Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



In a land rich with history, two women are thrown together by a diplomatic crisis, while thirty years later a chance encounter by their daughters leads to revelations of a shared past in The Persian Quarter by Kathleen Cahill, directed by Kyle Fabel, at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, September 15 – October 9, 2011. Two stories woven together by the poetry of Rumi, The Persian Quarter is an invigorating drama about the power words have to reveal truths as well as hide them, and ultimately to bridge a cultural divide. Tickets are on sale now and available online at or by calling 978-654-4MRT.

The cast of The Persian Quarter features Barzin Akhavan (Rumi/Pool Attendant/Persian Man), Jason Kolotouros (Mike/Kermit Roosevelt), Christina Pumariega (Shirin/Azedeh), and Beth Wittig (Ann Gillies/Emily Gillies), all in their MRT debuts. Director Kyle Fabel has a long history at MRT as both a director (The Four of Us, Fabuloso) and an actor (The Homecoming, A View of the Harbor). The creative team for The Persian Quarter is Campbell Baird (Scenic Design), Theresa Squire (Costume Design), Brian Lilienthal (Lighting Design) and J Hagenbuckle (Sound Design).

“I feel very honored to direct the MRT debuts of the wonderful playwright Kathleen Cahill, and all four outstanding cast members,” said director Kyle Fabel “It is a fascinating, illuminating play and the audience will be sure to find it a feast for the eyes, ears and brain.”

The Persian Quarter was a 2010 Edgerton New Play Award recipient, and made its world premiere earlier this year at Salt Lake Acting Company. On her inspiration of writing The Persian Quarter, playwright Kathleen Cahill stated, “Traditionally, in Iran, they look to their poets to tell them the truth. They believe poetry can get at a deeper level than history and politics. I wrote a play about poetry, politics, memory and the country of Iran, not because I’m an expert on any of these things, but because poetry and Iran – and our political history with Iran – are in the news so much. I felt as if I was having pebbles thrown at my window asking me to wake up and write about it, write about myself, my experience of living in Iran many years ago, Iran’s poetic soul, my own love of poetry – use it all (to) tell the truth, but as Emily Dickenson says, tell it slant.”

Kathleen Cahill

Kathleen Cahill has received many awards for her work, including the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, a Connecticut Commission on the Arts Playwriting Award (twice), a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Award, a Rockefeller Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts New American Works Grant, and a Drama League Award. Her plays include The Still Time (Georgia Rep/Porchlight Theatre, Chicago), Women Who Love Science Too Much (Porchlight), Henri Louise And Henry (Cleveland Public), Slam (Plan-B Theatre, UT), and the screenplay Downtown Express, a film for David Grubin Productions in NY. With composer Michael Wartofsky she wrote the book and lyrics for The Navigator and Friendship Of The Sea; with Deborah Wicks Lapuma she wrote Dakota Sky (Olney Theatre), Water On The Moon (Signature Theatre readings), and Captivated (Kennedy Center New Works Festival). Other musical works include the opera Clara, Fatal Song, and A Tale Of Two Cities: Paris And Berlin In The Twenties (all Maryland Center for the Performing Arts). Her play Charm (directecd by Meg Gibson) received its world premiere at SLAC last season and went on to Kitchen Dog Theatre in Dallas and Orlando Shakespeare.


Barzin Akhavan (Rumi/Pool Attendant/Persian Man) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. New York: Aftermath, New York Theatre Workshop/International Tour. Regional: The Kite Runner, San Jose Repertory Theatre; Arizona Theatre Company; Arabian Nights, Berkley Repertory Theatre; Lookingglass Theatre Company; Arena Stage; Lidless and Inana, Contemporary American Theatre Festival; Vestibular Sense, Mixed Blood Theatre; Poetry of Pizza, Virginia Stage; Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Seattle Repertory Theatre; Loves Labors Lost, Macbeth, Three Musketeers, Colorado Shakespeare Festival; Measure for Measure, Seattle Shakespeare Company; Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. Film: Anniversary, Jew of Malta. Television: Law and Order Criminal Intent. Special note: As a Persian immigrant he wishes the audience “Noosheh Janitoon” as you feast on Kathleen Cahill’s wonderful play.

Jason Kolotouros (Mike/Kermit Roosevelt) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. New York: Her Majesty the King, HERE Center; Blue Window, MCC; Killing Hand, EST Marathon; Home Section, Lincoln Center Drama League. Regional: Messugah, McCarter Theatre; Macbeth, Servant of Two Masters, Venture Theatre. Television: Law and Order, The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie, Rescue Me, Delocated, Sex & the City, Blue Bloods. Film: Bounty Hunter, Bride Wars, College Road Trip, Man on a Ledge.

Christina Pumariega (Shirin/Azadeh) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. Off Broadway: Enfrascada, Clubbed Thumb; The Witch of Edmonton, Red Bull Theater; Catch 22, Lucille Lortel Theatre; All Eyes and Ears, Lion Theatre/INTAR. Regional: The 39 Steps, Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hartford Stage; The Miracle at Naples, Huntington Theatre; Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare Theatre Company. London: Play for an All White Stage, The Old Vic Theatre. Film: Notes on Being Young, The Funeral. Education: MFA, NYU Graduate Acting.

Beth Wittig (Ann Gillies/Emily Gillies) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. New York: Regular appearances at Ensemble Studio Theatre. Regional: THIS, Blackbird, Hartford Theaterworks; A Moon for the Misbegotten, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pittsburgh Public Theater; Mezzulah 1946, Florida Stage. Awards: Kelly Kreiderman Award for Excellence in Acting; Connecticut Critics Circle Best Debut Performance. Education: MFA, Rutgers University.

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