Production shot of In This Hope: A Pericles Project, © Teresa Castracane Photography

Alumni Team up for 'In This Hope: A Pericles Project'

January 4, 2019

In This Hope: A Pericles Project, a new play dramaturged by alumna Hannah Hessel Ratner ’11 and directed by Anna Brenner '11, is part play and part ritual. Led by an all-female/multi-cultural ensemble, the production mines a well known story to create something completely in the present. The those forced to flee a homeland and journey over the sea, experiencing great loss and sacrifice only to discover love and build a new life has been passed on since antiquity and still resonates to this day. 


With Shakespeare’s epic Pericles as the starting point the production company, The Welders, and creative team came together, along with the audience, to uncover the power of memory and storytelling. “The goal is to break down barriers between audience and actor and character,” Ratner said. “I’m writing this as a dramaturg, and creating a show that is the kind of theatrical experience that I want to see more of.” 


Hannah Hessel Ratner is the Audience Enrichment Manager at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. At STC, she runs the Creative Conversations discussion series which includes a range of discussion formats bringing together scholars, artists and audiences in conversation about the plays. She writes regularly for the Asides magazine and blog, as well as edits the annual Guide to the Season Plays e-book. She programs and moderates the AsidesLIVE symposiums and the Prosecast, STC’s regular podcast series. She also oversees the free performance series Happenings at the Harman, which presents music, dance and theatre over a happy hour drink. She has been an ensemble member at Forum Theatre for nearly a decade where she has served as production dramaturg for a wide variety of plays, old and new including Mad Forest, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Clementine in the Lower Nine, Pluto and Stephen Spotswood’s Walking in the City of Silence and Stone. In 2011, she founded the Project Gym, a center for creative development. She has served on selection panels for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Source Festival, Velocity DC and The Playwrights Center. She has taught workshops on theatre, text and performance for ages ranging from elementary to adult. For five years she served as the Literary Director, Outreach and Education Associate at Theater J, where she worked with playwrights including Wendy Wasserstein, Richard Greenberg, and Joyce Carol Oates. 


Anna Brenner creates ensemble-based theatrical work from a broad range of forms including plays, contemporary and classic literature, film scripts, interviews and found text. Her work includes In This Hope: A Pericles Project (The Welders, DC), Peter Gil-Sheridan’s Cockfight (Fordham University), The Glass Menagerie (Theatreworks Colorado), Eliza Bent’s The Hotel Colors (Bushwick Starr), 3 Women (Columbia Stages), Terra Incognita (CPR), Disquiet (Living Theatre), Are We Here Yet? (PS122), Won’t Be A Ghost (Prelude), The Misanthrope (PS 122, undergroundzero Audience Award). Anna curated the Stone Open House with Laurie Anderson and has developed new work with Sylvan Oswald and Mia Chung at New Dramatists, and MJ Kaufman (Clubbed Thumb). As the Artistic Associate at Classic Stage Company, Anna directed Brecht Fest, Crime and Punishment and The Idiot with Michael Stuhlbarg, Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest and Chuck Mee’s Global Warming.


In The Hope: A Pericles Project ran last fall.