NYC Sending Westboro to "Hell" In New Play

For Immediate Release Contact: John J. Caswell, Jr. Tel: 718-406-4799


Progressive Theatre Workshop launches immersive fundraising campaign for GOD HATES THIS SHOW: Shirley Phelps-Roper In Concert, Live From Hell featuring support from Margaret Cho, First Run Features, and more

Campaign site:

*Hell is a fictional cabaret room and the setting of a play

Progressive Theatre Workshop has launched a highly immersive Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to present their newest play, GOD HATES THIS SHOW, in October at HERE in New York City. It asks potential donors to join together to send Westboro and Shirley to “Hell.” The play is written and directed by John J. Caswell, Jr. and stars downtown performance artist, Erin Markey (, as Shirley Phelps-Roper.

In GOD HATES THIS SHOW, Shirley Phelps-Roper of Westboro Baptist Church infamy is imagined as recently deceased and damned to Hell for all eternity - in this case a sort of fire and brimstone cabaret lounge. It is here she is forced to perform the Westboro song catalog for an audience of “evil” homosexuals. Accompanied by a full band and demon back-up singers, she croons hellish hits like “Death in Your Window,” “Stinky Freak” and “Satan’s Lair”.

Comedian and activist Margaret Cho, along with Joan Rivers and lesbian pulp fiction author Ann Bannon have lent their support by supplying autographed merchandise to benefit the campaign. A slew of artists and companies from around the world have also joined PTW including First Run Features, Zeitgeist Films, Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records and Perks include LED devil horns; gay-related DVD, CD and book packages; t-shirts, mugs, and even personalized voicemails from the Devil. A portion of proceeds will be donated to Equality House ( once production costs are met.

In addition to Markey, the cast includes by Adam Enright (Williamsburg! The Musical), Allison Guinn (HAIR), and Anna Marquardt (Walmartopia). Choreography is by Sean Roschman of Roschman Dance (

Caswell was recently a featured columnist on Huffington Post where he spoke about recent anti-gay violence in New York City and how it has informed his work and the play. His article can be found at:

GOD HATES THIS SHOW: Shirley Phelps-Roper in Concert, Live From Hell will be presented Oct 16-20 at 7pm and Oct 20 at 2pm at HERE, located at 145 6th Avenue (accessible from the C,E,N,R, and 1 trains at Spring Street). The show is part of SubletSeries@HERE, HERE's curated rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical support. For more information visit or

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JOHN CASWELL, JR. John is the Founding Artistic Director of Progressive Theatre Workshop and the author of several original works for the stage including SHOTS: A Love Story, closet.drama: a homo/hetero collision, Britney Spears For President, Eat Your Peas/DIE DIE DIE, Banksy's Bodies, and My Friend the Serial Killer by Ronald Rogers Sixth Grade. His play Arrangements was named a top ten finalist for the 2013 Woodward Newman Drama Award. He is the recipient of awards from organizations such as P.A.V.E. (as funded by The Kauffman Foundation) and The Arizona Commision on the Arts. John has spent time learning from pioneers of American theatre including Anne Bogart and The SITI Company, Circle Repertory founder Marshall W. Mason, and Ontological Hysteric Theater Founder and MacArthur Genius Richard Foreman. John studied performance at Arizona State University and in 2011, his SHOTS: A Love Story was published as part of Johnny Saldana's text Ethnotheatre: Research From Page to Stage by Left Coast Press. The book went on to earn Saldana The American Education Research Association's 2012 Outstanding Book Award from the Qualitative Research Special Interest Group.

ERIN MARKEY Erin Markey creates conceptual musical performances for stage and video. Major works include Puppy Love: A Stripper's Tail (P.S. 122), The Dardy Family Home Movies by Stephen Sondheim by Erin Markey (San Francisco Film Society), and, in collaboration with Joseph Keckler, Looking for Limbo (Lincoln Center Director's Lab). She is a featured regular in the critically acclaimed performance series Our... Hit Parade at Joe's Pub. In collaboration with comedian Cole Escola, Markey has written and performed in "NIGHT MOTHER" (Dixon Place) and "Check It Out" (Afterglow Festival). She has shown other work at The New Museum, Leslie Lohman Museum, Michelle Tea's Sister Spit Tour, The Sex Workers' Art Show, and Deja Vu Showgirls and Love Boutique. As an actress, Markey is a company member of Half Straddle, has performed with Young Jean Lee's Theatre Company, and starred in the NYC premiere of Tennessee Williams' Green Eyes (Hudson Hotel, Ames Hotel), for which she received Boston's Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actress. On television, she was a series regular on Jeffery and Cole Casserole (LOGO Network). She is currently adapting her live show The Dardy Family Home Movies by Stephen Sondheim by Erin Markey into a musical TV series. She is the recipient of NYFA's 2012 Cutting Edge Artist Fund Grant. New York Press described Erin Markey as "a tangled mash-up of humor, horror, brains and balls."


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