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Release date: Jan 29, 2001
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Assistant Director, 404-727-0644, or

Theater Emory Presents Southeast Premiere Of Wendy Hammond's "Jersey City " Feb. 15-March 3

Theater Emory travels difficult terrain in its latest production, the Southeast premiere of Wendy Hammond’s "Jersey City." Ultimately the story of recovery and redemption, a scrappy teenage runaway finds the way to a new life amid the strip clubs and slums of Jersey City, escaping from violence and sexual abuse. The play will run Thursday, Feb. 15 through Saturday, March 3 in Emory University’s Mary Gray Munroe Theater.

Fifteen-year-old Magaly, played by Emory student Taylor Dooley, flees her Brooklyn home for Jersey City, N.J., a place described in idyllic terms by a classmate. She finds herself on the seedy side of town and is befriended by a stripper and strip club bouncer. The cast is completed by Emory students Jennifer Hohensee and David Pollack and Atlanta actor Ron Prather. Audiences are cautioned that this production includes explicit language and frank depictions of sexual violence.

Hammond’s film adaptation of "Jersey City" is set to be produced in the near future. "The project has gotten financing, which means it’s really going to get made," says Hammond. " I think that’s absolutely remarkable and amazing. We don’t even have stars attached to it yet, so it was the passion of the producer and, I hope, the merits of the script that raised over a million to make the thing." Hammond’s screen adaptation of her play "Julie Johnson" premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival, starring Lili Taylor, Courtney Love and Spalding Gray.

Theater Emory’s relationship with Hammond goes back several years. Her play "Mormons in Malibu" was part of Theater Emory’s 1995 Brave New Works Marathon, a biennial play development program within the Playwriting Center of Theater Emory. The center is an umbrella for new play development activities at Emory, including Brave New Works, commissioning new work, playwright residencies and script publishing.

Theater Emory’s long-standing relationship with Hammond is one of the reasons acting Artistic Director Leslie Taylor chose one of her plays for this season. "We’ve worked with Wendy for years, and she’s someone I respected. I also wanted to do a work by a woman," says Taylor. "She sent me a number of scripts, and I chose this one. While it’s the far more difficult, it had more student roles. And it spoke about a topic that often gets treated melodramatically, but not as honestly as this did. I also thought the writing was economical and beautiful," says Taylor.

Director Ariel de Man strives to show the complexities of such situations. "I don’t want any easy villains. I want to look at what causes patterns of abuse and how hard it is to break those patterns," says de Man. "I want to find out what all four of the characters have in common, since all have been through traumatic experiences of different natures."

The public is invited to a reception and discussion with the playwright and faculty of Emory’s Violence Studies Program in the Faculty Dining Room of the Dobbs University Center after the Sunday, Feb. 25 matinee. The Mary Gray Munroe Theater is located in the Dobbs University Center, at 605 Asbury Circle on the Emory campus. For more information or to order tickets, call the Arts at Emory box office at 404-727-5050.


Theater Emory is the producing organization of Emory University and is affiliated with the Department of Theater Studies. Theater Emory is a constituent member of the Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national organization of non-profit professional theaters, and a member of the Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts. It operates under a Small Professional Theater agreement with Actors Equity Association.

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