The lines between myth and reality become increasingly blurred in Defenders. When Iceland was threatened with invasion by Germany in WW2, the allies decide to step in. The world premiere from Pandelia’s Canary Yellow Company by Cailin Maureen Harrison, and directed by Reena Dutt, follows three American G.I.s who are shipwrecked on the remote island of Hrisey off Iceland’s northern coast. The stranded G.I.s find themselves with missing weapons, few supplies, and a broken radio. They realize they must rely on the locals for survival but, like current-day warfare, the locals fear the loss of their culture, their women and their safety with the presence of foreigners on their land. Defenders opens on November 9, with performances continuing through December 8 at The Broadwater Black Box in Hollywood. One lower-priced preview takes place on November 8.
Iceland has endured and survived waves of invaders, occupiers and pirates that have come and gone but the descendants of its original settlers are still there. It’s a land of myth where spirituality connects the population to its often harsh and unrelenting nature. In Defenders, as the mysterious history of Hrisey’s long-ago battle with pirate invaders comes slowly to light the past and the present mix and the soldiers, Icelanders, and the land itself are forced to ask just who is defending whom.
John P. Connolly (on Broadway in Pap, Big River; in LA: Only a Kingdom, Lakeboat, Ruby M, Golem, Dead Souls) portrays Geir Stirdson; Tavis Doucette (A Tale of Two Cities, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Arcadia) stars as Sergeant Frank McKinley; Una Eggerts (a native of Reykjavik Iceland, Marilyn! The New Musical! films: Gilded, Expiration Date) plays Vigdis Geirdottir; Spencer Martin (Lily and the Patty Melt Paradox, Carrie, Bonnie & Clyde) plays Private Fred LaFleur; and Bryan Porter (Clybourne Park, Cabaret, on TV: Dear White People, Real Husbands of Hollywood) plays Lieutenant Marcus Jansen.
“I am excited to explore the idea of ownership – From owning one another in times of war, to owning up to our personal histories when forced to face them head first,” exclaims Dutt. “In Defenders Mother Earth acknowledges that history, and responds in mysterious ways.”
Playwright Cailin Harrison, an American and Irish citizen, is a graduate of the USC MFA screenwriting program. Her Some of her plays that have hit the stage include “Waitless” (full length drama) which was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2015, and won the Hollywood Fringe Festival Producer’s Choice Award in 2014; It was also produced by No Strings Company in New Mexico 2018. “China Smoke” had a showcase workshop at Neo Ensemble and East West Players in 2017; “Last Swallows” held a public workshop at Fierce Backbone in 2018; “Whole Foods” and “Talk in Ten” (short plays) at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2012; “Oh Christmas Tree – Why Me?” at the MonoSlam series at Secret Rose, Hollywood in 2011; “Binding Ties” (full length drama) at Network Theatre/Man on the Moon Productions, London in 2010; “Connections” (one act) at Cheeky Maggot Theatre as a staged workshop in 2009; “Connections” (ten minute version) was part of the Short and Sweet International Festival including Manila and Hollywood, and “Time Out” was performed at the New York Fringe Festival in 2001. Defenders was originally part of a public workshop weekend production with Drive Theatre/Fierce Backbone at Son of Semele in 2016. The world premiere of Harrison’s Last Swallows is finishing up its run at The Other Space @The Actors Company.
Harrison’s past work in film and TV includes time with companies including CBS, FOX, USA, New Line, Columbia Pictures and Viacom Networks and ISSA-UK. She is currently a member of Fierce Backbone, Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, the Dramatist Guild, American A Community T and several USC women’s film organizations.
Reena Dutt’s theatre work has been seen in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. She has directed at A Noise Within in conjunction with East West Players (staged reading of Snow in Midsummer by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig), the Road Theatre (staged reading of Kissing Che by Augusto Federico Amador), and Sacred Fools (staged reading of Monkey Love by Madhuri Shekar). Prior to that she Assistant Directed for Jo Bonney at The Geffen Playhouse on Jose Rivera’s world premiere of The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona, and Dramaleague’s Jennifer Chang on the Fountain Theatre’s Los Angeles premier of Hannah and the Dread Gazebo. Dutt also directs for film and television and has an extensive producing history. Dutt is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab (New York City), Directors Lab West (Los Angeles), and a Semi Finalist for Dramaleague’s Hangar Directing Fellowship. She is a graduate of the Media Arts program at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the acting program at William Esper Studio, New York. Most important, Dutt is a city girl with a country soul who creates with a conscience, on and off screen.
The creative team for Defenders includes scenic designer David Goldstein, sound designer Jesse Mandapat and costume designer Shon LeBlanc. The production stage manager is Seira Murakami, and Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners produces.
Defenders opens on Saturday, November 9 at 8:00 p.m., with performances continuing on Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m., and Mondays at 8:00 p.m. through December 8. There is one preview performance on Friday, November 8 at 8 p.m. General admission is $20 for the preview and $30 for performances.
The Broadwater Black Box is located at 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038.
For more information and to purchase tickets, call (323) 960-5770 or go to www.Onstage411.com/defenders.