Aristophanes' Frogs Leaps Into NYC in World Premiere, Old Comedy

News   Aristophanes' Frogs Leaps Into NYC in World Premiere, Old Comedy
Classic Stage Company presents Target Margin Theater's world premiere of Old Comedy from Aristophanes' Frogs by David Greenspan, based on — as the title would suggest — Aristophanes' 405 B.C. play Frogs, opening May 11 at CSC's East Village home.
Pedro Pascal, Michael Levinton (back) and Derek Lucci in Frogs.
Pedro Pascal, Michael Levinton (back) and Derek Lucci in Frogs. Photo by Joe Dore

Previews began May 7. Performances continue to May 31.

Original music for the Off-Broadway project is by Thomas Cabaniss. Target Margin artistic director David Herskovits directs a cast that features Purva Bedi, Davina Cohen, Charlie Hudson III, Michael Levinton, Derek Lucci, Pedro Pascal, Anthony Mark Stockard and Tina Shepard.

According to the troupes, "Old Comedy from Aristophanes' Frogs, a new adaptation by Obie Award-winner David Greenspan and commissioned by Target Margin Theater, begins in Aristophanes' Athens, which is mired in a horrible and losing war, bereft of political and artistic leadership. Old Comedy from Aristophanes' Frogs explores a cultural crisis: are the theatre's great creators gone? And, if so, how are we to find or create new ones?"

(The Aristophanes play is a college favorite, and has been adapted into a musical by Stephen Sondheim and various collaborators. Several versions of the musical have been produced over the years, including a production by Lincoln Center Theater starring Nathan Lane.)

* In the play, Aristophanes' heroes "search for a poet because the state itself needs guidance," according to Target Margin production notes. "Only the poets know what can be done to save it, and what kind of leadership speaks to us meaningfully today. These questions extend to the larger cultural and political life of our country. In the end, Old Comedy from Aristophanes' Frogs gives us the opportunity to reflect on our own culture's loss of an apparent center."

Herskovits said in a statement, "Premiering Old Comedy from Aristophanes' Frogs at Classic Stage Company offers Target Margin a huge opportunity, greatly enhancing the potential impact of the piece. We believe that Target Margin Theater's unique sensibility harnessed to the platform offered by our partners at CSC can make Old Comedy from Aristophanes' Frogs an important event artistically and culturally."

Brian Kulick, CSC's artistic director, stated, "It is a great pleasure to have Target Margin back at CSC after their triumphant production of Faust. Getting them here is always a terrific infusion of energy, invention and abandon that is nothing short of intoxicating. This is a company that knows how to make the perfect 'theatrical cocktail' so prepare to be shaken and stirred."

The creative team includes David Evans Morris (set), Meredith Palin (costumes) and Lenore Doxsee (lighting). The production stage manager is Ryan C. Durham.

Greenspan has directed and performed in his plays Jack, Principia, The Home Show Pieces, 2 Samuel 11, Etc., Dead Mother, or Shirley Not All in Vain, She Stoops to Comedy (Obie), The Myopia, an epic burlesque of tragic proportion and The Argument. His works have been produced by theatres including the Public, Playwrights Horizons, The Foundry and Target Margin, among others. He received an Obie for his performances in Terrence McNally's Some Men at Second Stage and Goethe's Faust with Target Margin. Additional credits include The Beebo Brinker Chronicles (Hourglass), Dinner Party (Target Margin), The Wax (Playwrights Horizons), Saved or Destroyed (Rattlestick), Lipstick Traces (Foundry), High Life and Second-hand Smoke (Primary Stages), The Boys in the Band (Obie). He is currently adapting Coraline with Stephin Merritt.

Classic Stage Company is located at 136 East 13th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues, just southeast of Union Square.

The performance schedule for Old Comedy from Aristophanes' Frogs will be Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8 PM and Saturdays and Sundays at 3 PM. Single tickets are $45 for weekday performances and $50 for weekend performances and may be purchased online at, by calling (866) 811-4111, or in person at Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13 Street.

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Old Comedy from Aristophanes' Frogs is the final production of Target Margin's two-season exploration of classical Greek literature, drama, philosophy and poetry that began in 2006. This current season included a comprehensive look at Aristophanes in November 2007 with a production of all of his works except for Frogs.

Over the course of three weeks, 24 pieces were created and presented by artistic associates of Target Margin working under the artistic mentorship of Herskovits. Last season's critically acclaimed Greek work included productions of As Yet Thou Art Young and Rash and Women of Trachis at The Ohio Theater, and The Argument and Dinner Party at The Kitchen.

As Target Margin planned the second season of a two-year exploration of Greek works, it became clear that Aristophanes’ Frogs "was one of the most compelling and resonant works." Long-time TMT collaborator Greenspan was invited to work with the company on the project and was commissioned to write a new adaptation of the piece. Greenspan wrote and performed Target Margin's critically-acclaimed production of The Argument in 2007. Greenspan and Herskovits collaborated on the ideas, both ancient and modern, that have shaped this adaptation.

Purva Bedi and Pedro Pascal in <i>Frogs.</i>
Purva Bedi and Pedro Pascal in Frogs. Photo by Joe Dore
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