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Becky Ann Baker and David Costabile to Join Bobby Cannavale in THE HAIRY APE at Park Avenue Armory

Park Avenue Armory presents a bold staging of Eugene O'Neill's iconic American drama The Hairy Ape, directed by Oliver Award-winner Richard Jones and starring Tony nominee Bobby Cannavale.

Alongside Bobby Cannavale as Yank, the new cast for the Armory production will feature David Costabile (Translations, Manhattan Theatre Club; Titanic, Broadway; Billions, Showtime) in the role of Paddy, Becky Ann Baker (All My Sons, Broadway; Good People, Manhattan Theatre Club; Girls, HBO) as Mildred's Aunt, and Catherine Combs (Gloria, Vineyard Theatre; Smokefall, Goodman Theatre) as Mildred. The cast also includes Chris Bannow, Tommy Bracco, Emmanuel Brown, Nic Bruder, Phil Hill, Cosmo Jarvis, Mark Junek, Henry Stram, Jamar Williams, Isadora Wolfe, and Amos Wolff.

Activating the industrial-scale architecture of the Wade Thompson Drill Hall, the production brings new dimension to the classic work, which follows a laborer on his journey from the bowels of an ocean liner to the New York of the Roaring Twenties.

The staging adds a fresh and inventive approach by placing the action on a stage that revolves around the audience like the conveyor belt of a large machine, serving as a metaphor for the struggle between the working man and the industrial complex found at the heart of the play.

Jones' acclaimed production was mounted at the Old Vic in London in the fall of 2015 as a proscenium stage presentation and is being radically reimagined for the Armory's space. Performances begin March 25 and run through April 22, 2017.

"The Armory's Drill Hall is unlike a traditional theater with a fixed stage and seating. It allows for dramatic changes to the relationship between audiences and art, adding thrilling new layers to the experience of classic works," said Rebecca Robertson, Executive Producer and President of Park Avenue Armory. "The Hairy Ape holds deep relevancy to our current moment. Under the visionary direction of Richard Jones, it also extends our program of groundbreaking productions that challenge artists to transform the Drill Hall and provide audiences with unprecedented experiences, as has been realized in previous stagings from Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth to Douglas Gordon and Hélène Grimaud's tears become...streams become... to Peter Sellars' St. Matthew Passion."

Written in 1922 by Nobel Prize-winner Eugene O'Neill, The Hairy Ape is a searing social commentary on the divide and friction between the rich and poor in the Gilded Age. The story follows the journey of Yank, played by Bobby Cannavale, a laborer who revels in his status as the strongest stoker on a transatlantic ocean liner. When Yank is deemed a "filthy beast" by the daughter of a rich steel merchant, he experiences an awakening of consciousness that leads him on a journey through the worlds of both the disenfranchised working class and wealthy society of New York.

The Hairy Ape features a design by Stewart Laing that animates the Drill Hall's attributes-including the industrial character of its interiors and vaulted iron metalwork ceiling-as both physical and metaphorical elements of the action. The audience, on sulphur yellow seating, is placed within a monumentally scaled ring-shaped stage that revolves around them as they follow Yank from the stokehole of a transatlantic ocean liner to the wealthy neighborhoods of New York society.

"O'Neill's story of capitalism and inequality has as much resonance in contemporary discourse as it did when it premiered nearly a century ago, during a surge of industrialization and the kind of social disruption it wrought," said Pierre Audi, Artistic Director of Park Avenue Armory. "We are pleased to produce a bold reimaging of this work, inviting Richard and a visionary creative team to reinvent the production from its original Old Vic commission in a new design concept that utilizes the Armory's space like never before and with a phenomenally talented cast. It is thrilling to have a visionary director working in the Armory to make epic theater."

Park Avenue Armory's dynamic platforms-from the Wade Thompson Drill Hall to array of exquisite historic period rooms-enable the creation of new artworks and experiences for New York audiences that could not be realized in traditional concert halls, theaters, and museum galleries. The Hairy Ape is featured as part of the Armory's 2017 season.

Additional upcoming programs include: FLEXN Evolution, dance performances and conversations envisioned by Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray and Peter Sellars that address critical issues of social justice; Hansel and Gretel, a new commission by Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, and Ai Weiwei that explores the meaning of publicly shared space in the era of surveillance; the North American premiere of Blank Out, a chamber opera for soprano and 3D film based on the life and work of poet Ingrid Jonker by composer/director Michel van der Aa; Pierre Boulez's rarely performed spatial masterpiece Répons with Ensemble Intercontemporain and led by Matthias Pintscher; KANATA, a commissioned, three-part theater work that confronts the treatment of indigenous peoples across Canada, directed and conceived by Robert Lepage and developed with Le Théâtre du Soleil and Ex Machina; and annual series of eclectic and intimate concerts and conversations held in the Armory's head house spaces. This season's artists in residence include Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, Cuban installation and performance artist Tania Bruguera, composer and guitarist Marvin Sewell, and choreographer and Flexn dance pioneer Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray.

Previous theatrical presentations at the Armory include Les Éphémères with Le Théâtre du Soleil under the direction of Arian Mnouchkine; the Chekhov International Theatre Festival's staging of Boris Godunov; the unprecedented residency of the Royal Shakespeare Company in performances of five productions in repertory over six weeks; and the Armory's production of Macbeth directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh in a staging that transformed the Drill Hall into a Scottish heath and henge and drew audiences into the blood, sweat, and elements of nature as action unfurled across a traverse stage.

IF YOU GO:

The Hairy Ape

March 25 - April 22, 2017

By Eugene O'Neill

Directed by Richard Jones

Stewart Laing, Designer

Aletta Collins, Choreographer

Mimi Jordan Sherin, Lighting Designer

Sarah Angliss, Sound Designer

Starring Bobby Cannavale

Chris Bannow, Tommy Bracco, Emmanuel Brown, Nic Bruder, Catherine Combs, Phil Hill, Cosmo Jarvis, Mark Junek, Henry Stram, Jamar Williams, Isadora Wolfe, Amos Wolff

With Becky Ann Baker and David Costabile

Previews: March 25 - March 29
Schedule: Saturday at 8:00pm; Sunday at 5:00pm; Tuesday - Wednesday at 7:30pm

Performances: March 30 - April 22
Opening Night: Thursday, March 30 at 7:00pm
Schedule: Tuesday - Thursday at 7:30pm; Friday at 8:00pm; Saturday at 2:00pm and 8:00pm; Sunday at 3:00pm; Wednesday at 2:00pm and 7:30pm (April 12 and 19)

Tickets start at $30 for previews/$60 for performances and can be purchased at armoryonpark.org / (212) 933-5812.

Performances at the Thompson Arts Center at Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue at 67th Street, New York, NY.

ADDITIONAL PROGRAMS:

As part of its Interrogations of Form: Conversation Series, the Armory will host two programs in its historic period rooms focused on The Hairy Ape. These conversations feature artists and scholars exploring the realization of Armory productions and their resonances today, encouraging active discussion on a range of themes and complex issues.

A 'Hairy Ape' for the 21st Century: Artist Talk

Friday, March 31 at 6:00pm

The Hairy Ape director Richard Jones, Bobby Cannavale, and Robert M. Dowling (Eugene O'Neill scholar and Professor of English, Central Connecticut State University) discuss the challenges of presenting Eugene O'Neill's play nearly 100 years after its first production by The Provincetown Players in 1922.

The Hairy Ape & New York City: Class vs. Identity

Friday, April 14 at 6:00pm

Catherine Combs, Chief Historian at the New York Historical Society Valerie Paley, and Annan Professor in English and Professor of Theater at Princeton University Jill S. Dolan discuss The Hairy Ape's opposing forces of class and identity, issues that continue to entangle the social fabric of New York City today.

ARMORY AFTER HOURS

Audiences also have the opportunity stay at the Armory following evening performances for libations with fellow attendees-and often the evening's artists- at a special bar in one of our historic period rooms.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride


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