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November 11, 2009
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

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Presents a staged reading of


Written and directed by Heather McDonald

Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 at 8 p.m.

theSPACE in the City of Fairfax

FAIRFAX, Va., November 2, 2009This fall, Theater of the First Amendment (TFA), George Mason University’s professional theater company, presents a staged reading of “The Rivers and Ravines,” written and directed by Heather McDonald, and featuring a cast of professional actors, students and members of the Northern Virginia community. With a focus on community, TFA celebrates its new presence in theSPACE in Old Town Fairfax, where the reading will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.

In 1988, The Washington Post hailed “The Rivers and Ravines” as “‘Our Town’ for the ‘80s.” Set during the farm crisis of the early 1980s, the play celebrates the hope and spirituality of a community facing economic hardship. “The Rivers and Ravines,” which has a cast of 26, was commissioned by the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and premiered during the theater’s 1987-88 season, and had its New York City premiere at the Village Theater in 1991. In a review of that production, The New York Times said, “McDonald’s message echoes with clarity, an emergency signal about hard times and more difficult days to come.” Kevin Murray, TFA’s managing director, said, “TFA’s revisiting of the play is sure to resonate as a modern parable for our time.”

Heather McDonald received her Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has taught playwriting for George Mason University’s Theater Department for 17 years, and is co-artistic director of TFA. An accomplished director and playwright whose work has been produced on Broadway, McDonald’s body of work includes “An Almost Holy Picture,” “The End of the Affair,” “When Grace Comes In” and “Dream of a Common Language.” McDonald has been honored with four Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Resident Production. She has received a Pulitzer Prize nomination and has been awarded the National Endowment of the Arts Playwriting Fellowship three times. She is one of eight writers across the United States invited to attend Sundance Ucross Writers’ Retreat in February 2010.

The evening will include a pre-show reception with a cash bar starting at 7 p.m. and a brief discussion with McDonald after the reading. TFA will also collect canned goods at the door for Food for Others ( of Fairfax. Tickets are pay-what-you-can at the door and available at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall box office.


Tickets are pay-what-you-can for THEATER OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT’S staged reading of “THE RIVERS AND RAVINES.” theSPACE is located at 3955 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA 22030, in the Old Town Plaza retail complex. Free parking is available in the underground garage, accessible from either Chain Bridge Road or University Drive. Pedestrian entrance is on North Street, next to the fountain.

Theater of the First Amendment

In celebration of truly free speech, TFA's mission is to discover, develop and launch new, thought-provoking plays, and serve as an artistic home to the next generation of playwrights. Our motto is “We entertain ideas.” TFA was founded in 1990 as the resident professional theater for George Mason University. To date, TFA has produced 40 plays (most of which have been world premieres) and 5 play festivals. The Helen Hayes Awards have nominated TFA’s work 36 times and have bestowed 12 awards on our work.

About George Mason University

Named the #1 national university to watch in the 2009 rankings of U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university.