Not Afraid

Slayer rules. Idealism kills. 

Bets knows from experience that being a death metal aficionado and a Communist isn’t the best way to make friends, but things reach a new low when someone threatens to kill her. Worse, her best—and only—friend Hunter seems too busy trying to get rich to care. Which is worse: selling out or dying? When do you stop trying to save the world? Just how overrated is Metallica?

Not Afraid is a play about being desperate and fearless, and the ways that makes you laugh, scream, and dance real hard.

Praise for Not Afraid

“the kind of weirdo we want to root for.”
– Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times

“Shurte and Valin do an excellent job embodying their characters and their inherent contradictions… Nora Sørena Casey has written a very intelligent story and the subtext provides plenty of food for thought. She addresses various issues with confidence and intensity.” – Sarah Weber,

“The play’s strengths lie in the sharp and often overlapping dialog that caroms between ironic humor and bleakness, painting a picture of a friendship that is tinged with co-dependence.” – Howard Miller, TalkinBroadway

Hot Pepper Theater

Production Photos

Not Afraid

a new play by Nora Sørena Casey | directed by Ben Ferber

Featuring: Taylor Shurte* (Bets), Anna Van Valin*  (Hunter), and Dave Register (The Man).

Mary Heatwole (assistant director/stage-manager), Mary Hamrick (scenic design), Rachel Graf Evans (properties design), Emily White (costume design), Stefani Vivian (makeup design), and Berkman Frank (lighting design).

Jonathan Slaff (press representative), Jon Wojciechowski (marketing consultant/associate producer), Todd Brian Backus (graphic design).

*These Actors are appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association as part of an Equity-approved Showcase.

Who’s Who

Nora Sørena Casey (playwright) is a playwright and dramaturg. Plays include: Absolutely Somewhere, a site-specific play set in a garden as part of Communal Spaces 2014; Oh, Pioneers? with TinyRhino: World Tour (TONY Critics Pick); Letters from Kafka and Little Dog Laughed with PowerOut; and Waiting for Achilles developed through the New South Young Playwrights’ Festival at Horizon Theatre in Atlanta. Recent dramaturgy projects include the ongoing development of The Universe is a Small Hat by Cesar Alvarez with director Sarah Benson (Joe’s Pub, Prelude 2013, Berkeley Rep Ground Floor); workshops of LYLAS by Jackie Sibblies Drury (Lark Studio Retreat, Bushwick Starr Reading Series); The In-Between by Kareem Fahmy (Noor Theatre Myth Project); and contributing to The Civilians cabaret Holy Matrimony! (Joe’s Pub). Nora has worked previously in the literary departments of Berkeley Rep and Portland Stage Company.

Ben Ferber (director, sound design) is a director/writer/dramaturg/designer/performer. Directing credits include Letters from Kafka (also a premiere by Nora Sørena Casey), TED FUCKING MILLER, and Stage Whispers (PowerOut); 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. A list of dramaturgy he’s most proud of: Ravishing Medusa (Theater for the New City); Outcasts (Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse); LOVE/SICK, Hidden Tennessee, and partial retranslation of God of Carnage (Portland Stage Company); and Love Kills (The Lark). His tech thriller For the Lulz headlined Portland Stage Company’s inaugural Studio Rep series. Ben is a member of SDC and LMDA, and is the year-round Artistic Assistant at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. On the web he co-runs we are the machine lords and Hot Pepper Theater.

Taylor Shurte (Bets) Our Town, 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, Glass Menagerie (UC San Diego); readings at The Old Globe, The Culture Project, The Claque, The Drama League, New Harmony Project, New Georges, and Sam French. MFA UC San Diego, BS Univ. 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. Anna is a 2012 Primary Stages Rockwell Scholar and a member of New York Women in Film and Television. She is also the Head of Acting for New York Madness, an indie theater company creating nights of raw, relevant new work. Training: BFA from NYU (Stella Adler, RADA); MFA from Brown University/Trinity Rep. Special thanks to Kel Haney, Sammantha Clegg and the Not Afraid designers and production crew. Fierce, massive love to Ben, Nora, Mary, and Taylor. Ben, I need to talk to you. (, @annavanvalin)

Dave Register (The Man) is a member of the Graduate Acting Class of 2015 at Columbia University. Over the past two years he’s grappled with roles like Andrei in Three Sisters, Alan in God of Carnage and the title role of 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, where he played Orlando in As You Like It this past summer. He can be seen next in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Classic Stage Company this March.

Mary Heatwole (assistant director, stage-manager) is a stage manager, playwright, director, and electrician. Previous collaborations with Ben Ferber include: The Closing Shift (Pencil Productions, NYC), The Hothouse (Oberlin College), and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (Oberlin College). Recent credits include: the food was terrible (Bushwick Starr), Alphabetical (Columbia University), At First Sight (Broken Box Mime Theater), PLAY/DATE (Blind Spot Collective), Lake Full of Iron, Sky Full of Hope (Manhattan Repertory), and Volpone (Red Bull Theater). Special thanks to Kel Haney, Sammantha Clegg and the Not Afraid design and production crews. Many thanks to Ben, Nora, Taylor, Anna, and calzones.

Mary Hamrick (scenic design) is a New York-based set designer whose work has also been in Los Angeles and internationally. As a theatre artist with a background in fine art, she is often inspired by sculpture and painting. Mary draws meaning from creating environments that allow audiences to both question and engage the human experience by merging difficult and wondrous moments with an eye for detail and beauty. She has also assisted in designs for multiple Tony Award-winning musicals. Mary received her M.F.A. from CalArts.

Rachel Graf Evans (properties design) has designed for the New Georges productions of AliceGraceAnon, Goldor$Mythyka, The Vaults, and Primal Play. She also worked as a Carpentry Intern for Kathy Fabian’s Propstar! during the spring of 2013 wherein she helped construct various Broadway and touring props packages including Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Lucky Guy, and Kinky Boots. Also a composer and playwright, her most recent work, Ravishing Medusa, was produced as part of Theatre for the New City’s Dream Up! Festival in August 2014. Learn more at

Emily White (costume design) is a freelance costume designer and current MFA candidate at Tisch School of the Arts. Her most recent project was Ravishing Medusa, a part of Theater for the New City’s Dream Up! Festival. San Francisco work includes Communiqué n° 10 at the Cutting Ball Theater, Crumble, or Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake, and ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore for Bigger Than a Breadbox Theater Co as well as Cloud Nine with the American Conservatory Theater’s MFA program. She has worked for The California Shakespeare Theater (Costume Design Assistant), The American Conservatory Theater (Costume Shop Admin Assistant), and The Santa Fe Opera (Costume Apprentice)

Stefani Vivian (makeup design) is a freelance makeup artist, and a graduate of Pace University’s Theatre Production/Design department. She has worked on many productions at Pace University as head makeup artist and designer including Floyd Collins, Party Time, A Number, Skin in Flames, Bent, Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, and 4.48 Psychosis. Off Broadway credits include Play and Ohio Impromptu at La Mama ETC and Chemistry at the Alchemical Theatre Labratory. She is also a Sephora employee; so while she is normally surrounded by the glitter of beauty and editorial make up, she takes every chance to get grungy.

Berkman Frank (lighting design) got into lighting design at The University of Chicago, where he worked on productions including Eurydice, Hamlet, and How I Learned to Drive. The university’s limited number of instruments and lighting positions helped him appreciate ad hoc design choices that turn burdens into boons. (He particularly enjoyed lighting Hamlet in a leaky church meeting room.) Although he currently writes and edits for a living, he is excited to return to his love of lighting design with Not Afraid.

Jon Wojciechowski (marketing consultant, associate producer) is the founder of Desperate Repertory Company, who produced ‘theatre of the absurd’ throughout New York and London, and has produced with LOWCO Productions and with Theatre at Park West. A nationally-recognized expert in non-profit management, Jon has won more than 50 awards for marketing and development, was twice nominated non-profit marketer of the year, is featured in the book Don’t Just Applaud, Send Money and is the author of Marketing Your Mission and his first novel Close to You. He is the former managing director of Portland Stage Company in Maine and executive managing director of Cape May Stage in New Jersey. Jon currently resides in Boston, where he continues to produce theatre while consulting with theatres nationwide.

Production Assistant: Nicholas Orvis

Graphic Design: Todd Brian Backus,