Czarist Russia Explored in Yale Rep's Petersburg, May 5-23

News   Czarist Russia Explored in Yale Rep's Petersburg, May 5-23
 
Closing Yale Repertory's 31st season, Apr. 30-May 23 (opening May 5) is the world premiere of C.B. Coleman's Petersburg, based on the 1913 Andrei Bely novel about pre-Revolutionary Russia.

Closing Yale Repertory's 31st season, Apr. 30-May 23 (opening May 5) is the world premiere of C.B. Coleman's Petersburg, based on the 1913 Andrei Bely novel about pre-Revolutionary Russia.

When a Czarist senator's son gets involved with anarchists (shades of Ragtime?) he must decide whether to murder his own father in a political act. Complicating matters are a double agent and a married woman who starts an affair with the young man.

Bely's sprawling novel is considered by many critics to be a 20th century masterpiece. Adaptor Coleman points to its "contemporary resonances -- hapless anarchists and their bumbling attempt to overcome a stagnant political and social order, as well as an obsession with the occult and mysticism to explain an increasingly irrational and splintered world." Russian identity is also at issue in the piece.

Other plays by Coleman include `speranto and Bunker Hill Freedom Republic, as well as translations of plays by Bulgakov and Erdman. He received his doctorate in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism from CT's Yale School of Drama.

Directing Petersburg is Evan Yionoulis, who staged Manhattan Theatre Club's acclaimed Three Days of Rain earlier this season. She (yes, she) has also worked at South Coast Rep, the Public Theatre and IL's Goodman Theatre. Petersburg stars Jason Butler Harner as the anarchic son, Teri Lamm, Sevanne Martin, Christopher McHale, Michael Potts, Richard Topol and William Preston. Designing the show are Andrew Cavanaugh Holland (set), Linda Cho (costumes), Don Holder (lighting) and Malcolm Nicholls (sound). Cynthia Brizzell serves as production dramaturg.

For tickets ($25-$32) and information on Petersburg, opening May 5 at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, call (203) 432-1570.

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In other Yale Repertory news, the company kicked off its current (31st) season, Oct. 23, 1997, with performances of Geography, an avant garde dance/multi-media piece conceived by choreographer Ralph Lemon and written for nine male dancers, actors, and percussionists of African descent.

Now Lemon is working on part two of his intended trilogy, titled "Asia." The piece will look at Asian spirituality through the eyes of an American black man who's also a Buddhist. Lemon went to India in February to work with performers from Taiwan, India, China and Japan. (He'll visit the latter two countries this fall.)

Says Lemon, who holds associate artist status at Yale Rep, "I will be able to apply what I have learned through the process of creating Part 1 (Africa) with an extraordinary group of collaborators."

Lemon's collaborators on the first part of Geography included composers Francisco Lopez of Spain and Paul D. Miller (a DJ who is also known as "Spooky, That Subliminal Kid"). Tracie Morris, who writes Nuyorican performance poetry, shaped the text for Geography from Lemon's outline. Set design was by installation artist Nari Ward.

No production date is yet set for Asia, though Lemon expects his creative team to be in place by the fall.

For information on shows at Yale Rep, 222 York St. In New Haven, CT, call (203) 432-1234.

-- By David Lefkowitz
and Sean McGrath

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