Actor’s Ensemble Bring Ripley Stories to Life at PS21

PS21 Ripleys Ted Pugh Fern Sloan (CHATHAM, N.Y.) – The Actors’ Ensemble will perform dramatic retellings of Hamlin Garland’s wry and touching stories “Mrs. Ripley’s Trip” and “Uncle Ethan Ripley” at PS21 on Friday and Saturday, July 25 and 26, 2014, at 8pm. Sheri Bauer Mayorga will provide musical interludes of American music of the period, and there will be a brief stretch intermission between the two stories.

Hamlin Garland, considered “America’s leading writer of the farming frontier,” was a novelist, short fiction writer and essayist who focused on what he knew best — life in the Midwest in the late 1800s. While literature of the time romanticized the rural movement westward, Garland based his stories on his own life and the lives of his parents. Garland saw his writing as true American literature.

As Garland based his story on the life he knew, Fern Sloan and Ted Pugh have drawn on their own experiences growing up in the Midwest to bring this tale to life. “Ted and I were born and raised in little agricultural communities in the Midwest,” said actress Sloan. “Ted in a small town, me on a farm, and these stories are peopled with characters we both grew up with.”

Mrs. Ripley’s Trip and Uncle Ethan Ripley are quiet stores told onstage using only chairs and a harmonica as props, and PS21’s rural setting as the natural backdrop. Throughout the performance, Ted Pugh and Fern Sloan each play several characters. “We wanted to keep it simple, just two actors, two chairs, and a bare stage,” explained actor Pugh. “Basically these pieces are stories and we wanted to lift the two stories off the page, colorful, uncommon expressions and all.”

The Actors’ Ensemble has been performing and developing these stories over many years. “We once did this in a very small town in Kansas to an audience of men and women who were living that life. The men in the audience were wearing overalls. It was one of the favorite performing experiences of our career,” explained Sloan. “We just recently returned from Europe where we performed in Berlin and Dublin and the humanity of their relationship and their circumstances is clearly universal as the performances were received with great warmth and enthusiasm.”

Ted Pugh and Fern Sloan founded The Actors’ Ensemble in New York in 1985 along with other professional actors inspired by the acting techniques taught by Michael Chekhov. Pugh began his career at the Arena Theater in Washington, DC in the early 1960s and soon after became a founding member of the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT. He has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in regional theaters. Sloan has performed and taught the Michael Chekhov technique in the U.S., Canada and Europe. She has played leading roles in numerous regional theaters including the Guthrie Theater and Off-Broadway.

Sheri Bauer Mayorga is a vocalist and songwriter living and performing in Columbia County.

“Ted and Fern are why I know this author,” explained actress Benedicta Bertau. “Their performance of the two stories are some of the very best theater I have ever seen – and some of the best storytelling. Don’t miss it.”

Tickets for either date are $20 general admission, $15 members and $12 youth. They can be purchased at, calling 1-800-838-3006, or at the door until the show sells out. For more information about this event or any other, visit PS21 or call (518) 392-6121

PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century is a not-for-profit organization located at 2980 Route 66 in Chatham, New York. PS21 is dedicated to the performing arts and to serving a diverse community with concerts, programs and residencies by professional artists and ensembles, youth and children’s programming, and cultural education opportunities for all ages.

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