Harbinger Theatre and Union College are thrilled to be collaborating on a near unprecedented co–production between a community theater and college with their presentation of The Agony and the Agony by Nicky Silver to be performed at the Yulman Theatre on the Union College Campus in Schenectady December 8-17, 2022. 

The Agony & The Agony is a poison pen love letter to the theater, a tale of has-beens and never-weres in a dark comedy of ill manners.

Hapless, hitless, hypochondriacal playwright Richard Aglow who joins any twelve-step group just to meet people has finally started writing a play…and that’s where the fun and trouble begin! Sexual duplicity, blackmail, and the ghost of Nathan Leopold converge on the Upper West Side as our characters – who may be short on talent but long on zeal – scratch, claw and scheme for their piece of the theatrical pie.

Are you skeptical that the story of a writer fighting depression and being crushed by stinging rejection is fun? You’ll be surprised. Harbinger has addressed many issues in its first seven plays such as climate change, affirmative action and inclusive stage opportunities but we’ve never laughed so hard as when reading The Agony & The Agony. Our bitter separation from the stage during the pandemic felt very relatable to these show biz strivers.

Much of the credit belongs to playwright Nicky Silver’s inventive script, his ear for cutting dialogue and talent for writing wicked one-liners. Couple this with the sensibilities of Harbinger director Chris Foster and his fine cast: Lisa Bryk, Josh Jenkins, Aileem Penn, Richard Roe, Dennis Skiba, Olivia Walton and viewers will come away from The Agony and The Agony with a new understanding of how funny vitriolic criticism can be and, quite possibly, a new appreciation of how it can damage the sensitive artist. 

In February of 2004, Nicky Silver’s play Beautiful Child opened in New York City to what he felt were somewhat cruel reviews. He felt defeated and depressed. “Then, one day I decided if I was going to ‘leave the theater,’ I didn’t want it to be with a sour taste in my mouth. And so I wrote The Agony & The Agony. It was intended to be a lark, something to amuse myself and remind me it’s all supposed to be fun…and I had the time of my life!”

Director Chris Foster and Harbinger co-founder Patrick White attended Union College’s The Trojan Women staged in May of 2021 in the Gardens behind Yulman Theatre and were contacted by Union’s Scenic Designer Andrew Mannion thanking them for attending and posting about it on the 518 Theatre Artists Page. Chris and Patrick had been happily attending Union College productions for years and they were especially enthused about the terrific setting and physical production of Trojan Women managed at the height of the pandemic under the direction of Artistic Director Randy Wyatt.

The conversations continued and Andrew broached the topic of collaborating. “We’re always talking about reaching out to the community or bringing the community in to work together and this seemed like a perfect opportunity,” said Andrew. “Harbinger is over the moon to work with this world class college theater department with all its resources and expertise on our jape about theater love. The Capital Region has all manner of theater available and we’re ecstatic with this sterling opportunity,” gushed co-founder White.

This is Harbinger’s sixth and final play of their very first season which were all Capital Region premieres. It follows Hurricane Diane by Madeleine George, Admissions by Josh Harmon, Destroying David by Jason Odell Williams, Exit Strategy by Ike Holter and Andy and the Orphans by Lindsey Ferrentino. Harbinger was formed during the pandemic seeking to produce impactful work by underrepresented playwrights creating more opportunities for all participants, audience and play makers, interested in change. Altogether, Harbinger will have produced 7 consecutive Capital Region premieres in just over a year featuring over 50 different actors with 4 different directors at 3 different venues. Harbinger is very excited and honored to be working and learning from their skillful colleagues at Union College on this project. 

The Union College Department of Theatre and Dance has a professionally-active faculty dedicated to inspiring and training all students, majors, double majors, minors and enthusiasts alike. We are committed to socially active, community involved, anti-racist approaches to theatre. From the classroom to rehearsal hall to productions on our Yulman stage, we offer personalized hands-on opportunities on or off stage for students to participate in devised and scripted productions, both classical and contemporary.

  • The Agony and the Agony by Nicky Silver
  • December 8-17, 2022, 7:30pm
  • FREE Preview December 7, 7:30pm
  • Yulman Theatre, Union College
  • Tickets $15
  • Talkbacks Friday, 12/9 and Friday, 12/16
  • Tickets sold on Eventbrite and at the door https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ny–albany/the-agony-and/
  • Parking is free in the Nott/Seward parking lot 

(Use Google Maps and put Nott-Seward parking lot in your GPS)

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