A World Premiere Coproduction with Theater Emory

It's 2002 and the world is spinning faster now. And faster still from credit cards and cell phones and phone sex and stop it all--for the love of a boy with puppy dog eyes. One sunny day little rich Lily meets Derek, a sweet boy who does research for Anna, an anthropologist who wants Richard really nastylike and he's, well, Lily's dad. Manna, the latest from the brilliant Steve Murray, turns out to be an intricate clockwork of a farce. When they tell us it's a small world, it's only because technology and "convenience" have crushed us real tight...


Steve Murray


Wier Harman


The idea of "Manna" first occurred to Steve in the last year of the previous millennium during a walk in Atlanta's Piedmont Park. He was struck by the sight of so many people scurrying around the scenic landscape, fringed by city towers, shouting and giggling and crying on their cell phones. So many people passing inches away, but never noticing each other because they were talking to people who WEREN'T there. This is the world premiere of this brilliant farce.

"Manna" was developed through the Playwriting Center at Theater Emory. Wier Harman directed two readings at Emory's Brave New Works in March, 2001 and again in November, 2002. In between, it was workshopped last July in Oregon's "JAW/West" new play festival at Portland Center Stage, now home to previous Actor's Express artistic director Chris Coleman. There, it was directed by Bill Fennelly, who directed the Express musical Violet in 2000.

As a director, it is always tempting to start jabbering about a play's ideas--in the case of Manna, its sharp commentary on the obstacles contemporary culture throws in the path of true intimacy, or its astute criticism of a materialistic society hurtling out of control, CEOs and stockholders at the switch. That stuff's all true, but I think I should tell you that Manna is fast, funny, and really, really naughty. It leaves no sacred cow untipped; it's an equal opportunity offender.


The cast of Manna includes five Actor's Express veterans. Kim Shipley is playing the role of Richard, and previously played Gregory in the Actor's Express production Love! Valour! Compassion! Kathleen Wattis (Anna) last appeared on The Express stage as Cindy in Fefu and Her Friends and as Janie in Rescue & Recovery, also by Steve Murray. Brian Crawford ((Derek) played Ste in Beautiful Thing, Kristi Casey (Woman B) was in The Misanthrope and Anne Towns (Woman A) was seen in the doll plays. Rounding out the cast are Atlanta actors Heather Starkel (Lily), a company member of Out of Hand Theatre, and Ryan Kipp (Blake).

Cast & Creative Team

From the audience