“The Head of Richard” Program

The Head of Richard is a two-actor, 50-minute adaptation using only Shakespeare’s text from Richard III. This retelling of Richard III from a military veteran’s perspective looks at the havoc created by emotional deformity from chronic abuse and humiliation. On the eve of battle, Richard faces his mother, his life of violence, his shame, and himself.

The Head of Richard was created by Army veteran, Stephan Wolfert, awarded the 2019 Max Gabriel Award from National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) presented in grateful recognition of his outstanding ability to artistically and powerfully share his story in order to broaden the understanding of PTSD and other mental health challenges faced by our veterans.

The Head of Richard includes content that may be upsetting for some audience members, including enactments of violence: verbal abuse, murder, self-harm, and war.

Written and performed by Dawn Stern* and Stephan Wolfert*

ProducerMyah Shein
DirectorJason O’Connell
ChoreographerRomán Baca
Stage ManagerMichelle Guiot
ASMKaite Aymes
Set DesignerBrittany Vasta†
Costume DesignerRaven Ong
Lighting DesignerDawn Chiang†
Sound DesignerHao Bai
Graphic DesignerClara Jewel Moore
Crown DesignerSandra S. Knapp
Technical DirectorDrew Francis
CarpenterMarsden Francis
ElectricianAdam Gabel
House ManagerStacey Bell

*Equity Member appearing with permission of Actors’ Equity Association

†Denotes member of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829

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Director’s Notes

“The line of Shakespeare that first comes to my mind whenever I think of Richard III is, curiously enough, not a line from Richard III… It’s from Twelfth Night,” reflects director, Jason O’Connell. “In nature, there’s no blemish but the mind; None can be called deformed but the unkind.”  I’ve always thought of the character primarily in terms of his misshapen soul, rather than referencing the body. The evil within him is his deficiency. But where does that evil – that unkindness – come from? Richard’s malignancy is as much the product of the trauma he has suffered as it is the root of the trauma he inflicts. The Head of Richard offers a glimpse at the webbing of a madman’s mind and the spiders that nest there, and argues an addendum to Shakespeare’s sentiments: a spiritual deformity is the province of both the unkind and the unloved.”

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Kaite Aymes, ASM

Kaite Aymes lives in Hell’s Kitchen. She’s a sometime actor, writer and an all-time fan of DE-CRUIT.

Román Baca, Choreographer: The Head of Richard

Román Baca is a former professional ballet dancer, US Marine Iraq War Veteran, choreographer, artist, academic, and researcher, who currently lives in London. After the war, Mr. Baca co-founded Exit12 Dance Company where he is now the Artistic Director. Mr. Baca has mounted numerous productions on stage for, with, alongside, and supporting the global military community. In conjunction with his creative work Mr. Baca is also a project lead for Bravo 22, an arts, wellness, and recovery program for the UK military community, and is a PhD candidate at York St. John University’s Military Human Project investigating the military through the performing arts. Mr. Baca completed his MFA at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as a Fulbright grantee, and was the 2019 awardee of the Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture Award for his research into the dance and the military.

Hao Bai, Sound Designer: The Head of Richard / Sound Engineer: Make Thick My Blood

Hao Bai is a multidisciplinary designer in lighting, sound, video projection, and world-building (environment) for live and virtual performances. Hao’s work has been seen internationally at Asia Culture Center (South Korea), WuZhen Festival (China), in the states at Woolly Mammoth Theater(DC), TheatreWorks Hartford (CT), BCS (MD), Philadelphia Theatre Company(PA), Goodman Theatre(IL), Harvard (MA),  CAC (Cincinnati), Stanford, Jone Hall (Houston), and in New York at The Public Theatre, NYU Skirball, NYU Tisch, Bushwick Starr, La MaMa, JACK, The Flea, HERE, Performance Space New York, New Stage Theatre, 59E59, A.R.T/New York Theatres, 14 Street Y, BAAD!, Stella Adler, The Performing Garage, The Gallery Players, The Tank, etc. Recent: Virtual: Final Boarding Call (Ma-Yi Theater+WP Theater); Nocturne in 1200s (Ping Chong). Lighting: Waterboy and the Mighty World (Bushwick Starr & The Public Theatre). Projection: Electronic City (NYIT Awards). Sound: Walden (CT Critics Circle Award). Lighting & Sound: 7Mins (HERE). Lighting/Sound/Projection: Arden (The Flea). Production Design: and the grass grows (Harvard University); Where We Belong (national tours). Upcoming: Lazarus (Ping Chong). https://www.haobaidesign.com/

Stacey Bell, House Manager

Stacey Bell is an Army Vet, writer, and photographer who has been in New York for 6 years.

Dawn Chiang, Lighting Designer

Broadway: “Zoot Suit”, and co-designer for “Tango Pasion”. Off Broadway: Roundabout Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, co-designer for first two seasons of “Encores!” concert musicals at City Center. Opera: Resident lighting designer, New York City Opera. Regional: Guthrie Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory and many more. Awards: two Lighting Designer of the Year Awards (Syacuse Area Live Theatre), two Dramalogue awards, a THEA award (Themed Entertainment Association). Nominations: Maharam Design Award from American Theatre Wing, Syracuse Area Live Theatre – Lighting Designer of the Year, Los Angeles Drama Critics’ and San Francisco Bay Area Critics’ award.

DE-CRUIT, Producer

DE-CRUIT is the brainchild of Army Veteran, Stephan Wolfert, (US Army, ’86-’93, Medic & Infantry Officer). After spending two decades working with veterans, psychologists, psychiatrists and theater practitioners, he created DE-CRUIT®, the only interdisciplinary, trauma-informed, theater arts program that has been scientifically evaluated whose data shows a decrease in PTSD, symptoms of depression, psychological and physiological dysregulation, and an increase in levels of self-efficacy. DE-CRUIT program uses theater -specifically Shakespeare- to address traumatic stress and associated problems encountered by veterans as they navigate the transition from military life to civilian life.   However, working with family members of veterans, incarcerated populations, addicted populations in recovery and university students has shown the DE-CRUIT treatment method provides a controlled mechanism for civilians to access and examine charged memories as well.   The program culminates in a final presentation that includes the participants’ invited family, friends, and community members.  In 2020 DE-CRUIT was awarded the AGPA Aaron Stein Award presented for Innovative and Creative Use of Group Technique to benefit the community, especially in non-psychiatric settings.  For more on the research results and the ensuing publications please visit decruit.org/publications

Michelle Guiot, Stage Manager

Michelle Guiot (she/her) recently graduated from Miami University, where she double majored in Theatre and Media. She has been fortunate to have stage managed several Off Off Broadway productions since moving to New York City. She most recently was the Production Stage Manager for the world premiere for The Karpovsky Variations with Boomerang Theatre Company. Throughout her life she has made appearances on stage, on screen and behind the scenes.

Clara Jewel Moore, Graphic Designer

Clara Jewel Moore (She/Her) is a visual artist and designer whose work is in private collections in the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia. She earned a BFA from Southwestern University, and also studied Goya’s work at Suffolk University in Madrid. With an ongoing interest in mythology, scientific illustration and vanishing symbolic traditions – her projects range from  2-D oils, scratchboard and paper works to large scale sculptural installations. See more at: clarajewelmoore.art

Jason O’Connell, Director: The Head of Richard

Jason O’Connell is an actor, director, and playwright. His directing credits include productions at Syracuse Stage, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Playhouse on Park, and Texas Shakespeare Festival. He has directed small-cast, all-female adaptations of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in New York, as well as the World Premiere of his own adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano (co-written with Brenda Withers) at Amphibian Stage in Texas. In addition to Cyrano (in which Jason later played the title role in a co-production between Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and Two River Theater Company), Jason is also the writer of the solo shows The Dork Knight and Fat and Scant of Breath, or Stabbing at Hamlet. As an actor, Jason’s Off-Broadway credits include Judgment Day at Park Avenue Armory, Pride and Prejudice at Primary Stages, Happy Birthday, Wanda June for Wheelhouse Theater, Sense and Sensibility and The Seagull for Bedlam, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Pearl, and The Saintliness of Margery Kempe at The Duke on 42nd St. Jason won the 2014 New York Innovative Theatre award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his work as the title character in Phoenix Theatre Ensemble’s Don Juan in Hell (also cited as one of the year’s best performances by The Wall Street Journal).

Raven Ong, Costume Designer

Raven Ong (Costume Designer) was born and raised in Manila, Philippines and is now based in Connecticut, USA. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Production Design at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, School of Design and Arts in 2007 and since then designed shows for various theater companies in the Philippines. He received his MFA in Costume Design from University of Connecticut (UCONN). As a costume designer, Raven has designed productions for New York Lyric Opera at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, plays and musicals such as Waitress, Kinky Boots, Matilda and Beautiful: Carole King Musical (Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group, Manila, Philippines) and La Mama Experimental Theatre Club’s world premiere of Dying in Boulder. He presented his paper “Filipiniana: Fabrics and Silhouettes in the Transnational Journey” at the Fashion, Costume and Visual Cultures conference in Roubaix, France. Raven Ong is an Assistant Professor of Costume Design at Central Connecticut State University and a recipient of Syracuse Area Live Theatre (SALT) Award Best Costume Design of a Musical for Red House Art Center’s production of “La Cage Aux Folles”. ravenong.com

Myah Shein, Producer, Assistant Director-Choreographer: Make Thick My Blood

Myah Shein (she/her), Producer, Assistant Director-Choreographer Make Thick My Blood– Myah is a dance and theatre artist from Chicago. Currently, she serves as a producer for The Coop, and directs her own production company MSJP Creatives. Recent theater and film projects with The Coop include Terra FirmaThe Snakes (Official Selection Brooklyn Short Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival, American Black Film Festival) and Such a Shitty Time. MSJP Creatives has developed works by playwrites including James Palmer and Patricia Black, and Chana Porter, with productions at Atelier 86 and TheaterLab among others. She is founding artistic ensemble member of the award-winning Red Tape Theatre Company, where she choreographed, performed in and produced nearly 40 projects. She was also the creator and producer of the annual Chicago Fringe Artist Networking night. She was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for best choreography for The Love of the Nightingale (Joseph Jefferson award-winner Best Production). As a choreographer, theatre credits include: Folger Theatre, Trinity Rep, Asolo Rep, Waterwell Theatre Company, Gallery Players, Brown/Trinity, NYU. She also choreographed the official music video for Tallie Gabriel’s Story, produced by Swiftbird Productions. She has a background in arts marketing and served as the Interim Director Marketing at Trinity Rep. SDC Observership Class 2017. She holds degrees from University of Illinois and Columbia College Chicago.

Dawn Stern, Writer, Actor

Dawn Stern is a New York City-based AEA/SAG-AFTRA actor, teaching artist, member of the off-Broadway theatre collective The Coop, and COO of the non-profit DE-CRUIT.   Dawn built a seventeen-year television acting career which includes six pilots, three series regular gigs and over twenty-five guest star appearances. Her highlights include: a series regular on Viper, 413 Hope Street, Starhunter and Nobody -a recurring role on the Young and the Restless and notable guest star appearances including: Star Trek: Enterprise, Ally McBeal, Profiler, Beverly Hills 90210, and True Blood.  A few of her favorite guest stars include working with Damon Wayans on My Wife and Kids, Steve Harvey on the Steve Harvey Show, Wanda Sykes on Wanda at Large and Monique on The Parkers. Her film credits include: The Fugitive and Original Gangstas.   Dawn fell in love with Shakespeare at age 12 and has professionally played Kate, Lady Macbeth, Olivia, Paulina, Goneril, Elizabeth and Margaret. Dawn recently played Emma in Annapurna opposite her husband, Stephan Wolfert, for Syracuse Stage’s 2021 season and Emilia for Cincinnati Shakespeare’s 2022 production of Comedy of Errors.  She currently is Co-Chair of the Inclusion Diversity Equity Accessibility (IDEA) committee for Shakespeare Theater Association (STA). 

Brittany Vasta, Set Designer

Brittany Vasta (Set Designer) is a Brooklyn based scenic designer for live performance. Recent work includes Octet (Signature Theatre & Berkeley Rep); Beginning Days of True Jubilation and The Strangers Came Today (New Ohio); Fucking A and Aulis (Fordham); Cardboard Piano (Juilliard); Rinse, Repeat (Signature Theatre); Life Sucks (Theatre Row), Bill Irwin’s Harlequin & Pantalone (NY City Center), Happy Birthday Wanda June (The Duke), I thought I would die but I didn’t (The Tank), Sehnsucht (JACK); Gypsy (Theatre Aspen); Redwood (Portland Center Stage); Welcome to Fear City (Kansas City Repertory Theatre); August: Osage County (Resident Ensemble Players, U Del) My Name is Asher Lev (Portland Stage Company); Richard III (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ). Recent Associate Design: Chicken and Biscuits (Bway, Circle in the Square); The Green (Lincoln Center public art installation); The Lifespan of a Fact (Bway, Studio 54); Fairview (Soho Rep). Drama Desk nomination for co-set design of Octet. MFA, NYU. brittanyvasta.com | USA 829. (she/her/hers)

Stephan Wolfert, Writer, Actor

After 25 years as a professional stage actor, Stephan Wolfert,  (US Army, ’86-’93, Medic & Infantry Officer) is honored to be one of Theater Communication Group’s (TCG) 2020 Fox Foundation Acting Fellows for Distinguished Achievement. Stephan left a career in the military for a life in the theatre after seeing Shakespeare’s Richard III. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, Rhode Island. On Broadway, Stephan created and directed the military segments for Twyla Tharp and Billy Joel’s Tony-Award winning production Movin’ Out. He was an original cast member in Kate Hamil’s long running world premiere Sense and Sensibility and appeared in the acclaimed, four-actor production of Saint Joan off Broadway in New York City. Stephan also won the Syracuse Area Theater Award for best actor in Kate Hamill’s Pride & Prejudice at Syracuse Stage.  During Covid Stephan played Ulysses in Annapurna with his wife, Dawn Stern, for Syracuse Stage’s 2021 season. For the last decade Stephan has been touring his critically acclaimed, award-winning solo piece Cry Havoc! performing it over 500 times at venues across the U.S. and in seven other countries.  

Stephan also frequently writes, lectures and is interviewed for his work known as DE-CRUIT®: a program that treats trauma using Shakespeare and science. For DE-CRUIT® Stephan has co-written ten scientific journals and contributed four book chapters in the scientific field. He has also taught DE-CRUIT® at: Cornell University, Syracuse University, Norwich University, Boston College, Antelope Valley College, NYU-TISCH, Folsom Prison, Solano Prison, Fox Valley Prison, Racine Correctional Facility, and addiction recovery centers from Fort Worth, Texas to New York City. For this work he has been awarded American Group Psychotherapy Association’s (AGPA) Aaron Stein Award and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Max Gabriel Memorial Award. Stephan owes his life to the theatre community and his wife Dawn Stern.

Actors’ Equity Association
Actors’ Equity Association (“Equity”), founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional Actors and Stage Managers. Equity fosters the art of live theatre as an essential component of society and advances the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans. Actors’ Equity is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions. #EquityWorks

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Theatre Row Information

Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

All shows in Studio Theatre on 4th floor
Elevator and stairs available
The shows are all around 60 minutes run time.

Please note there is no late seating for these shows.

DE-CRUIT welcomes veterans and anyone who may have a strong response to the performance. Audience reaction is welcomed and encouraged. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to support your visit to the theater.

What You Should Know About Covid Protocols

All guests ages 5 and older must present proof of FDA or WHO authorized full vaccination to enter the building. Proof of vaccine may include the original physical copy or a clear, unobstructed photo of the CDC vaccine card; Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus; NYC Covid Safe App; or valid international proof of vaccination. All proof of vaccination must be accompanied by a valid photo ID. “Fully Vaccinated” means the performance date you are attending must be:

· at least 14 days after your second dose of an FDA or WHO authorized two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or

· at least 14 days after your single dose of an FDA or WHO authorized single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

Once a child turns 5, they will have up to 45 days from their date of birth to be fully vaccinated.

There are no vaccination or testing requirements for children under 4 and under.

Guests may present proof of vaccination on paper or mobile device. All guests 2 and older must wear a mask at all times.

There will be no exceptions to this policy. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. If you are unable to attend your scheduled performance due to the building safety policies, please contact the Box Office at boxoffice@theatrerow.org or by phone at (212) 714-2442 x45 (12pm-5pm daily). Thank you for your cooperation!

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