The play about two American couples in Africa will get separate spring 2006 stagings by Victory Gardens Theatre in its Midwest premiere in Chicago (directed by Sandy Shinner in late March) and Women's Project in its New York City premiere (directed by Loretta Greco in late May).
Florida Stage's opening night, in Manalpan, FL, is Jan. 27. Performances continue to March 5.
"Cradle of Man transpires in and around the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, the birthplace of mankind," according to Florida Stage notes. "Two American couples, one on a relief mission, the other on an anthropological academic assignment, meet in this world where civilized rules of modern day life don't apply and primal instincts prevail. Social facades crack under the sub-equatorial sun when bodies come together and lives come apart to reveal the anthropology of the human heart."
Michael John Garcés, newly appointed artistic director of Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles, will direct Cradle of Man in Florida. "We are delighted to be a part of the life of this very important piece of theatre," said Florida Stage managing director Nancy Barnett. "After reading it as a part of our New Voices series last season we knew immediately that we wanted to produce the world premiere. We are very pleased that the readings at the O'Neill Festival, Dallas Theatre Center and Hartford Stage’s Brand: NEW Festival have helped Melanie do some great work on the script, and now, with this wonderful director, design team and cast, we're really excited about the chance to be the first to bring a fully realized production to the stage."
The cast of Cradle of Man will include Helen-Jean Arthur, a Broadway veteran whose credits include the New York premiere of Tom Stoppard's Indian Ink; Chris Clavelli, a Carbonell Award winner who has been seen at Florida Stage in several plays including Not About Heroes; Dallas based Chamblee Ferugson, recently seen as Alfie in A Man of No Importance; Jennifer Mendenhall, who appeared in Craig Wright's Grace at Woolly Mammoth in Washington, D.C.; and Elizabeth Rich, recently seen at both the Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.
Playwright Melanie Marnich was a finalist for the 2005 Susan Smith Blackburn Award and a L. Arnold Weissberger Award for Cradle of Man. Her other awards include two McKnight Advancement Grants and two Jerome Fellowships from The Playwrights' Center, the Samuel Goldwyn Award, an Ohio Arts Council Grant and the Melvoin Award from Northlight Theatre (Chicago). Her plays include Bill of (W) Rights, Dive, Slide/Over, Tallgrass Gothic, These Shining Lives, Blur, Quake, The Sparrow Project, Season and Beautiful Again.
The Cradle of Man creative team includes Jim Kronzer (set design), Suzanne M. Jones (lighting design), Erin Amico (costume design), Ryan Rumery (sound design).
For tickets and information, call the Florida Stage box office at (561) 585-3433 (inside Palm Beach County) or (800) 514-3837 (outside Palm Beach County) or visit www.floridastage.org.