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Based on true events and current headlines, DISCONNECTION is a powerful indictment of contemporary religious intrusions into personal relationships. A successful lawyer, his classical piano mentor, and his estranged daughter all confront the dark side of dedication to a Church whose aged founder faces the end of his life in isolation and regret.
“Disconnection was inspired directly by my experience with Scientology, and its notorious policy of the same name, whereby members must renounce their affiliation with anyone deemed to have gone against tenets of the Church. After watching this odious policy affect the life of BHP founder Milton Katselas, and again experiencing its interference in my own relationship with my cherished piano teacher, I was compelled to write this story. Scientology is just one of many controlled-thought systems that have taken hold throughout history, but the play is designed to be a metaphor for all those systems. It is not just an indictment of Scientology’s disconnection policy, but of all of its ancestors, and hopefully, its progeny as well"
– Allen Barton (Playwright)
ALLEN BARTON (Playwright) is a Los Angeles-based writer-director, and classical pianist. Last season’s Years To The Day attained international critical acclaim after an extended run at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Allen has written & directed five short films and his first feature screenplay; REAL MUSIC was a top-three finalist in the CAPE New Writers Award Competition. He is author of several one-act plays and has earned numerous stage, TV, and film credits as an actor. As a pianist, Allen performed Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue" at the 25th Annual S.T.A.G.E. fundraiser (Wilshire Theatre), was a prizewinner in the 2002 Los Angeles Liszt Society Competition, and has recorded five CD’s (available on iTunes). In 2010 he was made a Steinway Artist. A graduate of Harvard University, his selected directing credits include Speed-The-Plow, Oleanna, The Heidi Chronicles, Engagement (writer), The Interview, The Real Thing, Rabbit Hole, and The Last Five Years. www.allenbarton.com
JOEL POLIS (Director) most recently directed Allen Barton’s Years To The Day, and Lynn Manning's Sympathy for the Devil for the Skylight Theatre Company. Before that, Joel directed the world premiere of Kathy Graf's highly acclaimed award winning drama Hermetically Sealed (starring Gigi Bermingham) at the Skylight. Selected directing credits include Jerry Lambert's Straight Time at the Odyssey and Joe Bay's Last Fling at the Hayworth. An actor-turned director, Joel has over 100 TV and movie credits as well as scores of plays on his resume, most recently Kathy Graf's The Snake Can at the Odyssey Theatre. He is a graduate of Yale Drama School and USC's School of Theater.
GARY GROSSMAN (Producer/Artistic Director) started his career in New York owning two theaters and a theatrical lighting company by the age of 23. He worked at the Public Theatre, Café La Mama, and Sheraton Square Playhouse before traveling West in the 70's to join up with the emerging theatre moment in Los Angeles. He has produced over 300 stage plays, including more than 50 world premieres. Among his celebrated productions are Years to the Day, Wrong Man, Bulrusher, Hermetically Sealed, Sexsting, Mad Women (Best Solo Performance), Romeo and Juliet directed by Milton Katselas (3 LADCC Awards), Dylan (3 LADCC Awards), Influence, Dream Man, Lone Star, Balm in Gilead, Visions and Lovers, Rabbit Hole, Beautified and La Ronde De Lunch. In addition to his work for Skylight Theatre Company, Gary produced at The Cast Theatre, Director's Theatre and co-produced The Home-Coming, Endgame, and The Seagull for the Matrix Theatre Company. For television he created and co-produced “Sadie and Son” (CBS- MOW) and the sitcom pilot “Man in the Kitchen” (ABC). He is the Executive Producer for award-winning director Chuck Workman's documentary, “The Actor’s Life.” Gary most recently directed Quarantine for STC’s LAbWorks. www.skylighttheatrecompany.com
JEFF McLAUGHLIN (Set & Lighting Design) is a lighting and set designer. His commercial clients include Kellogg’s, Tropicana and Huawei. Corporate clients include P&G and Wella-Sebastian. Television credits include Octane Academy and Interior Motives. Recent notable works include Pray To Ball, (Ovation winner), My Name is Asher Lev, The Blue Iris (NAACP nominee), Bakersfield Mist (Ovation nominee), A House Not Meant to Stand (Ovation and LA Weekly Award nominee) and The Train Driver (Ovation and LA Weekly Award nominee) all at The Fountain Theatre; Grace and Glorie (Ovation winner) at The Colony; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein-Doors at The Falcon; Sexsting at The Skylight; Years to the Day at Beverly Hills Playhouse; Recent Tragic Events (LADCC Award nominee), The Long Christmas Ride Home (Ovation nominee), and A Skull in Connemara (Ovation and LADCC winner) at Theatre Tribe. Check the web: JeffMcLaughlinDesign.com
PETER BAYNE (Sound Designer) Selected LA Credits include: The Fountain Theatre: The Brothers Size, Broomstick, In the Red and Brown Water, A Normal Heart, The Blue Iris, Cyrano, On the Spectrum, Bakersfield Mist, Opus, Coming Home, El Nogalar, Shining City A Noise Within: The Tempest, South Coast Repertory: James and the Giant Peach, The Antaeus Company: The Malcontent, The Liar, The Colony Theatre: Year Zero, The Actor’s Gang: Break The Whip, Katie the Kurst, The Rogue Machine: Lost Girls, Theatre of Note: Copy, The Elephant Theatre Company: Unorganized Crime, Twilight of Schlomo, Parasite Drag, 100 Saints You Should Know, Revelation. Other selected regional credits with the American Repertory Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare and Company, Actor's Shakespeare Project, Lyric Stage Company, Company One, Portland Playhouse, Provincetown Playhouse, and Orfeo Group. Peter is active as a composer in film and TV, and produces and performs dance music and rock and roll. He has a BA in music from Vassar and an MFA in Composition and Theory from Brandeis.
LUKE COOK began acting in high school and then studied at the Actors Centre in Sydney. He stars in the webseries Soccer Moms as the flamboyant gay Soccer Dad. Luke starred in the Australian drama series COPS: LAC, in the Viral video First Kiss with over 100 Million views, and along side Rupaul and Tori Spelling in Mystery Girls. He most recently starred in the Skylight Theatre's original production of The Sexual Life of Savages. He formed a production company with Director Shawn Peach, Cookin Peaches Productions. Some of the company's original content includes a commercial shot for the skin care brand 'Proactive' and the short film, THE ACCENT GETS THE GIRL.
BO FOXWORTH has appeared in The Tavern at SOC and Amadeus at ETC. The Liar, The Crucible (Ovation Nom. Lead Actor), Macbeth, The Seagull and The Malcontent with Antaeus with which he is a company member. He has also worked at La Mirada, A Noise Within (2 Ovation Noms.), Laguna Playhouse, The Geffen, Disney Hall, LATW, Boston Court and The Hollywood Bowl. In NY and regionally: The Lucile Lortel, The Century Theater, HERE, The Pearl Theater, The Shakespeare Theater, Vienna’s English Theater in Vienne, Austria, The Long Wharf, Baltimore Center Stage, Playmakers Rep, The Old Globe, Portland Stage, Yale Rep, and many others. Bo has numerous film and television credits most recently appearing in Castle. He is a graduate of UCLA and received his Masters at The Yale School of Drama.
ROBERT HUGHES grew up in Southern California - trained locally, in New England and New York as an actor. After a successful career as a performer, teacher, and entrepreneur in Hollywood, he moved, explored the Chesapeake Bay, and had a successful career marketing the human story around advancing technology. After thirty years, he has returned to his first love, acting.
JAY HUGULEY has worked with Skylight Theatre multiple times. He previously appearing as Henry in Tom Stoppard’s THE REAL THING, Howie in David Lindsay-Abaire’s RABBIT HOLE and Clive in Peter Leftcourt’s LA RONDE DE LUNCH. Other L.A. theatre includes BEST/WORST, THREE and AN EVENING ON THE BRINK all at The Electric Lodge. Film includes 12 Years a Slave, When the Game Stands Tall, Ride, Hijacked, Abattoir, Sunny in the Dark. Television includes True Detective, Red Band Society, Treme, Nashville, CSI:Cyber, Ravenswood, Star-Crossed, Army Wives, Brothers & Sisters, Alias, What About Brian, Cold Case, Summerland.
DENNIS NOLLETTE is a co-founder of the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society. Favorite roles there; Major General Stanley (Pirates of Penzance), the Lord Chancellor (Iolanthe). Other favorite roles: Dr. Morris Ritz (The Grass Harp) and Marryin' Sam (Li’l Abner). As producer: Pinafore!, Buddies, Altar Boyz, and Gaveston (all at the Celebration Theatre). His film credits include: Think Like A Man, Nobody’s Child (also writer/director). Dennis is a former studio attorney.
CARTER SCOTT is new to professional theatre, DISCONNECTION is her first production. You can however, see her on an episode of STATE OF AFFAIRS.
EVERETTE WALLIN hails from Memphis, Tennessee and has appeared in such hit television shows as HBO's Deadwood and The Newsroom, as well as Bones and NCIS.
THE SKYLIGHT THEATRE COMPANY develops and produces new, exhilarating works while nurturing and educating the writers who create them. A vibrant and expanding family of artists giving voice to original perspectives of today's world, Skylight won 4 Ovation Awards in 2014 for The Wrong Man and Pray To Ball (the most of any intimate theatre in LA) while last year LA Weekly named their productions of Years To The Day, Open House and Sexsting to their Top Ten Plays list of 2013. Skylight's first year as a company dedicated to developing new plays was 2011, their production of Hermetically Sealed made the LA Times annual list of Top Ten Plays, and Mad Woman moved from Los Angeles to La MaMa in New York. Since then plays developed by Skylight have played Chicago, New York, Edinburgh, Paris and local venues. Twitter: @SkylightThtr, Facebook: Skylight Theatre Company, Instagram: SkylightTheatre www.skylighttheatrecompany.com
DISCONNECTION opens at 8pm on January 24th at the Beverly Hills Playhouse 254 South Robertson Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA. 90211 Performances are at 8:30pm Fridays, 8pm Saturdays, and 7pm Sundays thru March 1st. Tickets are $30/34. For reservations call 213-761-7061 or online at Skylight Tickets.
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Scientology Inspires a New Play in Beverly Hills (GO!)
Review by Steven Leigh Morris
Allen Barton’s absorbing new drama, Disconnection, spun from his experiences with Scientology, looks at the fallout from a regime change at a self-improvement church, when that church, under a new administration, devolves into an abusive cult.
Review by Ingrid Wilmot
Bring up the subject of Scientology and you'll get two opinions. Positive arguments from those who espouse this religion, negative from the rest of us. But there's a third element, namely people who once did belong but eventually decided to opt out. Barton tells that particular story from both an insider's experience as well as a friend of someone closely affected.
Totalitarian “Disconnection” Rules at the Beverly Hills Playhouse
Review by Peter Foldy
Launching their 2015 season after a successful, award winning year in 2014, the Skylight Theatre Company has opened with a thought-provoking drama by Allen Barton called DISCONNECTION. Based in part on the playwright’s own personal experiences
Reviewed by Neal Weaver
The church referred to by playwright Allen Barton in his play is never identified, but the details of his story evoke the horror stories told by disillusioned former Scientologists: accounts of demands for total conformity, hefty financial contributions, total commitment, and a willingness to declare all-out war on any member who wants to leave the fold.
Once A Gateway Into Scientology, Beverly Hills Playhouse Criticizes the Church In New Play 'Disconnection'
Premiering just as Alex Gibney's new documentary based on Going Clear receives accolades at the Sundance Film Festival, Disconnection rides in on a wave of critical examinations of the Church and its activities. Thanks in large part to a very strong cast, Disconnection merits a look as well. It's certainly not what anyone would have ever expected to see at the Beverly Hills Playhouse back in Katselas's heyday.
"DISCONNECTION" at Beverly Hills Playhouse Review – Riveting, mesmerizing production
By Ester Benjamin Shifren
In a riveting two-hour performance, the devastating effects of cult and thought-control groups is brought to life in Allen Barton’s production, “Disconnection.” Based on true events, and performed by a cast of six remarkable, convincing actors, the production is a powerful indictment of the dark side of dedication to a Church, its doctrines and its intrusions into personal relationships. Barton leaves no stone unturned in his relentless, gut-wrenching expose
"Disconnection" Religious Good Intention to Controlled Thought
by Laura Tull
[Disconnection] demonstrates how a religion can go from being one with intent to help others, to one that closes the minds of its followers and blinds them to their own corruption. This premiering play is groundbreaking in exposing the destructive nature of "excessive devotion."
DISCONNECTION - A Potent Message from an Ex-Scientologist
by Gil Kaan
Powerful production of the world premiere of Disconnection written by Allen Barton, based on his own past experiences with Scientology. Barton presents various damaged characters who in their vulnerability 'find' this organization that audits them, rules their daily lives and convinces them to disconnect with all distractions (i.e., family, friends) in order to promote this "church's" cause. Disconnection opens inexplicably...
PLAY REVIEW: Barton Disconnects
by Roger L. Simon
Like The Master, Disconnection does not mention the “S”-word but it is more than obvious the celebrity-driven religion famed for almost imprisoning its gullible and needy adherents is the subject here. The play, however, is considerably more potent and provocative than the Anderson movie, which is surprisingly ponderous given its dramatic subject. Barton, who extricated himself from Scientology some years ago, tells the story of...
Ex Scientologists Message Board
Review of Allen Barton's "Disconnection:
by Larry Anderson
Larry Anderson here of "Orientation" fame (or perhaps more aptly, "infamy"). It is a rare thing for me to post on Scientology-related blogs or forums, but I felt compelled to reach out to the "Ex" community and share an urgent message about a remarkable experience I had last night....
Some of My Best Friends Were Scientologists
Allen Barton, on his new play, Disconnection
By Pauline Adamek
Writer-director (and classical pianist) Allen Barton gained critical acclaim last year with his play Years To The Day, presented by Skylight Theatre Company. It was a futuristic satire of our self-important discussions of movies and tech gadgets via the reunion of two long-time friends at a coffee shop. During their meeting, they psychically and spiritually disemboweled each other. Barton’s latest play, Disconnection, tackles cult-like religions and organizations. Inspired by painful, personal experience...
by Larry Gold
"A dark, yet at times funny look at the mind controlling of cults, their leaders and followers. There is more than enough human insight in Allen Barton's writing and simple, yet powerful direction by Joel Polis to allow the play to soar and draw the audience in. Explosive performances in this intimate theater make for a very worthwhile evening. Plus , I had no trouble finding street parking w(which is always nice!)"
Comment on "The Underground Bunker"
by Skip Press
"Last night I saw the first preview of Allen Barton's "Disconnection" at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Last time I was there was over 20 years ago, when Milton Katselas and Mario Feninger (who's portrayed as a music teacher) were alive. It's the most hard-hitting dramatization of $cientology I've ever seen, and the portrayals of Robert L. Hughes as founder "Oldman" and Everette Wallin as "Chairman" are astonishingly good. Every single character in the play is excellent. This will be an award-winning play that, like Barton's last one, will play in places around the world and is good enough for Broadway. If you're in the L.A. area, you MUST see it. With "Going Clear" coming out and other things going on, 2015 is going to be a very bad, bad, bad, bad year for the cult of $cientology."
The Los Angeles Post
Q & A Perilous State of Freedom of Thought..
Throughout history these entities, often under the guise of ‘religion,’ come along and use fear and supposed moral authority to restrict freedom of speech and association, even within families. And whether it becomes violent or it’s under the surface, it is always an important story to tell. With Scientology, it’s not happening “over there.” It’s happening right now, here in Los Angeles.
BACKSTAGE - 7 Can’t-Miss L.A. Theater Events This Spring 2015
“Disconnection” at Skylight Theatre Company (opens Jan. 24)
Skylight surprised the L.A. stage community last year by taking home more 2014 Ovation Awards than any other intimate theater. The new year promises more great work from this young company, launching the season with Allen Barton’s peek behind the curtain of a mythical modern cult.
Scientology’s reputation for cruelty, for embodying the concept of a “bully,” is well earned. But few of its acts of inhumanity have affected us like the story we have for you today. It involves a man who is renowned for his skills at the piano, a teacher who has been hailed for his technique by such well known students as Chick Corea and Tom Constanten. And now, at the age of 90, the man’s church has compelled him to cut off all contact with a pupil...
Mike Rinder's Blog - Something Can Be Done About It
Anyone who does not know Allen, he is a highly acclaimed playwright (I include at the end of this posting some of the many kudos for his last play). You may recognize his name from this story on Tony Ortega’s blog about Mario Fenninger. Allen has translated his experience into a new play which promises to be a tour de force.
The Bryan Callen Show
Bryan and Leo Flowers sit down with Bryan’s long time friend, Actor, Writer, Producer and former Scientologist, Allen Barton. They discuss the topic of religion, specifically with regards to Scientology and how they and other organized groups deal with disconnecting with people.