Kneehigh's 946: THE AMAZING STORY OF ADOLPHUS TIPS to Make New York Debut at St. Ann's Warehouse
St. Ann's Warehouse will welcome back Kneehigh, Cornwall's beloved theatrical alchemists, and their former Co-Artistic Director Emma Rice - now the Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe - for the New York Premiere of the acclaimed production 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips.
Adapted by Rice and War Horse author Michael Morpurgo from Morpurgo's book The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, this new play tells a true tale of what happened when African American soldiers met the townsfolk from Devon, England, when they were sent to their shores to rehearse for D-Day and the Normandy invasion. 946 takes its title from the number of casualties sustained during these bungled maneuvers, an incident kept secret by the American and British governments until Morpurgo wrote about it. Like most Kneehigh productions, 946 features a lively band on stage performing original and period music.
946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips is a tender coming-of-age story told from the perspective of a little girl named Lily Tregenza, who lives with her family and Tips, her fiercely independent cat, in the idyllic seaside village of Slapton. They have scarcely been touched by war before American soldiers arrive to share their home and land in preparation for the D-Day invasion. For the maneuvers, the village is transformed into a warzone, and when Lily and her family are evacuated from Slapton, Tips gets left behind. Lily sets out to rescue her beloved pet from "behind enemy lines," accompanied by her townie friend Barry and looked after by a black American GI, Adolphus "Adi" T. Madison.
Morpurgo learned the history of the D-Day rehearsals when he was having lunch at a pub in Slapton and noticed-and inquired about-photos of black American soldiers in World War II uniforms.
"Imagine how it must have been for the U.S. soldiers, far from home, knowing what lay ahead, what they were exercising for. Imagine what the villagers and farmers felt about these friendly invaders, who spoke and behaved so differently. Imagine what the children must have thought when they saw their first black American soldier," Morpurgo remembers thinking. "That I did not have to imagine. I moved to London just after World War II, near Earl's Court, and remember so clearly the first black person I had ever spoken to. He was a very tall American GI."
The success of War Horse notwithstanding, 946 represents the first time Morpurgo has co-adapted one of his own books for the stage. He says of the experience, "There is no theatre company that tells stories more imaginatively, more unexpectedly than Kneehigh."
Rice brings Kneehigh's full arsenal of theatrics-performances alternately poignant and comic, evocative spectacle, and gorgeous original music-to the production. 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips features a score made up of original music by longtime Kneehigh composer Stu Barker, and period music, played live on stage by the company, led by Seamus Carey and Pat Moran, who also serves as Music Director; set and costume design are by Lez Brotherston, lighting design by Malcolm Rippeth, sound design by Simon Baker, and choreography by Emma Rice and Etta Murfitt.
The international cast includes Nandi Bhebhe (Tips the cat), Emma Darlow, Ncuti Gatwa (Adolphus Tips); Kyla Goodey, Chris Jared, Craig Johnson, Katy Owen (Lily), Kneehigh founder Mike Shepherd, Adam Sopp and Akpore Uzoh.
946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips premiered in a sold-out run at Kneehigh's Asylum in Cornwall in the summer of 2015, where St. Ann's Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman saw the production.
Watch a trailer for the show below!
St. Ann's Warehouse has been Kneehigh's New York home since 2009, when St. Ann's premiered director Emma Rice's adaptation of Noël Coward's Brief Encounter. The production went on to a successful Broadway run at Studio 54. The company returned to St. Ann's with The Red Shoes, an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, in 2010; The Wild Bride, an adaptation of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale The Handless Maiden, in 2012; and, most recently, with Tristan & Yseult, Rice's adaptation of the epic Cornish drama and opera, in 2014.
Performances of 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips take place March 16-18, 21-25 and 28-31, and April 1and 4-8 at 8pm; March 19 & 26 and April 2 & 9 at 7pm; March 18 & 25 and April 1 & 8 at 3pm; and March 19 & 26 and April 2 & 9 at 2pm. Critics are welcome as of March 18 at 8pm for an official opening March 20 at 8pm.
Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at www.stannswarehouse.org, 718.254.8779 or 866.811.4111. The show runs approximately 2:30, including one intermission. St. Ann's Warehouse is located at 45 Water Street in in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Although there are adult themes of loss and onstage battles, 946 can also be enjoyed by children over 7.
In connection with 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, Michael Morpurgo will participate in a Q&A and book-signing at the The Drama Book Shop (250 West 40th Street, Manhattan), Friday, March 24, at 5:30pm.
Michael Morpurgo is one of the U.K.'s best-loved authors and storytellers. He was appointed Children's Laureate in May 2003, a post he helped to set up with his friend TEd Hughes in 1999. He was awarded an OBE for services to Literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2007. He has written over 130 books with world sales of over 34 million copies, including Kensuke's Kingdom, which won the Children's Book Award 2000 and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children's Book Award and the Carnegie Medal in 2000. His novel Private Peaceful, a harrowing story about the First World War, was published in autumn 2003. It won the 2004 Red House Children's Book Award and the Blue Peter Book Award in 2005. His novel Shadow, about a boy from Afghanistan and the dog he befriends, won the Red House Children's Book Award 2011, voted for by children. Pinocchio, by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Emma Chichester-Clark, was published in September 2013.
Many of Morpurgo's books have been adapted for the stage. These include Private Peaceful, Kensuke's Kingdom, Why the Whales Came, The Mozart Question, and, most notably, the National Theatre's production of War Horse. This production of Morpurgo's moving and powerful story of survival on the Western Front reached number one in The Observer's top ten theater performances, and was also awarded the best design prize in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. When it moved to New York, it received five Tony Awards. The film of War Horse, by Steven Spielberg, was released in January 2012. In 1976, Michael and his wife, Clare, started the charity Farms for City Children. They help to run three farms around England: in Gloucestershire, Pembrokeshire and North Devon. Each farm offers children and teachers from urban primary schools the chance to live and work in the countryside for a week, and gain hands-on experience.
Emma Rice is Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe, where she has directed recent productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips and The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. For the last 20 years Rice has led Kneehigh as an actor, director and, with with Mike Shepherd, head of the company. Her productions for Kneehigh include The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, Tristan & Yseult, Cymbeline (in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre), Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Production), Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic), Midnight's Pumpkin, The Wild Bride, Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler's Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages) and Steptoe and Son. Other work includes the West End production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Oedipussy (Spymonkey); The Empress (RSC) and An Audience with Meow Meow (Berkeley Repertory Theatre).
Kneehigh is a U.K.-based theater company with a local, national and international profile. For 35 years Kneehigh has created vigorous, popular and challenging theater and performed with the joyful anarchy that audiences have come to expect from this groundbreaking company.
Kneehigh tells stories. Based in Cornwall in breath-taking barns on the south coast, the company creates theater of humanity on an epic and tiny scale. They work with an ever-changing ensemble of performers, artists, technicians, administrators, makers and musicians and are passionate about their multi-disciplinary creative process.
In 2010 Kneehigh launched The Asylum, a beautiful and flexible nomadic structure, which means the company now has a venue to call home in addition to being one of the leading touring theatre companies in the U.K. The company has now presented three seasons in The Asylum in Cornwall, and will continue to reinvent the space and explore new locations in future years.
Alongside their national and international touring and Asylum seasons, Kneehigh runs their Rambles program, which aims to engage creatively with communities in Cornwall and beyond through event and adventure.
Past Kneehigh shows include Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) (U.K. tour 2014-15 and international tour 2016); Tristan & Yseult (Cornwall 2003, National Theatre and U.K. tour 2006, U.K. tour 2013 and U.S. tour 2013-15); Brief Encounter (West End 2008, U.K. tour and U.S. tour 2009, Broadway 2010, Australia and U.S. tour 2013-14, nominated for Olivier Awards and two Tony awards); Noyes Fludde (Somerset 2014); A VERY OLD Man with Enormous Wings (in association with Little Angel Theatre, U.K. tour 2013); Steptoe and Son (Asylum & U.K. tour 2012-13); The Wild Bride (U.K. tour, San Francisco, New York and New Zealand 2011-13); Midnight's Pumpkin (Asylum 2011, Battersea Arts Centre 2012); The Red Shoes (U.K. tour 2001-02, winner of TMA for Best Director 2002, U.K. tour, U.S. and Australia 2010-11); Hansel & Gretel (U.K. tour 2010-11); The King of Prussia (2010); BLAST! (2010); Don John (U.K. tour 2008-09); A Matter of Life and Death (National Theatre 2007); Rapunzel (U.K. Tour and New York 2007-08); Cymbeline (U.K. and International tour 2007-08); Nights at the Circus (2005); The Bacchae (2004) and The Wooden Frock (2003). For more information, visit kneehigh.co.uk.
St. Ann's Warehouse plays a vital role on the global cultural landscape as an American artistic home for international companies of distinction, American avant-garde masters and talented emerging artists ready to work on a grand scale. St. Ann's signature flexible, open space allows artists to stretch, both literally and imaginatively, enabling them to approach work with unfettered creativity, knowing that the theater can be adapted in multiple configurations to suit their needs.
In the heart of Brooklyn Bridge Park, St. Ann's Warehouse has designed an award-winning, spectacular waterfront theater that opened in October 2015. The new theater offers St. Ann's signature versatility and grandeur on an amplified scale while respecting the walls of an original 1860's Tobacco Warehouse. In addition to the flexible Steinberg Theater, the building complex includes a second space, a Studio, for St. Ann's Puppet Lab, smaller-scale events and community uses, and The Max Family Garden, designed by landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and open to Brooklyn Bridge Park visitors during Park hours.
Susan Feldman founded Arts at St. Ann's (now St. Ann's Warehouse) in 1980 as part of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, to help save the National Historic Landmark Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. For twenty-one years, St. Ann's presented a decidedly eclectic array of concert and theater performances in the church sanctuary.
From Fall 2001 through the 2014-15 season, the organization activated found spaces in DUMBO with the world's most imaginative theater- and music-makers, helping to make the burgeoning neighborhood a destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike. After 12 years (2001-2012) in a warehouse that was located at 38 Water Street, St. Ann's transformed another raw space at 29 Jay Street, turning it into an interim home for three years (2012-2015) while the organization adapted the then-roofless Tobacco Warehouse at 45 Water Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park into the new St. Ann's Warehouse.
The Inaugural Season, November 2015 - June 2016, featured signature international presentations that continually demonstrated the flexibility of the new St. Ann's Warehouse. The season began with the Donmar Warehouse all-female Henry IV, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Harriet Walter, and continued with The Last Hotel, a new opera from Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh; Nice Fish, written by Mark Rylance and prose poet Louis Jenkins after Jenkins' prose poems, and performed by a cast led by Rylance; the Young Vic's immensely acclaimed production of A Streetcar Named Desire,directed by Benedict Andrews, with an explosive cast led by Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster, Vanessa Kirby and Corey Johnson; and Bianco, from the Cardiff-based international contemporary circus company NoFitState, which St. Ann's presented in a flying-saucer shaped tent erected under the Brooklyn Bridge in May 2016.
Almost four decades of consistently acclaimed landmark productions that found their American home at St. Ann's include Lou Reed's and John Cale's Songs for 'Drella; Marianne Faithfull's Seven Deadly Sins; Artistic Director Susan Feldman's Band in Berlin; Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers' Theater of the New Ear; The Royal Court and TR Warszawa productions of Sarah Kane's 4:48 Psychosis; The Globe Theatre of London's Measure for Measure with Mark Rylance; Druid Company's The Walworth Farce, The New Electric Ballroom and Penelope by Enda Walsh and Walsh's Misterman, featuring Cillian Murphy; Lou Reed's Berlin; the National Theater of Scotland's Black Watch; Kneehigh Theatre's Brief Encounter and Tristan & Yseult; Yael Farber's Mies Julie; Dmitry Krymov Lab's Opus No. 7; the Donmar Warehouse all-female Julius Caesar and Henry IV; Kate Tempest's Brand New Ancients; Tricycle Theatre's Red Velvet and, most recently, the National Theatre of Scotland's Let the Right One In. St. Ann's has championed such artists as The Wooster Group, Mabou Mines, Jeff Buckley, Cynthia Hopkins, Emma Rice and Daniel Kitson, and presented an historic David Bowie concert in 2002.
The new St. Ann's Warehouse retains the best of its past homes: the sense of sacred space of the organization's original home in the Church, and the vastness and endless capacity for reconfiguration artists have harnessed in St. Ann's temporary warehouses in DUMBO. For more information, visit www.stannswarehouse.org.