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Guthrie Theater and A.R.T. Will Co-Commission New Work By Mark Rylance and Peter Reder


Guthrie Theater and A.R.T. Will Co-Commission New Work By Mark Rylance and Peter Reder

The Guthrie Theater has announced its partnership with American Repertory Theater at Harvard University to co-commission and co-develop a new play cycle by Mark Rylance and Peter Reder.

After opening Shakespeare's Globe in London and directing there for 10 years, Rylance has since gone on to win a Tony, Olivier, BAFTA and Academy awards for his work. Rylance's professional engagement with the Guthrie and A.R.T. spans the last two decades.

Reder trained as a classical pianist and then as an actor with Jacques Lecoq in Paris. He has created original works internationally, and his work as a theatermaker took him to Pittsburgh.

Steel will be directed by Claire van Kampen, who directed Nice Fish for the Guthrie in 2013 and the A.R.T. in 2016. She has since directed at Shakespeare's Globe and received multiple Olivier nominations for her original West End and Broadway play Farinelli and the King.

"Steel is the kingliest instrument of peoples for subduing the earth," said a priest at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883. At the core of Steel is the 1892 Battle of Homestead (Pennsylvania) when, during a lockout, thousands of workers at Carnegie Steel Company clashed with privately hired security guards. The battle resulted in numerous deaths and is considered pivotal to the history of U.S. labor relations. Historian Paul Krause writes, "The story of Homestead is about the endless conflict between the pursuit of private interest and the defense of the common good. It's about the aspirations and the frustrations of Americans who wanted their country to be a republic in fact and not merely in name."

Rylance began reading about the Homestead strike in 2003 while touring with the Shakespeare's Globe production of Twelfth Night. "I was looking for a story for Shakespeare's Globe with two strong protagonists," said Rylance. While in Pittsburgh, he visited the home of Henry Clay Frick, and "that was the beginning." Frick, the King of Coke, and his boss, Andrew Carnegie, the King of Steel, are two of the most successful industrialists and philanthropists America has ever produced.

The co-commission provides for the development and realization of the first two parts in a six-part series. "It's a story worthy of Shakespeare," said Rylance at the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Homestead at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library Music Hall in 2017. "We should never forget the role of labor and industry and what it's done for a nation. This story is essential to American culture. It shaped where we are now."

"Mark Rylance is an extraordinary actor, playwright and theatermaker," said Guthrie Artistic Director Joseph Haj. "It is a privilege and a pleasure to partner with A.R.T. and allow Mark the opportunity to explore this important time in our country's history and development."

"I'm delighted for A.R.T. to be collaborating again with Mark, Claire and the Guthrie on this project that will explore the stories of these complex men whose actions left indelible marks on the United States," said A.R.T. Executive Producer Diane Borger.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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