Bard or Beard?: Tim Blake Nelson Plays The Beard of Avon at NYTW, Oct. 31

News   Bard or Beard?: Tim Blake Nelson Plays The Beard of Avon at NYTW, Oct. 31
Where there's a Will, there's a play, as the New York Theatre Workshop staging of Amy Freed's Shakespeare-shaking comedy The Beard of Avon begins Off-Broadway, Oct. 31.
Promotional art for The Beard of Avon.
Promotional art for The Beard of Avon.

Doug Hughes directs the work opening Nov. 18 at the downtown Manhattan venue.

The age-old question about the authorship of William Shakespeare's complete canon is put to test in Freed's The Beard of Avon. The lowly Elizabethan wannabe artist named Will Shakspere [sic] escapes from his chore-giving, homebound wife to London in search of his dream. Did he then become one of the greatest storytellers to ever live? Or was the bard a beard for Sir Francis Bacon, the Earl of Oxford, and even Queen Elizabeth?

Tim Blake Nelson ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?," "The Good Girl") takes on the lowly Will, Mary Louise Wilson (Cabaret, The Women) plays the Queen, Kate Jennings Grant (Radiant Baby, Proof) plays Anne Hathaway and Mark Harelik (Old Money) plays Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford — a role he created at the South Coast Repertory world premiere staging and reprised at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. Timothy Doyle (Fortune's Fool, Salome), James Gale (Major Barbara), Tom Lacy (Two Shakespearean Actors), Alan Mandell, David Schramm, Justin Schultz and Jeff Whitty (Freedomland, bookwriter for Avenue Q) also star.

Director Hughes helmed recent productions of Peter Gaitens' Flesh and Blood (starring Cherry Jones and Martha Plimpton) at NYTW and Anto Howard's Scattergood (starring Brian Murray) at MCC Theatre. Other credits include A Question of Mercy, Othello, An Experiment with an Air Pump and Tim Blake Nelson's The Grey Zone.

The design team for The Beard of Avon features Neil Patel (set), Catherine Zuber (costume), Michael Chybowski (lighting) and David Van Tieghem (sound)— who also provides original music. Freed's Freedomland — which played at Playwrights Horizons — was a Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist in 1998. Other works include Claustrophilia, Still Warm and The Psychic Life of Savages — which earned the Kesselring Prize and the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play.

The rest of the 2003-2004 season (subject to change) at NYTW includes Julia Cho's The Architecture of Loss directed by Chay Yew (beginning Dec. 19), Paul Rudnick's Valhalla directed by Christopher Ashley (beginning Jan. 16, 2004) and Kia Corthron's Light Raise the Roof directed by Michael John Garcés (beginning April 2004). Rob Schwimmer and Mark Stewart's Polygraph Lounge directed by Marshall Brickman, Mark Crispin Miller's Are You With Me? (working title) directed by Gregory Keller and at least one more production will also play — dates to be announced.

For tickets to The Beard of Avon at NYTW, 79 E 4th Street (between Bowery and 2nd Ave.), call (212) 239-6200 or click here. For more information, visit

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