To Beard or Not to Beard: Nelson Opens Shakespeare Comedy Beard of Avon, Nov. 18

News   To Beard or Not to Beard: Nelson Opens Shakespeare Comedy Beard of Avon, Nov. 18
Tim Blake Nelson makes his return to the New York stage as Will Shakspere [sic] in the Amy Freed's The Beard of Avon, which opens at the New York Theatre Workshop, Nov. 18.
Tim Blake Nelson in The Beard of Avon
Tim Blake Nelson in The Beard of Avon

The Shakespeare-shaking comedy began performances Oct. 31 at the downtown Manhattan venue. Doug Hughes directs the work.

The age-old question about the authorship of William Shakespeare's complete canon is put to test in Freed's The Beard of Avon. "I play Will Shakspere, who, as Amy Freed has conceived him, is this uneducated, unwashed country bumpkin who is a sort of savant and who leaves an unhappy marriage and a dead-end life for a life in the theatre in London," Nelson told Playbill On-Line. "In London, he meets the 17th Earl of Oxford who aspires to be a great playwright and the two end up collaborating on the corpus of work that we know of as the Shakespearean canon."

Tim Blake Nelson, the character actor who has appeared in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "The Good Girl," takes on the lowly Will, Mary Louise Wilson (Cabaret, The Women) plays Queen Elizabeth, Kate Jennings Grant (Radiant Baby, Proof) plays wife 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.

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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