Dante's INFERNO to Play Washington Stage Guild, 2/21-3/17

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Dante's INFERNO to Play Washington Stage Guild, 2/21-3/17

The Washington Stage Guild continues its Season of Life Lessons with a tour-de-force performance of one of the Western world's greatest texts. INFERNO, by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, is adapted and performed by five-time Helen Hayes Award nominee Bill Largess into a theatre piece that takes full advantage of all the effects that contemporary production can offer - a Hell of a show. The story of Dante's journey from error and darkness back to salvation was described by him as a pilgrimage through Hell, whose nine circles contain horror, humor, and everything in between. As he journeys he meets mythical monsters and historical figures, some of whom are unexpectedly among the damned. Last seen in DC in 2001, Inferno returns in a re-imagined form, directed by Laura Giannarelli.

"I relish the opportunity to explore this quintessentially Italian work on the stage," says director Laura Giannarelli. "For ordinary Italians, Dante is as huge as Shakespeare is for many Americans. It is studied by every school child; indeed, my Italian cousins can quote whole chunks from memory! To be able to collaborate with Bill Largess on bringing the text to life in English and engaging American audiences is very exciting. It is astonishing that Dante's vision, so intensely personal and idiosyncratic, is at the same time so vivid and accessible that it touches a chord with each person who experiences it."

Bill Largess, a lifelong Washingtonian who has been a part of the Washington theatre scene for over 30 years, is a founding member of the Washington Stage Guild and has been artistic director since 2008. "When I was working at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1999, I saw performance artist Benjamin Bagby in his one-man version of Beowulf. Bagby, a musician, conceived his piece as a kind of bardic performance, but it inspired me to develop a similar work that drew more from theatrical practices and traditions. I hit on Dante's work, a long poem in the first person - essentially, a huge monologue. Dante tells his story, where the poet Virgil rescues him from going astray and guides him through the underworld on the path to redemption, with wonder, and with wit, as he meets and interacts with those paying the price for their sins. So is it storytelling, play, performance art? Or all three? The 1999 production used sound, light, masks and puppets - and this time we're planning to take advantage of some resources that didn't exist then."

Laura Giannarelli is excited to collaborate with Mr. Largess on this new production of his adaptation of Inferno, having been a rapt audience member twelve years ago when he and founding Artistic Director John MacDonald so indelibly premiered the piece. A founding member of the Stage Guild, she has appeared with the company in more than 40 productions over the past 27 seasons. Most recently, she was Mrs. Pierce in Pygmalion at the Stage Guild and she made her professional directorial debut with Village Wooing, half of last season's Wives and Wits.

Kirk Kristlibas, who designed the sets for the Stage Guild's Pygmalion and costumes for Tryst, will design the setting for Hell, and Helen Hayes Award Recipient William Pucilowsky will design costumes. Frank DeSalvo, Jr. will be making his Stage Guild debut as Sound Designer. Marianne Meadows returns as Lighting Designer along with Arthur Nordlie as Stage Manager.

During the season, the Guild will again present off-night readings of plays that complement the full productions. These popular FREE readings have attracted a loyal audience since we moved to the Undercroft Theatre.

EVERYMAN by Anonymous.
One of the Western world's greatest plays, whose allegorical story of one man's journey to the grave is leavened with humor and emotion as he seeks a companion - just one - to travel with him.
Monday, March 4, 2013 at 7 pm
Performance times and prices for all productions
Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. $40.00
Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. $50.00
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. $40.00
Discounts are available for senior citizens, students, and groups.
Season passes are available, offering incredible savings for the entire Stage Guild season.

Location for all performances is the The Undercroft Theatre of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. The Undercroft Theatre is located in the heart of downtown Washington, on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and 9th Street, NW. It's steps from the Convention Center, and blocks from the National Mall, the Smithsonian, the Verizon Center, Chinatown, and restaurants galore.

The Undercroft Theatre is within easy walking distance from the following Metro stations:
Gallery Place/Chinatown-Exit SE corner of 9th and G Sts., NW (Green, Yellow and Red lines)
Mt. Vernon Square-Exit SW corner of 7th and M Sts, NW (Green and Yellow lines)
Metro Center-Exit SE corner of 11th and G Sts., NW (Blue, Red and Orange lines)

INFERNO by Dante, adapted & performed by Bill Largess, runs February 21 to March 17, 2013. Press Night: Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 8 pm. For information and reservations, call 240 582-0050, email info@stageguild.org or go to www.stageguild.org. Play selection and schedule are subject to change.

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