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A Note From the Co-Directors of Balls

Zakiya Iman Markland, Richard Saudek, Danté Jeanfelix, Ellen Tamaki and Olivia McGuff in Balls. Photo by Os Galindo.

One Year Lease has been commissioning and developing new plays for the past ten years.

It was day two of our first workshop for Balls and there was something exciting and devilish in the air.

This was the stage of tossing up the big, seemingly impossible ideas, and with gleaming eyes the co-playwrights threw down a gauntlet: Could we stage the entire original match shot-for-shot?

Yes, absolutely.

We are drawn to creating work that lends itself to highly physical expression and the idea of making a play about the 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match was seductive. As the weeks and months of exploration and improvisation fueled by research began to stack up, so did the realization of the importance of this work.

This sporting event in its time was a touchstone for beginning a vital societal conversation. Beneath all the hype and carnival of the event itself, a paradigm-shift was being ignited.

For us, alongside questions of sexism and gender bias, issues of race, inclusion, privilege and access held equal importance in our contemporary Battle. In these areas a dark and deep-seated paradigm still refuses to shift today. Through the many developmental stages
of this project we have been challenged again and again as an artistic organization and as individuals to ask the question... What will it take to shift it?

Balls does not set out to offer an answer, but we hope keeps asking the questions that will lead us to one.

Balls is the product of an enormous creative effort by a vast team of collaborators who, while not all visible on the stage today, are each an intrinsic part of its fabric. It would not exist without them.

We are deeply honored and forever grateful for the vision and daring of the team at Stages Repertory Theatre for partnering with us to bring Balls into being for its world premiere here in Houston. It is a dream come true and we hope just the beginning of a long and creative

The Battle of the Sexes was a shining example of one woman standing up to spark a fundamental change in perspective. Balls is the product of an ambitious company of artists striving to advance a vital conversation for the same reason.
Thank you for being here to join that conversation and we hope you enjoy the ride!

Ianthe Demos & Nick Flint

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