Ars Nova & PlayCo present

HOUND DOG

By Melis Aker
with Music & Lyrics by Melis Aker & the Lazours
Directed by Machel Ross

In Melis Aker’s world premiere play HOUND DOG, a young musician returns from abroad to her hometown of Ankara, Turkey to look after her widowed father. Forced to reckon with the family and community she left behind, an investigation into her grieving parent’s strange pilgrimage to Graceland unravels into a sonic mirage of memory packed with humor, nostalgia and the love we cultivate across generations. Directed by Machel Ross with music by Aker and the Lazours, this cross-cultural jam-session-meets-play explores the winding path towards forgiveness and belonging.

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Meet The Artists

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MELIS AKER (Writer/Composer, she/hers) is a writer, actor, and musician from Turkey, based between London and New York, and recently named a “Women to Watch” by the Broadway Women’s Fund. She currently has a series in development with Skybound Entertainment, and the upcoming London premiere of musical play Hundred Feet Tall with Benjamin Scheuer and Jemima Williams, adapted from their eponymous children’s book. She will also be voicing a role in a new audio series from the creators of “Archive 81.” Melis is the recipient of the Sundance Interdisciplinary Program grant and the New York Community Trust/Van Lier Fellowship. She has had writing commissioned by and developed at Atlantic Theater Company (Middle East Mixfest), Ars Nova (Play Group member), New York Theater Workshop (2050 fellow), Dramatists Guild (DGF fellow), The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, National Alliance for Musical Theatre, Goodspeed, New Group, Roundabout Space Jam, LaMaMa, the Lark, Noor, Golden Thread Productions, 24 Hour Plays, Magic Theatre and BRICLab in the U.S., as well as the Finborough and Park theatres in the U.K. Melis’ screenplay ARI (Bee) was at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival as part of Maison des Scenaristes, and her series pilot for MANAR was selected for the Orchard Project’s Episodic Lab, and IFP week. She has also worked on the development of a screenplay with Revelations Entertainment headed by Morgan Freeman. Her plays include: Hound Dog, Scraps and Things, Field, Awakening, Dragonflies, AZUL, When My Mama was a Hittite, Fractio Panis, Manar, 330 Pegasus: A Love Letter, Indigo Dreams, OPET Diaries, and Gilded Isle. She has taught at NYU, The New School, and King’s College London. Education: King’s College London (PhD), Columbia University (MFA), Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Acting), Tufts University (BA). Representation: CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

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MACHEL ROSS (Director, she/hers) is a Dominican American director and creative collaborator based in NYC, who specializes in the development of new work and aesthetic world building. Regardless of medium, she’s invested in generating rigorous images, in support of framing stories to their fullest potential. She’s developed work with Aziza Barnes (NANA), Agnes Borinsky (A Song of Songs) Daniella De Jesús (Mambo Sauce), Deaf West (T), PigPen Theatre Company (Phantom Folktales), Ellen Winter (This House Is your Home), and directed the world premiere of Jeremy O. Harris’ Black Exhibition at The Bushwick Starr, where she is now the Associate Artistic Director. Machel is a 2022 Lily Award winner, a 2020-2022 WP Directing Fellow, a 2020 Sundance Theater Lab fellow, and a 2019 grant recipient of the Women’s Fund for Film, TV and Theatre for her short film Signs He Made at Home. BFA-NYU Playwrights Horizons Theater School.

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THE LAZOURS (Composers, he/him and he/him) Daniel and Patrick Lazour are brothers and music theater writers. Their musical We Live in Cairo premiered at the American Repertory Theater in May 2019 directed by Taibi Magar. Their album Flap My Wings (Songs from We Live in Cairo) was recorded in quarantine and features the Lazours as well as major activist-songwriters from across the Arab world. Their new musical community project, Night Side Songs, about cancer treatment, patients and caretakers was workshopped at the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Theatre, Yaddo and is being developed with the American Repertory Theater and Harvard University. They are working with Ritesh Batra to adapt his film The Lunchbox for the stage, commissioned by Lincoln Center Theater. Their movie musical Challenger: An American Dream is about Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe and the Reagan White House; and they are developing a 60-minute song titled Romulus & Remus, or How We Came to Live in the Festering Wound of the West.  Patrick and Daniel were 2015-16 Dramatists Guild Fellows, MacDowell Fellows and are New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspects. They were artists-in-residence at the American University in Cairo and are teaching artists at Lincoln Center Theater. @frereslazour

 
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OLIVIA ABIASSI (she/her) is a Lebanese-American actor/writer based in Brooklyn. Recent theater credits include: Eh Dah? Questions For My Father (NYTW/Next Door), First Down (59E59), and The Commons (59E59). Additionally, she is working on a new motion-capture video game project, co-writing/producing her first comedy-pilot, and shamelessly re-watching Fleabag. IG: @justoliviadoingthings.

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ASHLEY BAIER An avid theater musician, percussionist/drummer Ashley Baier has performed on Broadway with Six and The Lightning Thief, appeared at La Jolla Playhouse and on tour with Hundred Days, and toured nationally with How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A proponent of new musical theater, she originated the drum books for several musicals including InterstateAmerican Morning, and Pryor Rendering. She can be seen playing throughout NYC with Brass Queens. ashleybaier.com.

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ELLENA ESHRAGHI Originally from Southern California, Ellena moved to New York to earn her BFA in Drama and Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts— where she studied at the Atlantic Acting Studio and Stonestreet Studios. She served as a member of NYU’s premier sketch comedy group Hammerkatz for four years, serving as the director of the group for two years. HOUND DOG is her New York stage debut. ellenaeshraghi.com @ellenaesh

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MEL HSU (she/they) is a sonic painter of impossible worlds. As a multi-instrumentalist, Mel often ventures from her classical roots as a cellist into unexpected, cross-disciplinary collaborations. Rooted in Philadelphia, Mel’s restless spirit finds adventure across time zones and oceans as musical and administrative support for others who inspire her. Mel is a spreadsheet nerd, a slow reader, and a shameless instigator of kitchen dance parties. melaniehsu.com.

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MATT MAGNUSSON is thrilled to be making his Off-Broadway debutOther favorite credits include: Mr. Holland’s Opus (World Premiere), Jersey Boys (Ogunquit Playhouse), Grease (ElginWintergarden Theatre), Spring Awakening (Over the Moon Prod.), American Idiot (Glory Struck Prod.), Floyd Collins (La Miranda PAC). Film: American Girl, Nightingale: A Melody of Life, The Secret Life of College Girls, SaintHallpass Nightmare. When not acting Matt is writing and recording music with his wife in their band Big Sur Bound.

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SAHAR MILANI Off-Broadway: The Visitor (The Public Theater), Borders (York Theatre), 7 Doors (BAM), Akhenaten the Musical (Triad Theater). TV: “The Endgame” (NBC), “Let the Right One In” (Showtime), “Law & Order” (NBC). Upcoming Film: “The Visitator” starring alongside Kevin James. For my Dad, always.

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LAITH NAKLI is a Syrian actor/writer. He studied acting at the William Esper Studio and made his stage debut in War at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Company. Other credits include Cry of the Reed (Huntington Theatre), Inana (Denver Center), Aftermath (NYTW), Food and Fadwa (NYTW). His play, Shesh Yak, premiered at the Rattlestick Playwrights. He can currently be seen as Uncle Naseem on the HULU series Ramy and Sheikh Abdullah on MARVEL’s Ms Marvel. Film & TV credits: Swallow12 Strong, The Wall, The Long Road Home, The Blacklist, Third Watch, The Sopranos, among others.

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JONATHAN RAVIV is thrilled to be joining Ars Nova and the crew in the world premiere of HOUND DOG. An Emmy Award winner and original cast member of the 10-time Tony Award-winning musical, The Band’s Visit, Jonathan has extensive off-Broadway and regional theater, television and film credits and has done voice over, commercial and motion capture work. Follow him: @jonathanraviv.

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MAYA SHARPE is a multi-passionate maker and thinker. Maya’s passion lies in exploring simplicity in humanity through composition to demonstrate that there is more of a connection and love between everything than the politically derived disconnect and hatred. Maya has been seen on stage in such things as; HAIR (The Public Theater, Broadway & West End), Anything That Gives Off Light (The TEAM), La MaMa Cantata (La MaMa), 1969: The Second Man. (NEXT DOOR @nytw), Animal Wisdom (Bushwick Starr) and many others. Maya has a band called Maya Sharpe & The Natural, performed in various venues in NYC and Los Angeles. mayasharpe.com

 
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AVI AMON (Music Director & Sound Designer) is an award-winning, Turkish-American composer, sound artist, and educator. Avi’s music for theater, film, and dance has been developed or presented by: Cannes, HBO Films, Spotify, Tribeca Film Festival, Hulu, New York Theater Workshop, Page73, SoHo Rep, The Civilians, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Danspace, Actors Theater Of Louisville, St. Louis REP, PlayCo, Target Margin, The O’Neill, Edinburgh Fringe, Roundabout Theater, and Spoleto Festival USA, among others. Avi is the resident composer at the 52nd Street Project, an inaugural fellow with THE WORKSHOP at the Hendel Center for Justice & Ethics, and teaches at NYU Tisch. aviamon.com.

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FRANK J. OLIVA (Set Design) is a Cuban-American Stage Designer. With Machel Ross: Black Exhibition, A Song of Songs (Bushwick Starr) Bernarda Alba (Playwrights Downtown), Tiny Desk (NPR), and others. Recent work with The Shed, Clubbed Thumb, Weston Playhouse, Geva Theatre, Two River Theatre, Miami New Drama and The Cincinnati Symphony. Associate Designer: Hangmen, Oklahoma! and West Side Story. Executive Committee Member of Wingspace, Member of USA Local 829 and graduate of NYU. frankjoliva.com.

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QWEEN JEAN (Costume Design) is a New York City based Costume Designer who has fully committed her voice to the advocacy of marginalized communities, emphasizing Black Trans people. Recent theatre: soft, Corsicana, Wedding Band, On Sugarland, Black No More, I Need Space, Macbeth In Stride, Semblance, Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, Siblings Play, Amen Corner, Rags Parkland Sings The Songs For The Future, Good Grief, Othello, and the acclaimed What to Send Up, When it Goes Down. MFA from NYU Tisch. Black Trans Lives Matter!

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TUÇE YASAK (Lighting Design) has been following light in NYC since 2008, creating over 100 site-specific light installations for performance in the US and abroad. Yasak received the 2018 BESSIE (…Memoirs of a… Unicorn by Marjani Forte-Saunders at Collapsable Hole and NYLA) and 2019 BESSIE (Oba Qween Baba King Baba by Ni’Ja Whitson at Danspace) for Outstanding Visual Design with her lighting design. Light, movement, and architecture intertwine in Yasak’s work to support space-making and story-telling.

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FEDERICA BORLENGI (Associate Director) is an Italian-born Writer, Director and Producer based in BK. Federica’s work surrounds multicultural and multilingual experiences. Her education is rooted in the fine arts and in the digital universe. Her multidisciplinary interests heavily influence the way she presents theatrical productions, which culminate into sensorial experiences featuring live music, movement and visual art. She has vast experience in developing new plays. federicaborlenghi@gmail.com.

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MICHAEL RUIZ-DEL-VIZO (Assistant Set Designer) is a Scenic Designer based in New York and Miami. Michael earned his BFA in Production Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Selected Credits: Randy’s Dandy Coaster Castle (Egg&Spoon), The Bluest Eye (Theatreworks), ON YOUR FEET! (Carol Morsani Hall), Sense and Sensibility (SCAD). Michael is an avid fan of Drag, comedy, and podcasts and is an all-around nice person. His work is available at michaelruizdelvizo.com, and you can follow them @mikyle91.

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AMELIA CAMILO (Assistant Costume Designer, she/her) is a New York based Costume Designer and artist. Her design work has previously been seen in productions such as GumihoRosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, and Memphis. Recent assisting credits include On SugarlandBlack No More, and Corsicana. She holds a BFA in Costume Design from Pace University. You can find more of her work online at ameliacamilo.com or on Instagram @ameliacamilodesign.

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JAMIE TIPPETT (Associate Sound & Systems Designer, they/he) is a sound designer and engineer. Off-Broadway: Little Girl Blue (New World Stages). Regional: Orlando (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Summer’s Soldier (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Assistant design and engineering credits include work at New York Theater Workshop, Atlantic Theater Company, Theatre For a New Audience, Audible @ Minetta Lane Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and more. Education: Stanford University, B.A. & B.S.

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BRANDON FILLETTE (Music Assistant) is a freelance artist for hire, working as an arranger, transcriber, musician, actor, music producer, and music director. A recent graduate of BerkleeNYC ‘22 (Writing and Design for Musical Theatre), he is interested in telling new and exciting works, supporting other creative artists to bring their stories to life. He is thrilled to continue working on HOUND DOG through Ars Nova!

THE TELSEY OFFICE / DESTINY LILLY, CSA With offices in both New York and Los Angeles, The Telsey Office casts for theater, film, television, and commercials. The Telsey Office is dedicated to creating safe, equitable, and anti-racist spaces through collaboration, artistry, heart, accountability, and advocacy.

BRYAN BAUER (Production Stage Manager) Broadway: Slave Play. Off-Broadway: Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie, KPOP (Ars Nova); Richard III (The Public Theater); Slave Play (New York Theater Workshop); The Things That Were There (The Bushwick Star); Tambo & Bones, Selling Kabul, Dance Nation, Miles for Mary, Bella: An American Tall Tale, (Playwrights Horizons); We’re Gonna Die (2ST). Regional: The Black Clown (A.R.T/Lincoln Center); Skeleton Crew (WCP); A Christmas Carol (Lyric Theatre); Bernstein’s MASS (Canterbury Chorale Society). Dance: Oklahoma City Ballet, Vail Dance Festival. OCU Alum.

CAREN CELINE MORRIS (Assistant Stage Manager, she/her/hers) is a multidisciplinary theater artist from The Bronx. She aims to promote inclusion, diversity, and accessibility in all of her projects. Caren has worked on projects with The Tank, The Shed, Ping Chong & Company, Derek Fordjour Studios, The Public Theater, and The Bushwick Starr.

World Premiere
OCT 6 – NOV 5, 2022

Written by
Melis Aker

With Music & Lyrics by
Melis Aker & the Lazours

Directed by
Machel Ross

Featuring
Olivia Abiassi
Ashley Baier
Ellena Eshraghi
Mel Hsu
Matt Magnusson
Sahar Milani
Laith Nakli
Jonathan Raviv
Maya Sharpe

Music Director & Sound Designer
Avi Amon

Set Designer
Frank J. Oliva

Costume Design
Qween Jean

Lighting Design
Tuçe Yasak

Associate Director
Federica Borlenghi

Production Stage Manager
Bryan Bauer

Production Manager
Jes Levine

Artwork
Andrea Negrete

Ars Nova @ Greenwich House
27 Barrow St
New York, NY

 
HEALTH & SAFETY
Our key audience safety protocols are outlined below to help you plan ahead for your visit. We will continue to follow the latest advisories from our health and government officials, and these policies are subject to change as circumstances evolves and/or with their guidance. The most up-to-date information will always be found on our Co-Producer’s website (Ars Nova) and ticket holders will be proactively notified of any policy changes for the shows they are attending.
 

What’s PlayCo’s mask policy?

We recognize that mask mandates are being eased in many public spaces as more tools for individuals to protect themselves depending on their own risk- and comfort-levels (including vaccinations, anti-viral medication, and high-quality filtration masks) are now widely available. We welcome and encourage mask-wearing to protect yourself and others, but we will not be requiring them at most performances. If you would feel more comfortable attending a performance with a fully masked and vaccinated audience, please select one of the performances that best accommodates you.

Are you requiring proof of vaccination?

We strongly encourage all audience members to get vaccinated and boosted in accordance with public health guidelines. As public health experts and officials have long-stated, this is our best protection against severe illness and hospitalization from Covid-19. With 89% of the adults in our community fully vaccinated—as well as continued evidence that vaccination is not a major determinant of the spread of Covid-19—we will no longer require proof of vaccination before entering the theater except at designated performances.

What if I am only comfortable attending performances with a fully masked and vaccinated audience?

Certain performances each week will be designated just for you! Masks and proof-of-vaccination will be required at designated performances each week. And Bars Nova will be closed for these select performances so that audience members can remain fully masked for the entirety of the performance. Make sure to check the HOUND DOG show calendar for specific performance dates that are mask & proof of vaccination required.

 

The Play Company gratefully acknowledges the leadership support of the Kaplen Brothers Fund, as well as major support from the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Shubert Foundation.