done a number of short films and commercials, and appeared as Gretchen Huber on NBC’s Ed.  Anjanette holds an MFA in Acting from Rutgers University and a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University. Her favorite roles to date are Mom to Jack (11) and Sebastian (2.5), and wife to Krys Perry.


Robert Hawkes……….Mature Wallace Stevens

Jason Markouc……….Young Wallace Stevens

Laura Starnik……….Elsie Stevens

Tessa Hager……….Holly Stevens

Robert Branch……….Garrett Stevens, W. C. Williams, and Ensemble

Kenzie Critzer……….Sybil Gage, Marianne Moore, and Ensemble

Jeanne Task……….Kate Stevens, Mrs. Baldwin, and Ensemble

Marco Liguori……….Robert Frost, Walter Arensburg, and Ensemble

Liam Stilson……….Crispin, Ed Livingood, and Ernest Hemingway


Ben Chasny……….Guitar

John Elliott……….Synthesizer/Electronics


Inda Blatch-Geib……….Costume Designer

Nora Jeanne DeMilta……….Assistant Director & Marketing Coordinator

Cleo DeOrio……….Commedia dell’arte Choreographer

Tom Hayes……….Carpenter

Michael Hinton……….Dance/Movement Choreographer

Emily Kovalcik……….Prop Designer

T. Paul Lowry……….Set & Projection Designer

Jonathan Maag……….Lighting Designer

Francesca Mamlin……….Stage Manager

Elizabeth Tofig……….Dramaturg

Kelly Tomko……….Production Manager

Dusten Welch……….Fight Choreographer



Publicity Images (Credit: Steve Wagner Photography)


Best Projection Design / Script by a Local Writer (Superior Achievement)
Cleveland Critics Circle, 18 December 2017

Best Portrayal of Real-Life GeniusesBest Risks
Scene Magazine, 27 December 2017

Outstanding Projection Design
Broadway World-Cleveland, 24 December 2017


“There’s a play going on now that you should pay attention to…This risk-taking production is worth a look.”
Scene Magazine, 17 May 2017

Things as They Are brings some wonderful things…This staged biography sears the audience with the problems in Stevens’ life.”
Talkin’ Broadway, May 2017

“[Ben Chasny’s] most recent project is an interesting one…performing live music for a new work by playwright David Todd.”
Dangerous Minds, May 2017


Funding for this production is provided in the form of an ArtsNEXT grant from: