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One Empire, Under God

A Cautionary Tale in Two Acts
Written and produced by Anthony J. Piccione
Directed by
Andrés Gallardo Bustillo
Trey Shields

Gian Caro

Mary Miles
Sarah Nowik
Marc Verzatt

J.J. Miller

Clara Tan
Michael Paone
Sarah Spagnuolo

Marcus R. Smith

Sabrina Lopez
Demonte Thompson

Rundown of Show

Prologue (2776 AD)

Act I - Dawn of a New Evangelism (2401 AD to 2411 AD)

15 Minute Intermission

Act II - Dusk of the American Millennium (2766 AD to 2776 AD)


The show in its entirety runs approximately 2 hours + 30 minutes long.

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Playwright's Note

It's no secret that American democracy - which already has significant flaws, from systematic racism to the excesses of capitalism - has been tested in unprecedented ways within the past few years. We've seen a wannabe dictator cling to power, rising hate crimes against people of color, and even an attempted overthrow of the government by the very worst people that the United States has to offer.

Yet even now, I fear that the worst is still to come.

The dark times we've lived through can be seen and compared to past incidents in other countries. However, while this isn't the first time in which history has seen a rising tide in fascism, I fear it won't be the last. Political leaders and movements come and go with the times, but what has endured throughout history is a culture that thrived on exploiting the inherent bigotry that lies in organized religion to take power, and oppress those who dare to question their intolerant and simplistic beliefs.

I don't expect every audience member of my latest play to agree with every issue that it raises, nor should they be forced to. However, what I do hope is that they will at least be inspired to question their worldview, to think about whether they've done enough to confront and condemn the fascistic culture I speak of, and to open a dialogue that will lead to the full eradication of that culture, in the desperate hope that the future events depicted in this play will not become a reality by the time we reach the year 2776...

...assuming humanity is even lucky enough to survive up to that point.

-Anthony J. Piccione


Director's Note

Let me start by saying welcome back to the theatre! I am so honored that you are choosing to share this experience with us.

What a time to be alive… as a society, most importantly as a community, we’ve gone through so much after the past year and a half. Most of us had time to think, time to breath, time to look inward, and also time to go a little crazy. The beauty of it all is that we now have a challenge that lies in front of us: we can choose what to do next. Scary; isn’t it? So many options and so many questions that lie ahead. What will the future hold? I have no idea. But I can say that I am excited to take an active part in carving that path for our community. Before continuing this note, I would like to acknowledge our first responders, doctors, and nurses and thank them for making it possible for this group of people to be here tonight.

Working on One Empire, Under God with all the amazing artists that I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with has been full of joy, excitement, discoveries, and of course the artistic chaos that comes with it. Every artist involved has given a part of themselves to this show, and that never ceases to amaze me! A big thank you to all the artists involved, this would not be possible without all of your guidance, help, and work.

With that being said, I can’t wait for you, our audience, to join us and take part in this continuous collaboration that is the theatre. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

-Andrés Gallardo Bustillo



Who's Who


Trey Shields

Damian Cunningham
Marc Verzatt

Reverend Ian MacDougal
Sarah Spagnuolo

Jessa Barclay
Gian Caro

Josh Garcia
J.J. Miller

President Darren Cunningham/Joshua Cunningham
Marcus R. Smith

General River Kalvin
Mary Miles

President Armani Bakali
Clara Tan

Vice President Zaine Thompson
Sabrina Lopez

Sarah Nowik

Michael Paone

Demonte Thompson


Creative Team

Anthony J. Piccione

Andrés Gallardo Bustillo

Harrison H. Harper

Stage Manager
Ella Rose

Assistant Director
Valeriya Nedviga

Scenic Designer
Nicole Sliwinski

Lighting Designer
Lissy Gold

Sound Designer/Original Score
Dimitri Saari

Master Carpenter
Dimitri Saari, Andrés Gallardo Bustillo, Anthony J. Piccione, Ella Rose & J.J. Miller

Set Construction Team

Meet the Company

Trey Shields (Damian Cunningham)

is an artist who trained at Boston University after coming from the small middle American town of Kalispell, Montana. He predominantly practiced the imaginative Chekov style techniques to prepare for roles. Because he comes from a small town, he is interested in how we can make art accessible to people from all areas and socioeconomic status, not just those that live on the densely populated coasts, and that far too often these demographics are neglected and left out of the conversation. He is also a chef and student of modern philosophy, and is interested in how those perspectives can be incorporated into entertainment and used to further challenge and develop art.

Marc Verzatt (Reverend Ian MacDougal)

is an actor, singer, competitive ballroom dancer, stage director, and an acting coach who specializes in opera and music theater. He has directed productions internationally with the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Houston Grand Opera, the Florida Grand Opera, and the opera companies of Fort Worth, Lake George, Madison, Arizona, Toledo, Atlanta, Kansas City, Baltimore, Boise and Jackson. He has served on the faculty the Mannes School of Music, Bard College and Yale University. He is a member of New York’s Shakespeare Without Fear workshop, and appears in several independent films, including Bastion, Backpfeifengesicht, Texas & Alexis, The Life I Knew and The Quarantine Murders. He is a member of PlayZoomers ensemble for whom he has appeared in Good Corporate Citizen, as well as directing Curveball in September of this year and Kill Your Darlings in November. With New York Modern Opera, he has appeared as the Judge in Sweeney Todd and as the Mysterious Man/Narrator in Into the Woods. At the Metropolitan Opera, he was the Major-Domo in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. He was awarded Classical Singers Magazine Stage Director of the Year in 2006.

Sarah Spagnuolo (Jessa Barclay)

graduated from Adelphi University with her BFA in Theater in 2017. Since then, Sarah has been fortunate to perform in numerous theater productions across the country. Recent credits include Eva St. White (Crooked Saints), Emily (Straight), Fabiana Cunningahm (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot), Inspiration (Porcelain), and Lady Macbeth (Macbeth). Thank you to the fabulous cast and crew, Mom and Dad, Harley, Terry and Jeff, all the essential workers who kept us safe during these uncertain times, and to Anthony for creating such a dynamic and bold piece of theater. Thank you for the opportunity to breathe life into Jessa. Very happy to be transitioning from the Zoom screen to the stage!

Gian Caro (Josh Garcia)

is 20 years old and is excited to be apart of this production and excited to be sharing the stage with a strong group of actors. He recently finished studying at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

J.J. Miller (President Darren Cunningham/Joshua Cunningham)

recently made his Off-Broadway debut with Lilies, or the Revival of the Romantic Drama. For the past 15 years, he was the Executive Director of the non-profit Brave New Films and produced 5 full-length and dozens of short documentaries. He is thrilled to be part of the One Empire Under God production. Theatre: The Dining Room, Deathtrap, Burn This, All My Sons, The Desperate Hours, The Illusion Film: Moscow Chill, Hollow Gate TV: "General Hospital", "Bagdad Cafe", "Get A Life"

Marcus R. Smith (General River Kalvin)

is incredibly excited to be a part of One Empire, Under God. Smith is known for his role Johnny in the play Johnny which premiered at the Summerfest Theater Festival. He has also played Duke in Women of Manhattan and Dale Jackson in Medal of Honor RAG. Smith originally studied Business before moving to New York to study at T. Schreiber Studio and pursue a career in acting. In his spare time, Smith can be found capturing the world through photography or volunteering as a mentor to inner-city youth. Feel free to connect with him @marcusrs.x or!

Demonte Thompson (Ensemble)

is originally from Detroit, where he began acting as a young child, and later began writing and filmmaking. He moved to New York in 2018 to study acting and pursue it professionally. He started in theatre and then got more into film. He is very excited for this show as it will be his first live show since COVID!

Michael Paone (Ensemble)

is an emerging New York City-based actor eager to bring his passion for drama out of the studio and into exciting, smart projects. He has loved playing showcase roles from Eddie in David Rabe’s Hurlyburly, Aldo in John Patrick Shanley’s Italian American Reconciliation, Ren in Theresa Rebeck’s The Family of Mann, Henry Harry in Cindy Lou Johnson’s Brilliant Traces, and Jack Lucas in Richard LaGravenese’s film The Fisher King. Michael currently studies at the Deena Levy Theater Studio in New York City and trains voice with the Kristen Linklater Center and on-camera at Anthony Meindl. He also studied playwriting and drama at Playwright’s Horizons. This June, Michael was featured in a studio showcase as Paul from Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Den of Thieves. Recent projects include short films “Cheers to Life” and “Mute” and a live stage reading of the feature film “Cat Mother.”

Sarah Nowik (Ensemble)

is currently studying theatre and media studies at CUNY Hunter college. Favorite credits include The Addams Family, Merrily We Roll Along, Eurydice, and Little Shop of Horrors. She sends a ginormous thank you to Andres and Anthony for giving her a chance when casting the original zoom workshop and an even bigger thank you to her friends and family for their support.

Sabrina Lopez (Ensemble)

is a New York-based actor from California. She is a recent graduate from the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles in 2019. There she was in Henry V (Henry V/Captain Gower), Heathers (Veronica), and Shape of Things (Evelyn). Throughout the pandemic, she did multiple online productions with Free Royal Theatre Co. including Arms and the Man (Raina) and Enemy of the People (Katherine). She is thrilled to be a part of One Empire Under God and hopes everyone enjoys the show.

Clara Tan (Vice President Zaine Thompson)

An alumna of the LASALLE College of the Arts and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), Clara has been privileged to train under such luminaries as Ray Virta (Acting), Wendy Sharp (Voice) and Igor Goldin (Musical Theatre). Since graduating from AMDA, Clara has lent her voice to several podcasts, including voicing Finley in Starcrossed, as well as producing and game-mastering Star Trek: Columbia.

Mary Miles (President Armani Bakali)

is excited to make her New York stage debut. An actor from Columbia, SC, she recently graduated from the Stella Adler Studio Professional Conservatory where she appeared in a production of Sweat. Favorite back home credits include Romeo & Juliet, Sylvia and A Bright Room Called Day."

Nicole Sliwinski (Lighting Designer)

is an emerging NYC-based Lighting Designer originally from Newington, CT. Her most recent credits include Welcome to the Imagi*Nation Part 2 (Lighting Designer) and the US Open (Lighting Assistant). She would like to thank all the wonderful people in her life for their constant support and encouragement.

Valeriya Nedviga (Scenic Designer)

Valeriya Nedviga is a third-year M.F.A. candidate in Scenic Design at Indiana University. She designed for Red Tape Theatre and Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Chicago, worked as a technical director for Indiana University Summer Theatre, props master for Richmond Shakespeare Festival, scenic designer for Weathervane Young Artists’ Repertory theatre, and a critic in residence for BorderLight Cleveland International Theatre and Fringe Festival. Valeriya had also worked as Production Assistant for the Ohio State Opera and Lyric Theatre, Production Manager for Westerville Symphony orchestra, as well as personnel manager and Librarian for McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra (OH). Her sound design for Twelfth Night has won Sound Design Award in the Design/Tech Competition at the 2021 SETC Virtual Convention. Valeriya has a Masters in Violin Performance and String Pedagogy from the Ohio State University. Valeriya is from Togliatty, Russia.

Ella Rose (Assistant Director)

is a New York-based actress, writer, and director. She started acting in improvisational theatre and went on to study Shakespeare with Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum performing as Dumain in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. She is the co-founder of Citizen Change Theatre which specializes in Commedia Dell'arte. With Citizen Change, she co-wrote and starred in Language of the Heart, and What the Frack Happened which premiered in Los Angeles’ Fringe festival. Ella wrote, filmed, and directed the short film Mama and When the Heart Hurts. She is currently working on her first feature-length film. Ella is thrilled to be a part of this production.

Harrison H. Harper (Stage Manager)

is a freelance stage manager from San Diego, California. He has experience being a stagehand, assistant stage manager, and of course, stage management. He's looking to grow his resume and gain some more experience here in New York over the next few years. His favorite color is Forest Blue.

Andrés Gallardo Bustillo (Director)

is a Colombian director, choreographer, and performer based in New York City. Currently, Andrés serves as the Artistic Director at The Phoenix Theatre (PA). He has worked with theatre companies such as Out of the Box Theatrics, Misi Productions, Teatro SEA, Fuego Celta and Play Nice Theatre Company. Andrés is the founder of Cumbres Musical in Colombia, a preprofessional theatre program. He is also part of the founders of C.R.E.A. Collaborate to Reimagine and Evolve the Arts in New York City. As a director, he has worked on numerous theatrical productions both Off-Broadway and Regionally — including theaters such as the Davenport Theatre, the Kraine Theater, and the American Theatre of Actors, among others. His work as a creator has extended to numerous mediums beyond the theatre, including choreography and film direction. Within his acting career, Andrés has performed in various theatrical productions, film pieces, and dance works. Some career highlights include Indio in West Side Story, Peter Pan in Peter/Wendy, and How The Westons Won — he is also a resident company member at Teatro SEA and The Phoenix Theatre. Andrés graduated from Misi School of Musical Theatre and The New York Film Academy’s Musical Theater and Film Professional Conservatory.

Anthony J. Piccione (Writer/Producer)

is an award-winning writer and producer based in New York City. Born in Rochester, NY and raised in Connecticut, Piccione's full-length drama A Therapy Session with Myself premiered in January 2019 at the Hudson Guild Theatre before transferring in May to the Kraine Theater for an extended year-long run. It is now published at Smith Scripts, and is currently being adapted into a screenplay. Additionally, Piccione's eclectic canon of one-acts has previously been presented in NYC at The Tank, the Hudson Guild Theatre, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, Midtown International Theatre Festival, and Manhattan Repertory Theatre, as well as at regional venues such as Playhouse on Park, Hole in the Wall Theatre, the Windsor Art Center, and Windham Theatre Guild, and are published at Smith Scripts, Heuer Publishing & Off the Wall Plays. His short drama What I Left Behind was named the NYWinterfest’s Best Short Play of 2018, and he was also nominated for Planet Connections Theatre Festivity’s Outstanding Playwright award for his avant-garde one-act 4 $tages, and his short film The Fire That Won’t Stop was recently named an official selection at the Venice Short Film Awards, the Paris International Short Festival & the Hollywood International Golden Age Festival and is now available for streaming at Think Shorts. In addition to his independent work as a writer, Piccione also works as a scriptwriter-for-hire, and his work has been commissioned by Sesame Workshop, Speaks Volumes Productions, and various other clients. He is also the founder and Producing Artistic Director of Talking It Out, a virtual theatre festival dedicated to mental health awareness, as well as the host of the weekly podcast Indie Art Todayand he also works as a teaching artist at Broadway Weekends where he offers private coaching for playwrights. He received his BA in Theatre from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2016 and is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Visit to learn more.



Contributer ($100 or more with one ticket donation on Classy or Eventbrite OR $10 per month on Patreon)

Ralph Lewis

Sustainer ($50 or more with one ticket donation on Classy or Eventbrite OR $10 per month on Patreon)

Michael Abels

Andrés Gallardo Bustillo

Eleanora Manfredi

Ann Marie Mauro

Sarah & Chris Sortino

Stan & Pauline Spagnuolo

Elaine Williams

Supporter ($25 or more with one time donation OR $5 per month on Patreon)

Daniel Beckwith

Tony Bozanich

Cameron Cox

Candy Dato

Eric Dino

Katy Garretson

Erin Hennessy

Dena Hodgson

Christopher Kendrat

Ross Oppenheim

Fabrizio Manfredi

James Miller

Kristen Morgan

Christopher Pyle

Melanie Sloan

Harley Yeager


THANK YOU to all those who donated over the past year and a half to help us make this show a reality!

Thank you for attending our show!


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