Equivocation, About a "Lost" Shakespeare Play, Finds Home at MTC in 2010

News   Equivocation, About a "Lost" Shakespeare Play, Finds Home at MTC in 2010
Bill Cain's Equivocation, about Shakespeare's acting troupe and the writer's attempt to write about current events, circa 1605, will be part of Manhattan Theatre Club's 2009-10 season.
Anthony Heald and Jonathan Haugen in Oregon Shakespeare Fest's Equivocation
Anthony Heald and Jonathan Haugen in Oregon Shakespeare Fest's Equivocation Photo by Jenny Graham

The current world-premiere staging opened April 18 at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR, for a run in repertory though Oct. 31 at OSF's Angus Bowmer Theatre. No creative team or casting has been announced for the 2010 Off-Broadway premiere, which will begin performances Feb. 9 toward a March 2 opening at New York City Center Stage I.

TV and theatre star Anthony Heald ("Boston Public," Broadway's Love! Valour! Compassion!) plays Shakespeare, spelled "Shagspeare" or "Shag" in the Oregon production of the play, which concerns the bard's company of players during the reign of King James I. OSF artistic director Bill Rauch directed the premiere.

According to MTC, the "new play set in 1605 England begins when King James' right-hand man commissions Shakespeare to write a play about the Gunpowder Plot, a recent failed attempt to blow up Parliament and the Monarchy. The Bard replies, 'I write histories, not current events.' Coerced by his own company to appease the government and write the play, Shakespeare embarks upon an investigation that uncovers unexpected lies and threats, deceits and dangers. Equivocation is Bill Cain's bold new look at the greatest playwright ever, in a drama whose contemporary parallels are unmistakable and whose laughter is abundant — a work of startling revelations and vibrant theatricality."

John Tufts in the OSF Equivocation
photo by Jenny Graham

The play was developed at the Ojai Playwrights Conference and TheatreWorks in Palo Alto. Cain's widely produced play Stand-Up Tragedy earned six LA Critics Awards in its premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. Stand-Up later garnered four Helen Hayes Awards at Arena Stage in Washington, DC before its 1990 Broadway engagement, where it received the Joe A. Callaway Playwriting Award. He wrote the television adaptation of the play for TNT, under the title "Thicker Than Blood" (Writers' Guild nomination). He is the recipient of a George Foster Peabody Award for Outstanding Achievement in Television for the series "Nothing Sacred," which he co-created, wrote and produced for ABC. He wrote the critically acclaimed screen adaptation of "Nightjohn" for Hallmark/Touchstone, which was named best American film of the year by The New Yorker and given a special citation for excellence by the National Society of Film Critics. His work for television has won Writers Guild, Humanitas, Christopher and Alma awards, among others. He is the founder of the Boston Shakespeare Company, where he was artistic director for seven seasons. For more information on Manhattan Theatre Club, visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.

For more information about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2009 season, visit www.osfashland.org.

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