top of page


Conceived and Directed by Elizabeth Hess

Developmental Workshop at Dixon Place, December 2016

created and performed by Elizabeth Hess, Gina Stevensen, & Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed

original music by Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed

creative producer Jenny Waxman

LOVE TRADE is an exploration of gender and cultural assumptions in upheaval.


The piece uncovers a love tangle between the Western goddess Demeter - frozen in eternal springtime - and Persephone - her restless daughter - who wanders away from the Upper World. Somewhere in No Man’s Land she encounters the Eastern god, Shiva - intense and mysterious - and is immediately attracted to his exotic ‘otherness’.


Persephone and Shiva hunger for connection, but Demeter, disguised as the Eastern goddess Dhumavati - the beholder of smoke - infects their meeting. They descend into the depths where they undergo the death of false dreams, as Persephone morphs into the Eastern goddess Kali – ruler of creation and destruction - and Shiva into Hades - king of the Under World.  


All three are finally released into their full humanity through the experience of suffering and love, and emerge from their journey transformed and transfigured.











Gina Stevensen is a playwright, performer, and teaching artist based in Brooklyn. Her original works have been produced at such NYC venues as Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Urban Stages (off-Broadway), The Point, Columbia Stages, NYU, and Arlene’s Grocery. Her play The Time Crawlers Save the World was the grand prize winner at Manhattan Repertory Theater’s 2012 One-Act Competition and received a space grant at Looking Glass Theater. She received her BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch, where she studied acting and creating original work at the Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, The Experimental Theatre Wing, and the International Theatre Workshop in Amsterdam. Gina is passionate about global forms of theatre, and has traveled three times to southern India to train in Mohiniyattam, a traditional Indian dance-drama form. She works as a teaching artist, most recently as the writing coordinator for the Writers in Performance workshop at Tribeca Performing Arts Center and as a theatre teacher for high school students at the Brooklyn College Community Partnership. Her work as a choreographer can be seen on PBS, in Santino DeAngelo’s new opera “Narcissus: An Ancient Roman Pantomime.” Gina is the artistic director of a circus and performing arts summer camp for kids in Park Slope. She is an MFA Playwriting candidate at Columbia University.


(Composer & Performer)

Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed is a composer focusing on theatrical music. He studied Music and Literature at Eugene Lang College: The New School for Liberal Arts, where he wrote and directed a variety of theatrical works from short plays to musical theater. He is currently a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop, where he met lyricist Sarah Ziegler; their original full-length musical, developed with Theater in Asylum and entitled The Brontës, enjoyed a workshop production in July 2017 (co-produced by Piper Theatre Productions); the show is currently undergoing revision via New York SongSpace’s space grant. Other recent performances include Love Trade, a play with music (written and directed by Elizabeth Hess) which premiered as a work-in-progress at Dixon Place in December 2016; and Michelangelo Burning, an original oratorio with the poetry of Michelangelo and choreography by Ben Van Buren. He is also a co-founder and editor of Musical Theater Today, a new, annual trade publication dedicated to contemporary musical theater.


13th Street Repertory Company

  • Joe Battista

  • Susan Merson

Columbia University Theatre Department

The New School

bottom of page