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Fiasco Theater to Make DC Debut with THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA at Folger Theatre, 4/17-5/25

Fiasco Theater to Make DC Debut with THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA at Folger Theatre, 4/17-5/25

The highly celebrated New York troupe Fiasco Theater will make their Washington, DC debut with their production of William Shakespeare's clever comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Folger Theatre. Directed by company members Jessie Austrian and Ben Steinfeld, The Two Gentlemen of Verona will play at the Folger from April 17 - May 25, 2014.

When Valentine and Proteus journey from Verona for Milan, comic mayhem ensues as the two fall in and out of love with the same women. Filled with bawdy bandits, mistaken identity, and the "sourest-natured" dog Crab, Shakespeare's romantic adventure takes a witty and compelling look at the complexities of friendship, the passions and dangers of jealousy, and the fickle nature of love.

Fiasco company member and co-director Ben Steinfeld stated, "The hilarity of spirit and intensity of passion that run so deeply in every character in this story will allow the audience and the actors to engage with one of the play's big questions: must we always be either servants to or masters of those we love?"

The six-member cast of The Two Gentlemen of Verona features Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Paul L. Coffey, Zachary Fine, Andy Grotelueschen, and Emily Young.

"Fiasco Theater is delighted to make its DC debut by bringing The Two Gentlemen of Verona to life at the Folger," stated Steinfeld. "Since Two Gentlemen is thought by many to be Shakespeare's first play, the company will endeavor to tap into the sense of joy and recklessness in this young writer's first stab at romantic comedy. Fiasco will use the organic creativity of their rehearsal process as the inspiration for the design. After all, what are our first experiences with love but rehearsals for the relationships that we perform later in life?"

The award-winning creative team includes four-time Helen Hayes Award-winner James Kronzer (set design), Whitney Locher (costume design), and Tim Cryan (lighting design).

"We are pleased to welcome the highly inventive Fiasco Theater to the District to premiere their production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona," said Janet Griffin, Folger Theatre's Artistic Producer. "Audiences will be treated to this very early Shakespeare comedy performed with simplicity, savvy, and a lot of good humor. Introducing this surging company to the DC area makes for a remarkably delightful way to end our 13/14 season of 'All Shakespeare, All the Time.'"

The production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona will be followed by a limited engagement of Fiasco Theater's highly acclaimed, stripped-down production of Shakespeare's Cymbeline which played a sold-out run in New York, 2011. Beginning a run of eight performances at the Folger Theatre on May 28, the production was hailed as "a small masterpiece" and named as one of the Top Ten theatrical productions of 2011 by New York Magazine. The dynamic staging, filled with bluegrass music, was called "a playful and inspired work of art" (The New Yorker) and "exquisite" (The New York Times).

The Two Gentlemen of Verona plays at Folger Theatre from April 17 - May 25, 2014. Tickets are $40 - $72. Lower-priced previews and discounts for students, seniors, military, educators, and groups of ten or more are available - and may be purchased at the Folger Theatre Box Office at 202.544.7077 or online at www.folger.edu/theatre.

Related Programming:

Pay-What-You-Can performance is on Tuesday, April 22, 7:30pm. Tickets will be available to the public one hour prior to the performance. Cash purchases only.

College Night will be held on Friday, April 25 at 8:00pm. Tickets are $15, with a valid student ID to be presented at the box office.

A Small Group Discussion with Folger Director Michael Witmore will explore the play and take place on Wednesday, May 7 at 6:30pm. Tickets are $15, with light fare included.

Audience members are encouraged to stay and take part in our Post-Show Group Discussion with the Cast on Thursday, May 8. This interactive discussion will follow the 7:30pm performance.

Folger Friday hosts poets Michael Gushue and Regie Cabico, as they read from their works in response to Two Gents on Friday, May 9 at 6:00pm. Admission is free.

Acclaimed author and Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro discusses his new book Shakespeare in America: An Anthology from the Revolution to Now on Monday, May 12 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $15, with a reception and exhibition viewing to follow the discussion.

SPECIAL EVENT - An advanced screening of Still Dreaming, the new documentary from the filmmakers who brought us Shakespeare Behind Bars shows a unique take on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, as performed by a group of retired actors at the Lillian Booth Actors home just outside New York City; co-directed by Fiasco Theater's Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld. One-night only on Monday, May 19 at 7:00pm, with a talk-back with the film's creators to follow. Tickets are $20 and $15 for Folger members.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is presented in conjunction with Shakespeare's The Thing, an exhibition exploring Shakespeare's influence on visual art, performance, and scholarship through treasures from the Folger collection. Hand-picked by Folger staff and including a special look at how fans have celebrated Shakespeare from his time to ours. Curated by Georgianna Ziegler, the exhibit celebrates Shakespeare's 450th birthday. On display in Folger's Great Hall through June 15. Visit www.folger.edu/exhibitions for details; free.

Who Is Fiasco Theater: Why Fiasco? Legend has it the word "fiasco" was first used to describe commedia dell'arte performances that went horribly (and hilariously) wrong. While we hope to avoid on-stage disasters, we do believe that only when artists are brave enough to risk a fiasco can they create the possibility of something special. We chose the name Fiasco to remind ourselves to brave the huge leaps in the hopes of discovering huge rewards.

Jessie Austrian (Julia/co-director) - Fiasco Theater: Co-artistic director and founder. Broadway: The Importance of Being Earnest, Lend Me a Tenor. Off-Broadway: New Victory Theater: Measure for Measure; Theatre for a New Audience and Barrow Street Theatre: Cymbeline; The Marriage of Bette and Boo. Regional: McCarter Theatre: Into the Woods; The Guthrie Theater: Jane Eyre; Pioneer Theatre Company: Is He Dead?; Trinity Repertory Company: The Mystery of Edwin Drood; Actors Theatre of Louisville and Virginia Stage Company: My Fair Lady; Williamstown Theatre Festival: Cabaret & Main. Television: Made in Jersey. Adjunct faculty at New York University Gallatin School.

Noah Brody (Proteus) - Noah Brody is an actor, director, writer and teacher. He is a co-artistic director and head of producing for Fiasco Theater. Noah has co-directed and acted in Fiasco's productions of Into the Woods, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night and Cymbeline, which received the 2012 Off-Broadway Award for best revival. He will co-direct the Fiasco Theater/McCarter Theatre production of Into the Woods at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego this summer and the Roundabout Theatre in Manhattan in the winter of 2014-2015. Noah has acted at theaters around the country and in Europe, appeared shirtless on soaps, headless on a crime drama, and as a dismembered torso on some underwear boxes. He teaches acting, voice and text through Fiasco and the NYU Gallatin School summer Shakespeare Intensive. He is a proud graduate of the Brown-Trinity MFA Acting program.

Paul L. Coffey (Speed/Duke) - Fiasco Theater: Company member. Off-Broadway: New Victory Theater: Measure for Measure; Theatre for a New Audience and Barrow Street Theatre: Cymbeline; The Taming of the Shrew. Regional: McCarter Theatre: Into the Woods. Other regional theaters include: Trinity Repertory Company, Pig Iron Theatre Company, The Vineyard Playhouse, Company of Fools, BoarsHead Theater, The Theater at Monmouth, The Peterborough Players and The Berkshire Theatre Festival.

Zachary Fine (Valentine) - Off-Broadway: The Acting Company: Julius Caesar; New York Classical Theatre: The Seagull; TerraNOVA Collective: A People; New Feet Productions: All Day Suckers; Guerrilla Shakespeare Project: Two Noble Kinsmen. Regional theaters include: The Guthrie Theater, Asolo Rep, Franklin Stage Company, Fulton Opera House, Great River Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Clarence Brown Theatre, and Off-Square Theatre Company. Television and film: Person of Interest, Blackbox, Heartland, One Life to Live, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Z-Rock. Visiting Professor at University of North Carolina's Professional Actor Training Program, FSU/Asolo Conservatory, University of Tennessee and IRT Theater. As a director or author Zachary has worked at: Thin Air Shakespeare, Off-Square Theater, Walled In, and IRT Theater.

Andy Grotelueschen (Launce/Thurio) - Fiasco Theater: Company member. Broadway: Cyrano de Bergerac. Off-Broadway: New Victory Theater: Measure for Measure; Theatre for a New Audience and Barrow Street Theatre: Cymbeline; The Taming of the Shrew; Twelfth Night; Balm in Gilead, Monstrosity; The Scariest; The Glass Contraption: The Amazing Ted Show!, Clowns, Don Cristobal, Billy Club Man. Regional: McCarter Theatre: Into the Woods; The Guthrie Theater and the Acting Company: Henry V, Yale Rep/Shakespeare Theatre Company: The Servant of Two Masters. Other regional theaters include Arizona Theatre Company, and Trinity Repertory Company. Film: Still on the Road, American Gladiators.

Ben Steinfeld (co-director) - Fiasco Theater: Co-artistic director and founder. Broadway: Cyrano de Bergerac, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Off-Broadway: New Victory Theater: Measure for Measure; Theatre for a New Audience and Barrow Street Theatre: Cymbeline; Public Theater: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Regional: McCarter Theatre: Into the Woods. Other regional theaters include: Westport Country Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, Portland Center Stage, Williamstown Theater Festival, and Trinity Repertory Company. Television and film: HBO's Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, The Jew of Malta, The Good Wife, Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Ben is the narrator of Young People's concerts with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra where he is also an artist-in-residence. Adjunct professor at New York University's Gallatin School.

Emily Young - (Sylvia/Lucetta) - Fiasco Theater: Company member. Broadway: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Off-Broadway New Victory Theater: Measure for Measure; Theatre for a New Audience and Barrow Street Theatre: Cymbeline; Public Theater: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson; Theater Breaking Through Barriers: Romeo and Juliet; Colorado SPF '04. Regional: North Carolina Shakespeare Festival: King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing; Illinois Shakespeare Festival: Love's Labour's Lost, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V; Trinity Repertory Company: The Cherry Orchard; Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage: Emma. Emily has done workshops and readings at New York Stage and Film, Sundance Theater Lab. Film: God of Love (Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short 2011), Manhattan Melody (featured at Telluride Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival), Natives.

About Folger Theatre and Folger Shakespeare Library: Folger Theatre is the centerpiece of Folger Shakespeare Library's programs for the public and is recognized for dynamic performances in the 250-seat Elizabethan-styled theatre, specializing in innovative stagings of works by Shakespeare, other classical work, and new plays inspired by these traditions. Since 1991, Folger Theatre has been honored by the Helen Hayes Awards with 20 awards and 125 nominations for excellence in acting, direction, design, and production-including the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Resident Play in 2011 for Hamlet (a year in which all three of Folger's theatrical productions were nominated in that category). In September 2012, Folger Theatre brought from London Shakespeare's Globe's Hamlet for the company's first Washington appearance. Most recently, Folger Theatre was the recipient of the 2013 Helen Hayes Award for "Outstanding Resident Play" for its production of The Taming of the Shrew. Janet Alexander Griffin is the Artistic Producer of Folger Theatre and Director of Public Programs which includes the Folger's music and literary series.

Folger Shakespeare Library is a renowned center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. Home to the world's largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for research material from the early modern period (1500-1750), Folger Shakespeare Library is an internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly programs in the humanities; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades K-12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs -theatre, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs. A gift to the American people from industrialist Henry Clay Folger, Folger Shakespeare Library-located one block east of the U.S. Capitol-opened in 1932 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Learn more at www.folger.edu.

About Fiasco Theater Company: Fiasco Theater is an ensemble theater company created by graduates of the Brown University/Trinity Rep M.F.A. acting program. Past shows include Cymbeline, Twelfth Night, Into the Woods, and Measure for Measure. Cymbeline was presented Off-Broadway twice, for nearly 200 performances, and was honored with the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for best revival of 2011/2012. Their current production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure is a New York Times Critic's Pick, and runs through March 16th at the New Victory Theatre. This summer their critically acclaimed production of Into the Woods will be presented at the Old Globe in San Diego before an Off-Broadway run at the Roundabout Theatre in Winter 2015. Fiasco has been in residence with the Sundance Theatre Lab, NYU-Gallatin, New Victory Lab-Works, Duke University, Marquette University, and LSU. Their work has been developed at the Orchard Project and the Shakespeare Society, and they have led master classes at Brown University and NYU. Since 2008, Fiasco has annually offered the Free Training Initiative-a conservatory-level classical acting intensive for professional actors, completely free of charge to students. www.fiascotheater.com

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