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Close Your Eyes and Sleep
History is Trauma
By Aaron Johnson
Directed by Vanessa Bontea and Andrew Karl
Music by Lilli Hokama
Benefiting Trauma Survivors Foundation
Mack is a professional hypnotist on the brink of a new clinical procedure that allows patients to re-write or erase past traumas. Close Your Eyes and Sleep explores how hypnotism and manipulation work in our every day, our government, and our past. A lot of people say hypnotism is the process of falling asleep, perhaps we’re all trying to wake up.
Samantha Aneson (Barb) is an actor and musician hailing from Southern California. Recent NYC credits include: Mary Jo in A Piece of My Heart (IATI Theatre), Emma in LG (The Pit), Karen Carpenter in Legends (The Duplex), and a workshop of Taylor Mac’s 24 Decade History of Music. She’s currently in production of a feature film entitled Villains by Dashford Media, and you can see her in the web series ETA, coming this year. When she’s not acting, you can find Sam on stage with her band Satin Nickel or her solo act, Korra. She received her M.F.A. in Acting from UC Irvine and her B.S. in Theatre Performance from the University of Evansville.
Sara Ettner* (Jules) is so happy to be working with Aaron Johnson on his next project. She just finished Salty in the spring with him and could not be more thrilled! Regional Theatre: The Wolves at Studio Theatre as #13, Wondrous Strange in the 40th Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre; A Christmas Carol, The Diamond Trade, Maybe One Day He Will Get Divorced, and Trudy, Carolyn, Martha, and Regina Travel to Outer Space and Have a Pretty Terrible Time There all at The Actors Theatre of Louisville. Other Theatre: Columbinus, Romeo and Juliet, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, all at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Training: B.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design. www.saraeturner.com
Michael Fell* (Jackson) is an actor, improviser, and voiceover artist working in New York City. His theatre credits include productions in New York, Louisville, Little Rock, and Minneapolis with theaters such as The Guthrie, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arkansas Rep, Park Square, Project Y, Back Room Shakespeare and many more. He received his training from the Actors Theatre of Louisville Acting Apprenticeship, and the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Actor Training Program. www.michael-fell.com
Rocio Mendez (Katherine) is an actor/fight director who was born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. Rocio has been seen on stage working with great theater companies such as The Pearl Theater Company, American Globe Theater, The Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey, The Classical Theater of Harlem, and The Brick. Some favorite credits include: Lady Macbeth (AGT), Titania / Hippolyta (STNJ), King Casper (The Brick). Rocio has also been on various short films, commercials and web series. www.rociomendez.com
Ben Quinn* (Mack) is an NYC-based actor and musician. He has performed onstage regionally, in the Bay Area, and in New York City, where he now lives. His recent NYC appearances include Rusalka (Theatre 4the People), Phantom Pains (Benefit of the Doubt), The Waterman (Ant Fest), as well as multiple appearances with Sycamore Theater Co. Ben holds an M.F.A. from the American Conservatory Theater, where he performed in A Christmas Carol and Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play (u/s). He received his B.S. from the University of Evansville. Alongside acting, Ben plays mandolin/guitar in The Good Morning Nags, a raucous roots Americana band in NYC – check them out at thegoodmorningnags.com!
*Appearing Courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association
Aaron Johnson is an actor-writer living in NYC. Plays include: Salty, Close Your Eyes and Sleep, and The Apple Doesn’t Fall. REGIONAL THEATRE: Tribes at ZACH Theatre; Orphans, Skylight with Street Corner Arts; The Totalitarians with Theatre en bloc; The Real Thing, The Explorers Club, Bloomsday at Austin Playhouse; Comedy of Errors with Penfold Theatre Co.; Red with Light in a Jar Productions, Troilus and Cressida at the Great River Shakespeare Festival.
Last year, Aaron’s one-man show The Apple Doesn’t Fall was awarded “Best of Fest” at the 2017 FronteraFest. In 2015, the Austin Chronicle listed Aaron in “The Top Ten Performances of 2015” for his work in Skylight. In 2017, Austin Entertainment Weekly awarded Aaron “Best Supporting Actor” for his work in Tribes.
Aaron has made several short films with director Ching Wang, most notably Welcome to My World, which has been accepted into 25+ film festivals across the globe. Ching and Aaron also received “Best Student Film” and “Best Actor” laurels at the LA Film Awards. Other film: Fatal Frittata, The Two. ADDITIONAL CREDITS: B.F.A. Theatre Performance from the University of Evansville. AEA. www.aaronrichardjohnson.com
Andrew Garret Karl (Director) is an Actor, Director and Devised Theatre Artist. Originally from Southern California, Andrew attended Ithaca College where he earned a BFA in Musical Theatre. In 2012 Andrew founded The Mimesis Theatre Project, a company that devises musical theatre from performance genres not typically found in the American Musical canon. Directing Credits include: The Chosen One (GALSC Commission), Smart People (JAG Productions), Baskerville (Millbrook Playhouse), Dino Pirates…(Cape Rep). Andrew has been a teaching artist for Clark University, Northern Stage, The Hanger Theater, The Musical Theatre Teacher’s Alliance and for the Grotowski Center in Wroclaw, Poland. He is obsessed with The American Musical, Disneyland Trivia and Cake Decorating. Thanks to Aaron and the company. All my love to Koko, my light.
Vanessa Bontea (Director) was born and raised in Queens, New York. She is half Chinese and Hungarian – and from this duality of perspectives she finds a lot of inspiration that informs her creative work. Vanessa is extremely proud to be a part of this production. She thanks Aaron, Andrew and the wonderful cast and crew for their love and vulnerability. Vanessa received her degree in English and Theater from CUNY Queens College. She is also an actor and producer with several projects now in post including a feature film Mouse and a food/travel show she created, hosted, and produced called Eats Meets West coming in 2019. VanessaBontea.com
Lilli Hokama (Composer) is so thankful to be a part of this project and grateful to Aaron for not only writing this incredible story, but creating a platform for artist to expand and stretch themselves in new, challenging and sometimes nerve-wracking ways. Her other theatre credits include: Kitchen Theatre Company, Matt and Ben. In the spring she participated in a reading of Albert County Library System; Lakeside Branch presented by Playwrights Realm Ink’d Festival. Understudy for The Wolves at Lincoln Center Theatre. I and You, with Chester Theatre in MA and Greenland, at Dixon Place in NY. Before moving to New York, she toured to CA with the new musical I Am Alive. Credits from her hometown in CO include, Troilus and Cressida, (Aeneas) with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, The Arabian Nights (Scheherazade) and She Kills Monsters (Agnes) with the Aurora Fox. She has been a part of numerous new works including The Wave That Set the Fire and Companions LLC, and the first reading of The Rape of the Sabine Women By Grace B. Matthias. She also performed a one-woman show, Foundations, presented as a part of Theater Esprit Asia’s Coming To America.
Ry Burke (Lighting Designer) is a lighting designer based in New York, until they fly off to CalArts in the fall. Recent projects include Room for Cream with the Dyke division of the Theater of the Two-Headed Calf, and R&Dwith The Brouhaha Theater Project. They are a Co-Founder and Resident Narrator for Theater of the Well-Dressed, a theater company that specializes in enacting queer utopia by re-telling classic tales with glitter and lip-syncing. Their website is www.ryburke.com.