Ross Haarstad

Clockmaker Arts tag for their third production, “What Haunts You,” is “Two ghosts, the theater they haunt, and the stories that haunt them.” This world premiere takes place at the Kitchen Theatre Monday & Tuesday, December 2 & 3 at 7:30 (

Playwright Elizabeth Seldin calls in “an exploration in trauma, love, partnership, and our relationship to the unknown.… [The ghosts of ]Mary and Thomas guide you through The Imperial Theatre and the secrets that live in the cracks of its walls.”

“There’s a seductive quality of haunted spaces,” Seldin continues. “Something happened there—behind the curtain—something unseen that wants to be seen.”

In writing the piece she is trying to get at the concept of love not “in the common way of signposts…but as a beautiful energy that moves through you and connects you to another. What love really is versus the blueprints we put on love.”

Director Evie Hammer-Lester sees it as “a love story that simultaneously did and did not happen.…It’s also about the stories we tell ourselves to deal with our traumas. These two ghosts are very much in need of an audience.”

This is Seldin and Hammer-Lester’s third collaboration in the past year. They began with Seldin’s solo play “Et Le Lion” which performed at Ithaca’s CRS Barn, Trumansburg’s Mosaic Theatre Collective, and Theatre Row in NYC. 

Next was a devised work, “The Light Experiment,” performed at CRS, in which they invited actors and other artists to create a performance piece in just 72 hours, with original and improvised music by Travis Knapp.

For their current production Seldin plays Mary and Ithaca College alum Tyler Gardella (seen in Norm Johnson’s gypsy production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more) plays Thomas. Playing smaller roles are locals Jasper Fearon, a senior at Ithaca High School, and Sally Shaw, a sophomore at IC.

Why Clockmaker? It comes from the collaborators’ wish to “make the intangible tangible.” Time is an intangible, a clock is tangible. 

They are a process-oriented company, with an emphasis on ‘portability’—just a few props, simple costumes, some original music. Their intention is to work with “people who know how to do this work,” which primarily means a developed sense of theatre and the ability to focus in quick bursts of rehearsal. 

Seldin is an Ithaca native, a graduate of Ithaca High School, and of the theatre program at IC (she overlapped with playwright Kate Hamill.) She grew up on shows at the Hangar. Hammer-Lester grew up in Syracuse  and fell in love with theatre through attending Syracuse Stage shows, before attending Columbia University. Seldin spent time in London and NYC post-college.

An internship at Kitchen Theatre under Rachel Lampert brought Hammer-Lester to Ithaca. From being primarily an actor and dancer, she has metamorphosed into director and choreographer (including dances for the Hangar’s A Christmas Carol.) As a sideline, she was the Kitchen’s Master Electrician for three seasons. 

Seldin explains that the two met on Seldin’s last day teaching at the Ithaca Youth Bureau, then again by chance at Collegetown Bagels. Seldin had been workin on her solo piece, Et le Lion, in NYC but “had to move home suddenly as was still invested in getting the project off the ground. Evie and I clicked right away.… Thus began our collaboration love affair.”

Also promised is a ukulele song.

The play is being produced as part of the Kitchen Sink Series, sponsored by CFCU.