Bury the Dead, Unearthed by Transport Group, Opens in NYC

News   Bury the Dead, Unearthed by Transport Group, Opens in NYC Transport Group's Off-Broadway revival of Irwin Shaw's 1936 anti-war play, Bury the Dead, with ghostly appearances of dead soldiers, and one actress — Donna Lynne Champlin — playing their survivors, opens Nov. 9 following previews from Oct. 31.
Bury the Dead stars Fred Berman and Jeff Pucillo
Bury the Dead stars Fred Berman and Jeff Pucillo Photo by Carol Rosegg

This is the first major New York revival of Shaw's play.

Under the direction of Joe Calarco, who has also added a brief "curtain-raiser" piece to the production, the cast also includes Jeremy Beck, Fred Berman, Mandell Butler, Jake Hart, Jeff Pucillo and Matt Sincell.

Champlin is an Obie Award winner for Transport Group's The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. Champlin plays the drama's female roles. Her Broadway credits include Hollywood Arms and the recent revival of Sweeney Todd.

Performances play Nov. 23 at 220 East 4th Street, between Avenues A and B, in the East Village.

According to Transport Group, "Shaw's harrowing 1936 classic Bury the Dead takes place during 'the second year of the war that is to begin tomorrow night.' While a military burial detail goes about its sad duties, the dead soldiers shockingly begin to rise up, pleading not to be buried. Word of their insurrection spreads rapidly: the dead will not yield so easily. In a series of touching scenes the dead men talk with their loved ones of the days of living, now lost forever." Calarco told Playbill.com, "In Bury the Dead there are six scenes at the end of the play after the government has gone to the women of the dead men who are refusing to be buried to ask them to go talk to their men to convince them to lie down and be buried. Donna Lynne is playing each of the six women — quite a tour de force. Also, Bury the Dead is a one-act and has often been done with a 'curtain-raiser' short play to start the evening. I am writing a new curtain-raiser for Donna Lynne."

Calarco is a Lucille Lortel Award winner for Shakespeare's R & J.

Champlin told Playbill.com, "The conceit of the curtain raiser is that a woman in 'a' community has become inspired by a recent trip to the monuments in DC to call a town hall meeting so that people could 'remember, and not wait.'

"She planned on reading some poems and letters by soldiers and singing some war song but then her prize pupil gave her a copy of Bury the Dead and so she thought it would be fun to have an impromptu reading of it at this meeting."

What purpose does the curtain raiser serve?

"It gives us a chance to catch people up on some historical things — and some background on the play itself," Champlin said. "It also gives us a chance to bring everyone to a certain even playing level as far as planting seeds of the issue of war, politics, and monuments and why it takes so long to get them built, the war still going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.

"It also allows the audience (through the beginning of the actual 'reading' of the play at a table onstage) a chance to gradually acclimate themselves to the very particular vernacular of Bury the Dead and that whole '1930s'-style of speaking. Joe [Calarco] was concerned it would be too jarring to the ear and people would feel preached to because of the language of that era. It allows the audience to ease themselves into the story itself."

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Transport Group is winner of a special 2007 Drama Desk Award and a 2007 Obie Award.

The creative team includes set designer Sandra Goldmark, costume designer Kathryn Rohe, lighting designer R. Lee Kennedy, sound designer Michael Rasbury and production stage manager Wendy Patten.

Bury the Dead plays Thursday through Saturday and Monday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM, and Sunday at 3 PM through Nov. 23.

Tickets are $38 and are available at www.transportgroup.org or by phoning (212) 352-3101; $10 rush tickets are available to students one hour prior to curtain. For more information about Transport Group and Bury the Dead, visit www.transportgroup.org.

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Founded in 2001, Transport Group, under the leadership of Jack Cummings III, artistic director, and Lori Fineman, executive director, is a not-for-profit theatre company that develops and produces work by American playwrights and composers with the aim of exploring the American consciousness in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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Transport Group Series of Talkbacks and Special Events for Bury the Dead

Monday, Nov. 10, 8 PM
TALKBACK - Special guests Dominick Dunne (Vanity Fair) and Michael Shnayerson (Vanity Fair, Irwin Shaw biographer) share their personal experiences of World War II and Irwin Shaw. Jack Cummings III (TG artistic director) will conduct a live interview.

Thursday, Nov. 13, 8 PM
"TG<30 night": "spread the love" party following this evening's performance for all Bury the Dead ticket holders under 30. Party includes open bar and live music by Ben Roseberry.

Monday, Nov. 17, 8 PM
TALKBACK - Bury the Dead artists led by director Joe Calarco share their process for creating and preparing for the production.

Mandell Butler, Donna Lynne Champlin and Fred Berman in <i>Bury the Dead</i>
Mandell Butler, Donna Lynne Champlin and Fred Berman in Bury the Dead Photo by Carol Rosegg
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