Save $10 with New Summer Play Lab Ticket Bundle

Free Creative Movement Community Workshop May 28

ANCRAM, NY [May 19, 2022] – Ancram Opera House in Ancram, NY, starts its 2022 Summer Play Lab Series May 27-29 with a work-in-progress presentation of songs by the artists of SUNWATCHER, a Noh-inspired piece directed by Nana Dakin, with music by Tidtaya Sinutoke and book and lyrics by Isabella Dawis. The Summer Play Lab residency provides theater artists of all practices a space to develop innovative new performances and connect with the community in meaningful ways.

A new Summer Play Lab  (SPL) Bundle ticket purchase gets tickets to one performance each of SUNWATCHER and Celeste Lecesne’s POOF!, which runs July 8-10, for just $30 – a $10 savings off of tickets purchased individually. This offer is only good through the run of SUNWATCHER, so buy now and save.

“The SUNWATCHER Team was a part of our 2021 Summer Play Lab, and we invited them back this year to continue development on this innovative, multi-layered piece,” AOH co-director Jeffrey Mousseau explained. “We recognize that complex works need extended time frames in order for the projects to come into fruition.”

An experimental chamber musical inspired by classical Noh theatre, SUNWATCHER intertwines the story of two women — the astronomer and “hidden figure” Hisako Koyama (1916-1997), and the Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu.

Hisako was a self-taught solar observer who drew the sun in painstaking detail every day for 40 years, a landmark achievement that ranks among the likes of Galileo. SUNWATCHER celebrates this under recognized Asian woman in science and her extraordinary dedication to ordinary observation.

In World War II Tokyo, despite the threat of firebombing from the US, Hisako looks through her telescope every day and sketches the spots on the sun’s surface. Her observations lead her to the sun goddess Amaterasu, a powerful deity besieged by her violent brother. Hisako’s experience of war collides with creation mythology, as both goddess and mortal are tested by tragedy and despair.

Work in progress showings of SUNWATCHER are scheduled for Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28 at 8 pm, and Sunday, May 29 at 3 pm at the Ancram Opera House, 1330 County Route 7 in Ancram, NY.  The $20 admission  supports the Summer Play Lab residency program. 

The SUNWATCHER Team will also be leading a free Creative Movement Workshop at AOH on Saturday, May 28 from 10 am-noon. Director Nana Dakin will guide participants through a series of simple exercises to awaken physical awareness. Next, the artists will talk about their creative process and the inspiration for SUNWATCHER, including scientific information about the Sun and sunspots. Composer Tidtaya Sinutoke and librettist Isabella Dawis will share some of the music they created based on this sun data. Participants will then be guided by Dakin on how to use these scientific facts and musical material as inspiration to create their own one-of-a-kind SUNWATCHER movement. Enrollment is limited and registration is required. 

To purchase tickets, a SPL Bundle, workshop registration, and more information visit


Summer Play Lab work-in-progress showing of songs from


Music by Tidtaya Sinutoke

Book and lyrics by Isabella Dawis 

Directed by Nana Dakin

Fri, May 27 at 8 pm

Sat, May 28 at 8 pm

Sun, May 29 at 3 pm

at AOH, 1330 County Route 7, Ancram 12502

Tickets: $20 each; SPL Bundle for $30 buys a ticket each for SUNWATCHER and POOF!

(518) 329-0114

Free Community Workshop

Creative Movement Workshop

Saturday, May 28 from 10 am-noon

Enrollment limited; Registration required

(518) 329-0114


Nana Dakin (she/her) is a queer Thai-American director of new work, classics and devised performance based in NYC. Her work pursues social equity by examining the way culture is constructed and unsettling dormant biases. Upcoming: LOST COAST (The Playwrights Realm INK’D Festival) and MAMMELEPHANT (Superhero Clubhouse/122CC). Recent: PASSAGE (University of North Carolina School of the Arts), SORRY/NOT SORRY (Ars Nova ANT Fest), SUNWATCHER (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Global Forms Festival, Ancram Opera House Play Lab, Civilians FINDINGS Series), LOVE LETTER TO A SEED (Clubbed Thumb Winterworks), WHITE PEARL (Royal Court Theatre), an all-women and non-binary production of Shakespeare’s RICHARD III (Lenfest Center for the Arts). She has developed new work at Ensemble Studio Theatre, NYTW, The Song Collective, The Tank and Columbia University’s International Play Reading Festival. MFA Theatre Directing: Columbia University. 

Isabella Dawis (she/her) is a Filipina-American playwright and performer. As a librettist and lyricist, she is the recipient of the 2022 Kleban Prize, the 2021 Fred Ebb Award, and the 2020 Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award. Isabella currently holds a 2021-23 Composers and the Voice Fellowship with the American Opera Project. Her musicals written with composer Tidtaya Sinutoke include HALF THE SKY (5th Avenue Theatre Digital Radio Play/First Draft Commission, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Theater Mu’s New Eyes Festival, Theater Latté Da’s NEXT Festival) and SUNWATCHER (Civilians’ R&D Group, Goodspeed’s Writers Grove, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Ancram Opera House Play Lab, Tofte Lake Center). Isabella’s writing has been supported by the Primary Stages Rockwell Scholarship, the Kurt Weill Foundation’s Lotte Lenya Songbook, Musical Theatre Factory, Coalition of Asian American Leaders, and more. B.M. summa cum laude, piano performance, University of Minnesota, with vocal study at New England Conservatory.

Tidtaya Sinutoke (ฑิตยา สินุธก) (she/her) is a Thailand born, NYC-based composer. Composition credits include HALF THE SKY (The 5th Avenue Theatre’s First Draft Commission & 20/21 Digital Season, Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Richard Rodgers Award finalist); SUNWATCHER (The Civilians R&D Group, Weston Playhouse’s Songs for Today, Ancram Opera House Play Lab, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Global Forms Festival); and DEAR MR. C (NYFA’s City Artist Corps Grants, Polyphone Festival). She was awarded the 2017 Jonathan Larson Grant, the 2020 Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award, the 2021 International Theatremaker Award and the 2021 Fred Ebb Award. Her works have been supported by the American Opera Project, Composer-Librettist Studio at New Dramatists, Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, Johnny Mercer Writers Grove at Goodspeed Musicals, Robert Rauschenberg Residency, EtM Con Edison Composer-in-Residence, MTF’s Makers Cohort, and the Kurt Weill Foundation. A proud member of ASCAP, the Dramatists Guild, Maestra, MUSE, and Thai Theatre Foundation. MFA: NYU.


The 2022 season at the Ancram Opera House is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.


The Ancram Opera House in southern Columbia County, NY,  is an intimate showcase for fresh, contemporary work by visionary theater and musical artists where audiences can connect with performers in immersive, immediate ways. 

The Opera House was erected in 1927 as Ancram Grange #955, a chapter of the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, to address the social, educational and economic concerns of the region’s farmers.  In 1972, the building was repurposed and renamed the Ancram Opera House as an arts venue focusing on light operatic fare.  

Today, Ancram Opera House rededicates itself to aspects of its origins, producing and presenting inventive contemporary theatrical performances to be shared by a rural community.

For more information visit

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