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THE SUBSTANCE OF FIRE 
by Jon Robin Baitz

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    It’s 1991 and a coup is underway at the Geldhart publishing firm. The firm’s owner, Isaac – an orphaned Holocaust survivor who came to America and made his way up from nothing – is under siege from his own children. They think he’s crazy for trying to publish a multi-volume history of Nazi medical experiments instead of a pulpy novel sure to rake in sales. But Isaac refuses to budge as his integrity clashes with his children’s commercialism. Three years later, Isaac is still reeling from his childrens’ betrayal, the world’s seeming disdain for knowledge and literature, and the lingering trauma of the Holocaust. That’s when he is faced with his greatest challenge: proving to a court-ordered psychiatrist that he isn’t insane. 

Presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. www.concordtheatricals.com

Saturday, October 14 @ 8pm - Har Zion Temple
(1500 Hagys Ford Road, Penn Valley, PA)
Sunday, October 15th @ 7pm - Har Zion Temple
(1500 Hagys Ford Road, Penn Valley, PA)

Saturday, October 21 @ 8pm - Kaiserman JCC
(45 Haverford Road, Wynnewood)
Sunday, October 22 @ 2pm - Kaiserman JCC
(45 Haverford Road, Wynnewood)

STAGEBILL

Anchor 1

THE SUBSTANCE OF FIRE

by Jon Robin Baitz

 

Directed by Jesse Bernstein

 

Presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.

 

Assistant Director/Stage Manager: 

 

CAST

Isaac Geldhart - Brooke Behmke

Marge Hackett - Zuhairah McGill 

Sarah Geldhart - Julia Natoli 

Aaron Geldhart - David Pica

 Martin Geldhart - Jamison Foreman

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Jon Robin Baitz (PLAYWRIGHT) is the author of a number of plays including The Substance of Fire, A Fair Country, Ten Unknowns, Mizlansky/Zilinsky, Three Hotels, and The Paris Letter. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Drama Desk winner, Humanitas winner, a Guggenheim and an NEA Fellow.

Mr. Baitz created the ABC drama Brothers & Sisters, and has written for West Wing. He also adapted his play The Substance of Fire for the screen, as well as the screenplay for the Al Pacino movie, People I Know. He is currently writing and producing a mini-series for HBO, entitled Cheney's War, about the selling of the Iraq Invasion by the Bush administration. He is a founding member of Naked Angels theatre company, and on the faculty of the New School's graduate drama division.

Jesse Bernstein (DIRECTOR): Jesse Bernstein is a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Speech and has over 30 years’ experience working in film, TV and theatre. He has performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival (alongside actors such as Mandy Patinkin and Denzel Washington), the Berkshire Theatre Festival, the Arden Theatre Company, Ventura Theatre Company and the Walnut Street Theatre Company. In 1999, he originated the role of Reuven in Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok’s stage adaptation of The Chosen. His TV credits include appearances on Law & Order, Veronica Mars and Days of Our Lives. Directing credits include Shipwrecked!, It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play, Gifts of the Magi, and several children’s musicals for the Walnut Street Theatre; The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged) (Cardinal Stage); Heathers: The Musical (Penn Players), Member of the Wedding (Rutgers-Camden) and more. Writing credits include several outreach plays and the solo shows Ethics of the Fathers (aka The Gangster and Grandpa) and The Scribe. Jesse wrote and directed the short film Allergy (official selection, Audience Awards and LA Comedy Shorts Fest) and wrote, produced, and starred in the short alongside Alison Brie and Liza Weil in the short film Us One Night (official selection: Williamstown Film Festival, NewFilmmakers LA). He has taught for theatres and organizations in Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia as well as at Northwestern University College, the Cherub program, and University of the Arts. Jesse is a member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA and serves on the board of the Alliance for Jewish Theatres.

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Brooke Behmke: (Isaac Geldhart) is delighted to be working with Theatre Ariel. Favorite credits include: THE TEMPEST, MARY POPPINS (Quintessence Theatre), I’LL BE SEEING YOU (Kimmel Center), HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE (Stages CCC), THE LAST WALTZ (Trocadero Theatre), MACBETH (NY Classical Theatre), McBETH-OVER 2 BN SERVED (NY Fringe Festival), RICHARD II (VA Shakespeare Festival), TWELFTH NIGHT (Baltimore Shakespeare Festival), R&G ARE DEAD, HAMLET (Colorado Shakespeare Festival), MACBETH, HENRY V, THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, (Utah Shakespeare Festival), ARCADIA (Portland Rep), among others. TV/FILM: DISPATCHES FROM ELSEWHERE, POLITICAL ANIMALS, ALPHA RIFT, MARVELOUS, as well as extensive commercial work.

Jamison Foreman (Martin Geldhart): Jamison has been working as an actor and musical director for the past 14 years. While Philadelphia is his artistic home, he has performed extensively in Washington DC, Baltimore, New York and Annapolis. He has a BFA in musical theatre from the University of the Arts, as well as an MFA in classical acting from the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Academy of Classical Acting at George Washington University. He is also a proud Shakespeare/acting professor at his alma mater UArts, as well as having taught at Drexel University and West Chester University.

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 Zuhairah McGill (Marge Hackett) is the Recipient of the 2023 Lunt-Fontanne Award, where she worked with Broadway Tony Award winning director Jerry Zaks. She originally hails from Brooklyn, New York she has studied with Uta Hagan, Ossie Davis, H. German Wilson & Barbara Ann Teer. She’s worked with: Woodie King Jr, Colman Domingo, Steve Broadnax III, Regina Taylor, Terry Nolan, Walter Dallas. She is the Founder & Producing Artistic Director of First World Theatre. Regional Theatre:
Theatre Horizon: Sandblasted, Arden Theatre: Radio Golf, Gem of the Ocean, Hedgerow Theatre: Good Grief, Arena Stage: Sojourner, Quintessence Theatre: Flyin West, Camille, Rachel, Theatre In Prospect Park: The Seagull, People’s Light Theater: DOT, New Federal Theatre: Gutta Beautiful, Most Dangerous Man in America, Negro Ensemble Company: First Breeze of Summer, Freedom Theatre: Trick the Devil, Nuyorican Poets Café: Julius Caesar Set in Africa, Wilmington Drama Theatre: Fences, Theatre of Seventh Sister: Blues for an Alabama Sky 
Awards: Barrymore Nominated: Outstanding Direction of a Play
Outstanding Choreography in a Play, Most Distinguished Director, Barrymore Insight Award, Legacy Trailblazer in Theater, Three -time winner of The DC Excellence in Black Theatre Award, 2 Time Barrymore Nomination for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play, The Black Arts for Social Change Award. She is currently developing a TV series.
www.zuhairahmcgill.com 

Julia Natoli (Sarah Geldhart) is a Philadelphia-based performer and teacher. She received her Master of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy (’18) and Professional Performance Certificate in Voice (’19) from Penn State University. Favorite regional credits include Girl in Once (City Theatre Company), Ilse Neumann in Spring Awakening (Milton Theatre), and Rosalie Mullins in School of Rock (Ritz Theatre Company). She currently serves as adjunct faculty of musical theatre voice at Rowan University and is the director of education at Tim Welch Vocal Studio. She would like to thank her family, friends, and two cats for their unending support! IG @julia.a.natoli
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 David Pica (Aaron Geldhart) (he/him) is an Actor, Text Coach, Director, Adjunct Professor. Regional credits: New Light, Hedgerow Theatre, Delaware Shakespeare, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Theater Ariel, Theatre Exile, Theatre in the X, Lantern, PAC, Azuka, Inis Nua, Tiny Dynamite, Revolution Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Clark Park, Commonwealth Classic, Quintessence Theatre Group, & Greenfield Collective.  He trained at Millikin University, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and with The Factory.is the Recipient of the 2023 Lunt-Fontanne Award, where she worked with Broadway Tony Award winning director Jerry Zaks. She originally hails from Brooklyn, New York she has studied with Uta Hagan, Ossie Davis, H. German Wilson & Barbara Ann Teer. She’s worked with: Woodie King Jr, Colman Domingo, Steve Broadnax III, Regina Taylor, Terry Nolan, Walter Dallas. She is the Founder & Producing Artistic Director of First World Theatre. 

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