The Snow Geese by Sharr White

 Photo: Mike Ditz

Photo: Mike Ditz

The Snow Geese

On November 1, 1917, the newly widowed Elizabeth Gaesling gathers her family together for a final shooting party before Duncan, her charismatic eldest son, heads off to war.

Joining them are her sister, Clarissa, and her German husband, Max, who have taken refuge at Elizabeth's lodge in the country to avoid anti-immigrant sentiment in town. While the scene is set for a party, her youngest son, Arnold, attempts to reveal some bracing truths about his father, and finds himself drawn to a young Ukrainian refugee recently hired to help in the house.

By the next morning, the champagne’s gone, the secrets are out, and their world will never be the same.

Cast & Artists

Melissa Chalsma as Elizabeth Gaesling
Faqir Hassan as Theodore Gaesling
Bruce Katzman as Max Hohmann
Nikhil Pai as Arnold Gaesling
Evan Lewis Smith as Duncan Gaesling
Bernadette Sullivan as Clarissa Hohmann
Kalean Ung as Viktorya Gryaznoy

Directed by David Melville
Costumes by Ruoxuan Li
Lighting by Bosco Flanagan
Stage Manager is Jenny Jihee Park

From the Playwright, Sharr White

 Sharr white

Sharr white

In New York City in the mid-1990's
Melissa Chalsma, David Melville and I were involved with a large group of pals who got together on weekends to rehearse Shakespeare and do living room readings of classics and new plays. So it was a really vital time.

And I’m just thrilled we’re working together again. I trust them, trust their instincts, more than almost anyone I know. To me, David and Melissa represent a kind of purity; a youthful idealism that hasn’t faded. Because we all used to talk about it, plenty, but who really starts their own theater company? They did. And they’re crushing it. I love them.

I started this play in response to not only the financial crisis in 2008, but also because of the naivety of American idealism, especially when it comes to war, and confronting “the other”, whomever that other happens to be.

In 1917, “The Other” were Americans of German descent. You can just take that thread and follow it, decade-by-decade, to now: Japanese Americans, Cuban Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Latin Americans, Muslim Americans…

American identity — and I guess that’s really what this play is about — exists within a formula that, era-by-era, remains unchanged: An unflinching belief in our own goodness, coupled with the denial necessary to support that belief, coupled with an enemy that acts as a coagulant for national identity. In researching the years 1917 I was struck, over and over, with just how little we’ve changed.

Audience Reactions

On February 24, as part of our iambic lab, we invited audiences to a special preview event which discussed the production, and previewed one of its scenes. Playwright Sharr White joined us via FaceTime.  Here are some audience reactions:

What a great gift it is for ISC as a creative team to be opening this gift and being able to unpack it. It’s such a wonderful opportunity as a company given that that so much of the work they’ve done is Shakespeare, but they’re getting the opportunity to work with a living playwright who is so generous and excited to be involved with this company.
- Bethany M.
I love coming to see ISC productions because it reflects the truth of our society, it reflects the multiculturalism that is the true reality of this city, if not the country. As I watched the scene, I see them for their characters first, not their color, because my view is that a family is not monochromatic. A family also has different personalities. The family unit in and of itself is so diverse and has to sit with itself at the dinner table. It’s why Thanksgiving can be so contentious, trying to meld all these diverse viewpoints. 
- Juliet W.

The Character Kits

As part of the rehearsal process, actors were asked to consider key items that embody their characters. These Character Kits are the result.

Friday Night Drama Club

Select Fridays, you are invited to join us after the performance for special post-show discussions with the cast and our noted guests. These lively talkbacks are driven by your questions and comments.

Friday, March 24

Kristina Leach has been working in professional theatres for over 20 years. She has served as a Literary Associate for both South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa and the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Currently she is a teaching artist, of acting and playwriting, at South Coast Repertory for both the Adult and Youth Conservatories. An alum of Cal State Fullerton, she is also an award-winning playwright, an actor and a director. Her plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles and the U.K. Presently, she lives in Orange County with her husband, their son and a very grumpy dog.

Friday, March 31

Amy Levinson is the Artistic Associate and Literary Director at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.  As a dramaturg, Amy has overseen over fifty productions including the commissions and world premieres of Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still and Jane Anderson’s The Quality of Life.  She has worked with numerous writers on premiere productions including Neil Simon, David Rambo, Neil LaBute and Jeffrey Hatcher.  Production dramaturgy credits include The Weir, Wait Until Dark, Atlanta, Boy Gets Girl, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Equivocation and Extraordinary Chambers.   She holds an MFA in dramaturgy from The University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Friday, April 7

Marissa Chibas is a recipient of the TCG Fox Fellowship in Distinguished Achievement.  Her solo show Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary has toured the U.S., Europe, and Mexico.  Marissa has acted in over 50 productions on and off Broadway, at resident theaters, and over two dozen premieres, including the world premiere of Two Sisters and a Piano  by Nilo Cruz at the McCarter. Her silent film/performance piece, Clara’s Los Angeles, was presented at REDCAT’s NOW festival and the San Diego Latino Film Festival. Marissa is on the Theater School faculty at CalArts where she heads the initiative Duende Calarts that collaborates with innovative Latinx and Latin American artists to make adventurous theater work.  For Duende she conceived and wrote Shelter, about the unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the U.S.,  which premiered in April 2016 at Lincoln Park and was presented at the Kennedy Center. Shelter  was published this year by NoPassport Press and her solo play is included in the Routeldge Press second edition of Contemporary Plays by Women of Color.  She wrote and performed inThe Second Woman this Fall at the Bootleg theater in LA.  She will be exhibiting this Spring in La Habana and Los Angeles a video installation and performance piece, Nostalgia in collaboration with Cuba based artist Aissa Santiso.

March 11 - April 9
Friday, March 17 - Opening night reception following the performance

Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2pm

Ticket prices:
$35 - Generous Admission
$20 - General Admission
A select number of FREE tickets are available for The Snow Geese, so that ticket price is not an obstacle to attending live theater. Call 818-710-6306 or email us at to learn more.

Get to know the artists in The Snow Geese.

arch Friday Night Drama Club

Stay after the show for a lively post-show discussion with the cast and our invited guests.
March 24:
Kristina Leach, South Coast Rep
March 31:
Amy Levinson, The Geffen Playhouse
April 7:
Marissa Chibas, CalArts

Scroll down to read more about our guests