New Theatre Company The Phoenix to Present BLUE/ORANGE, 11/1-23
The Phoenix, the New Theatre Company founded by long-time PICT artistic director and founder Andrew Paul and Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre founder and former director of theatre initiatives at the August Wilson Center, Mark Clayton Southers, will debut with a four week run of Joe Penhall's provocative, caustically funny, Olivier Award-winning play Blue/Orange. The production will star acclaimed actors David Whalen, Sam Tsoutsouvas, and newcomer Rico Parker, with direction by Andrew Paul and scenic design by Mark Clayton Southers. Blue/Orange, sponsored by founding Phoenix Board Member and noted arts philanthropist Richard E. Rauh, plays November 1-23, 2013 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, 937 Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh.
The mission of The Phoenix is to explore the issues facing our diverse and rapidly changing world through the language of theatre. Blue/Orange takes place in a London psychiatric hospital where an enigmatic patient claims to be the son of an African dictator - a story that becomes unnervingly plausible. What begins as a battle of wills between a young, idealistic doctor and his jaded superior over the appropriate course of treatment for his patient, possibly exhibiting schizophrenic behavior, eventually turns into something altogether different. An incendiary tale of race, madness and a Darwinian power struggle at the heart of Britain's dying National Health Service, Blue/Orange offers a perspective on the mental health system which has been in the headlines recently as a result of tragedies in Connecticut, Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh.
Playwright Joe Penhall was born in London and raised in Adelaide, Australia. His first major play Some Voices premiered at the Royal Court in 1994 and was adapted into a film starring Daniel Craig and Kelly MacDonald. Blue/Orange premiered at the Royal National Theatre in 2000 in a production directed by Roger Michell and starring Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. It was awarded Best New Play at the Evening Standard Awards, Laurence Olivier Awards, and at the Critics Circle. Penhall spent six years writing the film The Last King of Scotland and adapted Cormac McCarthy's book The Road in 2009 for a film starring Viggo Mortensen. His other plays include Landscape With Weapon, Haunted Child, and Birthday.
The three-character play will be performed by well-known actors David Whalen, Sam Tsoutsouvas, and newcomer Rico Parker with Andrew Paul directing. Whalen, one of Pittsburgh's most acclaimed actors, was the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Performer of the Year in 2007. His many collaborations with director Paul include Mark Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and his acclaimed portrayal of former President George W. Bush in the Pittsburgh premiere of David Hare's Stuff Happens. David recently played the title role in PICT's Don Juan Comes Back From the War and completed work on the feature film The Fault In our Stars, directed by Josh Boone and adapted from the much loved novel by John Green. Tsoutsouvas has performed leading roles on Broadway and at many of America's finest regional theatres. His Pittsburgh appearances include Caryl Churchill's A Number at Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Frank Lloyd Wright in Worksong at City Theatre, and Max in Stoppard's Rock'n'Roll, Antony in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and Hirst in Pinter's No Man's Land at PICT. Rico Parker is a native of Dayton, Ohio. He has appeared as Booth in the Jubilee Theatre's (Fort Worth, Texas) Topdog/Underdog and was nominated for a Jeff Norton Award for his portrayal of Sylvester in the American Stage (Florida) production of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, directed by Mark Clayton Southers. Rico has appeared in Pittsburgh in VALU-MART at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre and as the Joker in Attilio Favorini's The Gammage Project. The Phoenix has assembled a formidable design team for its debut production, with scenic design by Mark Clayton Southers, costumes by Pei-Chi Su, lights by Jim French and sound design by Elizabeth Atkinson. Production Stage Manager will be Eric A. Smith.
Director Andrew Paul co-founded the acclaimEd Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre (PICT) and served as the company's producing artistic director from 1996 to 2013. Under his leadership, PICT produced more than a hundred plays, festivals devoted to the plays of Samuel Beckett, John Millington Synge, Harold Pinter, and Anton Chekhov, and two successful international tours. His many PICT Productions as director include last year's productions of Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, Chekhov's Ivanov, and David Ives' The School for Lies, 2011's productions of David Mamet's Race and Alan Ayckbourn's House and Garden (co-directed with Melissa Hill Grande), the 2010 productions of Shakespeare's Othello, Pinter's No Man's Land, and Harold Brighouse's Hobson's Choice, and the 2009 productions of Alan Bennett's The History Boys and Tom Stoppard's Rock'n'Roll. Andrew's 2002 production of Friel's Faith Healer starring Bingo O'Malley played to acclaim at thirteen venues in Ireland and Northern Ireland and he appeared as an actor in the 2003 production of Shaw's Major Barbara which performed 14 sold-out performances at the Galway Arts Festival and transferred to Dublin for three weeks of performances at the Pavilion Theatre. In 2008, he directed and collaborated with David Hare on the non-English language premier of Stuff Happens at the Slaski Theatre in Katowice, Poland. In 2010, Andrew was a featured speaker at the World Theatre Conference in Baku, Azerbaijan
Through their work on The Phoenix, co-founders Paul and Southers seek to enhance and expand upon the depth and breadth of Pittsburgh's already excellent theatrical community. "With our world changing so quickly," they state, "it's no surprise that the theatre world would be changing as well. Demographic shifts have resulted in new audience members hungry for exciting cutting edge theatre that reflects a diverse and global perspective. We've watched these changes for several years as we've traveled to see plays together and discussed how Pittsburgh theatre could respond to them. Now, we want to be ahead of the curve leading that charge artistically not running behind it. Through The Phoenix, we propose to explore our shared vision of a new kind of Pittsburgh theatre that is not a "white" or "black" theatre but rather one that is diverse, welcoming to all and that invites our patrons to journey across borders and boundaries with us."
Tickets for Blue/Orange are available now! Accessibility for all is an important facet of The Phoenix mission and there will be two Pay-What-You-Can at the door performances on Tuesday, November 5 and Monday, November 18, both at 8:00pm. In addition, any person under the age of 30 can purchase tickets for just $15 with valid identification. For tickets, phone Showclix at 1-888-718-4253, or visit www.phoenixtheatrepgh.org.