‘Not Afraid’ by Nora Sorena Casey debuts October 19 to November 4 in NYC


“Not Afraid” by Nora Sorena Casey is a dark comedy about Bets, a young woman who is obsessed with her death metal blog. When she gets a death threat, it catalyzes a series of disturbing encounters for both her and her housemate and best friend, Hunter, a callous law student. The two women argue about heavy metal, the U.S.S.R. and taco night – and try not to die. The play is at once funny, sad and devastating. PowerOut will present the work’s world premiere October 19 to November 4, 2014 at Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place. Ben Ferber directs.

Bets is 100% Communist, but not above calling on her privileged family for a little help when she gets behind on the rent. She lives in a dingy apartment in Chicago with her only friend Hunter, a law student who tends to come home with her blouse unbuttoned and her stockings not very straight. The pair are so in sync that they communicate effortlessly in a quirky personal shorthand. But acceptance and tolerance ends at their apartment door. When Bets announces her Communist politics on her blog, she is subjected to escalating death threats. Blood is smeared on her window, a squirrel is beaten to death in her living room, and it goes downhill from there. Hunter has her own drama, but it’s more that of bouncing from bed to bed while her boyfriend, Robbie, is driving from Philadelphia to divulge his love for her.

Different as the two women are, they care for each other, cook for each other and protect each other from harm. But all good things must come to an end. Hunter, who’s been broke for years, has accepted a financially secure position in a small law firm in Cincinnati, but has kept it a secret from both Bets and Robbie. When Robbie arrives at the front door, it is too late to heal her relationship with him or to defuse the ticking time bomb that her departure will set off in Bets.

Anna Van Valin, L, as Hunter; Taylor Shurte, R, as Bets. Photo by Ben Ferber.

The play is written in the hyper-colloquial speech and adorable flakiness of decidedly American inarticulateness, relying on subtext and dialect. But the two women are not no-counts – they are more like Millennial misfits caught between their realities and their dreams. The awkwardness of their conversations captures the unique impotency and irony of their generation. The ferocious music of Bets’ metalhead blog (heavy, death, sludge, doom and more) provides the aural backdrop for the play.

The actors are Taylor Shurte (Bets), Anna Van Valin (Hunter) and David Register (Robbie).

Anna Van Valin, L, as Hunter; Taylor Shurte, R, as Bets. Photo by Ben Ferber.

Ben Ferber is a director/writer/dramaturg/designer/performer. For PowerOut, he has directed “Letters from Kafka” (also by Nora Sorena Casey), “Ted Fucking Miller” and “Stage Whispers.” Other directing credits include “The Closing Shift” (Pencil Productions), “The Dickening” (Midtown International Theatre Festival), “Almost Love” and “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” (Cape May Stage). He co-curated and directed Cape May Stage’s “Danger!” reading series. He’s been dramaturg for “Outcasts” (Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse), “LOVE/SICK,” “Hidden Tennessee,” a partial retranslation of “God of Carnage” (Portland Stage Company), “Freud’s Last Session” (Cape May Stage) and “Love Kills” (Lark Play Development Center). His tech thriller “For the Lulz” headlined Portland Stage Company’s inaugural Studio Rep series. He is a member of SDC and LMDA and is the year-round Artistic Assistant at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Taylor Shurte (Bets) has appeared in “Our Town” (La Jolla Playhouse), “Dram of Drummhicit” (La Jolla Playhouse), “All the Rooms of the House” (The Trip), “Wintry Mix: Yuri” (New Ohio Theatre), “Romeo and Juliet” (Three Day Hangover), “Washougal, My Heart” (Communal Spaces), “Fat Joey” (Sam French Off Off Broadway Festival), “The Segaull,” “The Dybbuk,” “Gruesome Playground Injuries” and “Glass Menagerie” (all at UC San Diego) and readings at The Old Globe, The Culture Project, The Claque, The Drama League, New Harmony Project, New Georges and Sam French. She holds an MFA from UC San Diego and a BS from the University of Evansville.

Anna Van Valin (Hunter) is an actor and producer from Buffalo, NY. Recent New York credits include “Othello” (New York Shakespeare Exchange), “The Degradation Play” (Rising Phoenix Rep), “The Feminism of a Soft Merlot” and “Throat” (Primary Stages) plus work with terraNOVA, Theater for a New Audience, CAPS LOCK Theater, LAByrinth and Atlantic Theater Co. among others. She wrote, produced and starred in the award-winning short film “Take it Off.” She is a 2012 Primary Stages Rockwell Scholar and a member of New York Women in Film and Television. She is also Head of Acting for New York Madness, an indie theater company. She holds a BFA from NYU (Stella Adler, RADA) and an MFA from Brown University/Trinity Rep.

Dave Register (Robbie) is a member of the Graduate Acting Class of 2015 at Columbia University. Over the past two years he’s appeared as Andrei in “Three Sisters,” Alan in “God of Carnage” and the title role in “Woyzeck,” among others. Prior to Columbia, he worked regionally in his home state of Maine with Portland Stage Company, The Portland Symphony Orchestra and Fenix Theatre Company.

Set design is by Mary Hamrick. Costume design is by Emily White. Lighting design is by Berkman Frank. Sound design is by Ben Ferber. Properties design is by Rachel Graf Evans. The Show’s website is www.poweroutnyc.com.

“Not Afraid” will be presented by Power Out October 19 to November 4, 2014 at Under St. Marks Theater, 94 St. Marks Place (Subways: 6 at Astor Place; N & R to Broadway/8th Street, F to 2nd Ave.). Performances will be Sundays & Mondays at 9:00 PM and Tuesdays at 7:00 PM. There will be an “after midnight” show Sunday, Nov. 1 at 12:30 AM.

Tickets are $18 gen. adm. and $12 seniors and students. The box office is SMARTTIX: (212) 868-4444, www.smarttix.com. The play’s website is http://www.poweroutnyc.com.