Before commencing its Off-Broadway season, Theatre for a New Audience jumps first across the pond. The company take the world premiere of Bartlett Sher's staging of Cymbeline to the UK's Royal Shakespeare Company in their first trip outside of the United States. Cymbeline opens Nov. 22 for a run on Stratford-Upon-Avon's Other Place studio theatre and will play through Dec. 8.
TFANA has the honor of offering the first American production of William Shakespeare performed on the RSC's stages. Cymbeline, whose American cast includes Drama Desk nominee Philip Goodwin (The Diary of Anne Frank, TFANA's Henry V) and Herry Lennix (Julie Taymor's "Titus," "The Matrix"), plays the Other Place studio space in Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Also cast are Randy Danson, 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, Erica Tazel and Andrew Weems.
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.
Sher recently staged Cymbeline at Seattle's Intiman Theatre, where he is artistic director, March 9-April 7. The 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. Following the English run, Cymbeline returns to America to begin its Off-Broadway engagement at the Lucille Lortel Jan. 15 (opening Jan. 20), preceding TFANA's revival of Max Frisch's Andorra and the New York premiere of the Robert Chandler translation of The Last Letter.
Andorra, 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.
Tickets 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.
— By Christine Ehren