Abingdon Theatre Company to Participate in Wuzhen Theatre Festival in China

Abingdon Theatre Company is set to participate in the first-ever Wuzhen Theatre Festival in Wuzhen, China. At the invitation of the festival's artistic team, Abingdon will present its upcoming Off-Broadway production, THE LAST WILL by Robert Brustein, who has been named the festival's honorary chairman.

"This unprecedented opportunity brings Abingdon Theatre Company an international audience! We are thrilled to collaborate with the Wuzhen Theatre Festival to bring this unique story to Wuzhen, China," says Jan Buttram, Artistic Director of Abingdon Theatre Company.

"It is a great honor for me that Abingdon's production of 'The Last Will' has been invited to the Wuzhen Theatre Festival, and that I have been appointed its Honorary Chairman. Theatre relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China are bound to strengthen," adds playwright Robert Brustein.

Directed by Austin Pendleton, THE LAST WILL runs May 15-18 at the Wuzhen Theatre Festival.

"I have always worked with Abingdon with pleasure. I have always wanted to work with Robert Brustein," comments director Austin Pendleton. "And now the thought that this collaboration among us all, on this extraordinary play, will be seen in China makes me leap to the thought that maybe a fine collaboration among both the countries involved will begin to flower and make a garden of international relations."

In THE LAST WILL, set towards the end of William Shakespeare's life, the Bard of Avon returns to Stratford, having given up playwriting in favor of charging extortionate rents on his properties. Suffering from a fatal mental disease, he somehow becomes convinced that his wife has been unfaithful to him with his brother, and as a result, devises a will leaving her only his "second best bed." Fortunately for us, Shakespeare's art redeems him.

The 11-day Wuzhen Theatre Festival, initiated by director Lai Shengchuan, director Meng Jinghui, and actor Huang Lei, opens May 9 in Wuzhen, located in Zhejiang Province. One of China's most beautiful ancient water towns, Wuzhen is a cultural center of China and known as "Venice in the East." According to its presenters, The Wuzhen Theatre Festival will be China's window on the world's recent theatre. It will also be an incubator for new creative works by young artists on timely subjects, and aims to heighten the profile of theatre as it takes its place as Asia's premier theatre festival.

Previews for the Off-Broadway premiere of THE LAST WILL are set to begin April 5 at Abingdon Theatre Company's June Havoc Theatre, prior to its official opening on Wednesday, April 17.

Cast and creative team for THE LAST WILL are to be announced.

Robert Brustein, noted New Republic theatre critic and educator, returns to Abingdon Theatre Company where his play THE ENGLISH CHANNEL was presented Off-Broadway in 2008. His other plays include NOBODY DIES ON FRIDAY; THREE FARCES AND A FUNERAL; SPRING FORWARD, FALL BACK; and DEMONS. He founded both Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut and The American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Brustein was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2002 and received a 2010 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. For Abingdon Theatre Company, Austin Pendleton directed Barbara Dana's WAR IN PARAMUS. In 2011, he earned an Obie Award for his direction of THREE SISTERS for Classic Stage Company. Other directing credits include VIEUX CARRE, UNCLE VANYA, FIFTY WORDS, and TOYS IN THE ATTIC. He is the author of ORSON'S SHADOW and UNCLE BOB.

For more information about Abingdon Theatre Company, visit www.abingdontheatre.org.

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