Nice Nails, a new work by 2nd-year MFA playwright Aaron Ricciardi, was inspired by Sarah Maslin Nir’s New York Times exposé “The Price of Nice Nails.” Nice Nails is the centerpiece of IU's 2018 "At First Sight" Festival of New Plays.
Set in a Korean-American owned nail salon on the outskirts of New York City, Nice Nails tells the story of immigrant women who spend their days toiling over the fingers and toes of their customers. As word spreads of labor department crackdowns, the owners’ daughter fights to modernize the salon. Nice Nails examines the value of individual identity, the power of government regulations, and questions the teachings of Disney movies.
Playwright Aaron Ricciardi is the second-year writer in IU's MFA Playwriting Program. Since arriving at IU, there have been staged readings of Aaron's play Can I See Your Face?, a production of his play Resting Bitch Face, and a concert of Aaron's musical theatre songs.
In addition to gender and class structure, Ricciardi also raises some political questions. “I have always wondered how immigrants to the U.S. could become Republicans”, says Ricciardi. “Government regulations have a way of stifling small businesses. At times, immigrants find their U.S. businesses suffering from over-regulation. These financial struggles must help to shape their political ideology.”
When asked about the challenges of writing Nice Nails, Ricciardi said, “The most challenging aspect was writing about a culture and people so different from myself.” He continues, “I also didn’t want to write a political play that was heavy-handed. I wanted to show you, not tell you. As a playwright, my job is to ask questions.”
Professor Jonathan R. Michaelsen, Chair of the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance, will direct Nice Nails. Michaelsen is also the producing artistic director of both the IU Summer Theatre and "Premiere Musicals: Developing New Works at Indiana University". At IU, Michaelsen has directed Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, A Clean House, The Scarlet Letter, Arcadia, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and the world premiere of Reel.
The cast of Nice Nails includes Irene Yang as Ariel, Longfei Zhao as Maurice, Nina Donville as Jasmine, Adrianne Embry as Nomfundo, Aimes Dobbins as Jacob, Talia Santia as Alyssa, Katy, Etc. and third-year MFA actress Meaghan Deiter will play Helene, in her final IU Mainstage production.
WHEN: March 30, 31 & April 3-7 at 7:30 PM and April 4 @ 2:00 PM
WHERE: Wells-Metz Theatre, Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.
TICKETS: Regular admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students. 812.855.1103 or theatre.indiana.edu.
For more production information and interview requests, please email Amy Osajima at firstname.lastname@example.org.