Commonwealth Shakespeare and Suffolk University to Present THE LAST WILL World Premiere, 2/13-24

Billy Meleady as Francis Collins, who most recently performed with The Cambridge Revels at Sanders Theatre after making his Los Angeles premiere in The Belle of Belfast (EST/LA). Recent Boston-area work includes The Lonesome West and Trad (Elliot Norton and IRNE award nominations) for Tir Na Theatre; A Moon for the Misbegotten and Not Enough Air with the Nora Theater Company; The Misanthrope with New Rep, and The Seafarer (Sharky) with Speakeasy Stage Company. Shakespeare roles include As You Like It (Touchstone) and The Tempest (Caliban) with the Vineyard Playhouse, and Hamlet (Gravedigger & Reynaldo) and As You Like It (Corin) with The Publick Theatre.

Jeremiah Kissel as Richard Burbage, whose recent work includes Mortal Terror (Ben Johnson) at The Modern; a ten minute version of The English Channel (Christopher Marlowe) for The Boston Theater Marathon. Other Brustein outings include a workshop of King of the Schnorrers at ArtsEmerson and Three Farces and A Funeral, both on the A.R.T. mainstage. Jeremiah has been featured at The Huntington, (most recently in Invisible Man), A.R.T., The Lyric, Geva Theater Center, The Cleveland Playhouse, The Studio Theater in D.C., The New Rep, Merrimack Repertory Theater. He is the recipient of several Norton and IRNE awards, and in 2003 was given Boston's top theater honor, the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence.

The production is directed by Steven Maler. Mr. Maler is the Founding Artistic Director of The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, which presents free productions of Shakespeare on the Boston Common. His 2011 production of All's Well That Ends Well won the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Production- Large Theatre. His CSC production of A Midsummer Night's Dream won the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director - Small Resident Theatre Company. His production of Suburbia for the SpeakEasy Stage Company won Best Production - Fringe Theatre Company. Other productions include Coriolanus, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Henry V, Romeo & Juliet, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, and The Tempest for CSC; Without You, written by and starring Anthony Rapp for City Theatre in Pittsburgh; Turn of the Screw for New Repertory Theatre; Santaland Diaries and Porcelain for the SpeakEasy Stage Company; Top Girls and Weldon Rising for Coyote Theatre; and The L.A. Plays by Han Ong for The American Repertory Theatre, where he was the Artistic Associate for New Plays. He directed the American premiere of Peter Eötvös' operatic treatment of Tony Kushner's Angels in America, and the New England premiere of Thomas Ades' Powder Her Face, both for Opera Boston. Maler is a graduate of The American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University, where he directed Woyzeck, Pericles, The Duchess of Malfi, and Ghosts. He was the associate director of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V at The American Repertory Theatre, and Titus Andronicus and Hamlet in Tokyo. He will next direct The Two Gentlemen of Verona on the Boston Common this summer for CSC.

Robert Brustein is a playwright, adaptor, director, actor, teacher, and critic. He is a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University, Distinguished Scholar in residence at Suffolk University, and a past Dean of the Yale Drama School. Mr. Brustein is the founding director of the Yale Repertory Theatre and The American Repertory Theatre, where he served for 23 years. Theatre Critic for The New Republic for forty-three years, Robert Brustein is the author of 17 books on theatre and society, and has supervised well over 200 productions, acting in eight and directing twelve, including seven adaptations of his own. He is the author of ten plays including his Shakespeare Trilogy, The English Channel, Mortal Terror, and now The Last Will. He has also written the books for two musicals, Shlemiel The First and Lysistrata, and has just finished a third with composer Hankus Netsky called King of the Schnorrers. Mr. Brustein has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and to The Players Hall of Fame and Theatre Hall of Fame.

Suffolk University co-produced the world premiere of The English Channel, the trilogy's first play, with The Vineyard Playhouse in 2007. The play focuses on Shakespeare's formative years as a young playwright and poet. Theatre Department faculty members Wes Savick and Richard Chambers respectively directed and designed the production in Suffolk's C. Walsh Theatre and on Martha's Vineyard. The production featured Suffolk alumnus and Elliot Norton Best Actor award-winner Alex Pollock. The New York premiere at the Abingdon Theatre was directed by Daniela Varon. The English Channel was published by The Sheep Meadow Press, won the Steinberg award for best new American play and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

The world premiere of Mortal Terror, the second play in the trilogy, was co-produced by Suffolk University and the Boston Playwrights' Theatre in 2011 after readings at The American Repertory Theatre, the C. Walsh Theatre, The Vineyard Playhouse and the Player's Club in New York. Mortal Terror focuses on King James' commissioning of Macbeth and its connection to the terrorist Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Ms. Varon directed with Stafford Clark-Price as Shakespeare in the Modern Theatre. Kate Snodgrass served as dramaturge.

The final play of this provocative trilogy, The Last Will, weaves the story of King Lear into Shakespeare's twilight years in Stratford. Following readings at The Vineyard Playhouse and the Player's Club, Suffolk University co-produced a reading with the Actors' Shakespeare Project at the Modern Theatre.

The set design is by Eric Levenson**, costume design by Nancy Leary, lighting design by Eric Southern**, and sound design by David Remedios**.

*Member of Actor's Equity Associate, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
** Member of United Scenic Artists

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, best known for its annual free performances on Boston Common, is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 dedicated to bringing the works of William Shakespeare in vital and contemporary productions to the people of Boston and to educating Boston's youth not only about Shakespeare but about their own potential for creativity. In addition to the annual Boston Common productions, CSC presents a summer "Tour of the Parks" program that tours Shakespeare-inspired programming designed for families to Boston neighborhood parks. Throughout the year, CSC regularly performs as a part of First Night Boston and also presents a free series called American Voices featuring script-in-hand readings of classic American plays. CSC fulfills its educational mission through its Summer Academy with programs for both high school students and pre-professional actors and throughout the year by partnering with area high schools and Boys and Girls Clubs to provide in- and after-school theatre training to inner-city youth. Recent productions include Coriolanus, All's Well That Ends Well (2012 Elliot Norton Award-winner for Best Production, Large Theater), Othello and The Comedy of Errors. For more information, visit www.commshakes.org.

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