Photos courtesy of Cindy Siu & Leo Armamento
"Molly Powers Gallagher's fearless honesty and delicious wit are exactly what the American cinema needs. She rips her characters from our lives and her stories from our hearts to show us everything we refuse to feel and see around us, but should." - Lauren Sullivan, Executive Director of The Salon
DRIVING WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED is a feature-length coming-of-age screenplay that features a Korean-adoptee teenage protagonist. The plot is not inherently about adoption - it’s about mothers and daughters, confronting loss, and the resilient nature of young people. It is the hope that because the unique nuances of the adoptee experience are layered into the story, it will contribute to redefining what mainstream narratives represent as the “typical American family.”
18-year-old Hanna wishes her biggest problem was a case of senioritis. Grappling with the reality of her mother’s terminal illness and her failure to get into college, Hanna boards a Greyhound bus from Boston, Massachusetts heading to Asheville, North Carolina on a Hail-Mary journey to find her estranged father. With her cousin Will in tow and her mom and her math teacher (it’s complicated!) on their tails, Hanna weaves her way down I-95 searching for a future from a man whom she’s never really met.
Molly Powers Gallagher (Writer), Robert M. Stevenson (Director), and Kaitlin Boland Pierce (Producer) are hosting an invite-only industry reading in New York City in June 2018 to share this story in collaboration with a tremendous group of professional actors to further the project's creative development.
Because of their commitment to combating the adverse effects of underrepresentation, the creative team will also use this event to raise awareness for Pearl S. Buck International. Pearl S. Buck, writer, activist, and humanitarian, founded Welcome House, the world’s first international biracial adoption agency (which Molly’s adoption went through!). Pearl S. Buck International now carries on Buck’s legacy of bridging cultures and changing lives through humanitarian aid and intercultural education. The reading will act as a concerted effort to eradicate the stigma surrounding adoption by supporting an organization who is committed to this mission.
Molly Powers Gallagher (Writer, Hanna)
NYC-based writer and performer. Plays: The Mighty Patsy Mink! (Urban Stages Outreach Tour 2016-2017), The Mystery of the 12 Curious Cousins (Urban Stages Outreach Tour 2017-Present), Mallory Li & the Kingdom of Wit & Wonder (The Growing Stage New Play Festival Finalist 2018, New Plays for Young Audiences Finalist 2017). New York performance credits include Trusty Sidekick Theater Company/Classic Stage Company, Urban Stages, Honest Accomplice Theater. MFA: Boston University, BA: Fordham University Lincoln Center. www.mollypowersgallagher.com
Victoria Finney (Catharine)
NYC based actor and teaching artist. Performed in the UK and internationally with theatre companies including The English Shakespeare Company and Shared Experience, appeared in several television drama series and worked as a performer and story-teller for BBC Radio. Since moving to New York with her family, she has been part of the Lake Lucille Chekhov project, performed at the Lincoln Center, co-founded Off The Page Arts-In-Education company and co-adapted/directed All American Boys at NYPR The Greene Space. Most recently she played Daphne Oram in Stephanie Fleischmann’s Sound House produced by New Georges at The Flea, off Broadway.
Zack Palomo (Will)
Brooklyn-based actor. Recent credits include Into the Woods and The Graduate (Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School) and Alice in Wonderland (Stella Adler Studio of Acting). He has been taking acting classes for eight years now, starting at MS 51 William Alexander, a performing arts middle school. Currently working for his BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Jennifer Bareilles (Gemma, Debbie)
NYC based actor, improvisor & writer. After a decade in San Francisco performing with favorite productions including Proof (Expression Productions), Match (Expression Productions) & Fiction (Off Broadway West). Jennifer moved to New York in 2012, fell in love with improv and studied at UCB and the Peoples Improv Theater where she performs weekly with The Studio System. Favorite stage productions include Pause & Play (The Poet Acts), TRIAL (THML), Bright Half Life (The Kitchen Theatre) and the award winning run of Maybe Tomorrow at the NYC Fringe festival. She can currently be seen in the film The Light of the Moon, and this summer she'll be starring in a new pilot series for the Sony Entertainment Network called Two Roads and two short films; Picture Perfect which she wrote and Traveling, a British office comedy.
Robert M. Stevenson (Director, Probably Derek)
Brooklyn-based director and theatre maker. Recent directing credits include: We Are All Tourists (Trusty Sidekick Theater Company), The Stowaway (Assistant) (Trusty Sidekick & Classic Stage Company), and The Tempest (Assistant) (NYU). New York performance credits include Trusty Sidekick Theater Company/Lincoln Center Education, Spellbound Theatre, and Live In Theater. www.robertmstevenson.com
Karl O'Brian Williams (Mark)
Off-Off Broadway: Antony & Cleopatra, Open Heart, Pecong, The Exonerated, Alphabet City II, Full City +, Fashion. Film: One Love, On The Rocks, Betta Mus Come. Jamaica: Private Lives, Moses (Actor Boy Award - Best Supporting Actor) Guys & Dolls, After Mrs. Rochester. Film/TV: Better Mus Come, One Love, "Brooklynification" Season II. Karl is also a playwright, director and producer who is co-artistic director of the non-profit Braata Productions. www.braataproductions.org
Joan Barber (Fran)
Broadway veteran and proud member of Actors Equity and SAG/AFTRA. She has appeared on Broadway in Man of La Mancha (twice, opposite Richard Kiley and Raul Julia), Beauty and the Beast, Big, The Sound of Music, Follies, A Christmas Carol, and King David. Joan has also starred in Regional Theatres all over the country from Sundance, Utah to Allentown, Pennsylvania. An accomplished vocal coach, Joan has been spending the last several years working with ballet companies throughout the world for the Jerome Robbins Foundation productions of West Side Story Suite.
Kaitlin Boland Pierce (Reading Producer)
New York Theatre credits include the Broadway productions of School of Rock and On The Town as Assistant Company Manager and the General Manager of The Strangest. She also worked at Foresight Theatrical for several years assisting the general management teams on several Broadway productions as well as developmental readings and labs. BA: Penn State University.
Mark Doherty (Nat)
Mark attended Trinity College in Hartford, CT where he lettered in football and graduated with a B.S. in Biology. In college, he was first exposed to theatre, performing in three theatrical productions. Upon graduation, Mark worked for Shake-A-Leg, a summer camp for paraplegics and quadriplegics where he performed in his fourth theatrical production. In 1997, he embarked on a 10-year career in corporate medical sales. This career led him to ultimately move to Manhattan and in 2006 he began working with The 4th Wall Actors Workshop. In 2007 he left medical sales to pursue a career in acting. Since then, he has appeared in many films and television shows including "Guiding Light," River Ridge, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."
Ashley Renee Thaxton (Leslie, Presley)
Actor and educator originally from Southern California. Theater: The Stowaway (Classic Stage Company/Trusty Sidekick) All The President's Men? (Public Theater), Soldier X (Brooklyn College), Fen (Brooklyn College) Much Ado About Nothing (Brooklyn College) Shakespeare’s Lovers (Ensemble Shakespeare Theater) Julius Caesar (NYU). Development: The Year to Come (New Works Brooklyn), Heroine (Brooklyn College) Peonies (Dixon Place). MFA Brooklyn College, BA NYU Gallatin. In her spare time, Ashley bakes lots of pies and reads lots of long books about intersectional feminism. www.ashleyreneethaxton.com
Haeli Dunstan Hayes
Terry & Jeannie Gallagher
Chelsea V. Price