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Are you ready for escaping?
By Eva MeiLing Pollitt
Co-directed by Akia Squitieri & Anna Hogan

Presented by Rising Sun Performance Company
Benefiting Polaris Project





Flamboyán Theater @ The Clemente
Wednesday 7/11 @5:45pm-7:15pm
Saturday 7/14 @7:00pm-8:30pm
Monday 7/16 @9:00pm-10:30pm
Thursday 7/19 @7:45pm-9:15pm
Tuesday 7/31 @7:30pm-9:00pm
Friday 8/3 @9:30pm-11:00pm

ÉLÉPHANT follows the  Story of Clérèse.  The only world she has ever known is the 19th century Parisian brothel where her mother, Magdith works as a prostitute. Magdith desperately struggles to protect Clérèse from growing up too fast and out of the clutches of her volatile father. Everything is shaken when a young man arrives at the brothel with his master and Clérèse’s belly begins to grow. Could it be that she will give birth to one of the fantastical elephants that her new love has told her of?


Eva MeiLing Pollitt (Playwright)  is a Colorado Born, Brooklyn Based writer/director. Her first film, Tenny, has screened in festivals in New York, Denver, and online. She is currently in post-production for her second film, High, set in the Colorado Rockies. Her playwriting work has been produced with House Party Theatre (Dallas), SoundPlay.Media, and Southern Methodist University Theatre. She is a Robert Mayer Research Fellow, Engaged Learning Fellow, and Meadows Exploration Award Recipient for her research in Moscow, Avignon, and Edinburgh on International Theatre. She also writes songs and poems. She wrote Éléphant while living in the French Alps and working as an English Teaching Assistant with the TAPIF program. This is her first production with Rising Sun Theatre after partaking in their residency on Governor’s Island in Summer 2017. BFA Theatre/BA World Languages, SMU.

Akia Squitieri (Co-Director/Artistic Director) is an award-winning Producer, Director, and Arts Administrator. She is the Founding Artistic Director of Rising Sun Performance Company and Company Manager for the Innovative Theatre Foundation where she serves on their honorary awards committee as Sub-Committee Chairman and as an At-Large Judge. She served as the Company Manager for the international sensation, Blue Man Group at the Astor Place Theater for 10 years. Akia has received critical praise for her direction of multiple productions including “Hellcab”, “Goodnight Lovin’ Trail”, “The Last Supper”, “Crapshoot”, “Bug” & “The Glory of Living”. Past notable credits include working on staff at Horse Trade Theatre Group, serving as General Manager for FRIGID New York’s inaugural year, and returning in multiple positions for each subsequent year; as Production Coordinator for nationally acclaimed Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, overseeing the playwrights unit and INSIGHT 13 production series and on the Advisory board of the Paul Butterfield Fund & Society. She is a , recipient of the New York Innovative Theatre Awards “Founders Award” for her contributions to the organization and Off-Off Broadway Community and Two Time “Congeniality” Award Winner from the Planet Connections Theatre Festival for her community involvement. She Won Outstanding Director for The Glory of Living in last years PCTF. When not absorbed in theatre, she is an avid traveler and scuba diver. You can learn more about her work here at and

Anna Hogan (Co-Director/Associate Artistic Director) is a Texas-born and Brooklyn based director and actress. In 2017, she worked on 13 productions and received festival nominations for “Outstanding Direction of a Staged Reading” and “Outstanding use of Multimedia.” You can see her work on both stage and screen- most recently in the Nice IFF’s “Best Short Film” nominated Leigh une Femme where she has been nominated for “Best Lead Actress in a Short Film.” Recent New York credits: Three on a Match (Assistant Director, IATI Theatre), A Self-Help Guide to Killing Your Boss (Director, Alchemical Theater Studios), Hawley and Levelland (Director, RSPC’s Laboritorium), Baby Monitor (Assistant Director, Playwrights for a Cause). Anna is thrilled to be back at Planet Connections for a third year! Previous Planet Connections credits: Hold My Spot (Director, Opportunist Productions), The Glory of Living (Assistant Director, RSPC), and Helvetica (Assistant Director, RSPC).

Krissy Delahanty (Production Stage Manager) is thrilled to be working with Rising Sun and returning to Planet Connections after interning there in 2017. Recent credits: Dead Flowers as a part of Soundbites for Theatre Now New York. Henry IV and Measure for Measure (Hip to Hip Theater Company), Witch, Please (PIT), Our Lady of 121st Street (Eclipse Theater Company), Working: A Musical (Marymount Manhattan College) MMC Class of 2018.


Jessica Kreisler (Assistant Stage Manager) is a graduate of Queensborough Community College (QCC), where she studied theatre with a concentration in acting. She will continue her studies in the fall at Adelphi University to achieve her bachelor’s. Although she has mainly been onstage, she like to open up to her horizons and do backstage work as well. She has just finished working on a production of Far Away by Caryl Churchill at QCC, and had the honor of going overseas to Greece and stage managing the QCC faculties production of Sailing with Goddesses directed by Georgia McGill (2017). This is Jessica’s first time stage managing a production out of a QCC setting, and first time working with Rising Sun. Jessica is currently writing original material that explore mental illnesses and other modern discrepancies in hopes to shed a light and make a change in the theatre community.

Carolyn Becker (Assistant Stage Manager/Run Crew) is a Stage/Production Management and Costume Design intern at Rising Sun. She is currently studying at Hofstra University with a major in Drama and minors in Musical Theatre and English. Past theatre credits include: Loose Knit (Liz), Hunchback of Notre Dame (Ensemble), American Idiot (Assistant Stage Manager).



Susan Cavalcanti (Assistant Stage Manager) is a Brazilian-American Musical Theatre major at NYU Tisch’s New Studio on Broadway. Her most recent Stage Management credits are for NYU’s SHMUTZ Plan Z by Steven Holbert and as an ASM for the New Studio on Broadway’s The World in the Moon, written and directed by Orlando Pabotoy. Although also a performer, Susan is invested in being part of the creative team and is eager to spend her summer in the city enabling fantastic pieces to be created.

Monica Blaze Leavitt (Fight Director/Dialects) – Founding Artistic Member of Drama Desk Award winning Transport Group. Monica has been teaching Dialects, Voice & Diction and Accent Reduction for over 20 years. Her students range from actors to top executives of global brands. As an actress, Monica has been seen in TG’s Off Broadway productions of All the Way Home, Our Town, Requiem for William, The Audience and cul-de-sac; Heritage Repertory: Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Annelle in Steele Magnolias, and The Good Doctor.  She has created many roles in New York Theatre including Safe, Maggie’s Porch (Cherry Lane Theatre), and Maxine in Doubles Crossed. Monica played Patty in the Webseries Preggers which won Best Comedic Web series in the Independent TV and Film Festival 2014. She has been seen in many independent films including The Pandora Machine, Remedy, The Bear and Myth. Monica has also made appearances on Sex and the City, Law and Order and The Guiding Light.

Allison Crutchfield (Costume Designer). Previous Rising Sun costume designs; A Glory of Living (2017). Some favorite New York and regional design credits include: Only Yesterday, Mamma Mia, Trick or Treat, 12 Angry Men, Northern Stage VT; Loves Labors Lost, Macbeth, The New School for Drama NY; Dr. Faustus, Fault Line Theatre NY; Rent, The Tempest, York College CUNY; The Mystery of Edwin Drood (New Hampshire Theater Award: Best Costume Design), Les Miserables, Ragtime (New Hampshire Theater Award: Best Costume Design), Chicago, New London Barn Playhouse NH; Pericles, UC San Diego CA; Richard the 3rd, Trinity/ Brown Consortium RI. Allison has a M.F.A in Costume Design from the University of California, San Diego. She is an Assistant Professor of Theater at Queensborough Community College.

Jenn Burkhardt (Lighting Designer) is a NYC based lighting designer who is entering her 3rd year of NYU Tisch Scool of the Arts’ MFA Design for Stage & Film program. She has a passion for new and highly collaborative works that are thought provoking, widen a community’s perspective, and nurture the artists who create those stories. Jenn has been a part of both small, and large, fast-paced productions. Her most recent credits include: School for Husbands & The Imaginary Cuckold at NYU Tisch, designing several new works off-off broadway in Manhattan, and being a 2nd Assistant Lighting Designer for LA Opera.

Jason Karos (Board Operator and Run Crew) is a 2018 graduate of Connecticut College, where he received a B.A. in Theater and Computer Science, exploring horizons in acting, playwriting, and directing. He has trained at the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford Connecticut. He is excited to be spending his summer in New York City for his first stay longer than a day or two!




Ashley O’Neill (Run Crew) is the literary and dramaturgical intern at Rising Sun! She is an actor, director, writer, and dramaturge currently studying at NYU Tisch.



Allie McLoughlin (House Manager/Usher/Run Crew) is a directing, casting & company management intern at Rising Sun. She is a rising senior at Muhlenberg College pursuing a bachelor’s degree with a Theatre Major, concentrated in Directing and Performance Studies, and a Business minor. Through Muhlenberg, she has been given the opportunity to direct various student-written plays and staged readings, fostering a love of new play development. Allie also spent a semester abroad studying theatre in London. As a Maryland local, she has previously served as the Casting Intern at Studio Theatre in Washington D.C. and the Directing Intern for The Chesapeake Shakespeare Theatre Company. She is thrilled to join RSP for her first New York theatre experience.

Sarah Manas (House Manager/Usher/Run Crew) became a directing, casting, and arts Administration Intern) for Rising Sun Performance Company team this May on a combined track of Arts Administration with Casting and Direction! Sarah is a BA Drama Major from Hofstra University, which is not too far from her hometown in New Hyde Park, NY. Since Elementary school, Sarah has loved the theater, and has enjoyed working on both performance and production teams. Recently, Sarah completed her senior year at Hofstra, Assistant Stage Managing for two Faculty Dance Concerts. Sarah is thrilled to continue practicing her craft and begin her work as a part of the 2018 Intern Class!

Ali Basalyga (House Manager/Usher/Marketing) is the marketing and audience development intern at Rising Sun. She is a rising senior at the University of Scranton majoring in Strategic Communications with minors in Theatre and Philosophy. She is currently the Co-PR Representative for the University of Scranton Players and has acted in and worked on the production teams for several of their shows. Ali is super happy to work with Rising Sun and to spend a summer in NYC!


Gabrielle Schlein (House Manager/Usher/Intern) is a recent graduate from Connecticut College, where she received a B.A in Theater with a concentration in devised performance. She spent her entire junior year abroad living in Greece, Ireland, France, and Senegal, researching international theater and practicing French. She loves skiing and hiking in her home state of Vermont, but cannot wait to join Rising Sun in NYC this summer!


Andrew Gonzales
(Assistant Producer) Andrew has been in multiple plays throughout the city and is honored to be able to help make Éléphant happen. This is his first time assistant producing. He graduated from SMU in Dallas TX 2014 with a degree in Theatre Studies.



Raiane Cantisano (Clérèse) is an actress/singer born and raised in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), who after graduating from college came to NYC to further her education at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. In her hometown she has been seen onstage many times in major productions of plays like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the musical Hair, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Brecht’s Fear and Misery Of The Third Reich. Her most recent NYC credits include the roles of Marina and Cheryl in the acclaimed musical ms. estrada by the Q-Brothers Collective, Various Roles in Cosmicomics at the world premiere of Cereals @ The Flea, the award nominated Mariana in Dead Wives Dance el Mambo (Snipped/Cut/Tied) at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, the role of Clérèse in the originating workshop of Éléphant, Cindy in the NYC premiere of Child’s Play and the lead in the short film Narcissus, by WAY Productions. It is an honor to be starring in this beautiful piece among such incredible humans and artists, from both cast and crew. She’d like to thank her incredible family, teachers and friends for all the love and endless support in this journey. Without you none of it would have been as beautiful and filled with love. Instagram: @raianecantisano Website:

Maera Daniel Hagage (Renee)  is a Texas born/ Israeli raised Actress, Writer, Director and Producer, who set her home in NYC. She graduated the Bezalel academy of art and design in Jerusalem and completed a year long conservatory at Beit-Zvi school of performing arts. Shortly thereafter, she became a member of the Herzlia community theatre, a home and stage for the joint work of physically disabled and non-disabled actors. This passionate actress, fluent in 3 languages, is currently a proud member of Mr. John Anthony’s Acting Group.  Highlighted recent film work include: Ephemera; Thieves; Night; and A Mother’s Love. Maera is honored and thrilled to be part of this wonderful production and would like to thank RSPC and Planet Connections Theatre Festivity for this opportunity.

Maggie Kissinger (Christiane) is thrilled to be working on this beautiful script with such a talented cast and crew. She’s currently the Literary Manager for Rising Sun Performance Company and assistant director for the world premiere of Five Women, currently running at the New York Theater Festival. Previous dramaturgy credits include the world premiere of Void, by Katelynn Kenney,  The Forge: New Works Series with Quantum Dragon Theatre, and The Glory of Living with Rising Sun. Thanks to Anna and Akia for this wonderful opportunity, and to Eva for bringing this play to us and giving us an experience truly fantastique!

Ita Korenzecher (Magdith) is a New York based actress originally from Berlin, Germany. She is thrilled to reprise the role of Magdith in this beautiful play. Most recent theatre credits include “The Answers to Apathy” (Sargent Theatre), “Help Me Get Over You” at Downtown Urban Arts Festival and “Confess and Conspire” (Manhattan Rep). She recently received the NYC Indie Film and LA Shorts Platinum Best Actress Award for her work in the award winning short film “Waiting Room”. Ita would like to thank Akia, Anna, RSPC and Planet Connections Theatre Festivity for this opportunity. A special thanks to her family and friends whose love and support means everything to her. @itakoren

Laura Lamberti (Madame) hopes her willingness to mirror life as she sees it will show something else in the eye of the viewer and ultimately give something back to her fellow humans through acting. She trained extensively in this fine art at HB Studio, RADA, AADA and CTA. Past credits include Josefina in the acclaimed production of “Terranova” at NYC Fringe Festival; Tv Blindspot; feature films include “Cassanova was a woman” (Festival awards winner), “Dark Tarot”; short films Sinaptica (Festival awards winner), Brushstrokes (Festival awards winner), spokeswoman for Ragu’. To be a part of Laura’s Life as She sees It, follow her on twitter or Instagram @lawida55 and visit her website

Eric Parness (Allard/Grandhomme) is a theatre teacher, director, and actor, currently serving as a Professor of Acting and Directing at Westfield State University. Previous acting credits with Rising Sun include Carl in Glory of Living  and Agent in Helvetica. He has also performed for Oberon Theatre Ensemble, the Secret Theatre, and Resonance Ensemble. As the Artistic Director of Resonance Ensemble, he produced 20 new plays and classics, many of which he also directed. Eric has also worked extensively as a director Off-Broadway, regionally, and at educational institutions. He is a graduate of Brandeis University (BA) and Brooklyn College (MFA) and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater’s Directors Lab.

Michael Pichardo (Brothel Patron) A Lower East Side native, a graduate of Queensborough Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Performing Arts. Regional Theatre credits: The Favor (Chicago Fringe). Off-Broadway Credits: Othello (ATA) and The Last Hour (Royal Family). New York Theatre credits: The Glory of Living (PCTF/Flamboyan Theater), Child’s Play (Rising Sun/Kraine), Punk Grandpa (Frigid New York), The Skin of Our Teeth (Articulate Theatre), Allie’s Appendix (PCTF/The Paradise Factory), and Spoon River Anthology (Roy Arias Theater). Recent film credits include Judgment (short), #Lear (DM Theatrics), and the upcoming film Nightfall (Seven King Studios). He is a member of Rising Sun Performance Company and Articulate Theatre. He is a hip-hop enthusiast.

Ayesha Saleh (Aral) is a graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she studied theatre with a concentration in acting and dabbled in sound design and engineering.   This is her first production since graduating college. She had never done anything theatre or acting related before college and still feels like a newborn to the art. Her favorite role in SUNY New Paltz was Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  Ayesha is currently writing her own material and is interested in creating original content for unheard voices in the theatre and film industry.

William Serri (Jeunhomme) is a Brooklynite who acts and produces. As an actor, his most recent credits include Yosef! The Musical at The King’s Theatre and Scar Tissue at Dixon place. As a producer, his most recent productions are BOOM! By Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and a web series titled Fresh Start. The debut date of Fresh Start will depend on restrictions of festivals’ preferences. To be updated on the webseries and other performances of William Serri, please follow him on instagram @kujokat and twitter @williamserri . William Serri is currently seeking representation! Thank you for coming!

Danielle Bee Smotrich (Brothel Chorus/ Female Swing) is a passionate and bubbly actress with a range of experience in theatre and film.  Hailing from San Diego, she moved to New York to study at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently in Hidden Guardians, a web series making waves on the festival circuit.  Danielle is also a member of Rising Sun Performance Company. She is thrilled to be a part of this amazing cast and part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festival.


Recipient of 9 Planet Connections Awards and 30 PCTF Award Nominations

Founded in September of 2001, RSP is a downtown Indie (Or Off-Off Broadway) theatre company dedicated to producing ensemble work. It is run by artists for artists to allow them to create their own opportunities instead of their opportunities creating them. RSP is the full time artistic home for a wide range of theatre artists, including actors, writers, directors, designers and dancers. Each ensemble member brings their own unique training, talents and aesthetic to the group. In addition to our permanent ensemble, we have a rotating roster of local, national and international guest artists, including performers, designers, playwrights, musicians, directors and technicians who work with the company on a show-to-show basis.

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