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On a crisp October morning in 1726, Mary Toft delivered her first rabbit.


 

Over the next few weeks, she delivered nineteen more bunnies. The 24 year-old illiterate mother of three from the rural town of Godalming hacked dead rabbits into smallish pieces, forced them into her body, and gave birth to these “made monsters” under the eye of scientists eager to make their mark. News quickly spread to London, and even those who weren’t convinced were soon caught up in the debate — poets, playwrights, satirists, journalists, and painters rode the tide of Mary’s fame. By December, the hoax was discovered, the duped doctors were branded frauds, and Mary was briefly tossed into prison

 

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On a crisp October morning in 1726, Mary Toft delivered her first rabbit.


 

Over the next few weeks, she delivered nineteen more bunnies. The 24 year-old illiterate mother of three from the rural town of Godalming hacked dead rabbits into smallish pieces, forced them into her body, and gave birth to these “made monsters” under the eye of scientists eager to make their mark. News quickly spread to London, and even those who weren’t convinced were soon caught up in the debate — poets, playwrights, satirists, journalists, and painters rode the tide of Mary’s fame. By December, the hoax was discovered, the duped doctors were branded frauds, and Mary was briefly tossed into prison

 

 

The Show

The true, twisted story of Mary Toft, and those who instigated, verified, promoted — and ultimately vilified — her plot to better herself weaves together the lives of many people: from the poorest in 18th-century England to King George I. Her dramatic delivery of praeternatural rabbits continues to puzzle and inspire, and today, her legend lives on.

“HOW TO GIVE BIRTH TO A RABBIT” is a theatrical piece premiering at the Capital Fringe Festival in July 2016. The story — and the themes of poverty, pride, pomp, and fraud — are revealed through character monologues — each expressing their desires, actions, and the results of their involvement.

 

 
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The 2016 Production


Photos and reviews from the
2016 Capital Fringe Festival

The 2016 Production


Photos and reviews from the
2016 Capital Fringe Festival

"The ambitious and innovative treatment of Mary’s story under the guidance of experienced director Craig Houk deserves to be heard as vividly as it is seen."

"The ambitious and innovative treatment of Mary’s story under the guidance of experienced director Craig Houk deserves to be heard as vividly as it is seen."

"All in all, I left the Atlas feeling like I witnessed the birth of something that has the potential to be great.

"All in all, I left the Atlas feeling like I witnessed the birth of something that has the potential to be great.

All photos by Tom Kochel

Video from the Capital Fringe production, July 2016

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The Creative Team


This song cycle is an unusual collaboration between a diverse group of musicians, songwriters, poets, and theatrical producers. Each member of the team brings a unique perspective to the story — leaving a unique, creative mark on the final production.  

The Creative Team


This song cycle is an unusual collaboration between a diverse group of musicians, songwriters, poets, and theatrical producers. Each member of the team brings a unique perspective to the story — leaving a unique, creative mark on the final production.  

LYRICS & MUSIC
Maureen Andary has a B.A. in Creative Writing and Literature from New York University and is a 5-time Washington Area Music Award Winner and Former Strathmore Artist in Residence with her duo The Sweater Set.  In addition to performing at places like The Kennedy Center, The Hamilton, The 9:30 Club, the Birchmere, and Strathmore, she works full time as a music educator, teaching folks of all ages how to read music, perform, strum, and sing!  Maureen is a 3rd generation Washingtonian (yes, really) and she hosts live music at Takoma Ranch, her house concert venue in Takoma, DC.


LYRICS & MUSIC
Sara Curtin is a CMJ.com premiered artist and her album "Michigan Lilium" charted on the CMJ Top 200 charts. That Music Magazine calls her "a gifted songwriter who understands that you don’t write because you want to say something, but because you have something to say and she sure as heck says it exquisitely." Brightest Young Things names her “One of D.C.’s Finest.”


LYRICS & MUSIC
Singer/Songwriter Gary Gore’s eclectic resume – both serious and comedic – can be heard everywhere from Fox TV’s AMERICAN DAD, the multi-award-winning children’s music project The GARY KAZOO Show, the Japanese ESL educational audio series Chat English, several independent film soundtracks, comedy/parody work (including the 2013 ISC semi-finalist ZOMBIES IN MIAMI,) and on music covered by artists from Boston to Los Angeles.


LYRICS & MUSIC
Tom Goss has self-released five studio albums, one live album, two EPs, and multiple non-album singles. He has seen commercial success with his music featured on MTV's Logo TV. He won Best Gay Musician in DC from The Washington Blade  in 2011 and 2012. Goss tours internationally, often playing at LGBT establishments. In 2014, Tom landed his first starring role in a feature film, "Out to Kill."


LYRICS & MUSIC
Brian Wilbur Grundstrom’s compositions for film, orchestra, opera, chorus, piano, quintet and other ensembles demonstrate an innovative use of harmony and melody, which although firmly rooted in the tonal tradition is entirely new. Audiences take to his compositions immediately, finding in his compositions traces of Aaron Copland, Kurt Weill and Samuel Barber.


LYRICS & MUSIC
Starting with a button machine and a dream in college, Dan Kaufman has been helping clients promote their organizations, businesses, and events for more than twenty years as president of DKG Promotions. In his off hours, he can often be found volunteering at Food & Friends, singing with the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, 2-steppin', or singing a tune at one of the DC area's many Irish pubs.


MUSIC
It began on a cold night in December. Mike got a speeding ticket. Parking was easy. Songs were tight and punkish. Pete cut a deal and we hit the studio. We relocated. New jams took shape. Kirk carved linoleum and everything fell into place.


LYRICS & MUSIC
Itai Yasur
grew up in Maryland and has been lucky enough to play on some of the most beautiful stages in and around the Washington, DC area, from Strathmore Hall to Blues Alley to the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center. After attending Berklee College of Music in Boston he returned to Maryland and conducted for Wildwood Summer TheatreMcLean Community Players and Greenbelt Arts Center while covering the DC theater scene forBroadway World.


ORCHESTRATIONS & BAND LEADER
Born in the mid-70's in Bellevue, Washington, Stephen Lilly is a graduate of the University of Maryland, the Lionel Hampton School of Music, Kamiakin High School, Desert Hills Middle School, and Sunset View Elementary.  He has been variously referred to as a composer, new music performer, bass player, and educator.


GUITAR
Known best for his heavily effected guitars, Virginia native Joe King draws inspiration from classic post punk and shoe gaze bands, creating sinuous and moody sounds.  As lead guitarist in the band These Quiet Colours, Joe performs with friends Stephen Lilly (the musical band leader) and drummer Matthew Renaldi. For freely available music and information about their band, please visit their website at www.thesequietcolours.com.


DRUMS
Matthew Renaldi is an American Sign Language interpreter working in Northern, Virginia. Making music has always been a fun, creative outlet for Matt, and he has been collaborating with fellow musicians since 2003. Currently, he a member of the DC band, These Quiet Colours.


PERFORMER
Rachel Jones
graduated this May from James Madison University where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Theatre. She is ecstatic for her Washington D.C. debut in this production of How to Give Birth to a Rabbit! 


PERFORMER
Colin Brown has performed with the Choral Arts Society of Washington, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Baltimore, National Symphony Orchestra, Paul Hill Chorale, Washington National Opera, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception choir, Skylight Opera Theatre, Lyric Opera of Cleveland, Great Lakes Opera, Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee, Opera Omaha, Omaha Symphonic Chorus and Omaha Symphony. Colin directs theatre at Georgetown Preparatory School.


PERFORMER
Grant Collins is incredibly excited to be a part of How to Give Birth to a Rabbit. A graduate of the acting program at Elon University, Grant has been acting in D.C. for 2 years. He has been involved in several Fringe Festival productions including last year’s production of Salvation Road playing the role of Elijah. Grant is also a student at the acting conservatory at Studio Theatre. Other favorite credits include Nick in Dark Play: Or Stories for Boys, A.P. in Columbinus, and Tessman in Hedda Gabler. 


PERFORMER
Christopher Edward Robin is thrilled to be on the boards again. After producing for Fringe in 2014 it's wonderful to be back on stage. He is thrilled at the opportunity to use his minimalist vocal skills and really hopes to please. Christopher is very grateful to the writers producers and directors of this production for this marvelous opportunity.


DIRECTOR
Craig Houk is very excited to be collaborating with the Mary Toft Players and to be working alongside so many gifted composers, lyricists, musicians and performers. Craig, a recent transplant to D.C., has worked primarily as an actor, appearing in nearly 30 productions throughout New England over the past two decades. For more information on Craig's career in theater and film, please visit craighouk.com


PRODUCER & MARKETING
Jon Gann has had past successes at Fringe, including Match Game DC (2011 Fringe), and Pepe! The Mail Order Monkey Musical (2009 Fringe) -- both top-selling shows played to sold-out houses. when not delving into musical theater, Jon consults with and manages film festivals and screening events around the country, including the upcoming FringePOP event this fall.


PRODUCER & DRAMATURG
Tonya Howe is an Associate Professor of English at Marymount University, where she teaches early modern and 18th century literature, theater history, literary theory, and writing. In addition to HOW TO GIVE BIRTH TO A RABBIT, she is currently working on a TEI database of early novel theory, and a critical essay on using technology to teach Eliza Haywood. 


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