Metropolitan Playhouse Presents THE GREAT DIVIDE 3/5-4/3

Metropolitan_Playhouse_Presents_THE_GREAT_DIVIDE_20010101

Metropolitan Playhouse, "theatrical archaeologist extraordinaire" (Back Stage), presents a revival of The Great Divide, the "Great American Drama" by William Vaughn Moody, premiered in 1906 (as The Sabine Woman) and now receiving the first professional production in the city since 1917 at Metropolitan's home: 220 E 4th Street from March 5th to April 3rd, 2011.

The Great Divide opens with a brutal attack by three drunken men on a solitary woman in an isolated Arizona cabin. She makes a desperate bargain with one to be rid of the others: if he will save her from their assault, she will be his wife. The story of a truly star-crossed couple unfolds, as they live seperate lives under the same roof, torn between her East Coast establishment background, his independent resolve, and a growing love they each long for and deny. Ruth secretly labors to earn enough money to buy her freedom, while Ghent labors himself to earn her respect. When she is 'rescued' from her life in the West by her East Coast family, her homecoming is only more complicated than her departure. A story of conflicting ideals and inner divisions, the play brings to life the chasm between spiritual exisitence as it is dreamt, and life as it is lived in the world.

William Vaughn Moody, a poet and lyrical dramatist, was raised in the mid-West (in Indiana), and educated in the East (at Harvard), and the tensions between pioneer spirit and established civility haunt his theatrical life. Beginning his career as a teacher at Harvard, and later at the University of Chicago, Moody enjoyed the success with A History of English Literature (co-written in 1892 with Robert Morss Lovett), which gave him some financial security, and he left teaching to pursue his own writing. His collected verse was published in Gloucester Moors and Other Poems, while his plays include an unfinished verse trilogy--The Masque of Judgment, The Fire Bringer, and The Death of Eve--The Faith Healer, produced by Metropolitan in 2002; and The Great Divide. Married in 1909, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after, and died in his 51st year in 1910.
The Great Divide won Moody his greatest acclaim. Set on the western frontier, colloquial in its speech, and critical of both the conventional mores of Eastern establishment and the romantic fantasies of the Western frontier, the play broke with the contemporary trend of drawing room dramas of the middle and upper class life, consciously indicting the very way of life they affirmed. From 1906, Moody anticipates O'Neill in these innovations and his exploration of psychological foible. The Great Divide enjoyed a successful run in both New York and London and was hailed as, "The Great American Drama...[capturing] the indomitable spirit characteristic of the people of our great Western country." (Lafayette, LA Advertiser.)

The Great Divide is directed by Michael Hardart, who led Metropolitan's productions of Under the Gaslight and It Pays to Advertise, and, as an actor, starred in The Drunkard, The City, and Year One of the Empire. The Great Divide stars Timothy Weinert and Lauren Sowa as the star-crossed lovers Stephen Ghent and Ruth Jordan, supported by Elizabeth Inghram, Michael I. Walker, Tony Zazella, Wendy Merritt, Joe Gioco, Ray Crisara, Lars Drew and Arthur Harold. Set Design is by Emily Inglis, Lighting Design by Christopher Weston (recently, The Drunkard, Uncle Tom's Cabin) and Costumes by Sidney Fortner (The Drunkard and Uncle Tom's Cabin.) Fight Director is Joe Travers.

Metropolitan Playhouse continues its 19th season, devoted to the theme of Stereotypes in American theater and culture. The Playhouse explores America's theatrical heritage through forgotten plays of the past and new plays of American historical and cultural moment. Called an "indispensible East Village institution" by nytheatre.com and "invaluable" by Back Stage, Metropolitan has earned accolades from The New York Times, and The Village Voice as well for its ongoing productions that illuminate who we are by revealing where we have come from. Recent productions include Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Drunkard, Dodsworth, NYIT award winning The Return of Peter Grimm, Under the Gaslight, The Contrast, Federal Theater Project's Power, Year One of the Empire, The Pioneer: 5 plays by Eugene O'Neill, Denial and The Melting Pot, as well as the Alphabet City and East Village Chronicles series.

The Great Divide plays Saturday, March 5th through Sunday, April 3rd.
Shows are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 3pm.
There will be a Pay-What-You-Will performance on Monday, March 7th at 7:30 pm.
There will be an additional matinée April 2nd, at 3:00 pm.

Tickets at the door are $25 for general admission, $18 for students/seniors, and $10 for children. Advance purchase prices are $20 for general admission, $15 for students, seniors and Previews, and $10 for Children under 18.

To purchase tickets online visit www.metropolitanplayhouse.org, or call 212 995 5302.

 


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