Ed Asner stars in new online theatrical production, ‘Hunker Down’

Independent Newsmedia
Posted 9/14/20

Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation, with Jewish Family & Children’s Service, will present “Hunker Down,” a live theatrical event starring Ed Asner to be broadcast online on Sept. 22.

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Ed Asner stars in new online theatrical production, ‘Hunker Down’


Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation, with Jewish Family & Children’s Service, will present “Hunker Down,” a live theatrical event starring Ed Asner to be broadcast online on Sept. 22.

The 30-minute play will begin live on Zoom and other online formats at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session with New Mexico-based playwright Robert Benjamin, who has connections to Arizona Jewish Theatre Co.

The performance is free to view, but donations are encouraged, according to a press release.

Described as  an “upbeat, heartwarming tale about older adults coping with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the performance brings Mr. Asner, who is known for his work on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and Pixar’s “Up,” and more, to the Scottsdale Arts audience.

Mr. Asner will play the role of Kevin, a confirmed recluse who has embraced “social distancing” for many years before the virus,  and “reluctantly agrees to a video call after refusing a visit from Bari,”  played by  local actor Janet Arnold Rees.

The Jewish Family & Children’s Service creative aging coordinator, co-stars as Bari, a woman desperate for in-person social contact while sheltering in place. 

Ms. Rees offers participatory art classes to people age 60 and up in her role at the Jewish Family & Children’s Service the release said.

“I think the play will appeal to all audiences, but especially to older adults, as the characters are somewhat reluctantly having to socialize using computer technology,” said Laura Hales, curator of learning and innovation for Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation, in a prepared statement.

“If you think about it, the realities of COVID-19 have thrown this population into the digital age, which has been a big change for many. The audience can relate to the characters, who are navigating these same issues.”

Ms. Hales, who also coordinates creative aging programs for Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation, collaborated with Ms. Rees to bring various offerings to their combined communities,

They shared their connections to the theater world with Scottsdale Arts’ audience and production expertise.

“People are hungry for live theater, and this will be close,” Ms. Rees said. “It’s on a timely topic, and it will give folks a chance to get an up-close experience with an iconic actor.”

Presenting live theater via online platforms like Zoom is timely since most people have participated in online video conversations in some form during the past six months, noted the release.

Mr. Asner’s co-star, Ms. Rees, has known the multiple Emmy Award winner for nearly two decades and first collaborated with him when he visited Phoenix to help with a fundraiser for her Arizona Jewish Theatre Co., according to the release 

They worked together again in 2008 and 2011. She appreciated that the actor never charged for his appearances because “they were for a good cause,” added the release.

The local production of “Hunker Down” will be directed by Meribeth Reeves, managing director of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

All donations for this production will be split among Scottsdale Arts, Jewish Family & Children’s Service, and The Ed Asner Family Center.

For more information, visit ScottsdaleArtsLearning.org/event/hunker-down.