Press Release

PlayMakers’ PRC² presents world premiere of “Penelope”

PlayMakers Repertory Company, the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will present the world premiere of “Penelope” April 25-29.

PlayMakers concludes its 2011-2012 PRC² series with the production, which is written and performed by Ellen McLaughlin, with live music composed by Sarah Kirkland Snider. PRC² features performances of topical plays coupled with engaging post-show discussions with the creative artists and other panelists.

In “Penelope,” a woman’s ex-husband reappears after 20 years, suffering from brain damage. An injured veteran of war, he does not know who he is. She does not understand who he’s become. She reads aloud from “The Odyssey” and, using Homer’s masterpiece as a guide, finds a way into her former husband’s memory, breaking through his terror and the trauma of war.

McLaughlin will perform to the live accompaniment of a string quartet from the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle

The score of “Penelope” has been hailed in 2010 year-end “best” lists from National Public Radio to Indie Rock Magazine. Time Out New York called the music “Mesmerizing, lush, evocative, and deeply moving.” The New York Times said “Penelope” “deftly evokes sensations of abandonment, agitation, grief and reconciliation” and Pitchfork Magazine called it “a hauntingly vivid psychological portrait.”

McLaughlin appeared on Broadway as the original Angel in Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” and has acted Off Broadway, at regional theaters across the country, and appeared previously at PlayMakers in hit productions of “The Year of Magical Thinking” (2011) and “All My Sons” (2010). As a playwright, her plays have been produced Off Broadway, in regional theaters and internationally.

Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. nightly and 2 p.m. on April 29 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Tickets are $10 to $35. PlayMakers is offering active military personnel two free tickets to a performance, based on availability, and a 10 per cent discount on additional tickets. Tickets may be purchased at or by calling (919) 962-PLAY (7529).

Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider released her first album, a song cycle with lyrics by McLaughlin also titled “Penelope,” in 2010. Her works have been commissioned and performed by a wide range of artists, including commissions by the J. Paul Getty Center and the American Composers Forum/Jerome Foundation. Her music has been heard in an array of venues from classical (Carnegie Hall) to experimental (The Kitchen) to rock (The Bell House) and festivals (Aspen Music Festival).

Director Lisa Rothe also directed workshop productions of “Penelope” at the Getty Villa and Gallatin School. In addition to her work in theater, she is developing a new opera (“Ada”) recently presented by The Center for Contemporary Opera. Rothe is director of Offsite Programs and Partnerships at Lark Play Development Center in New York City, which provides opportunities for playwrights aimed at advancing new work to production nationally and globally.

Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the Carolinas’ premiere resident professional theater company. The Drama League of New York has named PlayMakers one of the best regional theaters in America.

Ticket packages are currently also available for PlayMakers’ 2012-2013 season. For the lowest prices, new and renewing season ticket holders can take advantage of PlayMakers’ early-bird discount rates through May 4. For more on the new season, visit

PlayMakers contact: For press information, photos or poster art, contact Connie Mahan, (919) 962-5359,