Classic Stage Company's UNNATURAL ACTS Closes
Classic Stage Company's acclaimed production of UNNATURAL ACTS, a new play created by members of the Plastic Theatre, conceived and directed by Tony Speciale is set to close today at CSC (136 East 13th Street).New York Magazine called UNNATURAL ACTS "remarkable, sleek and brutal" and said "the play offers damning lessons in power, persecution and solidarity - or lack thereof." Variety raved "UNNATURAL ACTS is riveting and fascinating" with "stunning theatricality." The Associated Press called UNNATURALS ACTS "powerfully riveting" and said "Speciale has staged this engrossing story with flair and impressive theatricality, employing a company of extremely talented actors. In a riveting series of increasingly charged vignettes, he unspools a story of prejudice, intimidation, friendship, fear and betrayal that displays the crushing effect of societally-approved homophobia." And The Daily News wrote "Speciale's production is stylish and stirring, and beautiful."UNNATURAL ACTS is inspired by events that occurred at Harvard University in the spring of 1920, when a student's suicide sparked a campus-wide investigation by a panel of administrators who convened to investigate, expose and ultimately expel a group of homosexual students. Both intimate and epic, UNNATURAL ACTS explores themes of fear and societal intolerance that are as relevant today as they were 91 years ago.
For more than eighty years the events surrounding the incident were covered-up, until in 2002 when Amit Paley, a student journalist for The Harvard Crimson, came upon a reference to the "Secret Court" while combing university archives. After initial resistance, Harvard granted Mr. Paley access to the long-abandoned files of over 500 pages of documents describing the systematic persecution of these students. The revelation of this controversy motivated conceiver & director Speciale's own journey into the court transcripts, family correspondence, and countless records revealing the lives of these promising young men. Speciale and his team of writers (the Plastic Theatre) devoted countless hours of research and development decoding the long-hidden records from the Court, identifying witnesses and accused individuals, and piecing together a timeline of events and experiences. Through meticulous research, study and improvisation, UNNATURAL ACTS emerged.The cast of UNNATURAL ACTS features Jess Burkle, Joe Curnutte, Frank De Julio, Roe Hartrampf, Roderick Hill, Max Jenkins, Brad Koed, Jerry Marsini, Devin Norik, Will Rogers and Nick Westrate. Set design is by Walt Spangler, lighting by Justin Townsend, costumes by Andrea Lauer and original music and sound design by Christian Frederickson. Tony Speciale (Conceiver/Director) is in his third season as Associate Artistic Director at CSC where he has directed the Young Company productions of Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew. His work has also been seen at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Theatre Row (The Clurman Theatre), New York Musical Theatre Festival, HERE Arts Center and La MaMa. As a writer, his play Delirium: The Myth of Arthur Rimbaud was presented at the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was honored with a British Writers' Guild Award. Tony is a former Actors Theatre of Louisville apprentice, a graduate of The Boston Conservatory and holds an MFA in Directing from Columbia University. He is also the proud recipient of a 2009 Princess Grace Theatre Honorarium.UNNATURAL ACTS will perform Tuesdays through Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $60 for weekday performances and $65 for weekends. For tickets and information, visit www.classicstage.org or call (866) 811-4111, or (212) 352-3101, or visit the CSC box office at 136 East 13th Street, Monday through Friday 12 pm to 6 pm. Now in its 44th year as one of New York's most exciting theatres, Classic Stage Company is the award-winning Off-Broadway theatre committed to re-imagining the classical repertory for a contemporary American audience. Led by Artistic Director Brian Kulick and Executive Director Jessica R. Jenen, the company is currently presenting the highly-acclaimed production of David Ives' The School for Lies, directed by Walter Bobbie, featuring Hamish Linklater, Mamie Gummer, Alison Fraser and Jenn Gambatese. Earlier this season CSC presented the sold-out, highly-acclaimed production of Chekhov's Three Sisters, featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Josh Hamilton, Jessica Hecht, Juliet Rylance and Peter Sarsgaard, directed by Austin Pendleton and the critically-acclaimed production of Sara Ruhl's Orlando. The company recently presented David Ives' highly acclaimed Venus In Fur, directed by Walter Bobbie as well as Ostrovsky's The Forest, adapted by Kathleen Tolan, starring Dianne Wiest and John Douglas Thompson, and directed by Brian Kulick. In the previous season they presented three sold-out acclaimed productions: Shakespeare's The Tempest, starring Mandy Patinkin; Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, starring Denis O'Hare, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard; and Anne Carson's An Oresteia. Recent productions: critically acclaimed sold-out runs of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, starring Dianne Wiest and Alan Cumming; the world premiere of David Ives' New Jerusalem, directed by Walter Bobbie; Hamlet, Richard II, and Richard III starring Michael Cumpsty and directed by Brian Kulick; and Zoe Caldwell in Yasmina Reza's A Spanish Play, directed by John Turturro. CSC presents plays from the past that speak directly to the issues of today. As we return to works of the past, we endeavor to keep a clear eye on the future, particularly in terms of the next generation of artists and audiences. Founded in 1967, CSC has received wide recognition for its significant contributions to theatre as an art form through productions of classic plays, translations and adaptations and a long-standing commitment to the identification and nurturing of leading and emerging artists. Classic Stage's artists are the finest established and emerging theater practitioners working in this country. Highly respected and widely regarded as a major force in New York and American theatre, Classic Stage has been cited repeatedly by all the major Off-Broadway theater awards: Obies, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League and the 1999 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work. Memberships to Classic Stage Company productions are available at various price levels, including the flexible MasterPass membership, which in addition to prime seats entitles members to participate in CSC special series, including their sold-out Open Rehearsal events. For more information on Classic Stage Company visit the theatre's website at www.classicstage.org.