Alec Baldwin, F Murray Abraham, Ian McKellan and More Join Together for Peter Shaffer Memorial
Stars of stage and screen will gather Monday, April 3rd to celebrate the life and legacy of Sir Peter Shaffer, much-belovEd English playwright and screenwriter known for such iconic works as Equus, Amadeus, and Lettice and Lovage. Shaffer, a Manhattan resident for his last 40 years, died last May at 90, leaving behind loving family and friends, and a body of work that has shaped and influenced the theater scene for decades.
From the stables of England, to the Opera houses of Austria, to the Inca kingdom of Peru, Shaffer's complex explorations of the human condition and mastery of memorable theatrical spectacle have excited and challenged audiences worldwide. Fundamental Theater Project (FTP), of which he is the honorary patron, is proud to bring some of these treasured characters and words back to the New York stage for a one-night tribute event.
Shaffer became attached to the international-artist-driven non-profit after he worked with Artistic Director Sam Underwood (The Following, Homeland) on a production of Equus with Alec Baldwin in East Hampton. Baldwin has also been a generous patron and supporter of FTP, a dear friend of Shaffer's, and a major contributor to this special event.
Join this international ensemble for an evening of theatrical excerpts, including Equus, Lettice and Lovage, Black Comedy and Royal Hunt Of The Sun. The event will feature live tributes and performances from Alec Baldwin, Sam Underwood, John Guare, Valorie Curry and Juliet Mills and video messages from Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Tom Stoppard, Sir Derek Jacobi, David Suchet, F Murray Abraham and Simon Callow, among others.
"Peter loved New York theatre audiences. Their embrace of Peter's epic language and spectacle was very special to him." says Underwood, "Everyone recognizes Peter's name when you mention Equus or Amadeus, but I wanted to pay tribute to Peter's legacy by presenting excerpts of some of his perhaps lesser produced works, such as The Private Ear, White Liars and Lettice And Lovage. Not only do I want to share these other witty, heartbreaking and complex plays with audiences, but I would also like to give as rounded a portrayal as possible of the man behind the words. These plays made me feel closer to Peter, gave me a more intimate insight into his dreams - and his ghosts. It has been a delight to delve into them and to discover the threads that unite all of his work - unbridled passion, and the inability to find it in our day to day lives. As an organization dedicated to supporting immigrant artists, there is a particular relevance and poignancy in Peter's work - questions for society that, even back when his plays were first produced, seemed vibrant and rooted in the national dialogues. Bringing these questions, stories and characters into today's political and social climate is our way of continuing Peter's living legacy."
"The evening will consist of some live and video tributes from special guests, but what you will see on stage will be moments from Peter's work you may not be familiar with," continued Underwood, "Peter balanced out his intense characters and vivid stories with a delightful sense of humor. It was a cornerstone of his personality - that unique British wit.
You will hear excerpts from plays like Black Comedy, with its incredible physical comedy sequences; the eccentric tour guide from Lettice And Lovage (a role originated by Dame Maggie Smith); andThe Public Eye, following a Private Detective who's techniques are a little, well, unorthodox. Other, more quiet and poignant character explorations like The Private Ear, following a first date that goes terribly wrong, and White Liars, exploring the secrets people live (even if they are made up!) will, I hope, offer the audience a window into the young playwright, Sir Peter Shaffer. And on the note of epic spectacle, the company will be presenting a tapestry of Royal Hunt of the Sun. This was a play Peter always wished to see on stage again. The story about 'Ruin and Gold' follows the Spanish invasion of the Inca kingdom in Peru. I believe that in this climate of civil unrest, oppression, and fear of the 'Other', the themes explored in this play will resonate very deeply across the world right now."
The Memorial is sponsored by and brought to you in collaboration with Show-Score. Show-Score is the online-hub for everything you need to know about the New York theatre scene, including a directory of all shows playing on Broadway, Off- and Off-Off- Broadway, box-office links and ticket discounts, and most importantly, side-by-side reviews from both professional critics and audience members. All of this together helps audiences discover shows they will love. Show-Score is like a 'Rotten Tomatoes' for theatre.
"We are honored to help celebrate the life and legacy of Peter Shaffer. Show-Score is a global online community of theater fans, so we are especially appreciative of Peter's contributions to the art form," said Tom Melcher, Founder and CEO of Show-Score. "We expect that many of our members will attend this exciting evening, and hope that other attendees join our vibrant community."
"We knew that we wanted to put together a night of remembrance to honor and celebrate Sir Peter, who was so important to us, and many, many others over the years." said Managing Director Alison Blair, "However, as a small not-for-profit, we struggled to reconcile a modest operating budget with the costs that accompany producing an event befitting his career. It is through the generosity of The Alec and Hilaria Baldwin Foundation and Show-Score that we have been able to secure such an auspicious venue and provide tickets to the public. And truly, it is a testament to Sir Peter's life and legacy that so many distinguished artists will be attending and participating in the evening. It was important to us to produce an event for the New York theatre community that paid homage to a man of such great talent and character."
The memorial will take place Monday, April 3rd at 5pm at the American Airlines Theatre. General admission tickets are just $10. For an additional $5, guests can attend a special VIP reception after the event in the penthouse of the American Airlines theater. To purchase tickets, please visit: www.show-score.com/shaffer. All proceeds will be used to defray the cost of the event, with any remaining funds going to The Peter Shaffer Award fund, a yearly award started with Sir Peter's blessing, given to a promising, young international playwright. For more information, visit