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Guest Speakers Invited to Cohen's The Punishing Blow, August 13 through 28


The York Shakespeare Company welcomes various esteemed guests following performances of four-time Emmy Award-winner and New York Times "Ethicist" Randy Cohen's The Punishing Blow: An Illustrated Lecture Delivered by Order of the Orange County Criminal Court. Working in the classical Actor-Manager system, Seth Duerr directs and plays Leslie, an anti-Semitic college professor whose court-ordered public lecture is this dark, yet humorous play: a reflection on the nature of hate and of the professor himself. The Punishing Blow will play a three-week limited engagement at the Clurman Theater (410 West 42nd Street address). Performances begin Friday, August 13 and continue thru Saturday, August 28. Opening Night is Friday, August 13 (8 p.m.).

Talkbacks with Randy Cohen and Seth Duerr every Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm. In addition, they will join these illustrious guest speakers at the following performances:

• Wednesday, August 18: David Margolick, author of Beyond Glory: Joe Louis Vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink.

• Thursday, August 19: Arthur Eisenberg, legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

• Friday, August 20: Kevin Bleyer, Daniel Radosh, Tim Carvell, writers for The Daily Show, will discuss the legacy of Jewish humor, the joys of mocking Mel Gibson, and more.

• Sunday, August 22: Dr. Sharon Harrow, professor of English at Shippensburg University, author of the forthcoming "Sporting Culture:The Literature and Culture of British Sport in the long Eighteenth Century."

• Tuesday, August 24: Shais Rison, Screenwriter and filmmaker, better known by his pseudonym "MaNishtana," is a fifth-generation African-American Orthodox Jew, and advocate for Jews of Color, who blogs at

• Wednesday, August 25: Binnie Klein, author of Blows to the Head: How Boxing Changed My Mind.

• Thursday, August 26: ESPN 'Uni Watch' columnist Paul Lukas.

• Friday, August 27: David Rakoff, essayist, journalist, actor and a regular contributor to Public Radio International's This American Life. His new book, Half Empty, will be published in September.

• Saturday, August 28 at 8pm: Simon Schama, historian, writer, culture critic for The New Yorker.

After being arrested for drunk driving followed by a Mel Gibsonesque anti-Semitic rant, college professor Leslie can avoid jail time if he enters rehab, attends anger management classes, and gives a lecture on a figure from a list of The 100 Most Influential Jews of All Time. Rather than choose a more famous figure, such as Einstein or Moses, he picks Number 82: Daniel Mendoza, the 18th century British bare-knuckle boxing champion and father of "scientific boxing."

In presenting the life and times of Mendoza, Leslie allows details about his personal life to creep into his monologue. The audience discovers, through quick and sardonic asides, what led him to this point, gaining insight to the professor's tumultuous marriage, arrest, sentencing, and character. The Punishing Blow is an exploration of anti-Semitism, boxing, marriage, and of a man's own insecurity and bitterness.

The Punishing Blow plays Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, matinees on Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm.There is an added performance on Tuesday Aug 24, 2010 at 7pm. Tickets are $18 and are now available online at or by calling 212-239-6200. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Theatre Row Box Office, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily. TDF vouchers accepted. Running Time is 84 minutes, no intermission.


"The Impulse to embrace his valiant Leslie, forgive his sins and trespasses in ultimate comprehension of their source, is overwhelming. Cohen's pugilistic play with Duerr in it, will have the same effect on audiences when it runs on Broadway". - DailyFreeman

"Great voyeur theater...Duerr is riveting." - Metroland

"Artful, aching comedy tinged with anger and sadness. Seth Duerr is nothing less than superb. His performance is a feast. The Punishing Blow is a magnificent assemblage of history and brilliant dysfunction, a tour de force for actor and playwright alike." - Woodstock Times

RANDY COHEN (Playwright) was born in Charleston, South Carolina and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania. He attended graduate school at the California Institute of the Arts as a music major studying composition. His first professional work was writing humor pieces, essays, and stories for newspapers and magazines (The New Yorker, Harpers, the Atlantic, Young Love Comics). His first television work was writing for "Late Night with David Letterman" for which he won three Emmy awards. His fourth Emmy was for his work on "TV Nation." He received a fifth Emmy as a result of a clerical error, and he kept it. Currently he writes "The Ethicist," a weekly column for the New York Times Magazine syndicated throughout the U.S. and Canada.

SETH DUERR (Actor/Director) starred in the World Premiere of this play two years ago and the subsequent NYC premiere in 2009. He has appeared in 31 productions of Shakespeare. Roles include: Iago, Claudius, Talbot, Margaret, Chorus, Leontes, Antonio (Tempest), as well as directing and playing the title role in Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, King Lear, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Titus Andronicus, and Richard III. He is the Founder/Artistic Director of The York Shakespeare Company and was the Assistant Artistic Director of the Jean Cocteau Repertory, playing Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet; The Cook in Mother Courage; Lexy in Candida; and Cléante in The Miser. For The Public Theater he has twice appeared in Shakespeare in the Park: Macbeth directed by Moisés Kaufman and Romeo and Juliet directed by Michael Greif. Mr. Duerr wrote and directed the first author-approved adaptation of one of Ian McEwan's novels, In Between the Sheets. He recently reprised his performance as Captain Ahab in Orson Welles' Moby Dick-Rehearsed, touring the country with The Acting Company. Recent performances as John Proctor in The Crucible for manhattantheatresource and Tupolski in The Pillowman at APAC as well as directing and playing Jamie in YSC's production of Long Day's Journey Into Night. He is the lead vocal actor in the new World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Mr. Duerr is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association and The Dramatists' Guild and serves on the Advisory Board of Wingspan Arts with Donna Murphy and Scott Schwartz.

The York Shakespeare Company was founded in 2001 by its current Artistic Director, Seth Duerr. Working under the classical Actor-Manager system, YSC produced the critically acclaimed repertories of Richard of York, Julius Caesar, and Richard II in 2001; Coriolanus,Timon of Athens, King Lear, and Henry V in 2002; Richard of York, Macbeth, and Hamlet in 2003; Henry IV Parts I & II, Titus Andronicus, and Waiting for Godot in 2004; the first author-approved adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel, In Between the Sheets, in 2006; Nagle Jackson's The Quick-Change Room in 2007; and Randy Cohen's solo-comedy The Punishing Blow, The Merchant of Venice & Marlowe's The Jew of Malta in 2009. Richard of York, a conflation of Henry VI Part III and Richard III was published in 2003.


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