Shakespeare & Company Presents LEAP YEAR World Premiere, Now thru 9/1

Shakespeare & Company Presents LEAP YEAR World Premiere, Now thru 9/1

Shakespeare & Company arrives at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington with a special collaborative production and World Premiere of William Coe Bigelow's Leap Year. Directed by Stephen Rothman and featuring a cast from both Bard College and S&Co., performances run tonight, August 23-September 1 in the McConnell Theater, located within the Daniel Arts Center on the campus of Bard College at Simon's Rock- 84 Alford Rd, Great Barrington, MA.

Press Opening is Saturday August 24 at 7:00pm. Tickets are $30. To view a complete schedule, receive a brochure, or inquire about discounts, please call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit www.Shakespeare.org. For customized group visits-which may include artist talkbacks, tours, parties and catered events-contact David Joseph at the Group Sales office at (413) 637-1199, ext. 132. The McConnell Theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. Directions visit: www.simons-rock.edu/EarlyCollege or call (413) 644-4400.

Leap Year is part of a new collaborative with Bard College at Simon's Rock that allows the young artists studying theatre in a university setting to experience a professional Acting Company in residence as they create a new work. Notably, Leap Year is a 2013 recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.*

"The story of Leap Year has been with me for 20 plus years since it is based, in the most general sense, on something that happened to me," Bigelow said. "I always wanted to write this play, but wasn't ready until the main elements of the story were resolved in my mind."

William Bigelow brings his successful writing career in television to his first play-a heart wrenching true story of a life decision that none of us would want to face. Leap Year is honest, poignant, funny and brutal, but shared in a most caring, and true fashion. It leaves you asking questions about what you might do in this life altering situation.

"At some point or another in our lives we will be, or have been, faced with a difficult choice that affects not only us, but someone we love deeply," said Rothman. "While Bill's play is a unique story that happened to him, the avenues and themes he is exploring in this rich drama is something that I believe will resonate for all of us. A world premiere play- in a new and unique environment for S&Co., with veteran professionals and up and coming artists of the future- is a mixture that has my theatrical adrenaline flowing."

Leap Year tells the story of Rob and Lisa Montgomery whose second child is born with Down syndrome. The first act takes place in a duplex apartment in Los Angeles, starting the day the Montgomery's son is born, on February 29th, 1988. The couple, their friends, and family find themselves struggling to come to terms with the difficult choices they suddenly face. Act two transpires five leap years later, on February 29th, 2008, in the same duplex apartment, when the decisions the Montgomery's have made play out in stark terms. This captivating drama goes straight to the gut; at its center are questions about personal responsibility, parenting, a personal sense of God, and finally, the redemptive quality of love and forgiveness.

"We've had a longstanding relationship with Bard College at Simon's Rock," said S&Co. Artistic Director Tony Simotes. "We've held many of our acting workshops at Simon's Rock over the years, and we are so pleased to be there this season for Leap Year, the collaboration has helped us expand our creative footprint in the Berkshires. It's a privilege to work with artists I've known for many years who are now faculty at Simon's Rock: director Aimee Michel and longtime S&Co. actor, teacher and director Karen Beaumont-and new artists that I've just met. The opportunity to work on Leap Year and be recognized nationally has been a privilege, thanks to the generosity of The Edgerton Foundation. The development of new plays is vital to the mission of Shakespeare & Company. We are honored to have the necessary funds to nurture and support the creative progression of Leap Year."

"We're thrilled to expand our relationship with Shakespeare & Company through this exciting collaboration on Leap Year", statEd Simon's Rock Provost and Vice President Peter Laipson. "We are always delighted to welcome new artists and new audiences to Simon's Rock, and particularly pleased to showcase the talents presenting this production."

Leap Year is also part of the Company's new off-site productions being offered this season which include A Midsummer Night's Dream currently playing at The Dell at The Mount, Edith Wharton's Home, 2 Plunkett Street in Lenox, and Kaufman's Barber Shopwhich runs August 14-September 1 at The Upstreet Barbers, 442 North Street in Pittsfield.

"New work is for me the life blood of The American Theatre," adds Rothman. "It is such a gift to performers and audiences alike when an organization like Shakespeare & Company adds a World Première to their season. Seeing some of the greatest works ever written, while discovering a new Playwright's voice, is the joy and pleasure of rotating repertory theatre."

Rothman once again teams up with Award winning music composer Joe Cerqua onLeap Year to bring audiences another rich and unique theatrical experience. Both Rothman and Cerqua made their S&Co. debut last season with the critically-acclaimed production of Parasite Drag by Mark Roberts.

Bard College at Simon's Rock, founded in 1966, is the only college in the country specifically designed for bright, highly motivated students ready to enter college early, usually after the 10th or 11th grade. Simon's Rock offers a challenging program in the liberal arts and sciences, taught exclusively in small seminars by a supportive, highly-trained faculty. Degrees are granted in 41 concentrations. Simon's Rock became part of the Bard College network in 1979. For media inquiries for Bard College at Simon's Rock, please contact: Paige Orloff porloff@simons-rock.edu. For general inquires visit: www.simons-rock.edu/EarlyCollege or call (413) 644-4400.

The Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Program, founded by Brad and Louise Edgerton, was piloted in 2006 with the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. The Edgertons launched the program nationally in 2007. The awards provide nearly 20 theaters each year the opportunity for extra time in the development and rehearsal of new plays with the entire creative team, helping to extend the life of the play after its first run. Over the last five years, The Edgerton Foundation has awarded $ 3.6 million to 128 recipients. 43 plays have been scheduled to have subsequent productions following their world premieres. Ten have made it to Broadway. The Edgerton Foundation received the 2011 TCG National Funder Award.

Leap Year will play the McConnell Theater in the Daniel Arts Center at Simon's Rock, directed by Stephen Rothman and featuring: Karen Beaumont*, Joan Coombs, Dave Demke*, Theodor Gabriel, Caley Milliken* and Peggy Pharr Wilson*.

CREATIVE TEAM:
STAGE MANAGER: Maria Gray*
COSTUME DESIGNER: Elliot Kang
SET DESIGNER: Connell Gess
COMPOSER/SOUND DESIGNER: Joe Cerqua
LIGHTING DESIGNER: Keith Chapman

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:
Friday, August 23, 2013 7:00
Saturday, August 24, 2013 2:30 & 7:00 PRESS OPENING
Sunday, August 25, 2013 2:30 & 7:00
Friday, August 30, 2013 7:00
Saturday, August 31, 2013 2:30 & 7:00
Sunday, September 1, 2013 2:30 & 7:00

William Coe Bigelow (Playwright, Leap Year) has written extensively for TV and film. His produced credits include Murder, She Wrote, Quantum Leap, The Commish, Silk Stalkings, Renegade and Pacific Blue. Bigelow most recently wrote for the NBC-TV series Grimm. He has also written longer form for Lifetime, and is in pre-production on a movie for them called A Date to Die For. He has sold screenplays to Disney, Universal and Lionsgate. In another life, he worked at the City Desk of the New York Post. Bigelow currently resides in Los Angeles. Leap Year is his first play.

Stephen Rothman† second season (Director of Accomplice and Leap Year) returns to S&Co. having directed last season's east coast premiere of Parasite Drag. Rothman is best known by West Coast Theatre audiences for his work as founder and artistic leader of the revitalized Pasadena Playhouse. He also served as artistic director of the Sacramento Theatre Company. His directing career has taken him across the country and around the world, including a 2008 production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal in Florence, Italy for the Florence InterNational Theatre Company. His American Resident/Regional Theatre credits include more than 100 plays in 16 different States for 40 different theatre companies. He is especially proud of his work on numerous world premieres including Sparky And The Fitz starring Academy Award winner Eli Wallach at the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey, Learn To Fall starring France's award winning clown/artist Buffo at The Attic Theatre in Detroit, Gilligan's Island The Musical for Chicago's Organic Theatre and Father, Son, And Holy Coach for the Santa Monica Playhouse to name just a few. His theatre awards include winning Florida's Carbonell Award for "Best Director" for God's Man In Texas at Florida Stage as well as a Los Angeles Dramaloge win for his direction of an American Sign Language production ofOrphans for Deaf West Theatre. For American television, he spent two seasons directing episodes of The New "WKRP In Cincinnati". He serves as a Professor of Theatre at California State University, Los Angeles where he recently received the 2012/2013 award as "Outstanding Professor of the Year." Mr. Rothman is a proud 33-year member of The Society of Director's and Choreographers (SDC). Steve's most fun production continues to be his son Will "Banno" Rothman who provides him with the best Living Theatre possible.

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