Jean Cocteau Rep Renamed The Exchange, Leaves Home, Schedules Two Plays at Theatre Row

News   Jean Cocteau Rep Renamed The Exchange, Leaves Home, Schedules Two Plays at Theatre Row The troubled Jean Cocteau Repertory has vacated its Bouwerie Lane Theater home for good and has rebranded itself under the new name The Exchange. The company will present two North American premieres — Realism by Anthony Neilson and Jump! by Lisa McGee — at Theater Row beginning in April.

The Exchange's artistic director Ari Edelson will direct the two plays, both of which are from the UK and will be performed in rep, with Realism running April 15-May 13, and Jump! running April 20-May 20.

The cast of the plays includes Bree Elrod (My Name is Rachel Corrie), Jordan Gelber (Avenue Q), Ali Marsh, Stephen Plunkett, Kathryn Rossetter (45 Seconds from Broadway), Herbert Rubens (45 Seconds from Broadway), Tim Spears, Daniel Talbott (Marat/Sade at The Classical Theatre of Harlem), Sarah Grace Wilson (The Story) and Meredith Zinner.

Jean Cocteau Rep — founded in 1971 by the late Eve Adamson, who served as the artistic director for 18 years — has been through a rocky period recently. In 2004, some ensemble members quit to form the Phoenix Ensemble Theatre. Other developments include the doubling of the rent at the Bouwerie Lane, the company's partnership with the New Orleans-based company EgoPo and the Catskill Mountain Foundation, the dismissal of many resident ensemble members, missed payroll payments and a 2006 production of Genet's The Maids that prompted complaints from the playwright’s estate.

The Exchange will be dedicated to works by new voices from outside the traditional theatrical community. Edelson and managing director Jennifer Sanders recently joined the company. Peter Finn, the board chairman of Jean Cocteau since Jan. 2006, is also staying on, along with the other members of the board.

According to press notes, "Realism guides audiences on a trip through one man's imaginative mind on an average day. Cabarets of crazy fantasies, poignant memories and childhood dreams shape a hilarious tragicomedy that leaps from the banal to the surreal and back again." In addition, Jump!, set on New Year's Eve, "tells the story of seven people whose unrelated lives suddenly collide at the strike of midnight -- to everyone's detriment. This cast of desperate, colorful characters includes novice hit men, would-be suicide-cases and glitzy gals geared up for a night they probably won't remember." The play was originally set in Belfast but McGee has updated the script for the U.S. by relocating the characters to Staten Island.

The plays' design includes sets by Antje Ellerman, sound by Bart Fasbender, lighting by Ben Stanton and costumes by Oana Botez-Ban.

Neilson is the author of nearly two dozen plays including Dirty Laundry, Stitching, The Censor, Hoover Bag, The Wonderful World of Dissocia, The Lying Kind, Normal and Penetrator, which have been produced at UK venues such as The Royal Court, The Bush, National Theatre of Scotland, Royale Lyceum and the Edinburgh Festival.

McGee's plays include The Young Man with the Cream Tarts (co-written with Declan Feenan) and How To Get To Heaven From Belfast. Jump! is currently being developed into a film by the Northern Ireland Film Commission.

Edelson's recent directing credits include The Attic (Play Company/59E59); Blood Wedding, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Sexual Perversity in Chicago (Theatre Project Tokyo); True West and Tape (Tokyo Globe); and Rape of Lucretia (English National Opera in London and Luxembourg). Edelson is also founder of the Old Vic Theatre's Old Vic New Voices US/UK Program in London.

For more information about the new company, visit www.exchangenyc.org.