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The Arts

‘No rehearsals, no director, no set’

Shoot the Moon takes on Iranian playwright’s work, restrictions and all, at Hooker-Dunham

BRATTLEBORO—Shoot the Moon Theater Company has earned a reputation for out-of-the-box presentations during its four years as the company-in-residence at the Hooker Dunham Theater, but the next project may be their boldest yet.

White Rabbit Red Rabbit is an internationally acclaimed one-person play by Nassim Soleimanpour with very rigid guidelines for how it can be performed.

The first one is that the actor is not allowed to read the script until they open the sealed copy waiting for them on stage.

What’s more, the same actor is not allowed to perform the piece more than once.

Thus, the one-person show will be performed on four nights by four actors with local ties: Rebecca Waxman on Friday, Sept. 20; Robert Kramsky on Saturday, Sept. 21; Evan O’Sullivan on Friday, Sept. 27; and Marilyn Tullgren on Saturday, Sept. 28. All show times are 7:30 p.m.

“The actors are not even allowed to research the play. They get two pages of directions from the playwright about 48 hours prior to the performance,” said Joshua Moyse, the artistic director of Shoot the Moon Theater Company.

The New York Times called White Rabbit Red Rabbit a “playful, enigmatic, and haunting solo show” when it ran off-Broadway. Performers who took on the text during that 2016 run included Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Wilson, Brian Dennehy, Cynthia Nixon, George Takei, Rachel Dratch, and Alan Cumming.

The Iranian playwright Soleimanpour conceived White Rabbit Red Rabbit when he was forbidden to leave his native country.

Press materials are careful to point out that his intention for the work is more metaphorical than political, with the goal being “a work about contemporary Iran” and its “generation of computer-literate, well-informed young people who have never known an Iran other than the Islamic Republic.”

Other than selecting the work, Moyse has had very little to do with this production due to its “no director” requirement, although Alistair Follansbee does serve in his customary role as stage manager. Still, Moyse is very excited about the prospects of the experience.

“This is Soleimanpour’s message in a bottle. Although it’s not a cry for rescue, rather it’s a cry for community,” says Moyse. “This play is funny and poignant, and one of its joys is seeing how the different performers approach the work.”

To that end, Shoot The Moon is offering a special $35 ticket price to attend all four performance nights. Tickets for individual shows will be $15. Advance tickets can be purchased at

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Originally published in The Commons issue #527 (Wednesday, September 11, 2019). This story appeared on page B2.

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