M-34 presents Franz Kafka’s Letter To My Father, translated by Hannah Stokes and Richard Stokes, developed by James Rutherford and Michael Guagno, directed by James Rutherford, and performed by Michael Guagno.
In 1919, an ailing Franz Kafka wrote a letter to his father. He filled it with his deep conflicts and contradictions — anger and gratitude, pride and shame — at everything his father represents, as well as his hope and fear that he might one day measure up to such a terrifying man. It never reached its destination. Now, the tensions of this unresolved relationship between father and son come alive in a startling multi-camera live broadcast that allows viewers to choose their own perspective — part YouTube confessional, part hidden-camera show, part seance.
M-34’s Artistic Director James Rutherford says, “We believe that to be successful, theater requires a commitment of energy from its audience. For this piece, we ask for your active engagement, uninterrupted time, and audio/visual isolation. It’s not a stream to have playing in the background as you scroll through the news. We are attempting to reclaim some of the immediacy of live theater: the feeling of sitting in a dark room experiencing something personal and unique. Kafka sat at the cusp of a terrifying future and wrote about his mounting horror at the world around him. We believe that engaging with his struggle can be a source of strength and resilience in the chaos of these times.”
The production team includes Dave Harrington (Original Music), Oona Curley and Stacey DeRosier (Scenic & Lighting Design), Pinwheel Pinwheel (Costume Design), Lacey Erb (Media Design), Casey Robinson (Technology Design), Isaac VanCuren (Production Stage Manager) and David Rudi Utter (Technical Director).
Online live performances run February 19 – March 28, 2021. Previews begin February 19 for a February 26 opening. Showtimes are Fridays at 7pm EST and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are pay-what-you-can with a suggested donation of $15. Reserve at M-34.org. The running time is approximately 75 minutes.
M-34 is a fake mustache, a white phosphorous grenade, a star cluster and a crosstown bus. Founded in 2008 by James Rutherford, it is a rotating ensemble of theater artists attempting to be rigorous, critical, and curious in a culture that degrades all such values. Letter To My Father represents M-34’s first attempt to produce telematic performance under COVID. We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. More info at M-34.org.
M-34’s previous production of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé was featured in The New York Times’ “The Week in Culture” column and Time Out NY’s “Best Off-Off Broadway shows in NYC.” Hyperallergic praised Salomé as “a vital and relevant parable of criminalized otherness.” Past M-34 productions have been featured in New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix, and described as “excellent and well worth a viewing” (Broadway World) and “brilliantly performed” (New York Theatre Review).
James Rutherford (he/him/his) is an international theater director and third-generation New Yorker, currently in quarantine in Brooklyn. He is the founding artistic director of the theater company M-34. Selected work includes Salomé (Irondale Center), The Constitution: A Secular Oratorio (Vertical Player Repertory), As You Like It (Classic Stage Company), Hymn To Life (FiveMyles, St. Ann’s and the Holy Trinity), Sweat & Tears (JACK), All That Dies And Rises (IATI), The Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway (Access Theatre) and previous productions of Letter To My Father (AXA in Action, Magic Futurebox). James has assisted Peter Brook, Andrei Serban, and Richard Foreman. Proud son of Columbia University’s MFA Directing program. (james-rutherford.com)
Michael Guagno is a New York City based actor originally from Bedminster Township, Pennsylvania. He graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts having studied at the Atlantic Acting School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art while there. This is his fourth time performing in a production of Letter To My Father. Previous iterations took place at Columbia University, the AXA in Action festival in Prague and Magic Future Box in Brooklyn. More recently, he appeared in Animals Out of Paper at Hudson Stage Company and in Much Ado About Nothing for South Brooklyn Shakespeare. His film credits include The Truth About Lies and Fort Tilden. On television and the web, he has had roles on The Deuce, Z: the Beginning of Everything, Blue Bloods and High Maintenance.