The Civilians is the center for investigative theater led by Artistic Director Steve Cosson, supporting the development and production of new theater from creative inquiries into the most vital questions of the present. Since its founding in 2001, The Civilians has supported the creation of thirteen original shows produced at numerous theaters in New York and across the country. Works by the company have toured extensively to arts presenters and festivals with presentations in over forty cities nationally and internationally. The Civilians received an Obie in 2004 and the company’s work has been included in top ten lists in the “New York Times,” “The New Yorker,” and “Time Out New York.” The Civilians expands the scope of American theater and champions innovation by tackling complex and under-explored subjects. The company provides a home for a multidisciplinary group of artists and partners with regional theater and arts presenters in New York, nationally, and internationally.
Steven Cosson founded the Civilians in 2001. He worked with the company as co-writer and director of Paris Commune, produced at The Public Theater, and previously produced in La Jolla Playhouse’s Page to Stage series. He also worked with the Civilians as co-writer and director of This Beautiful City which premiered as a co-production of the 2008 Humana Festival and Studio Theatre, with productions in the 2008-2009 season at Center Theatre Group (Mark Taper Forum) and The Vineyard Theatre. He was the writer/director of the long-running hit Gone Missing which was included in “New York Times” critic Charles Isherwood’s Best of 2007 list, as well as (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch, which won the 2006 Fringe First award at Edinburgh, published by Oberon Books. He also directed the company-created Canard, Canard, Goose? Cosson’s work with The Civilians has also been produced at A.R.T., Actors Theatre of Louisville, HBO’s Aspen Comedy Festival, London’s Gate Theatre, and Soho Theatre, among many others. Cosson has directed and developed many new plays, including Neal Bell’s Shadow of Himself, Mat Smart’s 13th of Paris, Tommy Smith’s Air Conditioning, Anne Washburn’s Communist Dracula Pageant, the world premiere of Peter Morris’ Square Root of Minus One, the U.S. premiere of Martin Crimp’s Attempts on Her Life, the U.S. premiere of Sarah Kane’s Phaedra’s Love, The Time of Your Life, Serious Money, The Importance of Being Earnest, Guys and Dolls, and others. He has been a Fulbright Scholar in Colombia, a MacDowell Fellow, and Resident Director at New Dramatists.
Jim Lewis won Tony and Drama Desk nominations for Best Book for a Musical for his adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Also with Graciela Daniele, he wrote Dangerous Games and Tango Apaisionado. Other credits include Ballet Hispanico’s Nightclub (libretto); Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles (narration); and Paul Dresher’s The Tyrant(libretto), while his translations include Ionesco’s The Chairs and Ibsen’s Lady from the Sea. Mr. Lewis also served as production dramaturg for Past Forward (with Mikhail Baryshnikov); Anna Deavere Smith’s House Arrest; Lincoln Center’s Woza Afrika Festival; WASTE (Obie winner); Cymbeline (with Bartlett Sher); and Still/Here at BAM (2003) He was the program director at The American Center in Paris and a resident dramaturg for the Guthrie Theater, Second Stage Theatre, and INTAR Theatre. Mr. Lewis’ show Fela!, with Bill T. Jones, completed a sold-out run Off-Broadway at 37 Arts and moved to Broadway in 2009.
Michael Friedman is a founding Associate Artist of The Civilians, and has been the composer/lyricist for the company’s This Beautiful City , (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch, Gone Missing and Canard, Canard, Goose? He also wrote music and lyrics for Saved, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Brand New Kid, God’s Ear, The Blue Demon, and Alice in Wonderland. With Steve Cosson, he is the co-author of Paris Commune. He is also scored the ballet Love Stories for New York City Ballet’s Benjamin Millepied. His music has been heard at the New York Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, The Roundabout Theatre Co., Second Stage, Soho Rep, Theater for a New Audience, Signature, and The Acting Company. Regionally Friedman has written music for such companies as Hartford Stage, Humana Festival, A.R.T., Berkeley Rep, Dallas Theatre Center, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Portland Center Stage. Friedman’s compositions have also been performed internationally in productions at London’s Soho and Gate Theatres, and the Edinburgh Festival. Film/TV work includes “On Common Ground,” “Beloved,” “Emile Norman: By His Own Design,” “Floaters,” and “Affair Game.” He was also the dramaturg for the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Kenny Leon. He is an Artistic Associate at New York Theatre Workshop, a Princeton University Hodder Fellow, and a recipient of a MacDowell fellowship. He received a 2007 Obie award for sustained excellence.
Matt M. Morrow (Director) Since joining Diversionary, Matt has directed the World Premiere of Gordon Leary and Julia Meinwald’s musical The Loneliest Girl in the World, Georgette Kelly’s Ballast (Winner, 2017 Best New Play, San Diego Critic’s Circle Awards), the San Diego Premiere of Bash Doran’s The Mystery of Love and Sex, the West Coast Premieres of Jordan Harrison’s Amazons and Their Men, and Christopher Shinn’s Now Or Later. Matt recently directed Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine with The Old Globe/USD MFA program. Prior to joining Diversionary Theatre, Matt was the Associate Artistic Director of City Theatre Company, a LORT theatre in Pittsburgh dedicated to producing work written in the past five years. With City he directed the Regional Premiere of Jessica Dickey’s Charles Ives Take Me Home, the World Premiere of Tami Dixon’s South Side Stories (Pittsburgh Post Gazette & Tribune Review’s Top Ten of 2012), and Kim Rosenstock’s Tigers Be Still.
Matt is currently a Creative Catalyst Fellow with The San Diego Foundation and La Jolla Playhouse. He has developed new work with The Sundance Theatre Institute, The Old Globe, The Banff Centre, Center Theatre Group, American Conservatory Theater, Lincoln Center, PlayPenn, and Page 73 Productions in residence at the Yale School of Drama. He served as The John Wells Professor of Directing at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama (Graduate & Undergraduate Directing programs), and is a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. He holds a BFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University. www.mattmmorrow.com
Justin Humphres (Scenic Design) is a scenic and video designer based in San Diego, CA. His design work has been seen internationally in both the United States and Asia. As a video designer, he has created content for numerous concert tours, corporate events and Las Vegas shows. As an assistant/associate he has worked with Robert Brill, John Lee Beatty and others on various commercial, regional and Broadway projects. Recent San Diego scenic design credits include: Actually (San Diego Rep), Vietgone (San Diego Rep), and Voyeurs de Venus (Moxie). Broadway credits include: SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical (Associate Designer), Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations. (Associate Designer). Justin holds a BFA from Western Michigan University and an MFA from University of California, San Diego.www.justinhumphres.com
Elisa Benzoni (Costume Designer) is thrilled to be working again with Diversionary Theatre. Select credits include: The Loneliest Girl in the World, The Happiest Place on Earth, Homos or Everyone in America, Ballast, Mystery of Love and Sex (Diversionary Theatre), Sex with Strangers (Geffen Playhouse), The Who and The What, Our Town; Tall Girls; Brahaman/I; Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir (La Jolla Playhouse); Constellations (Old Globe); Cloud 9, Romeo and Juliet, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Reckless, Much Ado About Nothing and Measure for Measure (USD/Old Globe); The Father, How the Other Half Loves, Of Mice and Men, Travels with my Aunt, The Illusion, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The Cocktail Hour, Fox on the Fairway (Nominated for a Craig Noel Award), Chapatti, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Great Nome Gold Rush (North Coast Repertory Theatre); Men on Boats, Secret Garden, Awake and Sing, Sylvia (New Village Arts); Elisa holds a costume design MFA from UCSD. www.elisabenzoni.com
Curtis Mueller (Lighting Designer) returns to Diversionary having designed Bull in a China Shop, The Happiest Place on Earth, Cardboard Piano, Homos, Well, 2.5 Minute Ride, Lizard Boy, Manhandled, Now or Later, A Civil War Christmas, Amazons and Their Men, Man Clan, and A New Brain. Select local credits include: Withering Heights, Margin of Error (Roustabouts Theatre Company); End of The Rainbow, Quality of Life, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, I Hate Hamlet, All My Sons, Macbeth (Intrepid Theatre Company); Big River, The 1940s Radio Hour, Seascape (New Village Arts); Chess in concert, Next to Normal, Spring Awakening (Cabaret at the Merc Summer Series). Curtis has also worked extensively with Coronado School of The Arts. Curtis holds a BFA in Lighting Design from California Institute of The Arts.
Matt Lescault-Wood (Sound Design) is excited to be back at Diversionary. Previous credits include; Lizard Boy; The Moors, The Loneliest Girl in the World (Diversionary); Eurydice [2010 San Diego Critics Circle Nominee], Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Hickorydickory, ENRON, Eternally Bad, The Kid Thing, Bliss, Voyeurs de Venus (Moxie); Sweeney Todd, Cabaret, Little Shop of Horrors, A Behanding In Spokane, Man of La Mancha, Assassins, Company, Spring Awakening, Pageant, True West, Fool For Love, Sons of the Prophet, My Fair Lady, Shockheaded Peter, Spamalot (Cygnet); Evita, Roz and Ray [2017 San Diego Critics Circle Nominee], Hand To God; Black Pearl Sings, Beachtown, Fun Home (San Diego REP); Seascape, Stage Kiss, Lord of The Flies, Big River (New Village Arts); Henry V [2014 San Diego Critics Circle Nominee] (New Fortune). Matt has a Degree in Theatrical Design and Technology from SDSU.
Blake McCarty (Projection Designer) is an artist and educator, as well as the founder of Blindspot Collective, a theatre company devoted to transformative new work at the intersection of advocacy, education, and entertainment. He is thrilled to be making his Diversionary Theatre debut. Elsewhere as a designer: Spamalot, On the Twentieth Century, and The Rocky Horror Show (Cygnet); Evita and Beachtown (San Diego Rep); Shadowlands, American Rhythm, and Oz (Lamb’s Players); Cloud Tectonics, Buddy, and Return to Forbidden Planet (New Village Arts); and Sunday in the Park with George (Ion). Upcoming projects: Qulili, a documentary play about refugees based on the exact words of real people; Chasing Fear, a musical based on Turkish folklore with composer Trevor Bachman; a new play in the style of Boal’s Forum Theatre exploring the lives of non-binary and gender non-confirming youth that will tour to local schools later this year; and Angels in America with Cygnet. In addition to his work as a director and designer, Blake has developed educational programming for organizations that include The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, The New Victory Theatre, Tribeca Film Festival, and Guggenheim Museum. He holds a BFA in Film Production and an MA in Educational Theatre, both from New York University.
Taylor Todd (Stage Manager) is so excited to be back at Diversionary! Some selected technical credits include stage manager for Bachelorette (Backyard Renaissance), Tarrytown (Backyard Renaissance), Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2, & 3 (Intrepid), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Intrepid & New Village Arts), Perfect Arrangement (Intrepid), Mystery of Love and Sex (Diversionary), ART (Intrepid), Gutenberg! The Musical! (Backyard Renaissance), Woody Guthrie’s American Song (Intrepid), The Seagull (Old Globe/USD MFA), End of the Rainbow (Intrepid), Anton’s Shorts; Three Brief Comedies by Chekhov (USD), and assistant stage manager for Cardboard Piano (Diversionary), Parlour Song (Backyard Renaissance), Oliver! (Cabrillo Stage, Santa Cruz), and Anatomy of Gray (USD). Taylor graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies.
Performances run Thursdays at 7pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. More information can be obtained by calling our box office at 619-220-0097.
Low Cost Previews………….Thursday, November 8th – Friday, November 16th
First Fridays…………………..………………………………Friday, September 9th at 8pm
To say thank you to those that serve, Diversionary offers complimentary tickets. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Opening Night…………………….…………………….Saturday, November 17th, at 8pm
Pre and post show festivities – celebrate with the cast and company!
Designer Spotlight ……………………………………Thursday, November 29th at 6pm
Join us in Fritz’s Lounge before the show to meet the Design Team, see a display of the concepts used in producing the show and hear the influences and process involved. Hosted hors d’oeuvres round out a fun pre-show experience! The party starts at 6pm before the 7pm performance.
Industry Night…………………….………………………….Monday, November 26th, at 7pm
Theatre Professionals enjoy a special discount to our only Monday evening performance!
Pay-What-You-Can at the door, or $10 in advance.
Next Act!……………………..…………….Thursday, Decemeber 12th at 6pm
Join Director Executive Artistic Director, Matt M. Morrow for a discussion about the next show, World Premiere ofTHE HOUR OF GREAT MERCY by Miranda Rose Hall in Fritz’s Lounge for hosted hors d’oeuvres and a chance to chat before the show! Pre-Show reception at 6pm, performance at 7pm.