'The Night Watcher' Shines a Light on Family at La Jolla Playhouse: Playwright and Actress Charlayne Woodard's New Play is First Page To Stage of the Season July 1 — July 27, 2008

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Playwright and Actress Charlayne Woodard's new play "The Night Watcher" is La Jolla Playhoue's first Page To Stage of the season. The Night Watcher will open in the Mandell Weiss Forum at La Jolla Playhouse July 1 and continue through July 27, 2008.

La Jolla Playhouse is proud to welcome back Charlayne Woodard with a moving new one-woman play The Night Watcher directed by Robert Egan. As the first Page To Stage workshop production of the 2008/2009 season, The Night Watcher continues the work of cultivating new plays through a dynamic, audience-inclusive development process. The Night Watcher will open in the Mandell Weiss Forum at La Jolla Playhouse July 1 and continue through July 27, 2008.

A charming storyteller and tour-de-force performer, playwright Charlayne Woodard crafts colorful scenes in The Night Watcher where she navigates her extended family and empowers the children who've invited her into their secret lives. In today's overwhelming world, she builds courage in her children and guides her teenagers who can too easily drift astray and find themselves in the dark. In this autobiographical play, "Auntie" Charlayne shares her amusing young characters' trials and growth through her often humorous and poignant tales.

"We need to pay attention to our kids," says Woodard. "Share their world. Make them feel safe. It changes them for the better."

The Night Watcher, written by and starring Charlayne Woodard, explores family: how we invent and re-invent it, parent and child relationships and the community. Woodard, the only one of her mother's children with no kids of her own yet, found herself consumed by her extended family and realized that people with no children still serve a big purpose. She became compelled to write about her "kids".

"The Night Watcher is a play about a sort-of motherhood," Woodard says. "Some of us are put here to have these kids in the way that I have them."

Audiences will feel like part of the family in this fascinating, full-of-life one-woman performance. Los Angeles resident, Charlayne Woodard is Tony Award-nominated and an Obie Award-winner returning to the Playhouse for the first time since her first solo play, Pretty Fire (Los Angeles Drama Critics award), which premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in 1999. She has acted on stage (Ain't Misbehavin'), television (Law and Order) and film (Unbreakable). Director Robert Egan (Artistic Director of Ojai Playwrights Conference) reunites with Woodard for The Night Watcher and together they offer inspiring, enchanting family episodes that will enlighten us all.

"Charlayne is an absolutely captivating storyteller who has the power to touch souls," says Artistic Director Christopher Ashley. "She uses grace, humor and charm to hold audiences spellbound with stories of growing up in today's complicated world."

The creative team includes Karl Lundeberg (composer/sound), Myung Hee Cho and Anne Sheffield (sets and costumes), Stephen Sakowski (lighting) and Shirley Fishman (dramaturgy).

Now in its seventh year, Page To Stage is La Jolla Playhouse's signature new play development program in which audiences experience the "birth" of a play. Throughout the rehearsals and run of the show, the playwright and director make constant changes in response to audience reactions and feedback. Previous Page To Stage productions include The Farnsworth Invention, Zhivago, Tony Award-winning 700 Sundays and I Am My Own Wife, which went on to receive a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Single tickets for The Night Watcher are $25. Performance times are Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 8:00 p.m. and Sundays 7:00 p.m. Matinees are held on Sundays at 2:00 p.m. There will be no July 4 performance. There are no Saturday matinees except for July 5. To purchase, call (858) 550-1010 or online at http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org.

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Stephanie Shepherd
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