How Nu Sass fell in love with ‘To Fall in Love’ by Jennifer Lane

A poignant, tender play is the company's second world premiere of the season.

Nu Sass will open the second world premiere of its season: Jennifer Lane’s To Fall in Love, joining Nu Sass’s acclaimed production of Twigs & Bone in repertory through June 18, 2022. The backstory of the play, the story within the play, and the story of how the play came to Nu Sass are each the stuff of intriguing passion.

Over two decades ago, the psychologist Arthur Aron watched as two strangers, sitting directly across from each other, fell in love in his laboratory as they asked each other a series of 36 questions he had prepared. Six months later, the two participants were married and invited the entire lab to the ceremony. The story was an instant hit in The New York Times and inspired playwright Jenny Lane to create To Fall in Love.

Rachel Manteuffel as Merryn and Connor Padilla as Wyatt in ‘To Fall in Love.’ Photo by Aubri O’Connor.

In Lane’s script for To Fall in Love, Merryn and Wyatt are on the verge of ending their marriage and agree to meet in Wyatt’s apartment to use the same questions in hopes of reconnecting. A poignant, tender story of what can be said and what is left unsaid follows.

Co-Founder and Artistic Director Aubri O’Connor tells of the coincidences that led to the play’s production at Nu Sass: “During the pandemic, Ryan Taylor joined the Nu Sass company assisting us with grant writing while his own theater company, Washington Rogues, was closed due to COVID. As is wont to happen when two producers start talking, he told me how he and Rachel Manteuffel had fallen in love with the script for To Fall in Love. I told him that if they ever find the time to put it together, to let me know because it sounded right up our alley and I’d long wanted to feature Rachel on stage.

“Fast forward to later summer 2021, and Nu Sass had just begun casting and rehearsals for Twigs & Bone, a play that had been delayed since the pandemic began in 2020. We knew it would go up in 2022, and we knew it would be the largest and longest project we’d ever done. I was sitting on the porch in Petworth with Ryan, happily discussing the grants we’d received to help finance the project, when Ryan looked at me with a glint of mischief and madness in his eye. ‘You know,’ he said, ‘Rachel got a grant, too. We’re going to do To Fall in Love.’ Before we could blink, the plans were tumbling out. Nu Sass would be in Caos on F for months and would have plenty of dark time in the calendar. It was stunningly easy to turn one performance over three months into two, and before we knew it the entire plan was in motion!”

But what brought Nu Sass to fall in love with To Fall In Love in the first place? “The answer to that,” says O’Connor, “is author Jennifer Lane’s uncanny ability to plumb the depths of a person’s psyche while discussing pizza or old blue eyes himself.

“These two wholly unique people Jenny has created, Merryn and Wyatt [Rachel Manteuffel and Connor Padilla], experience hilarious, intimate, and infuriating moments in 90 short minutes. It is not often when I read a script that I can see exactly how it should occur on stage, that I will stop reading to experience the pauses, that I will have audible responses to the scenes.

“From the first day Ryan and Rachel shared the script wi

Rachel Manteuffel as Merryn and Connor Padilla as Wyatt in ‘To Fall in Love.’ Photos by Aubri O’Connor.

th me, I knew they had found something special that people would not only enjoy seeing but may actually need to see. After collectively living through the prolonged trauma of the pandemic, I think it’s incredibly meaningful for all of us to see a show about how two people in a room can make the intentional choice to open up, share, and process together.”

To Fall in Love plays May 6 through June 18, 2022, in rep with the world premiere Twigs & Bone presented by Nu Sass Productions performing at Caos on F, 923 F Street NW, Washington, DC. Tickets ($30 general admission; $60 date night [2 tickets + 2 drinks + 2 snacks]; $10 industry, student, teacher, healthcare worker) can be purchased online. Absolutely no late seating. Pay What You Will is available for all performances, and a streaming option ($20) is available for selected performances.

COVID Safety: Seating is limited to 18 audience members per performance. All guests will be asked to comply with Theater Washington COVID guidelines. Proof of vaccination and mask are required.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT 

Jennifer Lane

Jennifer Lane (she/her) is a California-based writer of plays, books, poems, and essays. Her work has appeared in such places as The Mothership, Aberrant Tales, The Dionysian, Women in Theatre Magazine, Sisyphus Quarterly, HowlRound, and The Bayou Magazine. A special edition collection of her poetry entitled The Word for When was published by Edizione INAUDITE in Italy and she has published several science fiction romance novels under a pseudonym that reached #1 in several categories on Amazon.

Jenny’s plays include To Fall in Love (winner of the 2017 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Play Contest, winner of Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Drama at the 2017 San Diego International Fringe Festival, Semifinalist for the O’Neill) which has been presented around the country, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The play has also been adapted into a feature film and is currently in pre-production. Other plays include Harlowe (developed under the mentorship of Sarah Ruhl, winner of the Alec Baldwin Fellowship at Singers Forum, workshopped at the Gulfshore Playhouse and FAU’s TheatreLab, Finalist for the 2015 Humanitas/CTG Playwriting Prize); September & Her Sisters (developed at Scripps Ranch Theatre’s Out On A Limb Festival, presented at The Workshop Theatre); The Seer & The Witch (developed in the Groundbreakers Playwriting Group, part of the nuVoices for a nuGeneration Festival, Semi-Finalist for the O’Neill Playwriting Conference, nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); and Matrescence (slated for performance with InnerMISSION productions). Her dramatic writing is represented by Amy Wagner of Abrams Artists Agency.

Jenny is a current member of The Road Theatre’s Under Construction playwriting group where she is developing a new play. She is an alum of the Groundbreakers Playwriting Group, the Mission to (dit)Mars Playwriting Group, the Fusion Artist in Residence Program in Turin Italy, and the Author Mentor Match program, where she was mentored by YA Author Rachel Lynn Solomon. She has written two Young Adult novels, and her fiction is represented by Katie Shea Boutillier of Donald Maass Literary Agency.

MFA: Columbia University; BA: Sarah Lawrence College. For more information: jennifer-lane.net

TO FALL IN LOVE CREDITS

Written by Jennifer Lane
Directed by Ryan Taylor
Starring: Rachel Manteuffel and Connor Padilla

Stage Management by Krista Murray
Light Design by Laurel Lehman
Set by Simone Schneeberg
Costumes by Jesse Shipley
Choreography by Emily Sucher
Marketing by M.B., Clarissa Westphal-Noguiera and Laolu Fayese

TO FALL IN LOVE PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

Friday, May 6 @ 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 7 @ 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 8 @ 2:00 pm; 7:30 pm
Monday, May 9 @ 7:30 pm
Thursday, May 12 @ 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 14 @ 2:00 pm
Sunday, May 15 @ 7:30 pm
Monday, May 16 @ 7:30 pm
Tuesday, May 17 @ 7:30 pm
Thursday, May 19 @ 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 22 @ 7:30 pm
Tuesday, May 24 @ 7:30 pm
Thursday, May 26 @ 7:30 pm
Sunday, June 5 @ 7:30 pm
Wednesday, June 8 @ 7:30 pm
Thursday, June 9 @ 7:30 pm
Sunday, June 12 @ 7:30 pm
Monday, June 13 @ 7:30 pm
Thursday, June 16 @ 7:30 pm
Friday, June 17 @ 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 18 @ 2:00 pm; 7:30 pm

SEE ALSO:
A chillingly terrific ‘Twigs & Bone’ premieres at Nu Sass (review by John Stoltenberg)

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