THE VALLEY OF ASTONISHMENT Begins 9/14 at Theatre for a New Audience
The United States premiere of the internationally acclaimed new work written and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, The Valley of Astonishment, featuring Kathryn Hunter (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Kafka's Monkey), Marcello Magni (Fragments), and Jared McNeill (The Suit), begins previews Sunday, September 14, at 7:30pm for an opening Thursday, September 18,at 7:30pm and a run through Sunday, October 5, at Theatre for a New Audience, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place.
Jeffrey Horowitz (Founding Artistic Director, Theatre for a New Audience) observes, "Peter Brook, one of the greatest living theatre artists, reveals in the most essential ways what it is to be human. He is always exploring, like Shakespeare, the widest variety of life and art. It is thrilling to present Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne's The Valley of Astonishment after working with them on Dostoevsky's The Grand Inquisitor (co-presented with New York Theatre Workshop, 2008) and Samuel Beckett's Fragments (presented in association with Baryshnikov Arts Center, 2012)."
The Valley of Astonishment explores real people who see the world in a radically different light. Imagine a world where every color has a taste, or where the number 8 is a fat lady. The Valley of Astonishment is a kaleidoscopic journey into the mysteries and wonders of the human brain based on neurological research, true stories, and Farid Attar's epic mystical poem "The Conference of the Birds."
The Valley of Astonishment had its world premiere at Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, France, opening April 29, 2014, and recently played at London's Young Vic Theatre, opening June 23, 2014.
Peter Brook has been creating work for theatre, opera, and film for over 50 years. During the run of The Valley of Astonishment, TFANA will be celebrating this. On Tuesday, September 16, there will be a post-performance discussion with Peter Brook, Marie-Hélène Estienne, and members of the cast of The Valley of Astonishment. Peter Brook has also authored many books about the theatre, including The Empty Space, which has been translated into 15 languages. His books will be on sale at TFANA, along with DVDs of some of his films. Also planned are special screenings of Simon Brook's film of his father's theatrical explorations, The Tightrope, Simon Brook's film Brook by Brook, and Peter Brook's anti-war film Tell Me Lies.
The Valley of Astonishment is produced by C.I.C.T. / Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord with Theatre for a New Audience and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. Associated co-producers include Théâtre d'Arras / Tandem Arras Douai; Théâtre du Gymnase, Marseille; Warwick Arts Center; Holland Festival, Amsterdam; Attiki Cultural Society, Athènes; Musikfest Bremen; Théâtre Forum Meyrin, Genève; C.I.R.T.; Young Vic Theatre, London.
This production features musicians Raphaël Chambouvet and Toshi Tsuchitori, as well as lighting design by Philippe Vialatte. The production stage manager is Richard A. Hodge.
This production is made possible, in part, by support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Principal support for Theatre for a New Audience's season and programs is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and The SHS Foundation.
Peter Brook was born in London in 1925. Throughout his career, he distinguished himself in various genres: theater, opera, cinema, and writing.
He directed his first play there in 1943. He then went on to direct over 70 productions in London, Paris, and New York. His work with the Royal Shakespeare Company includes Love's Labour's Lost (1946), Measure for Measure (1950), Titus Andronicus (1955), King Lear (1962), Marat/Sade (1964), US (1966), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1970), and Antony and Cleopatra (1978).
In 1971, he founded with Micheline Rozan the International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris and in 1974, opened its permanent base in the Bouffes du Nord Theatre. There, he directed Timon of Athens, The Iks, Ubu aux Bouffes, Conference of the Birds, L'Os, The Cherry Orchard, The Mahabharata, Woza Albert!, The Tempest, The Man Who, Qui est là, Happy Days, Je suis un Phénomène, Le Costume, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Far Away, La Mort de Krishna, Ta Main dans la Mienne, The Grand Inquisitor, Tierno Bokar, Sizwe Banzi, Fragments, Warum Warum, Love is my Sin, 11 and 12, Une Flûte Enchantée (opera), and lately The Suit (2012) - many of these performing both in French and English.
In opera, he directed La Bohème, Boris Godounov, The Olympians, Salomé, and Le Nozze de Figaro at Covent Garden; Faust and Eugene Onegin at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, La Tragédie de Carmen and Impressions of Pelleas, at the Bouffes du Nord, Paris, and Don Giovanni for the Aix en Provence Festival.
Peter Brook's autobiography, Threads of Time, was published in 1998 and joins other titles including The Empty Space (1968), translated into over 15 languages, The Shifting Point (1987), There Are No Secrets (1993), Evoking (and Forgetting) Shakespeare (1999), and With Grotowski (2009).
His films include Moderato Cantabile (1959), Lord of the Flies (1963), Marat/Sade (1967), King Lear (1969), Meetings with Remarkable Men(1976), The Mahabharata (1989), and The Tragedy Of Hamlet (2002, TV).
Marie-Hélène Estienne worked with Peter Brook in 1974 on the casting for Timon of Athens and consequently joined the Centre International de Créations Théâtrales (C.I.C.T.) for the creation of Ubu aux Bouffes in 1977.
She was Peter Brook's assistant on La tragédie de Carmen, Le Mahabharata, and collaborated on the staging of The Tempest, Impressions de Pelléas, Woza Albert!, and The Tragedy of Hamlet (2000). She worked on the dramaturgy of Qui est là. With Peter Brook, she co-authored The Man Who and Je suis un phénomène shown at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord. She wrote the French adaptation of Can Themba's play Le costume and Sizwe Bansi est mort by authors Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona.
In 2003, she wrote the French and English adaptations of Le Grand Inquisiteur, based on Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov. She was the author of Tierno Bokar in 2005, and of the English adaptation of 11 and 12 by Amadou Hampaté Ba in 2009. With Peter Brook, she co-directed Fragments, five short pieces by Beckett, and again with Peter Brook and composer Franck Krawczyk, she freely adapted Mozart and Schikaneder's Die Zauberflöte into Une Flûte enchantée, as well as recently The Suit.
Philippe Vialatte, Lighting Designer, started up at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in 1985 as a light operator on Le Mahabharata, directed by Peter Brook. He assisted Jean Kalman for the light design of Woza Albert! and La Tempête, directed by Peter Brook.
Since the creation of The Man Who in Paris in 1993, he has designed the lights for all the plays directed by Peter Brook in the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord: Qui est là, Je suis un phénomène, Le Costume, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Far Away, La mort de Krishna, Ta main dans la mienne, Tierno Bokar, Le Grand Inquisiteur, Sizwe Banzi est mort, Fragments, 11 and 12, and recently A Magic Flute.
He follows all these plays on tour and in each space redesigns and adapts the light of each show.
Kathryn Hunter, before The Valley of Astonishment by Peter Brook (Paris), was part of Cards 2 (directed by Robert Lepage, Montreal); A Midsummer Night's Dream (directed by Julie Taymor, Theatre for a New Audience); The Bee (directed by Hideki Noda, London, New York and Tokyo); Fragments (directed by Peter Brook, Bouffes du Nord, Young Vic, New York and world tour); A Tender Thing (RSC Stratford); Kafka's Monkey (Young Vic, Theatre for a New Audience, UK Tour, Tokyo, Taipei, Istanbul and France); Tell Them That I Am Young and Beautiful (Arcola Theatre); King Lear (RSC); Antony & Cleopatra (RSC); Celestina (Birmingham, Edinburgh Festival); Whistling Psyche (Almeida Theatre); Richard III (Shakespeare's Globe); Dona Rosita (Almeida); King Lear (directed by Helena Kaut-Howson, Young Vic); Far Away (directed by Peter Brook, Bouffes du Nord, Paris); The Rose Tattoo and The Devils (Theatr Clywd); Live Like Pigs, The Recruiting Officer, Our Country's Good (Royal Court); The Hypochondriac (Leicester Haymarket, Lyric Hammersmith); Women of Troy (Gate); Romeo and Juliet (Watermill); Spoonface Steinberg (Ambassadors, Washington); Mother Courage (Shared Experience, Ambassadors); Pericles and The Visit (National Theatre, Olivier Award for Best Actress 1990).
As member of Theatre de Complicité, Ms. Hunter has performed in such productions as Foe, Out of the House Walked A Man, Anything for a Quiet Life, Help! I'm Alive, and The Winter's Tale.
On Cinema and television, Ms. Hunter was seen in Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, All or Nothing, Wet and Dry, Orlando, Baby of Macon, Rome, Silent Witness, NCS: Manhunt, Grushko, and Maria's Child.
As stage director, Ms. Hunter's work includes Othello (RSC); 4.48 Psychosis (LAMDA); The Birds (National Theatre); Destination (Volcano Theatre Company); Wiseguy Scapino (Theatre Clwyd); Mr. Puntila and His Man Matti (Almeida, Albery and Traverse); The Glory of Living (Royal Court); The Comedy of Errors and Pericles (Shakespeare's Globe). Ms. Hunter also directed My Perfect Mind, which will return to the Young Vic this September following a sold out run in 2013.
Marcello Magni is a Co-Founding Member of Theatre de Complicité where he has performed and devised in 15 shows.
He studied in Paris at the Jacques Lecoq School in 1980 before moving to London. He has appeared at The Globe in The Comedy of Errors, performing the two Dromios, and Pericles. He appeared in The Birds directed by Kathryn Hunter (National Theatre), The Game of Love and Chance, Scapino, and The Rose Tattoo (Theatre Clwyd), King Lear, directed by Helena Kaut Housen (Young Vic), and Mother Courage (Shared Experience).
In 2003 Mr. Magni produced and performed in Arlecchino, a solo show with Commedia dell'Arte masks. Very recently Marcello has produced performed and directed Tell Them That I Am Young and Beautiful written in collaboration with Gilles Aufray at the Arcola Theatre, featuring Kathryn Hunter and Patrice Niambana.
In 2013 he taught in Poland, Canada, Italy and the UK and performed in The Bee, directed By Hideki Noda (Israel, Seoul and Sibiu in Romania).
In the summer of 2013 he rehearsed in Canada and performed in Germany the last show of Robert Lepage, Cards 2 - Hearts. He also worked with a group of young performers at the Polaresco Centre in Bergamo (Italy) by putting on stage a Japanese story The Sumo Wrestler by Yasutaka Tsutsui. He also filmed with Mike Leigh on Mr. Turner.
Earlier this year, Mr. Magni directed Tinkerbell in ShojiLland, a show written by Hideki Noda at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre. With Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène he collaborated on Fragments and A Magic Flute and in the documentary film by Simon Brook, The Tightrope. In 2015 he will perform again at the Bouffes du Nord in Fragments and in Marcel, a new show created and performed in collaboration with Jos Houben.
Jared McNeill trained at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York City where, in 2008, he graduated with a degree in Theater and Visual Arts. His first professional role was taken that same year, in Chisa Hutchinson's She Like Girls at the Lark Theatre. Jared McNeill played various roles in Peter Brook's 11 and 12 and had recently the role of Maphikela in The Suit.
Since then, he has performed in August Wilson's Fences at the Geva Theater Center, and in various chapters of Tarell Mccraney's Brothers/Sisters Trilogy at Pittsburgh's City Theater, as well as San Francisco's Marin Theater Company and American Conservatory Theater.
Most recently, Mr. McNeill completed work as an understudy in The Roundabout Theater Company's production of Stephen Karam's Sons of the Prophet, as well as adopting the role of Desmond in Young Jean Lee's The Shipment, and playing in a recent New York production of Bertolt Brecht's Life of Galileo, during which he performed musical numbers on the trombone and harpsichord. Lately he went on tour with The Suit (2012) directed by Peter Brook.
Single tickets, now on sale, are $60-$85 and may be purchased online at www.tfana.org, by phone at 866-811-4111, or in person at the Theatre for a New Audience Box Office (262 Ashland Place). Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 1:00pm to 6:00pm. A limited number of premium seats are available for $100.
New Deal tickets for ages 30 and under or full-time students of any age are priced at $20 each and can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the box office.
Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30pm, with matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm except for Sunday, September 14, and Sunday, September 21.
Subscriptions for Theatre for a New Audience's 2014-2015 Season are $147 for a 3-play package and are available by calling (212) 229-2819, ext. 10. Flex Passes are also available for $208 and include four tickets to be used in any combination over the 2014-2015 Season. For information or to subscribe online, please visit www.tfana.org.