The Phoenix Launches in Pittsburgh with BLUE/ORANGE, 11/1
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 have announcEd Pittsburgh's newest professional theatre company, The Phoenix. The mission of The Phoenix is to explore the issues facing our diverse and rapidly changing world through the language of theatre. The name is purposeful. The phoenix was a mythological creature that crossed borders finding a home in many cultures from ancient Greece and Egypt to Turkey, Persia, Russia, Tibet, China and Japan. It was and is a symbol of renewal, new life emerging from the ashes of the old in a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth.
Through their work on The Phoenix, 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."
The Phoenix has assembled an ambitious 4-play opening season including the Pittsburgh premieres of two award-winning plays and a Tony Award-winning musical and a world premiere play by co-founder Mark Clayton Southers inspired by Strindberg's Miss Julie and re-set in the American South during the re-construction period following the Civil War. These are plays Pittsburghers would not and could not see anywhere else.
The season commences this November with Joe Penhall's Olivier Award-winning play Blue/Orange, directed by Andrew Paul and featuring David Whalen, Sam Tsoutsouvas, and newcomer Rico Parker, performing November 1-23, 2013 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, downtown. The Phoenix will offer three productions in 2014. J.T. Rogers spy thriller Blood and Gifts, set during the Cold War in Afghanistan plays May 8-31, 2014 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre. Passing Strange, the Tony Award-winning musical by Stew and Heidi Rodewald plays September 25-October 9, 2014 at the New Hazlett Theatre on Pittsburgh's Northside. Miss Julie, a world premiere by Mark Clayton Southers, inspired by Strindberg, performs October 23-November 15, 2014 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights 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. It is an incendiary tale of race, madness and a Darwinian power struggle at the heart of Britain's dying National Health Service. 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 recent Pittsburgh appearances include Caryl Churchill's A Number at Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Frank Llloyd 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. Rico has appeared in Pittsburgh in VALU-MART at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre. 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. 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 downtown.