Cuddling with Strippers
What if we remember only the parts we want to? What if sobriety is one ongoing morning-after text from a concerned friend…filling in the gaps you tried hard to drink away? Nik Doner puts these newly found memories into a show about cancer, love, and sex through the blurry lens of the addiction that blacked out many nights. Did he meet a 4 year old dwarf at 3am? Spend Christmas in jail? Get a naked ultrasound? Directed by Hannah Victoria Franklin, Cuddling with Strippers is a vulnerable look at memories, asking, “Wait…what happened?” and accepting the fate of whatever answer you get.
2017 saw the world premiere of 2 separate runs of Nik Doner’s autobiographical comedy-memoir solo-ish show Cuddling with Strippers.
Seattle Fringe Festival: March – April 2017
18th & Union: October – November 2017
Written and performed by: Nik Doner
Featuring: Hannah Mootz, Hannah Ruwe, and Malika Usmanova
Director: Hannah Victoria Franklin
Stage Manager: Danielle Franich
Lighting/Sound Design: Andrew C. Somora
Writing/story consultant: Michael Place
Audience Reactions & Press
“Doner has good comedic timing and expressed some profound vulnerability.”
“…irreverent & funny…also gut-churning.”
“Nik took us on quite the emotional journey through his past mistakes. He was charming and won us over, then carefully revealed that maybe that wasn’t the best move on our part.”
“Excellent story and execution of it. Very memorable, raw, cautionary tale.”
“…this could be a groundbreaking piece.”
“It was extremely interesting. I don’t know how I feel about it, but I definitely can’t stop thinking about it.”
In May – June of 2019, White Rabbits Inc and Libby Barnard, in association with 18th & Union, produced the Seattle premiere of Blackbird by David Harrower.
Content Warning: in discussion of this production, there are mentions of rape and abuse. We will mark these triggers with ***, so you may skip if needed. Look for **to deliniate the end point of these topics.
**Called “one of the most powerful dramas of the century” by The New York Times, Blackbird is “a brilliant and tantalizing study in sexual obsession that leaves one both shaken and stirred” (The Guardian).
Ray, fifty-six, has a new identity and has made a new life for himself, thinking that he cannot be found. Una, twenty-seven, has a new life too and (upon seeing a photo of Ray in a magazine) has arrived unannounced at his office. Guilt, rage, and raw emotions run high as they recollect the illicit relationship they had fifteen years ago, when she was twelve and he was forty-one.
Blackbird is a story about living with the consequences of abuse and trauma, and demanding a new future. It is about two people searching to name, define, and deconstruct their shared past and its relationship to the present in order to reinvent themselves and reclaim their lives. It poses the question of whether that kind of reinvention and reclamation is actually possible.
Blackbird became a dream play for Libby when she came across it for a class 5 years ago. ***As a survivor of rape, it helped her realize that she is not alone. She hopes that in doing this play, audiences will find that they have the power to reclaim their lives, no matter how they have been shaped by their abusers. It is not easy or without mess, but she knows that together, we can refuse to keep it contained.**
Directed by: Paul Budraitis
Cast: Libby Barnard & Shawn Belyea
Assistant Director: Aviona Rodriguez Brown
Stage Manager: Elizabeth Stasio
Libby Barnard (producer/cast) is an actor and teaching artist from Seattle, Washington with a BA in Theatre from Southern Oregon University. REGIONAL credits include: Oregon Shakespeare Festival: U/S in Comedy of Errors, Henry VIII, The Music Man, and All’s Well That Ends Well; Seattle Shakespeare Company: The Winter’s Tale; Book-It Repertory Theatre: STAT, Owen Meany’s Christmas Pageant. Other SEATTLE AREA credits: Washington Ensemble Theatre: The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls (Masha), The Hunchback of Seville (Infanta Juana); Azetrope: 25 Saints (Sammie), Collison Project: Marisol (June); Annex Theatre: Bunnies, Team of Heroes: No More Heroes; Greenstage: Othello (Desdemona). She will be appearing as Amy in Dry Land at Seattle Public Theatre in March/April.
Shawn Belyea (cast) is a proud Seattle based actor, director, producer, and teaching artist. Currently Shawn works as Executive Director of The 14/48 Projects. This company produces 14/48: The World’s Quickest Theater Festival- (Winner of the 2008 Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award), and Theater Anonymous. Shawn also works as Producer for Cornish College of the Arts Theater Department. Shawn’s work as the director of August: Osage County was honored in 2013 with four Gregory awards including Outstanding Director and Outstanding Production. This production was also chosen as Best of the Year by The Seattle Weekly. As a member of Actors Equity Association, some of Shawn’s favorite roles have included: Rick in Dry Powder (Seattle Repertory Theatre), Wes in Prairie Nocturne (Book-it Repertory Theatre), Macduff in Macbeth (Seattle Shakespeare/Wooden O), Dad and Babe Ruth in Jackie and Me (Seattle Children’s Theatre), Alan in Opus (Seattle Repertory Theatre), Phil in 800 Words: The Transfiguration of Phillip K. Dick, and Daniel in Hardball (winner of Seattle Times Footlight Award)- (both at Live Girls!) and Gary in Noises Off (The Village Theater). Shawn is very happily married to Megan Ahiers, and extremely proud of his daughter Zoey Cane Belyea.
Paul Budraitis (director) is a Seattle-based director, actor, writer, and solo performer, as well as a teacher of acting, stage movement, solo performance, and interdisciplinary art. He was the recipient of a Fulbright grant to study directing at the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he earned his master’s degree under the mentorship of visionary theatre director Jonas Vaitkus. In Lithuania, Paul worked with the National Drama Theatre of Lithuania, the State Youth Theatre of Lithuania, the Kaunas State Drama Theatre, and Oskaras Koršunovas/Vilnius City Theatre (OKT). He acted in a contemporary re-imagining of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard directed by acclaimed Finnish director Kristian Smeds, which was performed in Lithuania, as well as in a refugee settlement territory on the outskirts of Vienna as part of the Vienna Festival. In Seattle, Paul directed the world premiere of Elizabeth Heffron’s Bo-Nita at Seattle Repertory Theatre, the world premiere of Kristen Kosmas’ The People’s Republic of Valerie at On the Boards, and the Northwest premiere of Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses with New Century Theatre Company. This summer, he will be directing the Northwest premiere of David Greig’s “The Events” at Intiman Theatre. Paul is the co-founder and artistic director of the experimental theatre company SPLINTER GROUP and has also worked with New City Theatre, the Degenerate Art Ensemble, Cafe Nordo, Annex Theatre, Balagan Theatre, Cornish College of the Arts, and Whitman College, among others.
Aviona Rodriguez Brown (assistant director) is a afrolatinx curvaceous person who bends time and space itself to be involved in the theater. Aviona is a seattle based teaching artist, stage manager, model, actor, director, producer and student. As a social justice leader, she hopes to begin a detention replacement program that teaches at risk children and adults art therapy.
Elizabeth Stasio (stage manager) is a local stage manager born and raised in the Seattle area. Her particular areas of expertise are chairs and making things out of tape. Previous stage management and backstage credits include work with Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, West of Lenin, Annex Theatre, Fantastic.Z Theatre Company, Sound Theatre Company, Thalia’s Umbrella, and others. She is so pleased to be a part of this incredible team of artists.