In Theatre for a New Audience’s 32nd season, the Theatre presents five plays by Shakespeare, John Ford, Samuel Beckett and Isaac Bashevis Singer adapted by Robert Brustein. As described by Jeffrey Horowitz, founding artistic director, “These works couldn’t be more different, but each author explores with humor, irony and humanity worlds turned upside down.”
The season begins with the return of Fiasco Theater’s Cymbeline, co-directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld. After seeing the production in a 75-seat theatre two years ago, Jeffrey Horowitz invited the company to continue to develop their staging with Theatre for a New Audience. In January, 2011, the production played a sold-out run at the New Victory Theater to rave reviews. Now, the original cast is playing an 18-week engagement at the Barrow Street Theatre.
Fragments, from texts by Samuel Beckett, will premiere in New York following acclaimed performances internationally. In another of his exquisitely crafted, late-career creations, Peter Brook collaborates with Marie-Hélène Estienne to interpret Samuel Beckett, one of the 20th century’s greatest playwrights. Fragments assembles the five acclaimed Beckett shorts Rough for Theatre I, Rockaby, Act without Words II, Neither and Come and Go, and features Théâtre du Complicité artists Jos Houben, Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni.
Shlemiel the First, the Klezmer musical, was conceived and adapted by Robert Brustein (2010 National Medal of Arts awardee, Founder and Artistic director, American Repertory Theater) from Nobel Prize Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer’s folk-tale. In Chelm, a village of fools, the naive beadle Shlemiel is sent on a pilgrimage to spread the wisdom of the local sages. His simple-minded folly turns an already absurd world hilariously, and redemptively, topsy-turvy. With a cast of eight and a live Klezmer band, it gently mocks the lavishness of other musicals. It premiered in 1994 at ART to rave reviews, with The New York Times celebrating Shlemiel as “A mix of comic misadventure, mysticism and sensuality.” John Lahr wrote “Shlemiel is busting its buttons with joy.”
The Broken Heart, a 1629 tragic-comic gem written by John Ford (Tis Pity She’s a Whore), is set in ancient Sparta, but Ford’s world more closely resembles the 17th Century court of Charles II. A young woman forced to marry a ridiculously jealous codger. A cruel nobleman bent on frustrating his sister’s happiness. A princess who tries to stand aloof from the emotional discord, but lives to feel love ruining her composure. The Broken Heart will be the American debut of director Selina Cartmell, who was the 2007 protégé to Julie Taymor as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, and has directed at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Abbey Theatre. She is the Winner of the 2010 Irish Times Best Director Award. The Broken Heart will star Annika Boras (Lady Macbeth in our 2011 production).
Fresh from her triumphs with the tragedies of Othello and Macbeth, the Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director Arin Arbus turns to comedy in The Taming of the Shrew. In the play, Shakespeare depicts a rough world where everyone is out for themselves—scheming, fooling and hiding beneath disguises. The play is an intimate, brutal, hilarious negotiation between a husband and wife about the terms of their contract, about their respective roles and responsibilities. What’s remarkable is that through their wars, they find love and mutual admiration. As Harold Bloom writes “Kate and Petruchio…are clearly going to be the happiest married couple in Shakespeare.”
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