Custom Made Theatre Co. presents 

How the World Began

by Catherine Trieschmann

Bay Area Premere


“a tour-de-force” (HorwitzTheatreStorm)
“spellbinding” (Connema, Talkin’ Broadway
strong performances… a fascinating spiral of conversations and unexpected consequences.” (Sokol, SF Examiner

Custom Made Theatre Company presents the Bay Area Premiere of award-winning playwright Catherine Treischmann’s How the World Began, which focuses on the clash between religion and science in a small Kansas town – and just how hard it is to truly listen to one another in an increasingly polarized world.

Looking to rebuild her fractured life, high school biology teacher Susan relocates from New York City to a small Kansas town reeling in the aftermath of a devastating tornado. Ready for more than a little culture shock, Susan finds herself unprepared for the firestorm that engulfs the town after she makes an off-hand comment about the origin of the universe.

Directed by Executive Director, Leah S. Abrams


all photos in the gallery by Jay Yamada.  For full-sized, downloadable pictures ready for print or web, please visit our press page.

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How the World Began runs approximately 80 minutes, without an intermission

Custom Made Theatre Co. Presents the Bay Area Premiere of Catherine Trieschmann’s “How the World Began,” Feb. 12 – Mar. 8

Lives collide when a transplanted high school biology teacher is accused of ridiculing Creationism in a devastated Kanas town.

Custom Made Theatre Company presents the Bay Area Premiere of award-winning playwright Catherine Treischmann’s How the World Began, focusing on the clash between religion and science in a rural Kansas town.

Trieschmann’s play takes no sides, but is focused on the characters of a pregnant New Yorker who has fled her life to start again, a young student who is dealing with tragedy, and the fair-minded guardian who tries to find a middle-ground.

Religion and science collide in this visceral examination of the way in which we navigate interpersonal relationships involving seemingly irreconcilable beliefs—and just how hard it is to truly listen to one another. Looking to rebuild her fractured life, high school biology teacher Susan relocates from New York City to a small Kansas town reeling in the aftermath of a devastating tornado. Ready for more than a little culture shock, Susan finds herself unprepared for the firestorm that engulfs the town after she makes an off-hand comment about the origin of the universe.

The Bay Area Premiere of How the World Began is directed by Custom Made executive director Leah S. Abrams. It plays February 12 – March 8 at the Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough Street in San Francisco.  How the World previews February 12 & 13, and opens Saturday, February 14 (Yes, Valentine’s Day!) at 8:00 pm.


Mary McGloin* (Susan), Malcolm Rodgers (Gene) and Tim Garcia (Micah).

*Member, Actor’s Equity Association

Creative Staff: Leah S. Abrams (Director), Cat Howser (Stage Management), Erik LaDue (Scenic Design), Brooke Jennings (Costume Design), Liz Ryder (Score, Sound Design), Colin Johnson (Lighting Design), Stewart Lyle (Technical Director).

Insights from the Director, Leah S. Abrams.  How the World Began completely grabbed me upon first read.  Catherine Trieschmann has found a way to talk about a fascinating and volatile subject without demonizing either side of the debate.

We all know how tone can be hurtful – we are all prone to being defensive, stubborn, and unintentionally judgmental.  What we love about Trieschmann’s characters is that they all share these very authentic human qualities.

The playwright has mastered the art of seeing three sides to every story – your side, his/her side, and the truth, of the reality that the world is full of grey rather than black and white. And on top of it all is Catherine Trieschmann’s great sense of humor – the play is peppered with her signature quips, witticisms and phrasings that make you laugh and think.

Catherine Trieschmann (Playwright)

Trieschmann’s plays include The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock, CrookedHow the World Began, Hot Georgia Sunday, and The Most Deserving. Her work has been produced Off-Broadway at the Women’s Project, the Bush Theatre (London), Out of Joint at the Arcola Theatre (London), South Coast Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, American Theatre Company, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, among others. She has received commissions from South Coast Repertory, Manhattan Theatre Club, and the Denver Theatre Center. She is the recipient of the Weissberger Award, the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award from the Inge Theatre Festival, and the Edgerton New Play Award. Originally from Athens, Georgia, she now lives in a small town in western Kansas.

Leah S. Abrams (Director) is the co-founder and executive director of Custom Made.  For the company, she has directed multiple Beckett plays (Come and Go, Krapp’s Last Tape, Footfalls, etc.), Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, Mark Eisman’s Dodo for President, and Lee Blessing’s Two Rooms.  She co-directed Putting It Together and The Water Engine.  Recent directing projects have included several staged readings in NYC and SF, and Mark Eisman’s Sightlines in NYC (2013) as well as for SF’s 2012 Studio Series.  She is a graduate of Clark University.

Show Times and Tickets

Previews: Feb. 12 & 13 at 8:00 pm
Opens Feb. 14, 8:00 pm
Runs Feb. 12 – Mar. 8; Thurs-Sat 8:00 pm, Sun 7:00 pm

Tickets $20-40

Learn more & buy tickets at (415) 798-CMTC,

For Calendar Editors 

How the World Began.  Bay Area Premiere of Catherine Treischmann’s visceral clash between religion and science in a small Kansas town.  Directed by Leah S. Abrams. Previews Feb 12 & 13 at 8:00 pm.  Opens Feb 14 at 8:00 pm. Runs Feb. 12 – Mar. 8; Thurs-Sat 8:00 pm; Sun 7:00.  Tickets $20-50 with discounts for Students, Seniors, and TBA members with proper I.D. Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough Street, San Francisco. (415) 798-CMTC,

Custom Made Theatre Continues Its 2014-2015 Season with…

March 27 – April 26 – The Braggart Soldier, or Major Blowhard by Plautus, adapted and directed by Evren Odcikin.

May 14 – Jun 14 – Grey Gardens, the Musical book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie. Directed by Stuart Bousel.  Musical Direction by David Brown.


Media Contact:  Gary Carr, Rising Moon Marketing & Public Relations, (925) 672-8717, [email protected]


Custom Made Theatre at Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough Street, San Francisco

Tickets at:

Preview Feb 12 & 13, 8:00 pm
Opens Feb 14, 8:00 pm
Runs Feb 15- March 8! Thurs-Sat 8:00 pm, Sun 7:00 pm

Tickets $20-$40

Getting to Gough Street Playhouse

Visit our directions page to plan a route via Google Maps.  Save the planet, take public transportation!


Last minute parking on-the-street is not recommended, but is possible with some planning.

On weekday evenings a good approach is to park at 7:00pm between Bush and Pine on Franklin Street, just when it stops being a tow-away zone. At that time there are plenty of spaces, and plenty of restaurants to grab some dinner pre-show!

There are also plenty of parking lots between Geary/Van Ness and the Theatre.

Tickets at:

directed by Leah S. Abrams

Mary McGloin* – Susan
Tim Garcia – Micah
Malcolm Rodgers -Gene


Cat Howser – Stage Manager/Props Design
Erik LaDue – Scenic Design
Colin Johnson – Lighting Design
Brooke Jennings – Costume Design
Liz Ryder – Sound Design/Original Music
Stewart Lyle -Technical Director

Mary McGloin (Susan) (AEA, SAG-AFTRA) grew up in Petaluma, but now lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is thrilled to be back in SF to do this show with Custom Made, where she’s played Lainie in Two Rooms and Deeny in The Old Neighborhood to name a few.  In the Bay Area, Mary performed and/or understudied at many theatres, including A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, Theatreworks, CalShakes, and Woman’s Will. Mary holds her MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting at the George Washington University. After grad school, she moved to NYC, where she has appeared on Extreme Forensics on the Investigation Discovery Channel, and in several student and independent films. In the NY theatre, Mary has played Megan in The Water Children by Wendy MacLeod to critical acclaim in the New York Times and Backstage. She is currently developing 2 webseries she intends to shoot next year.

Tim Garcia (Micah) earned his B.A. in Theatre Arts, with emphases in Acting and Writing, from San Jose State University. Memorable SJSU main stage credits include To Kill a Mockingbird (Bob Ewell), The Grapes of Wrath (Grampa/Deputy Sheriff), and a one-man performance of 8 the play, by Dustin Lance Black, where he won First Place in the Kaucher-Mitchell Event for Excellence in Oral Interpretation. Additional Bay Area shows include 99 Stock Productions’ Millicent Scowlworthy (Boy 2 / Henry Vanderslice), City Lights Theater Company’s Coney Island Christmas (Ira Pushkov), and Los Gatos Shakespeare Festival’s The Comedy of Errors (Dromio of Atlantic City) and The Further Adventures of the Three Musketeers (Le Vipère). Tim also has a number of award-winning film credits under his belt and has been featured at local and international festivals.

Malcolm Rodgers (Gene) is thrilled to be involved in his first show at Custom Made! He was most recently seen as Brabantio/Lodovico in Othello at Arabian Shakespeare Festival and Shultz in Cabaret. Favorite roles include Jaques – As You Like It, Benedict – Much Ado, Bradley – Buried Child and Gangster Number One in Kiss Me Kate! He is married to actress/director/playwright Mary Ann Rodgers, and works in Alameda designing scenery, furnishings and graphics for corporate events and interior environments.

Leah S. Abrams (Director) is the co-founder and executive director of Custom Made.  For the company, she has directed multiple Beckett workshops, Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, Mark Eisman’s Dodo for President, and Lee Blessing’s Two Rooms.  She co-directed Putting It Together and The Water Engine.  Acting credits include The Heidi ChroniclesA Delicate Balance, A New Brain, and Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell.  She is a graduate of Clark University.

Cat Howser (Stage Manager) has worked on two previous shows with Custom Made Theatre: Book of Liz 2014 and Slaughterhouse-Five. Cat is a Bay Area Stage Manager who grew up in nearby San Jose. Previously, she was a stage management fellow with the American Conservatory Theatre here in San Francisco. Cat worked on many shows at A.C.T., including A Christmas Carol and The Orphan of Zhao. She graduated from California State East Bay with a degree in Theatre.

Brooke Jennings (Costume Design) is ecstatic to return to Custom Made Theater Company with these inspiring and moving pieces of theatre. A recent graduate of UC Santa Cruz’s Theater Arts Masters Program, Brooke previously designed Custom Made’s The Crucible, directed by Stuart Bousel, which she received a nomination for Best Costume Design by Theatre Bay Area. Brooke works at several other theaters in the Bay Area, including Magic Theater, Virago Theatre, OnTheHouse Theater, City Lights Theater, The Santa Cruz Fringe Festival, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare.

Colin Johnson (Lighting Design) is always happy when he gets to work with the great folks at Custom Made. After acting for 6 years off and on in San Francisco, Colin started stage managing in 2010 and soon after started doing lighting and sound design. He is a company member with Performers Under Stress and Robillard Theatre. His favorite shows he has lit are You Need To Read Poetry, Sam I Am and Scamoramland by Performers Under Stress, Roadshow by Stephen Sondheim for Theatre Rhino, Peter/Wendy for Custom Made, Life X 3 for Off Broadway West and Age of Reason by Theatre Robillard. This past year he was nominated for a Theatre Bay Area award for lighting design for Life X 3. Thanks to everyone at Performers Under Stress and at Theatre Rhino . Much love to Darren, Neel, Romany and Shania.

Erik LaDue (Scenic Design) studied Theater at UCSC where he developed his passion for Design. This passion led to his association with The Ragged Wing Ensemble and led to his receiving the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Richard L. Hay Scenic Fellowship. His Bay Area Credits include: Year Of The Rooster (Impact Theatre), Time Sensitive (Ragged Wing Ensemble), Next to Normal (Custom Made Theatre Co.), Pride and Prejudice (Poison Apple Productions), and Dark Play, or Stories for Boys (DoItLive! Productions)

Stewart Lyle (Technical Director) is the technical director for CMTC, where he has designed The Crucible and The Pain and the Itch. He has directed, designed, and built highly successful productions of RENT, The Fantasticks, Moonlight and Magnolias, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Man of La Mancha, and Art for Altarena Playhouse in Alameda along with Children of Eden at Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito. As Resident Technical Director for Altarena, Technical Director for the Woodminster Summer Musicals in Oakland, and Build Manager for Contra Costa Civic Theatre, he’s designed and/or built sets for more than 30 shows the last three years alone. A member of Actor’s Equity Association, the union of professional stage actors, he has performed in over 100 productions throughout California with companies that include TheatreWorks, San Jose Stage, Willows Theatre Company, Pacific Repertory Theatre, The Mountain Play, Cabrillo Stage, Foothill Musical Theatre, and Alameda Civic Light Opera.

Liz Ryder (Sound Design, Original Music) is a seasoned composer, musician and sound designer with a Master’s Degree in Composition/Creative Music Technology from Bangor University, UK, and is resident composer at Custom Made Theatre. She’s the winner of a BATCC award for sound design/music for Eurydice (2013-14 season), and a TBA award nominee for sound design for The Crucible (2014). Recent CMTC credits include: Three Tall WomenSlaughterhouse 5, The Book of Liz, The CrucibleTop Girls, The Pain and the Itch, Peter/Wendy and The Play about the Baby, amongst others. For MTC: Rapunzel, and Around the World in 80 Days (2015); for Masquers: Dead Man’s Cell Phone, for NCTC: Harbor.


“The price of free speech is one of many ideas that resonate in Catherine Treischmann’s thoughtful “How the World Began” now at Custom Made Theatre Company… On the surface, the conflict between acceptance of science and adherence to faith is a rich and volatile topic. Like well-matched boxers in a ring, Treischmann’s script gives both points of view plenty of room to spar… READ FULL REVIEW

-Robert Sokol, San Francisco Examiner

“4 1/2 out of 5 stars! The play creates a beautiful and stirring pattern—that skeptics and believers and everyone else will enjoy. It doesn’t solve the problems, but makes them more human, and more humbling, and more haunting at each unexpected step. Don’t miss this tour-de-force… READ FULL REVIEW

– Barry Horwitz, TheatreStorm

“Tim Garcia is a revelation as the young student Micah. He gives a superb performance as the moody 16 year old student who has just lost his parents in the tornado. He makes the audience see how his beliefs have become a fortification against a world that keeps fluctuating under his feet.  His penetrating performance allows the audience to see the damage, even despairing young man under the stoic surface. Mary McGloin is outstanding as the well-meaning but inexperience teacher. She shows a natural empathy for the wounded Micah, as dependable as her prickliness, without turning her into a phobic exaggeration. Malcolm Rodgers gives a splendid performance as the local busybody and unofficial guardian of Micah.  He even suggests to the teacher that fossils are simply God’s way of testing their faith.”

-Richard Connema, ForAllEvents







Mary McGloin (Susan) on How the World Began:

I first discovered HOW THE WORLD BEGAN back in 2011 when I went on an acting retreat in Costa Rica with casting director, Alaine Alldaffer. She runs the retreat and assigns each actor a role and a play to work on for it. She assigned me Susan. I immediately fell in love with the play and the role and dove into working on it. I will always remember doing the 3rd scene on a beach.

When I saw the Off-Broadway production at the Women’s Project in 2012, I fell in love with the play again and hoped to one day play Susan. Back in April of 2014, Leah, our wonderful director, announced that she was going home to SF to direct this play in Winter of 2015, I immediately said, “I’m right for that role.” Lucky for me, she agreed enough to cast me, which led me home to the Bay Area for this production. (Missing winter in NY notwithstanding)

What draws me most to Susan is her willingness – and more than that -her committment to her own belief system, even through the toughest times, while trying her best to be a good person and to help people as best she can. I think it is very easy to misinterpret another person’s beliefs and to judge them quickly and unnecessarily – particularly when you’re “out of your element” so to speak. I’ve definitely felt misinterpreted and struggled to be understood, particularly the more places I’ve gone- haven’t we all?
Isn’t that part of the human condition? I hope you enjoy this play as much as I enjoy doing it!

Malcolm Rodgers (Gene):

As the son of an Episcopal Minister, I have a keen interest in the subject of faith and it’s meaning and place in our communities, our country and our world. 

My father’s faith has always been a bit of a mystery to me. In an interview, he was asked, why he went into the ministry and he said something to the effect of “I have a wonderful wife, five great kids, a nice house, cars, etc… and any one of them could be taken away from me at any time. I needed something that couldn’t be taken away.”

I have to wonder, were he alive today, what his response to the continuing and escalating conflicts over opposing belief systems would be. I’m really enjoying working on a piece that brings some of the most basic elements of this conflict to light.

Tim Garcia (Micah):

I believe that WORLD illustrates the polarizing conflict between science and religion in dramatically responsible and socially therapeutic ways – in that the characters embodying each end of the spectrum (evolution vs. creationism – or Susan and Micah, respectively) are authentic and honest individuals we can almost immediately empathize with.

“I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my case and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.” – Micah 7:9

As someone who has been wounded by the oppressive elements and exploitation of religion to rationalize discrimination (more specifically, homophobia cloaked in scripture), I found it crucial to put personal interpretations of, and strong emotions toward, religious fundamentalism aside. Through the process, I was able to secure an empathetic bond between myself and the devoutly Christian Micah, by comparing certain vulnerabilities we both possess and how they can be severely exacerbated by forces of rigid, and sometimes hostile, religious dogma.

On a personal note, I also found it interesting to examine modern day messengers rabidly touting threats of God’s wrath, like the Westboro Baptist Church (a group notorious for protesting funerals and ferociously propagating the notion that virtually all natural disasters, deaths and destruction are direct manifestations of God’s condemnation on a nation that accepts the LGBT community). The WBC, a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, epitomizes not only a fanatic adherence to religious authoritarianism – but also the damage, vitriol and marginalization that extreme religious views can inflict on the susceptible and isolated, like Micah and Susan.

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