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Simon Godwin's MEASURE FOR MEASURE Begins This Weekend at TFANA

Simon Godwin's MEASURE FOR MEASURE Begins This Weekend at TFANA

Theatre for a New Audience presents Simon Godwin's (Associate Director, London's National Theatre) Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare's dark comedy about justice, faith, power, sex and family. Measure for Measure is the first time Godwin is directing Shakespeare with an American company. The production runs this weekend, June 17, through July 16 at Polonsky Shakespeare Center (262 Ashland Place) in the Brooklyn Cultural District.

TFANA will present 32 performances of Measure for Measure: June 17-18 and 20-25, 27-30, and July 1-3, 5-9, 11-16 at 7:30pm; June 24 at 7pm; and July 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 & 16 at 2:00pm. Critics are welcome June 23 at 7:30pm and June 24 at 7:00pm for an official opening June 25 at 7:30pm.

This week, Backstage recognized Godwin as one of "5 Directors Innovating Shakespeare," noting that his recent Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company "turned heads" and gave "a manic, street-art flair to a show perhaps too often shrouded in over-the-top gloom and fog." Godwin's Measure for Measure is one of the most anticipated Shakespeare productions of this season. Metro called it "one of the best Shakespeare productions this Spring," and wrote, "Simon Godwin crafts an appropriately unsettling rendition of this disturbing comedy of sexual politics." The New York Times' New Season preview featured the production, saying, "Simon Godwin directs Shakespeare's problematic play about repression, lust and hypocrisy-a few human characteristics that never go out of style."

Simon Godwin's productions of Shakespeare are invigorating. They find new life in new energies and new voices. In his 2016 Hamlet for the RSC, he re-imagined "Denmark as a modern state influenced by the ritual beauty and cosmology of West Africa." For the first time since the RSC's founding in 1961, a black actor (Paapa Essiedu) played the title role with a mostly black company. In February 2017, Godwin directed a modern-dress, gender-fluid Twelfth Night for the National Theatre. Shakespeare's character Malvolio was not a man. The role was rethought as a woman, Malvolia, and played by a woman, Tamsin Greig.

Godwin setsMeasure for Measure in a modern city that is becoming increasingly authoritarian, and shines fresh light on the complex identities and surprising contradictions of the leading characters. To further the audience's engagement with the play's clashing arguments-about our humanity, justice, faith, power, sexuality and filial duty-the production connects theatergoers with the physical world of the narrative. Audiences will enter the theatre in a non-traditional way, through backstage hallways transformed into Mistress Overdone's brothel. Twelve will sit around the stage as a jury judging what is right and wrong. Others will visit a cafe where a character, Mariana, sings.

Leading a diverse cast are Jonathan Cake (Benedick in TFANA's Much Ado About Nothing, Furkat in "The Affair") as Vincentio,the Duke; Cara Ricketts (Imogen in Cymbeline at Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Ontario) as Isabella; Thomas Jay Ryan (Thomas Putnam in The Crucible, directed by Ivo Van Hove,on Broadway) as Angelo. The production also features Oberon K.A. Adjepong (TFANA's Pericles and Tamburlaine the Great, Party People at the Public) as Provost; Kenneth De Abrew (Guards at the Taj at Woolly Mammoth) as Froth, Messenger, Abhorson, Friar Peter and the 2nd Gentleman; Zachary Fine (TFANA's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Pearl's Vanity Fair) as Friar Thomas, Elbow, Barnadine and the 1st Gentleman; Leland Fowler (Seven Guitars and Familiar at Yale Rep.) as Claudio; Merritt Janson (TFANA's Tamburlaine the Great, Notes from Underground) as Mariana; January LaVoy (Funnyhouse of a Negro) as Mistress Overdone, Escala, and Francisca; Christopher Michael McFarland (As You Like It, The Acting Company) as Pompey; Sam Morales (TFANA's Pericles and The Skin of Our Teeth) as Juliet; and Haynes Thigpen (TFANA's presentation of Soho Rep.'s production of An Octoroon) as Lucio. Drew Bastian, Robert Cowie, and Osei Essed will play live music in the production.

Measure for Measurefeatures scenic and costume design by frequent Godwin collaborator Paul Wills, lighting by Matthew Richards (TFANA's Tamburlaine the Great and The Killer), composition and sound design by Jane Shaw (TFANA's Tamburlaine the Great and The Killer), choreography by Brian Brooks (TFANA's Pericles and A Midsummer Night's Dream) and dramaturgy by Jonathan Kalb, TFANA's Resident Dramaturg. Megan Dickert is production stage manager.

Tickets are $85-95 (with a limited number of premium seats available at $120 each) and will be on sale to the public in mid-May at www.tfana.org, 866-811-4111 and the Polonsky Shakespeare Center box office. New Deal tickets-for those aged 30 and under, and for full-time students of any age-are available for all performances for $20, and can be purchased online, by phone or at the box office, in advance or day-of, with valid ID(s) required at pickup.

Measure for Measure contains sexually explicit content which some may find inappropriate for those under 16 years of age.

Polonsky Shakespeare Center is located at 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

COMPANION PROGRAMMING:

TFANA Talks, free post-show conversations with artists and scholars, will take place after the Saturday matinee performances on July 1 and July 8.

After the 7:30pm performance on Sunday, June 18, TFANA will host one of its popular Post-Show Parties. Every ticket purchased for that evening includes a drink ticket for use at the party.

ABOUT THE ARITSTS:

Oberon K.A. Adjepong (Provost). New York: Party People (Public Theater); Pericles (TFANA); 12 Angry Men (Billie Holiday); Tamburlaine (TFANA); Like I Say, Cellophane (Flea); Mother Courage, The Blacks (Classic Stage, CTH); Wabenzi (New Ohio); Hamlet Project (La MaMa); Sango (Audelco nomination/NBT). Regional: Civil War Christmas (Centerstage); Electric Baby (Two Rivers); Good Goods (Yale Rep); Ruined (La Jolla Playhouse, Huntington Theatre/IRNE Award, Berkeley Rep); Timon of Athens, Coriolanus (Shakespeare Theatre); Rhyme Deferred (Kennedy Center). TV/Film: "Blacklist," "The Knick," "Louie," Tallulah, Freedom, Crazy Famous, Colin Warner. Training: BADA & Howard University.

Jonathan Cake (Duke Vincentio) studiEd English at Cambridge University and trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. On Broadway Mr. Cake has played Jason in Medea (Theatre World Award), Iachimo in Cymbeline at Lincoln Center, and Braham in The Philanthropist. Off-Broadway, his credits include Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (TFANA, 2013 Joe A. Callaway Award for Best Classical Performance), Antony in Antony and Cleopatra (The Public Theater, RSC), and plays by Jez Butterworth, Ethan Coen, and Claudia Shear. In London he has played Silva Vaccaro in Baby Doll (National Theatre, Barclays Theatre Award), the title role in Coriolanus (Shakespeare's Globe), and roles at The Old Vic, the West End, and Off West End. He has appeared in many television shows in both the UK and US, including "Extras," "Desperate Housewives," "Chuck," "Angie Tribeca," every type of "Law & Order," "Doll and Em" on HBO, and most recently "The Affair." His film work includes Brideshead Revisited, True Blue, Honest, The One and Only, and First Knight.

KENNETH DE ABREW (Froth/Abhorson/Friar Peter) is a stage, film, and TV actor originally from Sri Lanka. His recent credits include Stage: Petrol Station (Kennedy Center0, Guards at the Taj (Woolly Mammoth), and Indian Ink (ACT San Francisco); TV: "Atlanta," "Detour," "Gotham," and "Orange is the New Black;" and Film: This Is Where I Leave You and Submission. De Abrew possesses an M.F.A. in Acting from Louisiana State University and a B.A. in Theater and Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University.

Zachary Fine (Friar Thomas/Elbow/Barnardine, Gentleman). Broadway: China Doll (with Al Pacino). Off-Broadway: Vanity Fair (Pearl), Coriolanus (Red Bull), Two Gentlemen of Verona, (TFANA/Folger, Helen Hayes Award Winner); Fashions For Men, (The Mint Theater) Julius Caesar (The Acting Company); Writer/Creator of Walled In and Manifest Destiny (Frances Black Projects/IRT); Regional: Folger, Guthrie, Playmakers, Asolo, Franklin Stage, Fulton, Great River Shakespeare Festival, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Television/Film: Person of Interest, Blackbox. Adjunct Faculty at NYU.

LELAND FOWLER (Claudio) is thrilled to be making his TFANA and Off-Broadway debut. Theatre credits include The Taming of the Shrew, Tiny Houses (Chautauqua Theatre Company); Seven Guitars, Familiar (Yale Rep); By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (ALLIANCE THEATRE). BA: Morehouse College. MFA: Yale School of Drama.

Merritt Janson (Mariana). Off-Broadway: Coriolanus (Red Bull Theater); Tamburlaine the Great, Notes from Underground (Theatre for a New Audience); House For Sale (Transport Group), The Last Will (Abingdon Theatre), Built (59E59). Regional credits include work at Yale Rep, ART (IRNE Nomination), La Jolla Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre DC, Westport Country Playhouse, Two River Theater, Shakespeare & Company, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Denver Center, Wilma, Theatre de la Jeune Lune. Film: Otto + Anna, Mail Order Wife. TV: "Billions," "Madam Secretary," "Quantico."

January LaVoy (Mistress Overdone/Escala/Francisca). Broadway: ENRON. Off Broadway: Wakey, Wakey, Signature Plays, Home, Two Trains Running (Signature); Wings (2ST); Coraline (MCC). Regional: Mark Taper Forum, McCarter, Alliance, Denver Center, Wilma, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Public. TV: Blue Bloods, L&O, Noelle Ortiz on One Life to Live. Voice: Dozens of commercial campaigns, over 100 audiobooks, multiple Audie awards, and Publishers Weekly Audiobook Narrator of the Year. MFA: Denver.

CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL MCFARLAND (Pompey). New York: As You Like It, Of Mice and Men (The Acting Company); Spacebar (The Wild Project); The Winter's Tale (Smith Street Stage); King John (NY Shakespeare Exchange); Even Maybe Tammy (The Flea). Regional: Yale Repertory Theatre; the Guthrie Theater; Signature Theatre; Pittsburgh Public Theater; the Kennedy Center; Philadelphia Theatre Company; Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Opera House Arts; Arizona Shakespeare Festival. Film/TV: "Sneaky Pete", Upcoming Netflix Series. Training: MFA, Yale School of Drama.

Sam Morales (Juliet). TFANA: The Skin of Our Teeth, Pericles (dir. Trevor Nunn). Other NYC: Halley Feiffer's It's Just Weird Now... Regional: Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Tavern, The Comedy of Errors (Scranton Shakespeare Festival).

CARA RICKETTS (Isabella). Cara Ricketts is a celebrated Canadian theatre actress being named as Now Magazine's 10 Artists of the Year and having starred for several seasons at the acclaimed Stratford Festival in roles such as Imogen in Cymbeline, Ruth in The Homecoming opposite Brian Dennehy, Portia in Julius Caesar and Maria in Twelfth Night, directed by Des McAnuff,among many other productions.Ms. Ricketts other selected credits include Queenie in The Wild Party (Acting UpStage/Dora Award nom. for Outstanding Performance), Hedda in Hedda Gabler (Necessary Angel), Marianne in Constellations and Susan in Race (Canadian Stage). For film and television Cara is best known for portraying the role of Bertilda in the E1 mini-series Book of Negroes, as well as appearing in the feature films Jean of the Joneses Across the Line, and The Anniversary. Her television credits include guest appearances on fan favorite BBC America's Orphan Black, CTV's Saving Hope, CBC's Murdoch Mysteries and CTV's Satisfaction.

Thomas Jay Ryan (Angelo). Broadway: The Crucible, In the Next Room... Recent Off Broadway: Travels With My Aunt, 10 Out Of 12, A Month In The Country, The Lady From Dubuque, The Little Foxes, The Temperamentals. Films: Burn Country, Strange Culture, Eternal Sunshine..., Degas and The Dancer (titlerole, HBO), title role in Hal Hartley's Henry Fool trilogy. He has guest starred on many televisionseries and has received Drama Desk and Callaway Awards; Drama League and Gemininominations.

Haynes Thigpen (Lucio). Broadway: Dead Accounts by Theresa Rebeck, Misalliance (Rouandabout). Off-Broadway: An Octoroon (TFANA), Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout Underground), Our House and The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters (Playwrights Horizons), Revenger's Tragedy and The Duchess of Malfi (Red Bull), To the Bone (Cherry Lane). Regional: Hamlet (McCarter Theatre), The Aliens (San Francisco Playhouse), August: Osage County (The Old Globe), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Theatre), The Black Monk (Yale Rep), The Black Sheep (Barrington). TV/Film: "Horace and Pete," "Elementary," "The Good Wife," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," Blackbird, Terror Firmer.

DREW BASTIAN (Musician). Favorites behind the kit: Hair (Natl. Tour, ensemble; u/s Woof), Rent (PA Centre Stage), Somewhere With You (NYMF). On stage: Romeo and Juliet (Paris), The Fantasticks (Matt), Buddy... (Jerry Allison). When not in theatre, he can be found playing guitar with Manic Pixi. Drew is a proud Penn Stater.

ROBERT COWIE (Music Director/Musician) is a multi-instrumentalist/composer/band leader. He has composed, played, and produced music for theatre: Commedia Dell'Artichoke (Francis Black Projects), By Degrees: Six Plays Of Separation (The 52nd Street Project), Brett C. Leonard's Harold's Harem (Labyrinth Theater's Barn Series), and Nidia Medina's Every Love Story Ends in Tears (NYC Fringe Fest) -for circus/variety: The Bindlestiff Family Circus and The Box (music director 2007-09) -and for cabaret: Lady Rizo (music director 2010-13).

OSEI ESSED (Musician) is a film composer and singer-songwriter. Recent composer credits include the award-winning films Tower, Jim: The James Foley Story (2016 Emmy Winner) and Finders Keepers. Essed's music is the centerpiece of Benh Zeitlin's (Beasts of the Southern Wild) short film Glory At Sea. In addition to scoring documentaries and feature films, Essed leads the Brooklyn-based bands The Woes and Big Hands Rhythm and Blues Band.

Simon Godwin (Director) is an Associate Director at the National Theatre, where he has directed: Twelfth Night, Sunset at the Villa Thalia, The Beaux Stratagem, Man and Superman, and Strange Interlude. Other theatre includes: Hamlet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (RSC); Occupational Hazards (Hampstead Theatre); The Cherry Orchard (Roundabout); Richard II (Shakespeare's Globe); Regeneration (Royal & Derngate/Tour); Routes; If You Don't Let Us, Dream We Won't Let You Sleep; NSFW; The Witness; Goodbye to All That; The Acid Test; and Wanderlust (Royal Court); The Little Mermaid, Krapp's Last Tape/A Kind of Alaska, Faith Healer, and Far Away (Bristol Old Vic).

Brian Brooks (Choreographer) has recently been appointed as the inaugural Choreographer in Residence at Chicago's Harris Theater for Music and Dance, supporting commissions with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Miami City Ballet, among several others. The recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, Brooks' NY-based company has had recent presentations by The Joyce Theater, Jacob's Pillow, and BAM's Next Wave Festival. This marks his third production with Theatre for a New Audience.

Paul Wills (Scenic & Costume Designer). Theatre: American Buffalo, Di and Viv and Rose, Mrs Henderson Presents (West End); Hamlet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (RSC); Anna Christie, Making Noise Quietly, The Man Who Had All The Luck, The Cut (Donmar Warehouse); King Lear, First Light (Chichester); A Human Being Died That Night (BAM); Prometheus Bound (Classic Stage Company); King Kong (The Fugard, South Africa); My Fair Lady (Sheffield Crucible); Richard II, Dr Faustus, Front Line (Shakespeare's Globe); Saved, Blasted (Lyric Theatre).

Matthew Richards (Lighting Designer). Broadway: Ann. Opera: Macbeth for L.A. Opera. Off-Broadway: The Curvy Widow, and Absolute Brightness... at Westside Arts; Measure for Measure, Tamberlaine, and The Killer for Theatre For A New Audience; A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Gynecologic Oncology Unit... for MCC; Brooklyn Academy Of Music; Lincoln Center; Playwrights Horizons; Rattlestick; Second Stage. Regional: Actor's Theater of Louisville, Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, Cleveland Playhouse, Dallas Theater Center, Ford's Theatre, The Goodman, The Guthrie, Hartford Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, Long Wharf, New York Stage and Film, The Old Globe, Repertory Ensemble Players, Studio Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre, Westport Playhouse, Williamstown, Yale Repertory Theatre.

Jane Shaw (Composer & Sound Designer). TFANA: The Killer, Tamburlaine, Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Jew of Malta, Antony and Cleopatra. New York: Men on Boats (Clubbed Thumb, Playwrights Horizons/ Drama Desk Nomination), Ironbound (Rattlestick, Women's Project), New York Theater Workshop, Mint, Pearl. Regional: Cleveland Play House, Hartford Stage,Cincinnati Playhouse, Milwaukee Rep. Recipient: Drama Desk, Connecticut Critics Circle, Henry, Premios ACE 2012, Bessie. Nominations: Lortel, Henry Hewes. Graduate: Harvard, Yale School of Drama.

ALISON BOMBER (Voice & Text Coach) spent seven years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, five of those as Senior Text & Voice Coach. Productions included Michael Boyd's award-winning Histories Cycle. Now freelance, shows have included King Charles III for the Almeida, London and Broadway, Tamburlaine for TFANA in New York, Othello at the RSC, the Cumberbatch Hamlet at the Barbican, London, and collaborations with Polish company, Pie?? Koz?a. Alison is an Associate Artist of the RSC.

ERIC REYNOLDS (Properties Supervision). TFANA: The Servant of Two Masters, Pericles, Tamburlaine. Broadway: Sunset Boulevard; Oh, Hello; Fully Committed; An American in Paris; On Your Feet. Off-Broadway: Terms of Endearment (Directors Co), Himself and Nora (Minetta Lane), Atlantic Theater, Ars Nova, Public Theater, NYMF. Regional: The Servant of Two Masters (Shakespeare Theatre, DC), Austen's Pride (Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival).

Jonathan Kalb (Production Dramaturg) is resident dramaturg and resident artists at Theatre for a New Audience and Professor of Theatre at Hunter College, CUNY. He has twice won the George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism. The author of five books and hundreds of articles, essays, translations and other works, he writes about theatre on his blog "Something the Dust Said" at www.jonathankalb.com.

Megan Schwarz DICKERT (Production Stage Manager). New York: Lincoln Center/LCT3, Playwrights Horizons, NYTW, Public, Vineyard, Page 73, Clubbed Thumb (affiliated artist), Playwrights Realm, Play Company, Juilliard, Rattlestick, Foundry, Working Theater, 13P, Civilians, Flea, Builders Association, New Georges. Regional: Bard SummerScape, Hartford Stage, Williamstown, NYSAF, Long Wharf, Actors Theatre of Louisvillle, Trinity Rep, Adirondack Theatre Festival, Big Apple Circus, Capital Rep, and Idaho, North Carolina, Utah, and Nebraska Shakespeare Festivals.

About Theatre for a New Audience

Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) is a modern classic theatre. It produces Shakespeare alongside other major authors from the world repertoire, such as Harley Granville Barker, Edward Bond, Adrienne Kennedy, Richard Nelson, Wallace Shawn and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. TFANA has played Off- and on Broadway and toured nationally and internationally.

In 2001, Theatre for a New Audience became the first American theatre invited to bring a production of Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Stratford-upon-Avon. Cymbeline, directed by Bartlett Sher, premiered at the RSC; in 2007, TFANA was invited to return to the RSC with The Merchant of Venice, directed by Darko Tresnjak and starring F. Murray Abraham. In 2011, Mr. Abraham reprised his role as Shylock for a national tour.

After 34 years of being itinerant and playing mostly in Manhattan, Theatre for a New Audience moved to Brooklyn and opened its first permanent home, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, in October 2013. Built by The City of New York in partnership with Theatre for a New Audience, and located in the Brooklyn Cultural District, Polonsky Shakespeare Center was designed by Hugh Hardy and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture with theatre consultants Akustiks, Milton Glaser, Jean-Guy Lecat, and Theatre Projects. Housed inside the building are the Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage (299 seats)-the first stage built for Shakespeare and classical drama in New York City since Lincoln Center's 1965 Vivian Beaumont-and the Theodore C. Rogers Studio (50 seats).

TFANA's productions have been honored with Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Drama League, Callaway, Lortel and Audelco awards and nominations and reach an audience diverse in age, economics and cultural background.

Theatre for a New Audience created and runs the largest in-depth program in the New York City Public Schools to introduce students to Shakespeare, and has served nearly 129,000 students since the program began in 1984. TFANA's New Deal ticket program is one of the lowest reserved ticket prices for youth in the city: $20 for any show, any time for those 30 years old and under or for full-time students of any age.

Pictured: January LaVoy, Jonathan Cake, and Thomas Jay Ryan in rehearsal for Theatre for a New Audience's production of Shakespeare's dark comedy, Measure for Measure. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

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