Tina Landau's Staging of Mee's Iphigenia 2.0 Opens at NYC's Signature

News   Tina Landau's Staging of Mee's Iphigenia 2.0 Opens at NYC's Signature
 
Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company kicked off its 2007-08 season of works by Charles L. Mee Aug. 26 with Iphigenia 2.0, directed by Tina Landau and featuring Kate Mulgrew as Clytemnestra.

The sonorous star of Off-Broadway's Tea at Five and Our Leading Lady and TV's "Star Trek: Voyager" plays the anguished mother of the title character, who is also the wife of Agamemnon. The staging at Signature's home at the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street began previews Aug. 7 and continues to Sept. 30.

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Told by a cast of 12, "Iphigenia 2.0 is about a great imperial power that decides to go to war, taking an action so wrong that it sets the empire on the road to complete self-destruction," according to Signature. "Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek army, must prove to his uncertain troops that the dangerous battle they are about to undertake is righteous and worthy by making the ultimate sacrifice himself. A radical reinvention of the classic play [Iphigenia at Aulis] by Euripides that examines the costs of war and loss of innocence."

The cast for Iphigenia 2.0 features Jimonn Cole (Soldier), Will Fowler (Soldier), J.D. Goldblatt (Soldier), Chasten Harmon (Bridesmaid), Jesse Hooker (Soldier), Emily Kinney (Bridesmaid), Louisa Krause (Iphigenia), Tom Nelis (Agamemnon), Angelo Niakas (Old Greek Man), Seth Numrich (Achilles) and Rocco Sisto (Menelaus).

The design team includes Blythe R.D. Quinlan, costumes by Anita Yavich, lights by Scott Zielinski and sound by Jill BC DuBoff. All seats are $20 as part of the Signature Ticket Initiative made possible by the lead sponsorship of Time Warner, Inc. and with support by Margot Adams, in memory of Mason Adams.

Signature Theatre Company presents at Peter Norton Space (555 W. 42nd St.).

For information, call (212) 244-PLAY (7529) or visit Signature Theatre Company's website at www.signaturetheatre.org.

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Charles Mee, Signature's 2007-08 Playwright-in-Residence, has written Big Love, True Love, First Love, bobrauschenbergamerica, Hotel Cassiopeia, Orestes 2.0, Trojan Women 2.0, Summertime and Wintertime among other plays — all of them available on the internet at www.charlesmee.org.

"I like plays that are not too neat, too finished, too presentable," Mee has said. "My plays are broken, jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that take sudden turns, careen into each other, smash up, veer off in sickening turns. That feels good to me. It feels like my life. It feels like the world."

According to Signature season notes, "Mee is known for his radical reconstructions of existing texts and his inimitable collage-like style of playwriting. His plays incorporate music, dance, and video and have explored themes as wide ranging as history, politics, gender dynamics, and love."

Mee was raised in Barrington, IL, and educated at Harvard University. Following his graduation from university in 1960, Mee moved to New York City where he wrote plays for Off-Off-Broadway and supported himself as an editor and writer for the hardcover arts magazine Horizon. Between 1972 and 1993 he wrote 11 books on world history and American international relations, including "Meeting at Potsdam" (1975); "The End of Order: Versailles, 1919" (1980); "The Marshall Plan: The Launching of the Pax Americana" (1984); "Rembrandt's Portrait: A Biography" (1988); and "Playing God: Seven Fateful Moments When Great Men Met to Change the World"(1993); and a memoir, "A Nearly Normal Life" (1999).

In 1986 Mee wrote the libretto for choreographer and director Martha Clarke's dance-theatre piece Vienna: Lusthaus, a meditation on turn-of-the-century Vienna. He used his skills and impulses as an historian "to create a collage-like text by directly lifting material from historical sources and combining it alongside personal descriptions of his own dreams," according to Signature. "This patchwork combination of found texts and his own imagination became the template in which he would compose all of his future plays, a technique inspired by the collage painting of surrealist painter Max Ernst and contemporary artist Robert Rauschenberg."

Mee's plays have been inspired by classical and modern texts, including ancient Greek drama, drama from the Yuan dynasty of China, Indian dance drama, and the works of William Shakespeare, Molière, Anton Chekhov, Bertolt Brecht, and Maxim Gorky. His Greek play adaptations include Orestes 2.0; The Bacchae 2.1.; Agamemnon 2.0; Trojan Women 2.0; Big Love; True Love; and Iphigenia 2.0. Mee is the resident playwright of the SITI Company.

Landau is a writer and director whose original work includes Theatrical Essays for Steppenwolf Theatre Company; the new music-theatre project Beauty, which received its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse; the play Space, which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; the music-theatre piece Dream True (with composer Ricky Ian Gordon), which was produced by the Vineyard Theatre; and the musical Floyd Collins (with composer Adam Guettel), which ran at Playwright's Horizons, receiving the 1996 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, an Obie and seven Drama Desk nominations. Directing credits include her Broadway debut with the revival of Bells Are Ringing (Tony Award nomination as Best Musical Revival).

Signature's Mee season also includes the world premiere of Queens Boulevard, the musical; and the world premiere of Paradise Park.

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