Self-Injurious Behavior Moves to LA

Jessica Cavanagh's Dallas-born play will have its world premiere in Los Angeles, with producers Joe Mantegna, Ronnie Marmo, Laura Buchwald and Bren Rapp.

published Saturday, July 6, 2019

Photo: Courtesy (Mantegna and Marmo); Jordan Fraker (Cavanagh)
From left, Joe Mantegna, Ronnie Marmo and Jessica Cavanagh


Dallas — Big news for Dallas actress/playwright Jessica Cavanagh: Her play Self-Injurious Behavior, which had a workshop at Theatre Three in May 2018 and then an off-Broadway showcase in April, will have its official world premiere in September at Ronnie Marmo's Theatre 68 in Los Angeles. The production, which will again be directed by Dallas' Marianne Galloway, has big names as executive producers: Marmo and Joe Mantegna, the Tony-winning actor (Glengarry Glen Ross) best known for the TV show Criminal Minds. Mantegna recently directed Marmo in I'm Not a Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce, which ran off-Broadway and is returning to LA.

The connection is Dallas-based Bren Rapp, who produced both Lenny Bruce and Self-Injurious Behavior in New York. Rapp and NYC-based Laura Buchwald will produce SIB in LA. The production is in association with Autism Works Now.

The play, based on Cavanagh's real-life experience as the mother of a severely autistic child, will again star Cavanagh, and Jude Segrest as her character's son, as well as Madison Calhoun from the Dallas and NYC cast. The rest of the ensemble will be recast.

You can read our original interview with Cavanagh here; as well as our reviews of the Dallas and New York productions.

The full news release about the LA production is below:


Photo: Jordan Fraker
Jude Segrest and Jessica Cavanagh in Self-Injurious Behavior

After a successful and critically acclaimed workshop run in the summer of 2018 in Dallas at Theatre Three, emerging playwright, Jessica Cavanagh, along with Dallas-based producer Bren Rapp, took her autobiographical play about motherhood under the most extreme circumstances, Self-Injurious Behavior, to New York for a 12 performance AEA showcase run at Urban Stages in April of 2019. It was there it caught the attention of veteran actor/director/producer Ronnie Marmo and Tony Winning star of stage and screen, Joe Mantegna. The two are now bringing the world premiere full production of Self-Injurious Behavior to North Hollywood and Marmo's Theatre 68 this September. Its run will be coupled with an effort to raise autism awareness and to reach out to the community of families living with loved ones on the spectrum, and those with autism themselves, through a special partnership with Autism Works Now.

Self-Injurious Behavior is based on playwright and star, Jessica Cavanagh’s own story of loss, love and survival in dealing with her son's autism diagnosis. When severely autistic, 11-year-old Benjamin becomes a danger to himself, his divorced mother, Summer, makes the excruciating decision to admit him to a home for special needs kids. Seeking comfort, she visits her sisters in Portland who desperately and hilariously attempt to distract her with a weekend of escapism at the local renaissance faire. Plagued by haunting dreams of her son and memories of her marriage, Summer is forced to face the need to let go. Resonating across audience demographics thanks to the play's bittersweet and unique blend of honesty and humor, in telling her story, Jessica Cavanagh has captured a voice that speaks to the power within us all to not only cope with our own “unimaginables” but to continue to live, making this a story not only about autism and motherhood, but about the resilience of the human spirit.

Along with Cavanagh, who will be reprising her lead role, Dallas based youth actor, Jude Segrest will again take the stage as Benjamin and Madison Calhoun will also round out the members of the original Dallas (and NY) cast anchoring the Los Angeles production. The rest of the ensemble hails from LA, New York and Portland. One of the most sought after directors in Dallas, Marianne Galloway, will again helm the project as director, having helped shaped the work in that capacity since its inception. Producing powerhouse, Bren Rapp, who has shifted her focus from mounting work in Dallas to getting Dallas based projects on their feet in larger commercial markets continues to forge a path for the work, with the addition of  New York based novelist and editor, Laura Buchwald, as a producer.

Marmo, Mantegna and Rapp have proved a formidable team, still riding the wave of the high profile success of I'm Not A Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce. The one man play written by and starring Ronnie Marmo, directed by Joe Mantegna and co-produced by Bren Rapp has run for over 200 performances between Los Angeles and New York, and having recently concluded a 9 month Off Broadway stint is now gearing up for a national tour. 

Joe Mantegna won the Tony Award for his performance as Richard Roma in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize winner, Glengarry Glen Ross. He has been nominated for Emmys and Golden Globes for his work including as Dean Martin in the mini-series The Ratpack and Pipi Delana in The Last Don. Among numerous TV credits, Mantegna just finished filming the 15th and final season of the wildly popular Criminal Minds (CBS) in his lead role as David Rossi, continues to voice the character of Fat Tony on The Simpsons and has also received critical acclaim for his work in the Emmy and People's Choice nominated Joan of Arcadia and The Starter Wife. His film credits span decades with memorable roles in features such as Searching for Bobby FischerGodfather IIIForget Paris and House of Games. In 2011 he received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ronnie Marmo has starred in more than 60 feature films and television shows. Most recently he guest starred on Criminal Minds (CBS) and Lethal Weapon (Fox). He enjoyed a 3 year run as Ronnie Dimestico on General Hospital (ABC). He also starred in Ammore E Malavita (Love and Bullets), an Italian film which won the 2018 David di Donatello for best picture (the Italian Equivalent to the Academy Award). Other film credits include Back in the Day, starring opposite of Alec Baldwin and Danny Glover (now on Netflix), Deuces WildCrocodile Dundee in LAWest of BrooklynPizza With BulletsDeath of A TreeIrish Eyes(aka Vendetta) and Limbo Lounge. With a prolific stage career, Marmo has produced over 100 plays, directed over 50 and starred in at least 40 on both coasts. Acclaimed roles include Danny in Danny and The Deep Blue Sea, Satan in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,  Silva in Baby Doll and Bill Wilson in Bill W and Dr. Bob. He was also the artistic director and producer of the critically heralded, first ever, 13 by Shanley Festival which enjoyed a 6 month run. He is the Artistic Director of Theatre 68 which operates in both Los Angeles and New York.

Autism Works Now provides workplace readiness skills resulting in meaningful, dignified employment for individuals with autism and related disorders. Their sole mission is employment for individuals with autism and related differences, with a goal of having small businesses completely owned, operated by and staffed with individuals on the spectrum within five years. California based Autism Works Now was a beneficiary of proceeds from the NY showcase, which coincided with Autism Awareness Month, and will again receive charitable support from this production as a percentage of all tickets sold will go to the organization, but Theatre 68 and the show's producers are taking the opportunity for outreach further with this world premiere. Participants of Autism Works Now's workplace readiness programs will be employed by the theatre on performance days, will receive training regarding various jobs involved in putting on theatrical productions and will have the opportunity to bring one of their operated businesses, their Glorious Pies pie truck, to performances to sell concessions. As well, talkbacks will be scheduled around performances with autism experts, celebrities and individuals on the spectrum to give audiences a chance to increase their awareness and understanding of those living with autism, especially those now becoming adults and aging out of programs aimed at children. Joe Mantegna, whose adult daughter Mia has autism and who has participated in Autism Works Now programs explains, "It is important to understand that this is a condition that does not go away. As much as we put emphasis on the issues that happen with children, what happens to them when they become adults?  They are adults a lot more years than they are children and we have to think beyond".  Playwright and star Jessica Cavanagh's own son is now entering adulthood and still in group care, making the issues addressed through the production's outreach efforts a fitting continuation to her story.



Theatre 68 Presents the World Premiere of Jessica Cavanagh's Self-Injurious Behavior

Directed by Marianne Galloway

Produced by Laura Buchwald and Bren Rapp

Presented In Special Partnership with Autism Works Now


Previews: Aug. 30-Sept. 1

Show Run: Sept. 7-28

Tickets go on sale July 22 at


All Performances are at:

Theatre 68

5112 Lankershim Blvd., 

North Hollywood, CA 91601 Thanks For Reading

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Self-Injurious Behavior Moves to LA
Jessica Cavanagh's Dallas-born play will have its world premiere in Los Angeles, with producers Joe Mantegna, Ronnie Marmo, Laura Buchwald and Bren Rapp.
by Mark Lowry

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