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Novenas for a Lost Hospital

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Presents
The World Premiere of:



FALL 2019

Written by Cusi Cram
With Dramaturgy by Guy Lancaster
Directed by Rattlestick Artistic Director Daniella Topol 

Presented in partnership with Village Preservation, NYC AIDS Memorial Board, and St. John's in the Village.

Starring Kathleen Chalfant 

Novenas for a Lost Hospital is inspired by those who dedicated their lives to care and those who were lost. Guided by Elizabeth Seton of the Sisters of Charity (Chalfant), the piece theatrically explores the 161-year history of the hospital. Novenas uses theater as a vehicle to remember, to honor, and to celebrate the life and impact of St. Vincent's Hospital.

The piece will begin with a prologue at St. John's in the Village and culminate with an epilogue in the streets of the West Village and ending at the AIDS memorial on the former site of St. Vincent's Hospital.

Novenas dramaturg Guy Lancaster writes: "St Vincent's Hospital was started in a rented house on East 13th St. in 1849 by four nuns from the Sisters of Charity during one of the cholera epidemics which periodically swept through the city in the 19th century. It was the first Catholic hospital in Manhattan. Survivors of disasters such as the sinking of the Titanic, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and 9/11 were treated in the hospital after it moved to its eventual site on 7th Avenue in 1856. But the central mission of St Vincent's was to provide medical care to generations of people living on the West Side. A devastating new plague, HIV/AIDS, would profoundly affect the institution and the surrounding neighborhood from the 1980s onwards as the hospital became a center for AIDS research and treatment. By the time St Vincent's closed its doors on April 30, 2010, 3500 employees had lost their jobs. The last Catholic hospital in Manhattan was replaced by a luxury condo development."

Novenas for a Lost Hospital was commissioned by The New York State Council on the Arts with the Support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo & The New York Legislature, and was developed at Space at Ryder Farm. Production support is provided by The Still Point Fund and the Venturous Theater Fund of Tides Foundation.


CUSI CRAM (Playwright): Cram’s plays have been produced by LAByrinth Theater Company, Primary Stages, The Denver Center, South Coast Repertory, The Williamstown Theater Festival, New Georges, and on stages large and petite all over the country. She has written on numerous television programs for both kids and adults and been nominated for three Emmy Awards. She is currently an Assistant Arts Professor in the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing at NYU. She has lived on West 11th street for over 25 years.

GUY LANCASTER (Dramaturg) is a writer, researcher, independent scholar and dramaturg. Novenas for a Lost Hospital draws on his passion for exploring the borders between architecture, history, performance, and memory in New York City. He recently excavated similar issues in relation to the Flatiron building, researching and writing a public art proposal for Sage Coombe Architects. The Snowclone project in Madison Square Park was chosen as a finalist for Van Alen Institute and Flatiron B.I.D. Plaza Holiday Design Competition. He last worked with Cusi Cram on The Happiness Project (Primary Stages). He has written for the WGBH animated children’s series, “Arthur”, and for the NBC/Time Life Series “Lost Civilizations” and worked at The New York Observer.  As a New Yorker he was delighted to be the voice of Herman Melville in Jennifer Callahan’s documentary The Bungalows of Rockaway. He has been a proud Village resident for almost 30 years.

DANIELLA TOPOL (Director) is the Artistic Director of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.  World-premiere productions include: Martyna Majok’s Ironbound (Rattlestick; Roundhouse; Steppenwolf’s First Look, NY Times Critics’ Pick), Jessica Dickey’s Charles Ives Take Me Home (Rattlestick) and Row After Row (Women’s Project), Cori Thomas’s  When January Feels Like Summer (Ensemble Studio Theatre/P73/Women’s Proj; NY Times Critics’ Pick), Rachel Bonds’s  Five Mile Lake (South Coast Rep), Sheila Callaghan’s Dead City (New Georges) and Lascivious Something (Women’s Project),  Rajiv Joseph’s Monster at the Door (Alley Theatre), Tony Meneses’s Guadalupe in the Guest Room (Two River), Catherine Treischmann’s How the World Began (South Coast Rep and Women’s Project), Lloyd Suh’s Jesus in India (MaYi and Magic). Topol has been the Artistic Program Director of the Lark Play Development Center, New Works Program Director of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and Associate Producing Director of City Theatre.

KATHLEEN CHALFANT (Elizabeth).BROADWAY: Angels in America (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), Racing Demon, Dance With Me. OFF-BROADWAY: Wit (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, Connecticut Critics Circle, and Obie Awards), For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday, A Walk in the Woods (Drama Desk nomination), Talking Heads (Obie Award), Nine Armenians (Drama Desk nomination), Henry V (Callaway Award). LONDON & LOS ANGELES: Ovation Awards for Wit and Red Dog Howls. FILM: Isn’t it Delicious?, R.I.P.D., Lackawanna Blues, Perfect Stranger, Kinsey, Laramie Project, Random Hearts. SELECT TELEVISION “High Maintenance,” “The Affair,” “The Strain,” “The Americans,” “House of Cards,” “The Book of Daniel,” “One Life to Live”; “Madam Secretary,” “Elementary. AWARDS: 1996 OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence, 2004 Lortel Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of Professional Women, and the 2018 Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement. She received the Drama League and Sidney Kingsley Awards and an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Cooper Union.

Later Event: April 22
The Siblings Play