After becoming the first American company to perform Shakespeare on the Royal Shakespeare Company's stages, Theatre for a New Audience is back in New York with the Off-Broadway premiere of Bartlett Sher's staging of Cymbeline. The Shakespeare romance, whose directorial influences include Renaissance Italy, the Medieval Orient and the American Wild West, opens Jan. 20 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
Cymbeline features Drama Desk nominee Philip Goodwin (The Diary of Anne Frank, TFANA's Henry V) and Harry Lennix (Julie Taymor's "Titus," "The Matrix"). Also in the cast are Randy Danson (A Winter's Tale), Tom Hammond, Roderick Hill, Earl Hindman ("Home Improvement"), Peter Francis James (Judgement at Nuremberg), Wayne Kasserman, Ezra Knight, Sophia Salguero (Capeman), Pete Starrett, Robert Stattel (Callaway Award winner for Titus Andronicus), Michael Stuhlbarg (The Invention of Love), Erica Tazel and Andrew Weems.
Sher recently staged Cymbeline at Seattle's Intiman Theatre, where he is artistic director, March 9-April 7. That cast featured Julyana Soelistyo, a Tony nominee for Golden Child, as Imogen. For TFNA, Sher helmed the hit U.S. premiere of Harley Granville Barker's 1907 drama Waste.
Theatre for a New Audience and the Royal Shakespeare Company have recently entered a sort of international exchange program. Sher attended the RSC's American Directors Project, where the company's voice director Cicely Berry gave instruction on developing directors' skills in the areas of text, language and voice. The New York company also welcomed the Royal Shakespeare Company's founder Sir Peter Hall (Tantalus, Amadeus) to their home base Off-Broadway to direct Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.
Tickets to Cymbeline are $55. The Lucille Lortel Theatre is located at 121 Christopher Street between Seventh Avenue South and Hudson Street. For reservations, call (212) 239 6200. Theatre for a New Audience is on the web at http://www.tfana.org. *
TFANA's next production, Andorra, to directed by Romanian Liviu Ciulei, has not been seen in New York City since its Broadway bow in 1963. Extremely popular in its native Germany, the drama takes place in a mythical country where a young boy, adopted by a school teacher, faces prejudice because he is Jewish. Or so the populace and the boy himself believe. Even after it is revealed that he is nothing more exotic than the schoolteacher's blood son, it is too late to save him.
Over the last twenty-five years, Ciulei has helmed many productions for the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Past credits have included Ibsen's Ghosts and the Lyric Opera of Chicago's recent staging of Mourning Becomes Electra.
Andorra begin previews April 2 for an opening April 7.
Frederick Wiseman will direct and adapt The Last Letter, based on a chapter from Russian novelist Vasily Grossman's "Life and Fate." Wiseman helmed the French version which briefly traveled the United States under the auspices of The Comédie Française. In the piece, a Russian Jewish doctor emerges from the shadows to pen a final letter to her son, who is safe and sound. At the end of the monologue, she disappears back into the dark to face her death by the Nazis.
— By Christine Ehren