Feb 072011

“… a truly unique night of theater…” – Ben Demers (

With Under the Shadow of Wings, Ambassador Theater has staged a double bill of dramatic visions so vivid and absorbing they feel almost like lucid dreams. …. a truly unique night of theater … Bondarewska’s gutsy performance and the arresting sights and sounds accompanying the action carry the day.

I, for one, had to collect my bearings after experiencing the dizzying blend of traditional morality play, esoteric performance art, and delirious monologue.

In a landscape of familiar dramatic tropes, it’s refreshing to be occasionally thrown for a loop.

“Exciting…perfect performances… This is a highly recommended evening of theater” – Bob Anthony (

Ambassador Theater continues its mandate to present foreign plays and with “Under the Shadow of Wings” there is almost no obvious weakness in the playing and technicals. “Karna and Kunti” by Indian poet/playwright,Rabindranath Tagore, is strongly symbolic with godlike references as it is taken from the Indian epic, “The Mahabarata”, which in this playlet tells of a rejecting mother trying to come to terms with her son who is facing death at the hands of his brother. Gavin Whitt with his cat-like movements and Meera Narasimhan with her wonderful hand gestures give intriguing performances in staccato fashion expected of Indian portrayals. “Death of Tintagiles” tells the tale of two sisters who attempt to defeat the fates who are classically determined to capture their young brother…amazingly performed by young, relaxed Michael Ryjik. Hanna Bondawerska dominates the playing with superb Grecian-like style as she rants and raves particularly during the tragic ending. Others in this playlet are Paula Rich, Rob Weinzimer and the three servants (of fate), Mary Suib, Gavin Whitt and Meera Narasimhan. The technicals are most exciting and top rate in the hands of David Crandall (music, sound and visual design), Marianne Meadows (lights), Andrzej Pinkowski (set) and Caridel Cruz (costumes). Fine credit is given to David Willinger and Daniel Gerould who translated these stories by Tagore and Maeterlinck and especially to Mr. Willinger who managed to get perfect performances from his cast. This is a highly recommended evening of theater from the “new kid around the theatrical block”. (Reviewed by Bob Anthony)

“With interesting visual and sound effects, and sincere acting, Under the Shadow of Wings is an opportunity to experience an early symbolist play and a portion of the Sanskrit epic The Mahabarata.” – Laura & Mike Clark  (

Dec 202010

–For immediate release—

Ambassador Theate­­­­­r Presents
Under the Shadow of Wings

Karna and Kunti by Rabindranath Tagore and Death of Tintagiles by Maurice Maeterlinck
East and West – Two Plays of Mystery 150th Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore’s Birth and 100th Anniversary of Maurice Maeterlinck’s Nobel Prize

Under the patronage of the Embassy of Belgium, The Ambassador Theater is delighted to present two mystery plays: Karna and Kunti by Rabindranath Tagore of India and Death of Tintagiles by Maurice Maeterlinck of Belgium. Karna and Kunti, an episode of the Mahabharata, the Sanskrit epic that forms the basis of Hindu belief in which Karna, commander of the Kaurav army, comes to wage war against the rival Pandava clan. Kunti is the Pandava matriarch, and, secretly, Karna’s mother. She attempts to bring him back into her care to avert his army from defeating her sons, but finds that the fate of the battle has been determined long before.

The Death of Tintagiles, a forgotten classic of Symbolist Drama, is about a young boy, Tintagiles, whose family has been almost entirely obliterated by an all-powerful Queen. Under mysterious circumstances, he returns to his sisters Ygraine and Bellangère, who try to protect him from the Queen and her devious servants, to no avail.

“… You never know exactly what the soul imagines it can see.” M. Maeterlinck

Directed and Designed by David Willinger
Music and Visual Effects by David Crandall
Lights by Marianne Meadows

Featuring: Gavin Whitt as Karna and Meera Narasimhan as Kunti; Michael “Misha” Ryjik (Tintagiles), Hanna Bondarewska (Ygraine), Paula Rich (Bellangère), Rob Weinzimer (Aglovale), Mary Suib, Gavin Whit and Meera Narasimhan (Servants)

Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint, 916 G Street NW, Washington DC – Jan. 25 – Feb. 12, 2011

 TICKETS: $25 General Admission  |   Students and Senior Citizens $15   |   Group Tickets $13

On line:
WHEN:  January 25-February 12, 2011
Previews: January 25, 26 at 8 p.m.
Opening: January 27, 2011, 8 PM
Fridays, 8 PM  |   Saturdays, 3 PM and 8 PM  | Sundays, 3 PM and 7:30 PM

Ambassador Theater’s mission is to build international cultural awareness, provide a high standard of international repertoire based on close relations with the diplomatic and cultural representatives of different countries in the United States, and provide international interactive educational programs for the youth of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Metro area, and around the United States.

 Posted by at 10:41 pm
Oct 272010

Type: Theatre
Pay: Paid
Union: Non-Union

Audition/Casting Date(s): November 6th
Start/End Time: 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Company/Location: Ambassador Theater

Ambassador Theater is holding a casting call for two plays: Death of Tintagiles by Maurice Maeterlinck and Karna and Kunti by Rabindranath Tagore, directed by David Willinger. Both plays will be produced at Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint under the title “Under the Shadow of Wings” January 25-February 13, 2011
For Death of Tintagiles we are looking for:
Tintagiles – a boy, age 8 – 14, small in stature with strong acting skills
Bellangere – Young looking female 18-27
Aglovale – An Older Man, age 40 and up
3 Servants: Female and Male various ages – who move well, and are physically and vocally expressive
For Karna and Kunti by Rabindranath Tagore, we are looking for
Actors of Indian origin or who look Indian
a young man
an older Indian woman, his mother

We are also looking for a Stage Manager

Both are symbolist plays by Nobel Prize winners
Rehearsals will start January 2, 2011

Audition Address:
Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint
916 G St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Contact Information:
Hanna Bondarewska
Email your headshot/resume to: to schedule your audition!

Oct 192010

The Little Prince

OCTOBER 20, 2010


“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” These words, penned (in French) during the Second World War by aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, will immediately ring a bell with children of all ages and nationalities.

Ian Pedersen as The Little Prince (Photo: Valentin Radev, graphic design: Lukasz Pinkowski)

Ian Pedersen as The Little Prince (Photo: Valentin Radev, graphic design: Lukasz Pinkowski)

Like his book that made those words famous, Ambassador Theater’s The Little Princespeaks to and with the heart of a child in a way that is also accessible to adults. While the small, modest staging space of Flashpoint can sometimes be a drawback for productions that require elaborate costumes or changes in time and place, here the enforced simplicity becomes a virtue, its ostensible disadvantages transformed into opportunities for audiences to see the tale brought to life as a child of Saint-Exupéry’s time would have imagined it.

As the Pilot, the multi-talented Alex Vernon is forthright and earnest, an homme de bonne foi whose very grown-up occupation — and, as the play opens, preoccupation — make him seem an unlikely candidate for friendship with a melancholy interplanetary child. He seems, in fact, a man who would be hard pressed to remember even being a little boy. By turns amused, bemused, impatient, irritated and chagrined, he clearly wants to do the right thing by his mysterious little friend while remaining attentive to “serious things”: that is, his responsibility to his duty — and his downed aircraft. (Vernon is also the Businessman, the King, the Geographer, and a base for the Lamplighter, played movingly by Sarah Olmstead Thomas with a steadfast, uncompromising devotion to a task that he knows is both futile and irrevocable.)

In an economical but effective turn that acknowledges the limitations of time and space, the entire stage is draped in swaths of white cloth: the desert, on which the pilot’s plane has crash-landed, illuminated intermittently by shafts or sparks of light, or by large, cut-out stars (Gus Soudah). In an imaginatively layered exploitation of the theater’s physical, as the play opens, the theatre’s fourth wall falls away: Sketching on a pad, the Pilot addresses us directly, as Saint-Ex did his young readers, his drawings appearing on the white cloth backdrop behind him as he works. Sometimes they become animated, although always in black in white and in 1930s and 1940s style, again true to time and place.

The Little Prince (Ian Pedersen) makes a star entrance (pun intended) from behind the audience, limned by a halo of light that emphasizes the elegant, princely raiment of white, gold and royal blue familiar to readers of the book. As Tim Treanor observed in this space more than two years ago in his review of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s The Imaginary Invalid: “Do you need an adorable child who can deliver a line with punch and conviction? Why, just trot out Ian Pedersen, and watch him knock them dead.” Here you can watch the still adorable Ian do it not just with a line but with hundreds of them, coolly incarnating the character with skill and self-possession as he smoothly pivots from scolding the uncomprehending Pilot or megalomaniac monarch to musing with a wistful, suddenly adult sadness over his failure to understand his Rose.

The Rose (Ilana Naidamast), seen in flashbacks, is Valley Girl vain and childish, which makes her instantly recognizable as a human and contemporizes the character. (In another interesting bit of staging, the Pilot’s drawing of the Rose assumes human shape when she and the Little Prince speak to each other, their faces appearing silhouetted in miniature on the backdrop.) Naidamast also excels as the Conceited Man, and most memorably as the Snake, hissy and sensuous as she sinuously stretches out her body to the sound of a silky thread of sssssssses, her every arch of an eyebrow and alluring half-smile malevolent and deadly.

Sarah Olmstead Thomas incarnates a stereotype of another sort as a very foxy Fox, a beautiful redhead who plays hard to get as she patiently instructs the Prince on how to tame her, the ritual becoming a dance as her three-foot orange tail swishes and wraps around her. She also has a hilarious bit re-enacting for the puzzled Prince the food chain as she knows it, pantomiming all three parts: the startled but luckless — and pluckless — chicken; the wary but terrified fox; and the beady-eyed, single-minded hunter.

Vernon’s King is especially giggle-inducing as he blissfully insists that he rules “over everything,” grinning like a doofus as he sways his bulbous legs and feet, bopping to the beat of piped-in music. (So agile and almost rag-doll-like is Vernon in the role that I at first thought he was one of the puppets, created by Master Puppeteer and Designer Julia Tasheva and the play’s Director and Designer Lilia Slavova.)

The music is eclectic and nicely done throughout, much of it original (Georg Silver), illuminating the situation or the characters with creatively calibrated shifts from Renaissance to Beethoven, from jazz to pop to bossa nova. The masks (Vanya Vasileva) are richly hued, textured and stylized, seemingly (and successfully) combining Commedia dell’Arte with Bavarian Fasching.

All in all, a show you and your enfant will enjoy seeing together. If you don’t have one or can’t find any, take a grande personne. Although they may not remember it — or want to admit it — I have it on good faith: they were enfants once, too.

 Posted by at 10:52 am
Oct 192010

The Indie Daily

The world is your stage. The Indiestry is your spotlight.

Review: “The Little Prince” –A Charming Play for Children and Adults

On Sunday, Oct. 17, Indiestry Exec Donisha A. attended a showing of “The Little Prince,” at Washington, D.C.’s Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint. This Ambassador Theater International Cultural Center presentation is a feast for the eyes and the imagination that stays with you long after you have left the theater.

“The Little Prince” was written by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar. The play was adapted from the book by Antoine de Saint Exupery. It was directed and designed by Lilia Slavova, and produced by Hanna Bondarewska. The cast features Ian Pedersen (The Little Prince), IIana D. Naidamast, Sarah Olmsted Thomas, and Alex Vernon.
Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eyes.” This quote represents an integral theme in the play. The story follows Pedersen (the little prince) as he guides Vernon’s character through a world full of talking roses and mythical creatures. Throughout the play, Pedersen attempts to spark Vernon’s imagination and help him remember what it was like to be a 10-year-old boy…what it was like to believe.

The masks and makeup transformed the actors into characters that you would only see in “Alice in Wonderland” or “The Neverending Story.” As I sat there, I remembered how much I loved “The Neverending Story” when I was a child. I remembered how much I enjoyed taking the journey with the characters and getting excited about the creatures that I would meet in the next scene. “In this way, while I was watching “The Little Prince” I was like Vernon’s character, regaining my child-like imagination.

“The Little Prince” is appropriate for children, but it also contains lessons about love and relationships with which a number of adults can identify.

The acting was superb and the setting was very intimate. However, don’t just take my word for it. “The Little Prince” runs for about an hour. Ticket pricesrange from $15 to $25. Go see it! Flashpoint is located at 916 G St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

 Posted by at 10:52 am
Oct 192010

Our Kids

Review of The Little Prince
October 18, 2010
by Beth Meyer

At the Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint
916 G Street, NW
Washington, DC

The Little Prince, now playing at the Mead Theatre Lab through November 7, 2010

The Little Prince at the Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint through November 7, 2010 isn’t your typical children’s show. It is philosophical and melancholy with good acting, artistic aspirations and an international crew. It’s staged in an intimate 40-seat theater adjoining an art gallery. The show is produced by the Ambassador Theater, under the patronage of the Embassy of France.

The Little Prince is very faithful to the novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, one of the most popular and frequently translated books in the world. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the adaptation. In preparation for the experience, I read the book aloud to my six and ten year-old daughters. We thoroughly enjoyed the first two pages, where a drawing of a boa constrictor eating an elephant is mistaken for a hat by foolish adults, but we couldn’t get much further. On the subway to the show, my older daughter pronounced the book “incredibly boring.” I felt somewhat vindicated when I found out from the program that upon first reading the book, the director of the play also found it “incredibly boring.” Somehow, the director managed to convey the charm, humor, and spirit of the story without its redundancy.

In the first act, a pilot (Alex Vernon), who has crashed his plane at the Sahara Desert, meets the Little Prince (Ian Pedersen), an otherworldly little boy, who tells him about his own journeys. The Little Prince first describes his own tiny asteroid and his romance with a rose (charmingly told with the help of shadow puppets). Then, he tells of his adventures meeting the rulers of six other asteroids. My daughters’ favorite was the first one, a king, who foolishly orders everyone about. They found him hilarious. The other rulers, like the businessman and the geographer also represent aspects of adult stupidity and blindness. The second act focuses on the Little Prince’s experiences on earth especially his taming of a fox (Sarah Olmsted Thomas). When the fox described how humans hunted her, a little boy in the audience shouted out “this is pure comedy.” The fox tells the Little Prince the moral of his story. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eyes.”

As a warning, the ending is very sad and involves the death of a major character. My six year-old did not really understand the ending; my ten year-old did. The ending was handled similarly in Don’t Eat the Pictures, if you’re familiar with that Sesame Street DVD.

The play is very well acted. Accomplished eleven year-old actor Ian Pederson had previously played the son of Phedre with Helen Mirren as Phedre at the National Theatre of London. Alex Vernon did a fine job as the pilot and Sarah Olmsted Thomas and Ilana Naidamast were convincing as the fox and snake respectively.

The very effective set was just made up of draped white fabric. The costumes were clever, the masks and shadow puppets by Bulgarian artists were terrific, and the original music by Georg Silver from the Canary Islands was beautiful and evocative.

My daughters and I liked the show very much. Younger children in the audience enjoyed the show as well and there was no squirming or chatter. I spoke with the director afterwards and she thinks it is appropriate for ages 8 and up and is really an adult play.

 Posted by at 10:50 am
Oct 192010


October 17, 2010

Art makes the world go around…and we go around the world to review it!


Theater: “The Little Prince” (Ambassador), “King Arthur” (Synetic), “Cowardly Christopher Finds His Courage” (Synetic Family), “El caballero de Olmedo” (Gala),”Misalliance” (Olney), “Ovo” Cirque du Soleil, “Sink the Belgrano” (Scena), “Travels With My Aunt” (Rep Stage), “The Vibrator Play” (Woolly Mammoth), “Something You Did” (Theater J), “Dinner with Friends”

Musicals: “Bunnicula” (Imagination Stage), “Glimpses of the Moon” (Metro Stage), “Chess” (Signature), “Nunsense” (Toby’s), “Super Claudio Bros.” (Charlie Fink Productions), “Passing Strange” (Studio)

BestActing: Thomas Keegan “Women Beware Women” (Constellation), Full Cast “The Little Prince” (Ambassador),Full Cast “The Secret Marriage” (Opera) (Aurora Opera Theatre), Jiehae Park “Songs of the Dragons…” (Studio) Full cast (especially Monalisa Arias), “El caballero de Olmedo” (Gala), Drew Kopas “Misalliance” (Olney), Tia Shearere/Michael John Casey “Bunnicula” (Imagination), Karl Miller “The Talented Mr. Ripley (Round House), Lauren “Coco” Cohn, Gia Mora “Glimpses of the Moon” (Metro Stage), Full Cast especially Nana Ingvarsson, “Sink the Belgrano” (Scena),Full Cast “Travels With My Aunt” (Rep Stage), Full Cast “The Vibrator Play” (Woolly Mammoth), Full Cast, “Something You Did” (Theater J),Full Cast “Chess” (Signature), Julie-Ann Elliott, Paul Morella, Jeffries Thaiss, Peggy Yates “Dinner with Friends” (Olney)

Magic is created during the Ambassador Theater’s production of “THE LITTLE PRINCE” (To 11/7 ) that is described as “a fairy tale for adults or for the child that every grown up once was”. This lovely story based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s little book about a prince from a faraway star who confronts a pilot whose plane crashes in the desert is totally endearing. This is mostly due to the fine performances of the leads…Ian Petersen as the prince and Alex Vernon as the pilot. They are wonderfully assisted by actresses, Sarah Olmsted Thomas and Liana D. Naidamast in the fairy tales being messaged. Director Lilia Slavova got wonderfully sensitive interpretations during all parts of the story and it was wonderful to see the many youngsters in the audience getting a full measure of pleasure as the story unfolded. The set by Alex Vernon was like a downed parachute with spaces for heads to pop-up around the stage. There was an audio visual upstage for some delightful puppet work and cartoons. The music by Georg Silver was ethereal yet it emphasized the drama on stage. Kudos for the fine masks by Vanya Vasileva. This is wonderful family fare which allows the adults to reenter the fantasies of their childhood as their children repeat theirs. It is a highly recommended production. (Reviewed by Bob Anthony)