Homecoming Players re-emerges with live, in-person theatre as it presents Samuel D. Hunter’s A Great Wilderness, playing June 17–19 and 24-26 at the Cherry Artspace at 102 Cherry Street, in Ithaca.

Performances are at 7:30 on Friday and Saturday, with a 2:00 matinee on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased online at Sunday 6/26 matinee is a Pay What You Want show. Audience members must be masked while in the theater. Vaccination card must be presented on entry.

After decades as the gentle-natured leader of a Christian retreat that endeavors to “cure” gay teens, Walt is packing up his life and preparing for a reluctant retirement. But when his final client, Daniel, quietly disappears into the remote Idaho wilderness, Walt discovers that his previously unwavering moral compass no longer points the way.

An “affecting drama that strengthens its hold on you bit by unpredictable bit,” the play is also “a moving portrayal of an old man forced into a reckoning with himself and with the unintended consequences of his life’s work, and raising the question of whether more than one person is lost in ‘A Great Wilderness.’’’ (Boston Globe)

Playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s many awards include a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. A native of Idaho, he describes himself as a “Pacific Northwest” playwright. His plays are deeply concerned with the lives of rural Americans and people with strongly held religious beliefs while also exploring issues of class and sexuality.

Homecoming’s Artistic Director Rachel Hockett directs, with set and lights by Matt Dobush, stage management by Christine Fanourakis, and properties by Tyler Hathaway.

Says Hockett, “This comeback show thoroughly embodies Homecoming Players’ mission—to work with local actors, create opportunities for senior actors, tap the diversity of Ithaca’s deep well of talent, and address social justice issues in a safe and affirming environment. It has been a joy and an honor to bring Hunter’s authentic and compelling voice to the stage with this wonderful and generous troupe of actors and staff.”

Homecoming’s cast features several well-known Ithaca actors. Playing Walt is Arthur Bicknell. Bicknell has been seen in Heroes at Kitchen Theatre, as the Stage Manager in Theatre Incognita’s Our Town, and in Quartet, Quartermaine’s Terms, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, Deathtrap, and In the Car with Blossom and Len for Homecoming Players. His plays Easy Out, Dotty, and My Great Dead Sister have all been staged by the company.

Making his Homecoming debut as Daniel is Trence Wilson-Gillem, who recently graduated from Cornell, appearing there as one of the leads of Pipeline, as well as acting with the Hangar Lab Company last season.

Joining them are several veterans from Homecoming Players’ five previous seasons: Greg Bostwick (Quartet), Elizabeth Livesay (Easy Out, Good People), David Kossack (Moose Murders), Kristin Sad (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Dotty, Vanya and Sonya and Marsha and Spike, Lettice and Lovage, 8), and Sylvie Yntema (From the Mississippi Delta, In the Next Room). 

Bostwick, emeritus faculty at Ithaca College, has appeared in dozens of productions regionally, including the Hangar and the Kitchen; Sad has appeared with the Kitchen, Theatre Incognita, Ithaca Shakespeare Company (Lady Macbeth) and the Actors Workshop; Livesay with the Kitchen and Incognita; and Yntema is a member of the Cherry Arts Collective (The Wetsuitman) and Civic Ensemble (Delia Divided).

This program is made possible (in part) with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.  

“A Great Wilderness” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.

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