Off-Broadway's Pearl Opens Hamlet Sept. 23

News   Off-Broadway's Pearl Opens Hamlet Sept. 23 Pearl Theatre Company's 24th Off-Broadway season of classic works begins Sept. 23 with the opening of Shakespeare's Hamlet, directed by Shepard Sobel.

The production, which began previews Sept. 11 at the Pearl's 160-seat home in the East Village, features Jolly Abraham, Robin Leslie Brown, Bradford Cover, Dominic Cuskern, Jimmy Davis, TJ Edwards, R.J. Foster, Robert Hock, Regi Huc, Kenneth Lee, Sean McNall (as the Melancholy Dane), Eduardo Placer, David Sedgwick, Christopher Thornton and David L. Towsend.

Sean McNall (Hamlet) has been a member of Pearl's resident acting company since 2003, appearing in 17 productions, among them The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure.

The production runs through Oct. 28.

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According to the troupe, known for staging "classics" rather than new plays, "Before it was hailed as the greatest play in the English language, before its incandescent poetry was smothered by the cumulative weight of four centuries of critical response, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1601) was first a story of shattering loss. A son reels from the death of his murdered father. Racked by rage, despair, and guilt, he recoils from his newly remarried mother, mistrusts his oldest friends, and rejects his beloved, abandoning — and feeling abandoned by — everyone who has shaped his life. Hamlet is not a story of epic deeds or philosophical conceits, but a poignant, painful rendering of the loyalties — to both the living and the dead — that bind, divide, and destroy a family." The Hamlet creative team includes Lisa Ledwich (stage manager), Harry Feiner (scenic design), Devon Painter (costume design), Stephen Petrilli (lighting design) and Sara Bader (sound design).

The Pearl Theatre Company is located at 80 St. Marks Place. For more information, call (212) 598-9802 or visit www.pearltheatre.org.

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"Classical theatre, especially when played by a troupe with the skills and shared experience that open these wonderful plays ever deeper and wider, is an active and invigorating exploration of what it is to be human," according to the company.

The 2007-08 Pearl Theatre Company season also includes:

  • The Constant Couple by George Farquhar (Nov. 11-Dec. 23). "George Farquhar's youthful comedy The Constant Couple (1699) invites us into a London teeming with colorful characters. Steadfast Colonel Standard wants nothing more than to win the charming Lady Lurewell. But his way is littered with scheming rivals, troublesome fops, and bumbling rustics, all of whom seem to have some claim on his lady love. Combining all the wicked joy of the jaded Restoration stage with the 'novel' notion that faithfulness and integrity might have their uses too, The Constant Couple illuminates a world merrily careening between deceit and honesty, cynicism and hope — between the follies of the past, and the glorious possibilities of the future."
  • The Mandrake by Niccolo Machiavelli in a world premiere translation by Peter Constantine (Jan. 8-Feb. 10, 2008). "Callimaco will dare anything to bed the beautiful (married) Lucrezia — and he needs all the help he can get. Not only is there the obstacle of her husband to get around, but also the equally vexatious reality that the virtuous Lucrezia scoffs at romance. But Callimaco has a plan which, if all goes well, will not only win him a night with Lucrezia — whether the lady is interested or not — but her husband's blessing as well. Crawling with social parasites and crooked conspirators, The Mandrake (1513) remains the most popular play of the Italian Renaissance. Here is the wickedly amusing 'lighter' side of Niccolo Machiavelli, political mastermind of the modern world, as he constructs a universe where cunning — not virtue, loyalty, nor love — wins the day."
  • Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen (Feb. 26-March 30, 2008). "Henrik Ibsen stood in the midst of a maelstrom. The publication of the text of Ghosts (1881) had critics seething; they accused the playwright of over-stepping the bounds of decency, undermining the social fabric, and corrupting the very art of playwriting. Ibsen shrugged them off — he guessed from the first that the play's daring outstripped its era. The story of Mrs. Alving's struggle to spare her son from the rotted legacy — the 'ghosts' — left to him by his family's sordid past creates a taut, suspenseful tale of secrets kept too long and revealed too late. Ghosts plumbs the depths of misplaced sacrifice, smothered passion, and stifling conventions — staring unblinking into a world diseased."
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (April 15-May 25, 2008). "Messrs. Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrief both lead busy double lives in the highest of style: creating false identities, avoiding family obligations, wooing well-bred young ladies, visiting imaginary invalids and (equally imaginary) wayward brothers. But now their carefully constructed 'alternate universe' is crumbling at the edges, and they will have to decide whether being 'Ernest' or 'earnest' will get them what they want. Less than a year before persecution and scandal would destroy his career, Oscar Wilde produced his last and most beloved comedy. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) offers a sly send-up of the cucumber sandwich set, and invites us into a world where artifice is everything, honesty is entirely passé, and truth is 'rarely pure and seldom simple.'" *

    Pearl's mission statement reads this way: "Two commitments especially distinguish The Pearl Theatre Company. We are a resident company, and we produce a full range repertory strongly rooted in the classics.

    "A resident company format mandates the ongoing development of a troupe individually and collectively capable of great range in style, period and character. The Pearl seeks and develops actors with the technical abilities and the artistic inclination to create a character rather than to recreate a type, and to approach each play on the playwright’s terms, so that style is a vehicle, rather than a substitute, for honesty.

    "A full-range repertory strongly rooted in the classics offers to the company, and demands of the company, scope, resonance, and variety. A partnership with the great playwrights of all periods challenges our company and our audience constantly to expand their horizons. It is essential to the health of the theatre and to the craft and souls of theatre artists to keep vital our rich tradition.

    "In specific application, The Pearl puts its money where its people are. A living wage for artistic personnel, tasteful modesty in production elements, and sound fiscal management are administrative priorities. Our goal is to set a standard for classical theatre in America by nourishing and challenging a resident acting company."

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