Cymbeline is back! Two sold-out weeks last January for Fiasco Theater's production of Cymbeline wasn't nearly long enough to satisfy the demands of a theatre-going public hungry for, as Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote, "the comedy, poignancy and unlikely magic of Cymbeline."
The magic and comedy and music of what New York Magazine's Scott Brown called this "small masterpiece" will definitely be back when six actors and a fabulous trunk take on the 14 roles in one of William Shakespeare's wild and witty romances. Theatre for a New Audience, Jeffrey Horowitz, Artistic Director, Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian and Tom Wirtshafter are presenting Fiasco Theater's production of Cymbeline for an 18-week engagement at the Barrow Street Theatre http://www.barrowstreettheatre.com, 27 Barrow Street at Seventh Avenue. Preview performances begin Saturday, August 27, at 7:30pm for an opening Thursday, September 8, at 7:00pm.
In this lightning-paced production, a plain white cloth becomes a sail, a bed sheet, and a toga and a "fabulous" trunk becomes a bed, a throne and a cave. The transformations are magical and playful and true to the play, deepening its themes of illusion, deception and belief.
Co-directed by Fiasco Theater's Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, Cymbeline's 14 roles are performed by the original company: Jessie Austrian, Paul L. Coffey, Andy Grotelueschen, Emily Young and Messrs. Brody and Steinfeld.
The music created by Fiasco for Cymbeline contains some of Shakespeare's most haunting lyrics and sets Shakespeare's words to original compositions and traditional sources. Performed live by the company, the music ranges from Renaissance madrigals to bluegrass and Appalachian folk tunes. Scott Brown described the music as "a billowing quilt of Thomas Tallis, Carter Stanley, and startlingly catchy folk-pop originals." John Schaefer of WNYC gave the music an hour of his Soundcheck program last winter. It can still be heard on the web at http://www.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/2011/jan/20/cymbeline-song/.
The discovery of Fiasco Theater's Cymbeline began two years ago when Jeffrey Horowitz, searching for the new generation of artists interpreting Shakespeare, saw the production in a 70-seat loft and found a young troupe that had unleashed, to repeat a great quote, "the comedy, poignancy and unlikely magic of Cymbeline."
As dizzyingly eventful a drama as Shakespeare ever conceived, Cymbeline tells of a beautiful princess separated from her beloved, the cruel step-mother who tries to kill her, a credulous husband duped by an adversary, an exiled nobleman who kidnaps a king's sons and a Roman invasion of Britain.
"We last produced Cymbeline in 2001 directed by Bartlett Sher," said Mr. Horowitz. "In the Fiasco production, I could see New York through a gritty window while on a bare stage with no production budget and sheer talent and commitment, the company brought the audience into the imaginary world of Shakespeare through the language. I immediately felt a kinship and invited the ensemble to engage with artists we know such as Cicely Berry, Director of Voice, Royal Shakespeare Company and Jean-Guy Lecat, a designer who worked with Peter Brook. I proposed that Theatre for a New Audience collaborate with Fiasco to take the essence of what they created in Cymbeline and develop a new production with new sets and costumes for a wider audience. That team led to an acclaimed sold-out engagement at The New Victory and now an extended commercial run for an even wider audience at the Barrow Street Theatre."
"If Romeo and Juliet is a comedy gone wrong, perhaps Cymbeline is a tragedy gone right," say Messrs. Brody and Steinfeld.
Fiasco Theater www.fiascotheater.com/ is an ensemble based in New York City, founded in 2007 by Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld. In addition to Austrian, Brody and Steinfeld, the ensemble is Paul L. Coffey, Andy Grotelueschen and Emily Young.
And if some of these names are familiar, they should be: both Ben Steinfeld and Emily Young were in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson on Broadway (The New Yorker called them both "standouts"). Jessie Austrian recently shared a Broadway stage with Brian Bedford when she took over the role of Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest.
Tickets are $75.00 and may be purchased by phone at 212-868-4444; online by clicking www.smarttix.com or in person at the Barrow Street Theatre box office, Barrow Street (on the corner of Seventh Avenue, one block south of Christopher Street). The box office opens at 1:00pm daily.
The Cymbeline performance schedule: Tuesday - Friday at 7:30PM, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30PM & 7:30PM, with the exception that there are only evening performances on Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28. Tickets are priced at $75 and are available through SmartTix (212) 868-4444, www.smarttix.com, or at the Barrow Street Theatre box office (open at 1:00 p.m. daily). Student tickets at $20 are available on the day of performance only at the box office, cash only, based on availability. For group sales, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Barrow Street Theatre is located at 27 Barrow Street at 7th Avenue South in the heart of Greenwich Village. Nearby subway stops are the 1 at Christopher Street (walk 1 block South on 7th Avenue to Barrow) and the A, C, E, B, D, F and M at West 4th (walk West on 4th Street, left on Barrow).
Scenic Designer Jean-Guy Lecat has simultaneously practiced every technical and artistic job in theatre and took part in more than 100 productions for many directors and with such companies as Living Theatre and La Mama E.T.C. From 1976 to 2000, Lecat worked for Peter Brook as technical director and space designer and was charged with researching, transforming or creating more than 200 spaces throughout the world.
Costume designer Whitney Locher's recent design credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream (The New School For Drama); A Bright New Boise (Partial Comfort Productions); Gypsy, The Gypsy Princess, Patience (Ohio Light Opera); Twelfth Night (Fiasco Theater); Damascus (Northern Stage).
Lighting designer Tim Cryan's recent collaborations include The Magnificent Cuckold (East River Commedia), Twelfth Night (Fiasco Theater), Poetics-a ballet brut (Nature Theatre of Oklahoma). He was recently nominated by the New York Innovative Theatre Awards for his work with director Erwin Maas on Alex Van Warmerdam's Welkom in het Bos.
Jacques Roy designed the Fabulous Trunk. Apart from his work with Fiasco on Cymbeline and Twelfth Night, Jacques has designed and built sets and props for The Guerrilla Shakespeare Project, PS122, Babel Theatre Project, Theatre Row, the Great River Shakespeare Festival, and many others.
Cicely Berry serves as vocal and text consultant. She has been Voice Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1970 when she was invited by Trevor Nunn to take over the voice work with the actors. Cicely has worked with major theatre companies all over the world: she has also worked regularly with Nos Do Morro, a company based in Vidigal, one of Rio's favelas. She has made a series of videos, Working Shakespeare, with top English and American actors. Ms. Berry has been awarded the CBE, Commander of the British Empire, for her pioneering work in theatre.
Fiasco Theater is a performance and training company founded in 2007 by graduates of the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA acting program. The mission of Fiasco Theater is to create dynamic, joyful, actor-driven productions of classic and new plays, and to offer conservatory-level theatrical training through classes and workshops. Past shows include Off-Off Broadway productions of Cymbeline and Twelfth Night, as well as a workshop production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. In 2008, they began offering the Free Training Initiative-- a three-week, conservatory-level classical acting intensive for professional actors, completely free of charge to students.
Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Artistic Director, Theatre for a New Audience http://www.tfana.org/ is a modern classical theatre. One of New York City's premier Shakespeare companies, Mr. Horowitz and Dorothy Ryan, Managing Director produce Shakespeare alongside other classics and significant contemporary plays and build long-term relationships with some of the finest American and European artists. The Theatre's productions have toured nationally and internationally. It is the first American theatre to be invited to bring a production of Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2001, its production of Cymbeline directed by Bartlett Sher played at the RSC. In 2007, the Theatre returned to the RSC as part of the Complete Works Festival with The Merchant of Venice starring F. Murray Abraham and directed by Darko Tresnjak.
Theatre for a New Audience created and runs the largest education program in the New York City Public Schools to introduce Shakespeare and classic drama and serves approximately 2,000 students annually. A hundred and twenty-five thousand young people city-wide have participated since 1984. Supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Theatre hosts a national, summer Shakespeare Institute for teachers.
In partnership with New York City, Theatre for a New Audience is now building its first permanent home in Brooklyn's BAM Cultural District. Opening in April 2013 and designed by Hugh Hardy, H3 Collaboration Architecture, it is the first major theatre built for Shakespeare and classic drama since the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center opened in 1965.
Barrow Street Theatre (BST), Producer: Since founding BST in 2003, Scott Morfee and Tom Wirtshafter have presented more than 50 shows and artists from around the world. Additionally, they produced the recent landmark production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Mistakes Were Made, Gone Missing, No Child..., Orson's Shadow, BUG, TJ & Dave, Eat the Taste (all at BST). Also, Adding Machine: A Musical (Minetta Lane Theatre), Underneath the Linte (SoHo Playhouse), and finer noble gases and Flesh and Blood & Fish and Fowl (at Edinburgh Festival Fringe). Mr. Morfee also produced Killer Joe at the Soho Playhouse. Mr. Wirtshafter was producer on Bridge & Tunnel (Culture Project and Broadway), and serves on the boards of The Town Hall Foundation and The Culture Project.
Producer Jean Doumanian: Broadway credits include The Book of Mormon (Tony Award for Best Musical), The Motherf*cker With The Hat, The House of Blue Leaves, Superior Donuts, August: Osage County (Tony Award for Best Play; producing the feature film adaptation with The Weinstein Company), and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. Upcoming on Broadway, the 2010 Olivier Award-winning play The Mountaintop. Off-Broadway highlights include David Cromer's production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Mistakes Were Made, When the Rain Stops Falling, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Fuddy Meers, Bat Boy the Musical, Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight, Dinah Was and Death Defying Acts. The company has produced films by David Mamet (The Spanish Prisoner), David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls), Woody Allen (Bullets Over Broadway, Everyone Says I Love You, Mighty Aphrodite, Deconstructing Harry, Sweet and Lowdown, Celebrity and Small Time Crooks), and Sven Nykvist (The Ox).