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An Oak Tree

Written by Tim Crouch
Directed by Joe Canuso
February 14, 2019 — March 12, 2019

Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street

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Featuring Pearce Bunting

An Oak Tree is a darkly comic and moving play about loss, the power of suggestion, and the magic of the mind. A parent loses a child, a stage hypnotist loses his mojo, nothing is what it is. It’s like they’re in a play – but they don’t know the words. Theatre Exile favorite Pearce Bunting is joined by a new actor each night, who walks on stage having neither seen nor read a word of the play they’re in… until they’re in it. A breathtaking performance exploring a unique relationship – between a hypnotist and his subject, between one actor and another, and between an audience and the play itself.

Opening Night Sponsors: The Kelly Group at Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, Paradiso Restaurant, Deb Miller

There will be a new second actor every performance including Taysha Canales, Jennifer Childs, Leonard Haas, Catherine Slusar, and Brian Anthony Wilson.


“It is like watching your own heart being mugged. You know exactly how it is happening, but you still can’t prevent it.”

The Guardian

“…director Joe Canuso weaves the pieces together with the raw suspense of mutual discovery between actor and audience.”

Alaina Johns, Broad Street Review

“…the production of An Oak Tree I saw at Theatre Exile will not be the production you see.”

Alyssa Biederman, Broadway World.

“It’s clever for Theatre Exile to mark the debut of its new theater — in its unrecognizably rehabbed South Philadelphia location — with a show both epitomizing and interrogating the magic of transformation.”

Julia M. Klein, The Inquirer

“From Theatre Exile: Is ‘An Oak Tree’ real or artificial?”

Howard Shapiro, WHYY


“South Philly’s Theatre Exile finds bargain-basement home right where it started”

Peter Crimmins, WHYY

“Coming up in Philly theater: Theatre Exile comes home to South Philadelphia” 

Cameron Kelsall, Broad Street Review

The Times of Chester County – Denny Dyroff

RepRadio Interview with Deborah Block

Pearce Bunting (The Hypnotist)
Pearce Bunting is a Philadelphia native and repeat offender, sentenced to life in Minnesota, aged (like cheese) character actor and Joe Canuso’s houseboy. He acts loudly, sings a little and still hasn’t learned how to play the banjo. Pearce’s Philly credits include Killer Joe, Lieutenant of Inishmore, Blackbird, A Behanding in Spokane, Annapurna and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Theatre Exile); A Doll’s House (Jo Strømgren Kompani/Fringe Arts); Road, Quartet, Under The Whaleback (The Wilma); Coyote On A Fence, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Arden); Macbeth, Julius Caesar (and many others) at People’s Light; Endgame, The Wild Duck, Hamlet and Pink Melon Joy (Big House). Since moving to Minnesota in 2010, Pearce has worked with The Open Eye Figure Theatre, The Children’s Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, Interference Arts, Theatre Latte Da, The Playwrights Center, Workhaus and The History Theatre, most recently as LBJ in All The Way and The Great Society. L2S&M, Weems, and big thanks to all the exiles.

Joe Canuso (Director)
Joe Canuso is the Founding Artistic Director of Theatre Exile and has directed many of their shows including Tommy and Me, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, Annapurna, A Behanding in Spokane, That Pretty Pretty, Mr. Marmalade, Red Light Winter, The Gin Game, Burkie, and Belmont Avenue Social Club, as well as the world premieres of Rizzo, Last Call, Amputation Nation, Cryptome, Big Blonde, Live at the Apollo Diner, The Frankenharry Plays, and Lost Girls. He was nominated by the Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Direction of a Play three times and was named Best Director in 2009 by The Philadelphia Weekly for Blackbird. He was nominated as Best Director for a Phindie Award for The North Plan in 2013 and in 2015 and won last year for Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. He was part of Exile’s Barrymore Award winning ensemble for Glengarry Glen Ross in 2007. And he has performed internationally in London, Prague and throughout Italy. For Trish who makes the magic.

Samantha Dugan (Stage Manager)
Samantha Dugan is so excited to be a part of the Theatre Exile family! After working at sea with Royal Caribbean International, she’s happy to be back on dry land. Some favorite recent credits include Completeness (Theatre Exile), As You Like It (Saratoga Shakespeare), and Passage (The Wilma Theater).

Courtney Banks (Production Manager)
This is Courtney’s second year with Theatre Exile and first year as production manager. She has been involved as the assistant production manager of Theatre Exile for productions of Ideation and Really. She also works as a freelance stage manager working at companies such as Theatre Horizon and The Santa Fe Opera.

Colin McIlvaine (Scenic Designer)
Colin is a Philadelphia-based, Barrymore nominated scenic designer named this season as one of American Theatre Magazine’s 20 People to Watch. Recent credits include: Ella (Delaware Theatre Company), Salt Pepper Ketchup (Interact Theatre). Colin’s recent associate design credits include: Thunderbodies (Soho Rep), Pipeline (Lincoln Center). In addition to his freelance career, Colin lectures at The University of the Arts and Temple University. B.A. University of Maryland; MFA Scenic Design Temple University. www.colinmcilvaine.com

Katherine Fritz (Costume Designer)
Glad to be back in Exile. Katherine is a costume designer, writer, and educator. Recent design work at Signature Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, Theatre Exile (Tommy and Me, Ideation, Lost Girls, Rizzo, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Annapurna, The North Plan), Act II Playhouse, InterAct Theatre Company, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective (Resident Designer, 7 seasons), among many others. As a writer, her work on her blogs Ladypockets and I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog has been critically acclaimed and read by millions. Publications include The New York Times, The Washington Post, American Theatre Magazine, and MTV Style. Last year, Katherine raised over $72,000 for education-based charities in a viral political stunt to “buy” her senator’s vote. Katherine was a 2015 and 2017 finalist for the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist, teaches at University of the Arts and Montgomery County Community College, and is the managing director of the Pennsylvania Theatre Institute, a new summer program for young artists in Chester County. katherinefritz.com and www.pennsylvaniatheatreinstitute.com for more.

Thom Weaver (Lighting Designer)
At Exile: over a dozen productions including Buzzer, The Whale, and Annapurna. His work has been seen at NYSF/Public Theatre, Pilobolus, Roundabout Theatre, Primary Stages, Signature Theatre (NY), Arden, Wilma, PTC, Lantern, New Paradise Laboratories, Walnut, CenterStage, Huntington Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare, Syracuse Stage, Milwaukee Rep, Shakespeare Theatre, Asolo, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Williamstown, Folger Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, Roundhouse Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Hangar, Spoleto Festival, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, and Yale Rep among others. 4 Barrymore Awards (25 nominations), 4 Helen Hayes nominations, 2 Jeff Awards, and 2 AUDELCO Awards. Co-Founder of Die-Cast with Brenna Geffers and a member of Wingspace. Education: Carnegie-Mellon and Yale. He/Him.

Michael Kiley (Sound Designer and Original Music)
Original work: Close Music for Bodies (FringeArts Festival), As The Eyes of the Seahorse (HERE Arts Center), Kuerner Sounds (Brandywine River Museum),With Happiness for You, World (American Composers Forum),The Empty Air, Animina and Grindstone Devotional (GPS controlled installations via iTunes, Google). Theatrical work: The Gap (Azuka Theatre, Barrymore Award Winner), The Invisible Hand (Theatre Exile, Barrymore Award Winner), Mr Burns – A Post Electric Play (The Wilma Theatre), Ludic Proxy (The Play Co.), As You Like It, Hamlet, R&G Are Dead (The Acting Company), John, Stinky Cheese Man (Arden Theatre Company). Dance work: Thank You for Coming: Attendance(Faye Driscoll), Otro Teatro (luciana * The Shame Symposium, The Vulgar Early Works(Chelsea and Magda).

Justin Rose (Assistant Director)
Justin is a Philadelphia based performer and director. Recent acting credits include Completeness (Theatre Exile), Let the Dog See the Rabbit (Lightning Rod Special), Always Coming Soon: The Future (Brat Productions), 99 Breakups (Pig Iron Theatre Company), The Douglas/Poins in Henry IV (Shakespeare in Clark Park & Team Sunshine), and The Balladeer in The West (Alex Bechtel, producer/director). Assistant Director Geoff Sobelle’s The Object Lesson (BAM), and An Oak Tree (Theatre Exile). He directed former Cirque du Soleil juggler Greg Kennedy’s Theorem (Philly Fringe). He was a Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of The Candidatos, a two-man theatre company that performed their most popular show, I’m Sorry & I’m Sorry, at the New York Clown Theatre Festival, Dublin Fringe (runner-up for Best of Fest), and in St. Louis, Minneapolis (Best Show), and Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Advanced Performance Training Program and the University of Iowa. He is a certified yoga teacher and anatomy instructor specializing in movement analysis.

Tim Crouch (Playwright)
Tim is an OBIE award-winning British playwright and theatre maker. He was an actor for many years before starting to write – and still performs in much of his work. His plays for adult audiences include My Arm (Prix Italia, 2004), England – A Play for Galleries (Fringe First, Herald Angel and Total Theatre Award, 2007), An Oak Tree (OBIE, 2007), The Author (a Royal Court Theatre commission, winner of a Total Theatre award and the John Whiting Award, 2010), What Happens to the Hope at the End of the Evening (Almeida, 2013) and Adler & Gibb (a Royal Court Theatre co-commission with the Center Theatre Group, LA, 2014).

He has also written for younger audiences, including Shopping for Shoes (Brian Way Award for best young person’s play, 2007) and a series of five plays inspired by Shakespeare’s lesser characters – I, Shakespeare. I, Cinna (the poet) was commissioned and produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 2012 and was nominated for the Writers Guild of Great Britain’s award for Best Play for Younger Audiences. I, Malvolio played at the New Victory Theatre on 42nd Street, NYC, in January 2013 and continues to tour extensively around the world. For the RSC Tim has edited and directed The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear – for young audiences. His production of King Lear played at the Park Avenue Armoury, NYC, in 2012 and was filmed for New York City’s Department of Education. Tim has worked as a writer on other projects including May for Probe dance company and Cadavre Exquis for the Dutch company Kassys, in collaboration with the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma and Nicole Beutler. Tim tours his work extensively – both nationally and internationally. Tim Crouch: Plays One is published by Oberon Books.

His most recent play Beginners, written and directed by Tim, opened at London’s Unicorn Theatre in 2018 to rave reviews and is nominated for an OFFIE in the Best Production For Young People (Ages 8-12) category. His first TV series, Don’t Forget the Driver, is currently in production. It is co-written with Toby Jones and will air on BBC Two.

Second Actor Schedule 

February 14 Brian Anthony Wilson*
February 15
Jenna Kuerzi
February 16
Benjamin Camp
February 17
Jennifer Childs*
February 19
Lindsay Smiling*
February 20
Grace Gonglewski*
February 21
Amy Smith
February 22
Dito van Reigersberg*
February 23
Zosia Mamet*
February 24
Evan Jonigkeit*
February 27
Emmanuelle Delpech
February 28
Makoto Hirano
March 1
Catharine Slusar*
March 2
Maggie Siff*
March 3
Leonard C. Haas*
March 4
Amanda Schoonover*
March 6
Jennifer Kidwell*
March 7
Carlo Campbell
March 7
John Jarboe*
March 8
Justin Jain*
March 9
Paul Giamatti*
March 10
Julianna Zinkel*