With the world premiere of On the Exhale, we proudly welcome Martín Zimmerman to the Roundabout family and add him to the extraordinary list of playwrights to be produced through this program. We started Roundabout Underground as a launch-pad for emerging writers, and as the subsequent successes of our first eleven playwrights demonstrates, it is doing exactly that. I can say with confidence that, with this intense, surprising, and moving debut, Martín is already taking off for great heights.
In On the Exhale, Martín creates an exquisitely intimate relationship between audience and character, bringing us on the journey of one woman as she sees her worst fears coming true. What Martín has crafted is both a captivating story and a necessary theatrical exploration of America’s relationship to gun violence at the most deeply personal level. He helps us as an audience to grieve the past, survive the present, and confront the future.
One of the things that I think Martín has done so beautifully is to write a play for one actor that never feels like the prototypical “one-person show.” It is so layered and complex that you never feel the need for other voices to permeate the world of this piece. It is a true play, just one that happens to have only one character in it. And of course, I feel so lucky to have the remarkable Marin Ireland taking on this challenging role. She is one of the most captivating performers of her generation, and to have her command the stage alone in this play, under the direction of the brilliant Leigh Silverman, is simply thrilling to watch.
I’m also grateful to Martín for his choice to infuse such accessible humanity into a work that tackles a dark subject. Taken as a whole, the questions surrounding this country and its history with guns are, to my mind, utterly overwhelming. But Martín is able to break it down in a way that allows us to connect without shutting down. He considers the physical object of a gun itself, the act of holding one and how that differs from seeing one from the other side. He addresses the feelings of power and fear that the mere image of a gun can bring to the surface. And he holds nothing back either about the consequences of violence or our rituals of grief – in all of their insufficiencies. It is a raw, joyful, tragic, and stunning piece, and one that I am so proud to be sharing with you.
As we continue this remarkable tenth season at Roundabout Underground, I know that Martín Zimmerman will continue the great tradition of this initiative. I am so proud of the achievements of the artists who have come before him, who not only brought their brilliance to the Black Box Theatre, but who have also gone on to make some of the best work in theatres across the country and around the world. I can’t help but marvel at the ever-growing list of playwrights, directors, actors, and designers who found an early home with us. From a two-time Pulitzer finalist, to five recent Tony-winners, to more Broadway debuts than I can count, it’s been hugely gratifying to watch these artists attain such success.
I hope that you enjoy On the Exhale, and I am eager to hear your thoughts on this world premiere play. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your response to this exceptional new work.
I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!
On the Exhale is now playing at the Black Box Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. Visit our website for tickets and more information.
2016-2017 Season, From Todd Haimes, On the Exhale, Roundabout Underground