People's Light & Theatre Stages DEAR ELIZABETH, Now thru 4/27
People's Light & Theatre presents the regional premiere of Dear Elizabeth running today, April 2-27 on the Steinbright Stage. Lisa Rothe directs. People's Light & Theatre is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355. For tickets call 610.644.3500 or visit PeoplesLight.org.
In 1947, influential and highly acclaimed mid-century American poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell began a correspondence and profound friendship that would last for over 30 years. Two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award nominee, Sarah Ruhl, uses the text of these stylistically brilliant, revealing, witty, incisive, and often times very funny letters, to create her own theatrical poetry, Dear Elizabeth.
"With her trademark care, precision, and whimsy, Sarah has crafted a tribute to a kind of love rarely explored in our culture. Friendship for many is not a Facebook click, but the strongest tether to a sense of meaning in this upended world," asserts Producing Director, Zak Berkman, who became friends with Sarah Ruhl ten years ago and produced her Passion Play in New York City.
One of the most distinguished playwrights of her generation, Ruhl began her writing career as a poet and had long admired Bishop. After reading a collection of Bishop and Lowell's letters she became captivated by their dramatic relationship. In this production, Bishop and Lowell will be portrayed by Ellen McLaughlin and Rinde Eckert, award-winning theatre veterans and real-life husband and wife. "I'm thrilled to be working with the brilliant Rinde and Ellen," says Ruhl. "I've wanted to work with them ever since I met them. The roles of Bishop and Lowell demand luminous intelligence, which this pair has in spades."
Eckert is a Grammy winning composer as well as a renowned writer, director, and performer. McLaughlin, best known for having originated the role of the Angel in Tony Kushner's Angels in America, is also an internationally produced playwright. Her appearance at People's Light is a return of sorts as her play The Persians was produced on the now Leonard C. Haas Stage in 2008. Dear Elizabeth is the first time the couple will be sharing the stage together in a piece that hasn't been written by either of them. They will be directed by Lisa Rothe who recently directed McLaughlin's Penelope.
"What a strange and happy circumstance--to be doing a terrific play, written by a friend, which is so beautifully eloquent about the mystery and saving power of friendship, and to be working on it in the company of Lisa and Rinde, artists I have admired for years and whose influence on my work I can only be grateful for, but also two of my dearest friends, one my beloved husband" McLaughlin shares. "I also feel I'm in the company of another dear friend--Elizabeth Bishop--whom I never met but feel I know through her work, which was a revelation to me at the very beginning of my life as a writer, and who has long been something of a lodestar for me, the writer I hitch up into the sky and stare at when the nights are darkest."
People's Light continues its program called Scoop on Sundays: History, Context, and Gossip, a lively discussion before every Sunday 7 pm performance (April 6, 13 & 27). Resident Dramaturg Gina Pisasale will host an artist from the production and get the inside scoop about such things as the rehearsal and production process, design choices, and the world of the play. The program begins at 5:30 in The Farmhouse Bistro. Cost of $15 includes light fare. Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500.
Enjoy a prix fixe dinner and a show package for $70 (Wed, Thurs, Sat matinee, Sun eve) and $80 (Fri, Sat eve, Sun matinee) at The Farmhouse Bistro prior to Wed-Sun evening performances. That's a savings of up to 15% off the single ticket price! If you already have tickets, you can add dinner for just $35. Dinner and a show packages are available through the box office or online at PeoplesLight.org.
Dear Elizabeth previews on Wednesday, April 2 and Thursday, April 3 at 7:30 pm and Friday, April 4 at 8 pm. The play opens on Saturday, April 5 and runs through Sunday, April 27. Audiences are encouraged to join the artists for a conversation about the production after the Thursday performances on April 10, 17, and 24.
Single tickets: $26 - $46. For tickets, call the Box Office at 610.644.3500. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase group tickets, call 610.647.1900 x111 or email email@example.com.
Pick 3 packages for the 2013-2014 season are available for purchase and start at $99. Productions include Dear Elizabeth (April 2-27, 2014), Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie (May 7-25, 2014) and Bach at Leipzig (July 9-August 10, 2014). Visit peopleslight.org or call 610-644-3500 to order. Actors, prices, productions, performance dates and times are subject to change. Additional service charges will apply. Contact the Box Office for more details.
Plays include Stage Kiss, In the Next Room or the vibrator play, The Clean House, Passion Play, a cycle, Dead Man's Cell Phone, Melancholy Play, Eurydice, Orlando, Dear Elizabeth, Late: a cowboy song, and a translation of Three Sisters. She has been a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award nominee. Her plays have been produced on and Off-Broadway, around the country, and internationally. They have been translated into over 15 languages. Originally from Chicago, Ms. Ruhl received her M.F.A. at Brown University where she studied with Paula Vogel. Awards include the Susan Smith Blackburn, The Whiting, the Lily, a PEN award and the MacArthur Fellowship. She teaches at the Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family. www.SarahRuhlplaywright.com
Recently nominated for SDC's Joe A. Callaway Award for Direction for Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata produced Off-Broadway by Epic Theatre Ensemble. Other recent projects: Penelope by Ellen McLaughlin & composer Sarah Kirkland Snider at Playmakers Repertory Company and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for the Chautauqua Theatre Company. Lisa has workshopped, developed and directed over one hundred new plays and musicals, working with many award-winning writers. Currently, Lisa is developing a new opera about Ada Byron (Ada) by composer Kim Sherman and librettist Margaret Vandenburg, which was presented last spring as part of the Center for Contemporary Opera's Development Series. Lisa has taught and directed at many theatre programs around the country and is a graduate of NYU's Graduate Acting Program and Director's Lab.
Robert Lowell/Composer/Sound Designer
Rinde is a writer, composer, librettist, musician, performer and director. He makes solo work, chamber pieces, operas and plays with larger casts, and collaborates with other art makers including choreographers, composers, directors and new music ensembles. A classically trained singer celebrated for a flexible and inventive singing voice and electric physical presence, his Opera/New Music Theatre productions are performed off-Broadway and on tour throughout the U.S. and to major festivals in Europe and Asia.
New York credits include: Angels in America (Broadway) Blue Window (Manhattan Theater Club), and A Bright Room Called Day (Public Theater). Regional credits include: Good People, (George St. Playhouse, Seattle Rep.) A Delicate Balance (Arena Stage, Yale Rep.) A Midsummer Night's Dream (McCarter) Ghosts, Hedda Gabler (Berkeley Rep), Homebody/Kabul (Intiman Theater), Threepenny Opera (Trinity Rep.) and Cryptogram (Yale Rep). TV: Law and Order. McLaughlin is also an award-winning playwright.
ABOUT PEOPLE'S LIGHT: Now in its 39th season, People's Light, a professional, not-for-profit theatre in Chester County, Pennsylvania, makes plays drawn from many sources to entertain, inspire, and engage our community. We extend our mission of making and experiencing theatre through arts education programs that excite curiosity about, and deepen understanding of, the world around us. These plays and programs bring people together and provide opportunities for reflection, discovery, and celebration. Founded in 1974, we produce seven to nine plays each season, in two black box theatres with 340 and 160 seats respectively, mixing world premieres, contemporary plays, and fresh approaches to classic texts for our 7-Play and Discovery Series.