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Independent Study

  • The Tank 312 West 36th Street, First Floor New York, NY 10018 United States (map)


A New Play by Ben Gassman
Directed by Ran Xia

INDEPENDENT STUDY traces the unlikely friendship of a first-generation college student and her former professor, each struggling privately with a brother's radical choice and the onslaught of the internet’s opinions. The play grapples with tribal allegiance and tribal violence and with digital hate and its repercussions in physical space. Simultaneously it explores the limits of teaching and the burning insistence of the best students to make classroom ideas manifest in the world.

Produced by Elisabeth Ng
Lighting Design by Elizabeth M. Stewart
Production Design by An-Lin Dauber
PSM is Gabrielle Giacomo

Cast: Andrea Negrete, Kelly Bartnik, Sharlee J. Taylor, Finn Kilgore, Sean Hinckle, Alphonso Walker Jr., Yair Ben-Dor, and Gareth Tidball

Special Thanks to Dramatists Guild Fund and Materials for The Arts.



Ben Gassman is a playwright from Queens. SAM’S TEA SHACK, a solo piece he co-wrote with the actor Sam Soghor (dir. Meghan Finn) was the inaugural production in The Tank NYC’s new 56-seat theater in Sept. 2017 and was reprised two months later at the Atwater Village Theater in Los Angeles. Other recent productions include 40s & CHESTNUTS (dir. Tara Elliott) at Brooklyn College and GOOD CITIZENS IN PUBLIC SPACE (dir. Dev. Bondarin) at APAC and Museum of The Moving Image.  Currently, Culinary Theater, a company Ben formed with director Brandon Woolf in 2017, is at work crafting the perfect neighborhood sandwich and deconstructing it as lunch-theater.  There will be a work-in-progress showing at the Prelude Festival this October. Ben’s previous work has been produced at 3LD, the Bushwick Starr, Dixon Place, Silent Barn, and 13th St. Rep and has been supported with residencies and grants from Yaddo, NYU Florence, Casa Zia Lina, the Yiddish Book Center, LMCC, and The Jewish Plays Project.


Ran Xia is an interdisciplinary theatre artist originally from Shanghai, China. As a playwright, her plays have been seen on NYC stages including IRT (Pomegrenade, also artistic producer of The Arctic Group's Fridge Fest), HERE Arts Center (Harmony), Dixon Place (Echo, Princess Anybody, North, They Lived In The Attic, Tabula Rasa, etc), The Tank (Echo, Tao during Dark Fest), 4th Street Theater at NYTW (Word Play), The Brick ([ai]), Jewel Box Theater (De Profundis, also at the Cell), The Kraine (Tres Ex Machina), The Wild Project (Lord Byron In Velvet Dance Shoes, and the upcoming DIRT), etc. As a frequent collaborator with the Exquisite Corpse Co., her audio/visual installation ECHO is currently featured in The Memory House (404A Colonel Row, Governors Island). She was one of the writers for The Enchanted Realm of Rene Magritte. Ran is a current Resident Director at The Flea. She has directed Daisy, Wanda, and the Great Rapture for ECC's site-specific series on Governors Island, Disability (Planet Connections Festivities), and the upcoming Independent Study (The Tank) . As a sound designer, she's worked on Maggie Cino's production of Three Sisters at The Brick, Colleen Hughes' You Sound Like A Girl, Sound Sculpture with Project + Connect, the recent revival of an immersive Dutchman (Dir. Demone), etc. Ran is a co-creator of the bi-monthly Polar Bear Plunge salon show at Lucky Jack's. Off Broadway Assistant Directing credit include Baby Fat: Act I (La Mama & Columbia Stages, Dir. Michael Scholar Jr.), Two Miles Hollow (by Leah Nanako Winkler, Dir. Morgan Gould at Woman's Project), The Great Leap (by Lauren Yee, Dir. Taibi Magar at the Atlantic Theater), and the upcoming Carrie Mae Weems performance art concert at Joe's Pub. A contributing critic with Theatre Is Easy and Exuent. |

Earlier Event: November 8
Deniz's Holiday Special
Later Event: November 9
When We Went Electronic