Not Offending the Audience: TFANA


How you Behn? Oroonoko author Aphra

Just received the season preview for Theater for a New Audience, a typically robust mix of newer works (Biyi Bandele’s adpatation of Oroonoko) and Shakespeare (Antony and Cleopatra starring Christine Baranski. Especially exciting? A revival of Adrienne Kennedy’s supremely spooky Ohio State Murders, starring LisaGay Hamilton. That Kennedy isn’t more produced or known outside of the Off-Broadway world is very nearly criminal. But unsurprising. Caryl Churchill excepted, evocative, angry plays be women that shie away from easy morals or solutions don’t tend to get voted Most Popular.

After the jump, the full TFANA schedule:

Africa, Europe, America: Exploring the Connections

Ohio State Murders
by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis, Featuring LisaGay Hamilton
October 27 – November 18
Adapted by Biyi Bandele, based on a novella by Aphra Behn, directed by Kate Whoriskey, Featuring Daniel Breaker
February 2 – March 9
Antony and Cleopatra
By William Shakespeare, directed by Darko Tresnjak, Starring Christine Baranski
March 22 May 2
Theatre for a New Audience’s 2007 – 2008 Season is at The Duke on 42nd Street

NEW YORK, August 7 – Africa, Europe, America: Exploring the Connections is the theme of Theatre for a New Audience’s 29th Season, Founding Artistic Director, Jeffrey Horowitz and Managing Director, Dorothy Ryan announced.

“For centuries, Africa has captivated the Western imagination. At the same time, the ‘dark continent’s’ rich resources – including its human resources – have been exploited by Westerners in the most brutal ways imaginable,” said Mr. Horowitz. “This year, we explore three European and American works depicting this collision of civilizations.”

October 27 – November 18, at The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street
Ohio State Murders (Off-Broadway premiere) by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis.

Ohio State Murders portrays Suzanne Alexander (LisaGay Hamilton), a fictional African-American writer, whose life both is and is not based on Ms. Kennedy’s own life experiences. When Suzanne enters Ohio State in the 1950’s, little does she know that the safe haven of academia conceals forces of racism. Years later, Suzanne is invited to return to the University to talk about the violence in her writing. A dark mystery unravels. Past and present intertwine in this lyrical, spellbinding story of Suzanne’s confrontation with hatred, loss and love. The Obie Award-winning African-American playwright Adrienne Kennedy (b.1931) is one of theatre’s most remarkable visionaries. Among her many honors are the Guggenheim and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award. Fluid in form, her poetically intense dramas leap across time and culture, telling stories of violence steeped in an astonishing tender melancholy. LisaGay Hamilton was featured in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Measure for Measure and Henry IV Parts I & II at the New York Shakespeare Festival. She was an original cast on Broadway in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Gem of the Ocean and co-starred for seven years on the Emmy Award-winning, David Kelley TV drama, “The Practice.” Evan Yionoulis directed the New York premiere of Howard Brenton’s Sore Throats for Theatre for a New Audience. Ms. Yionoulis opened Manhattan Theatre Club’s Biltmore Theatre with Richard Greenberg’s The Violet Hour starring Robert Sean Leonard. A resident director at Yale Repertory Theatre, Ms. Yionoulis has directed new plays and classics at theaters including Lincoln Center Theater, the Mark Taper Forum, and the New York Shakespeare Festival. The Ohio State Murders was part of the Signature Theatre’s 1995 season devoted to Adrienne Kennedy.

February 2 – March 9 at The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street
Oroonoko (U.S. premiere) adapted by Biyi Bandele, based on a novella by Aphra Behn, directed by Kate Whoriskey, original music by Juwon Ogungbe, featuring Daniel Breaker.
Premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 1999 where it was acclaimed, this is a true act of cultural reclamation. Biyi Bandele, a prolific Nigerian writer residing in England, was commissioned by the RSC to adapt Aphra Behn’s 1688 novella Oroonoko. With vibrant words, drumming and dance based on Yoruba culture, Mr. Bandele tells a tragic love story, a journey from kingship to slavery, rebellion and death. Aphra Behn (b.1640 1689) was the first professional female author in Europe. Living for a time in Surinam in the Caribbean, Ms. Behn based her 1688 novella Oroonoko on tales told by the African slaves brought over by the Dutch. A descendent of a returned slave, Mr. Bandele’s plays have been presented at the RSC, Royal Court and Royal National Theatre. Juwon Ogungbe composed the score for the original RSC production. Daniel Breaker was featured in the recent Passing Strange at The Public Theater and Well on Broadway. Kate Whoriskey has directed at LAByrinth Theatre Company, the Goodman, American Repertory Theatre, and the Intiman Theater.

March 22 – May 2 at The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street
Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, directed by Darko Tresnjak, featuring Christine Baranski
Shakespeare’s unforgettable study of mature lovers who sacrifice all for love is also a study in two cultures: the formality of Rome pitted against the sensuality of Roman Egypt. Shot through with rich language and charged with a Chekhovian sense of regret, this is one of the crown jewels of the world’s dramatic poetry. Though the play is often staged on a grand scale, The Duke on 42nd Street permits an intimate staging. Christine Baranski, one of the theatre’s finest talents, has won two Tony Awards and has played in a wide range of plays from Shakespeare to Stoppard. Most recently, she appeared in Paul Rudnick’s Regrets Only at Manhattan Theatre Club. Darko Tresnjak is the Artistic Director of the Old Globe Shakespeare Festival. For Theatre for a New Audience, Mr. Tresnjak staged All’s Well that Ends Well (2006) and The Merchant of Venice (2007) with F. Murray Abraham.

Special Events: The Literary Supplement

Theatre for a New Audience’s acclaimed reading series explores works that enrich the experience of the season’s theme. This season, The Literary Supplement, curated by Michael Feingold, will concentrate on European writers of African ancestry. We will present Alexandre Dumas, père’s The Tower of Evil, Terence’s The Self-Tormentor, and William DuBois’s Haiti.

Box Office Info:
Single tickets are $75 and can be purchased by calling 646-223-3010. A three-play subscription is $126 and may be purchased by calling 212-229-2819 x10.

For ages 25 and under, $10.00 tickets are available through the Theatre’s New Deal ticket program. New Deal tickets must be purchased at the box office with valid ID. New Deal tickets may be purchased for all performances, including day-of or future performances in-person only, at The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 15, 2007

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