PICT Theatre Announces Full Company for Our Class

**Irish-American Aoife Spillane-Hinks will direct**

***Post-Gazette’s Breakout Performer of 2012 Vera Varlamov returns to PICT***

Pittsburgh, PA – March 12, 2013.  PICT Theatre (aka Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre) announces the full cast for Our Class, the powerful Nike award-winning play by Tadeusz Slobodzianek and translated by Ryan Craig. Irish-American Aoife Spillane-Hinks will direct. Our Class opens with a student matinee on April 10th, and runs through May 4th.

Aoife Spillane-Hinks is pleased to make her PICT directorial debut with Our Class. She is currently the co-artistic director of Then This Theatre Company in Dublin Ireland, as well as the  co-curator and co-producer of the TEXT|messages Shakespeare project. Her directorial credits include Broken Promise Land (Lanigan’s Theatre Upstairs); The Yellow Wallpaper (Project Arts Center/Dublin Fringe); Plaza Suite (Rough Magic/Gaiety Theatre); Hamlet (Second Age); and Boston Marriage (Gate Theatre/Dublin). Aoife Spillane-Hinks joins the production following PICT’s recent leadership change.

ABOUT THE PLAY:

Our Class is inspired by the atrocity of Jedwabne, a Polish village where, in 1941, as Russian and German forces pressed in, almost all of the local Jews were tortured and killed. This horrific crime was originally blamed on the Nazis, but historians and journalists more recently revealed that the perpetrators may have been their own neighbors. Slobodzianek used, among other sources, the book Neighbors by Dr. Jan Gross, which has been regarded as controversial for its interpretation and accounting of the facts.

In this play, we meet each of the characters as school children, innocent and unaware of their futures as villains and victims; each actor portrays the character from age 8 into adulthood. Our Class is the first Polish drama to receive Poland’s prestigious Nike Literary Prize.

ABOUT THE CAST:

Vera Varlamov returns to PICT for a second season. She earned the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s acclaim as a Breakout Performer of 2012 for playing Irina in Three Sisters as part of PICT’s Chekhov Celebration. Varlamov also appeared in The Proposal in PICT’s Funny Chekhov production. Most recently, she has made Miami her home, appearing as Julia in The Birds at Mosaic Theatre. She is a recent graduate of Rutgers MFA-Acting program.

Also returning to PICT from the 2012 Chekhov Celebration are Katya Stepanova and Jonathan Visser. Stepanova, a senior acting major at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama played Sasha in Ivanov. Born in Minsk, Belarus, her family immigrated as Jewish refugees to the United States in 1992, so she feels a particular connection to this play.

Jonathan Visser played three roles in last year’s Chekhov Celebration: Solyony in Three Sisters, Kosyk in Ivanov, and Dmitri in Yalta Game by Brian Friel, part of the After Chekhov program. Other Pittsburgh performances include work with Bricolage, City Theater, The Rep, and CLO. He is a proud graduate of the Masters program at the University of Tennessee, 2010.

PICT also welcomes the return of Bernard Balbot, who played Young Lad in 2012’s hit The Pitmen Painters. A native of Pittsburgh, Balbot’s credits include Rich and Famous (Jackalope Theatre Company); Far Away (Winterfall Chicago); We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…(Victory Gardens). Additional credits include work for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Writers’ Theatre, American Theater Company, Asolo Repertory Theater, Farmers Alley Theater, Utah Shakespearean Festival and Hangar Theater.  His film credits include Warrior and Sleepers of the City. Balbot received his BFA at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama with additional training at the Moscow Art Theatre School.

Aaron White was last seen on the PICT stage in 2011’s Antony & Cleopatra. In addition to performing, White teaches at Susquehanna University in Central Pennsylvania.  His performance credits include  Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble, Adirondack Shakespeare Company, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Virginia Shakespeare Festival, Nebraska Theater Caravan. Aaron is originally from Dalmatia, Pennsylvania.  He holds a B.A from Susquehanna University, attended Ohio University and received his MFA from the PATP at the University of Houston.

Five actors will be making their PICT performance debuts: Justin Fortunato, Rafael Goldstein, Jimmy Mason, Caroline Shannon, Quinn Patrick Shannon.

Justin Fortunato has performed with Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh CLO, The REP, Prime Stage Theater and St. Vincent Theatre. He is a graduate of Point Park University, where he earned his BFA in Musical Theatre.  He is also the co-founder and artistic director of Carnivale Theatrics, which will be producing In The Heights this upcoming August at the New Hazlett Theater.

Rafael Goldstein’s performance in Hamlet for Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre earned him a nomination by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for Lead Performance. Additional theatre credits include A Noise Within Theatre; Mechanicals Theatre Group; Atlantic Theater Company and La MaMa Theater. His education includes Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and Atlantic Acting School.

Jimmy Mason is an actor and singer currently pursuing his BFA at Carnegie Mellon University. His performance credits include productions at Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon. He is a finalist in the Campus Superstar Pittsburgh competition, scheduled for March 21, 2013.

Caroline Shannon recently graduated with a BFA from University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and teaches stage combat with the Shakespeare Society. Her regional theatre credits include Hangar Theatre, Accademia dell ‘Arte, Cincinnati Outdoor Classics, and the NYC Strawberry Festival.

Quinn Patrick Shannon has performed with CLO Cabaret, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, The REP and Theatreworks USA.

The creative team for Our Class includes Set Designer Gianni Downs, Costume Designer Rachel Parent, Lighting Designer Jim French, Sound Designer Elizabeth Atkinson, Original Composition by Doug Levine & Susanne Ortner-Roberts, Dialect Coach Natalie Baker-Shirer, Choreographer Mark Conway Thompson, Stage Manager Cory Goddard, and Assistant Stage Manager Caitlin Roper.