Virago Theatre Company to Present Ransom, Texas at Theatre Asylum Lab

Dec 23, 2014
Ransom, Texas

In a dying Texas town, a routine business deal erupts into a primal battle between father and son in San Francisco playwright William Bivins's twisted dark comedy, Ransom, Texas, opening January 8th at Theatre Asylum Lab in Hollywood. Directed by Jon Tracy and designed by Nina Ball, Ransom comes to Hollywood directly following a highly successful run in San Francisco at Tides Theatre. Virago Theatre Company's commitment to bringing new Bay Area plays to larger audiences is turning heads on both coasts on the heels of their New York run of AROUSAL and The Lover at the Flea in summer, 2014.

Ransom, Texas is a "twisting game of one-upmanship" (SF Gate) that grabs hold and never lets go. Set in a small West Texas town, a father and son locked in the office of a factory battle for power using whatever they've got: manipulation, mind-games, and and brute force. Keeping us off-guard with twists and reveals, this emotionally compelling dark comedy is "tense, terse and unremitting. The acting is brilliant, the staging perfect." (The Writer's Block) Ransom,

Texas stars Dixon Phillips as Vern, "a man of deep truth, violent, tender" and Damien Seperi as Bruce, "violent, perceptive...treacherous." (The Writer's Block). Ransom is directed by Bay Area visionary Jon Tracy, known for his masterful work in the Bay Area and beyond.

Ransom, Texas won Pacific Repertory's Hyperion Project Original Play Competition, where it had a workshop production in 2010 under the direction of Ken Kelleher. Bivins's produced full- length plays include the Education of a Rake (Central Works), The Apotheosis of Pig Husbandry (SF Playhouse), The Position (Off-Market Theater in SF and Theatre Asylum in LA), The Afterlife of the Mind (Virago at the Ashby Stage and Out North Theatre in Anchorage, AK), and Pulp Scripture (San Francisco Fringe and Off-Market Theaters). Ransom, Texas brings Bivins back to Virago, where he also produced his dark comedy The Afterlife of the Mind in 2009. Described by director Tracy as "a captivating voice that is singular but also pays homage to some of our great American playwrights," Bivins has won several awards, including eight San Francisco Fringe Festival awards, the 2009 BATCC for Original Script (Pulp Scripture), and Playground's 2013 & 2014 Emerging Playwright Award, in addition to being nominated for several other honors. He is also a 2014 PlayGround Fellow.

This production marks director Jon Tracy's debut with Virago. Tracy jumped at the chance to direct Ransom and work with Virago. "[Artistic Director] Laura Lundy-Paine and Virago had always been a company I'd been interested in, run by people who respect what we're doing, see a possibility to another way a theater can be run, another way stories can be told, who take huge risks. The more I heard about Laura, the more I knew she was someone I would love to share my work with, that we might be able to tell a good story together." Tracy is excited to tackle Ransom because "It's a microcosm within microcosms. The idea that we're able to look at some of these abstract things in a literal way. There is a very raw and open naturalism to the piece that is supported by a baseline of something much larger. Some of the classic father and son conflicts can be seen early on, and quickly you're able to connect that back thousands of years to the sins of the father, the divine right of kings, and zoom out to universal ideas of duality." Tracy's direction is supported by scenic design by Nina Ball, also making her first foray with Virago. Says Bivins, "I feel like I won the lottery with this team. I cannot imagine a director better suited for Ransom than Jon. I've always been in awe of Nina's sets, and am thrilled with her concept for the play."