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Triangle Downtowner Magazine

Burning Coal Theatre Company presents "What If If Only" and "Air"

 Burning Coal Theatre Company is excited to present its production of What If If Only (US premiere) and Air (world premiere) by Caryl Churchill, directed by Ana Radulescu, June 9 - 26, 2022.  This production, directed by Burning Coal’s Associate Artistic Director, will be performed at Burning Coal’s home, the Murphey School, 224 Polk Street, Raleigh, NC 27604.  Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. All tickets are $30 or $15 for students.  Tickets and additional information can be found at or by calling the box office at (919) 834-4001.
About What If If Only and Air
These two short plays, the most recent plays by, arguably, the world’s greatest living female playwright, Caryl Churchill, run 20 minutes and 15 minutes, respectively.  What If If Only premiere in the Fall of 2021 at London’s Royal Court Theatre, directed by James MacDonald.  Air was originally presented as a ‘zoom play’ and has not had a live presentation prior to Burning Coal’s production.  What If If Only introduces us to a middle-aged man (Mark Filiaci, who recently did Burning Coal’s A Number).  He is clearly in mourning.  But for what, or whom?  A woman appears to him (Jenn Suchanec, from Burning Coal’s Pentecost).  She attempts to talk to him about his despair.  Then a child appears, demanding to be heard.
In Air we meet a person (four people?) who are all trying to come up for Air.  Almost as if there wasn’t enough to go around.  Will they find their voice?  Or will they sink, without a trace?  Air was originally presented in May 2020 as part of the ‘Lockdown Plays’, directed by Wilf Scolding and starring Lydia Wilson and Tom Mothersdale.  Burning Coal’s cast will include Maxine Eloi (from Burning Coal’s Ashe in Johannesburg).
About Caryl Churchill
Widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest living playwrights, Churchill has held to her fierce political and artistic beliefs for decades, shunning the easy money of Hollywood for a life in the theatre.  She is deeply interested in form, and how it affects storytelling.  Her works include such classics as Top GirlsCloud 9Mad ForestA NumberSerious MoneyThe SkrikerFar AwayThree Birds Alighting on a FieldA Light Shining in BuckinghamshireSeven Jewish Children and Love and Information.  When she wrote What If If Only in the summer of 2021, she emailed the script to her friend, Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director at the Royal Court in London.  Vicky read it and new she needed to do it right away.  Fortuitously, the play scheduled to run at the Court’s mainstage in October 2022 required minimal scenery, so Featherstone hatched the idea of doing a 6 pm performance of Churchill’s twenty-minute play, prior to the 7:30 pm curtain for the previously scheduled show.  The play was a sell-out and garnered the best reviews Ms. Churchill has seen since A Number.
About Ana Radulescu 
Ana is currently Associate Artistic Director for Burning Coal Theatre. She has had the pleasure of assisting Anne Bogart on the SITI Company workshop process of Aaron Poochigian’s translation of Euripides’ Bacchae in addition to assisting directors Jerome Davis, Sanaz Ghajar, Preston Lane, Jack Tamburri, Sarah Hankins, Cynthia Henderson, Josephine Hall, Wm. Perry Morgan, and David Schram. She is currently the Associate Artistic Director at Burning Coal Theatre Company.  Select directing credits include Dennis Kelly’s Girls & Boys (Burning Coal Theatre Company), Blake Taylor’s H.A.R.T. (National Theatre of Antarctica & Pig Iron Theatre Company), Sondheim and Lapine’s Into The Woods (University of Pennsylvania), Prageeta Sharma and Kate R. Morris’ On The Roof, In The Tombs (Burning Coal), Susan Glaspell’s The Verge (Triad Stage), John Ford’s Tis’ Pity She’s A Whore (Greensboro College), George Orwell’s Animal Farm (Burning Coal), Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On (Skydive Productions), Martin Moran’s The Tricky Part (Greensboro College), Margaret Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit (Hangar Theatre), and Edward Albee’s The Death of Bessie Smith (Greensboro College). She has also directed and developed multiple new works including the world premiere reading of Kallan Dana’s Playdate (National Theatre Institute), Hayley St. James’ for Lenora, or Companions (Women’s Theatre Festival), Arielle Boucher, Julia Donnell, Dylan Hoffman, & Grace Rodolvsky’s co-devised Drip (National Theatre Institute), Madison Miller’s Spencer (Kennedy Center), and the world premiere reading of Ben Habel’s The Dungeon Bros (National Theatre Institute).  Ana is a member of the Dramatist Guild as well as having served as the Young Ambassador for North Carolina representation within the Dramatist Guild. She is a directing alumnus of Greensboro College, the National Theater Institute, SITI Company Anne Bogart, Hangar Theatre Lab, and Kennedy Center Directing Intensive. She has studied with Anne Bogart and SITI Company, Debate Society, Wilma Theatre, Elena Kuzina, Rachel Jett, Gare St. Lazare and (London) Complicité.