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Jean-Claude Carrière's THE CONTROVERSY OF VALLADOLID Begins Previews February 8th

By: Jan. 05, 2005
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The Public Theater, George C. Wolfe, producer; Mara Manus, executive director, announces the New York premiere of THE CONTROVERSY OF VALLADOLID, an exciting new masterwork by French playwright and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière that brings to life the stunning real-life debates of the Catholic Church in the 16th century, as it tried to determine whether or not natives an ocean away were indeed human. With an English translation by Richard Nelson and directed by David Jones, previews begin Tuesday, February 8th in The Public Theater's Newman Theater. The press opening is Sunday, February 20th.

The Vatican debate of 1550 between the best minds of that era, over the legal and moral status of the indigenous population of the Americas, would ironically mark the first formal recognition of human rights at the same time that it justified the slave trade of Africans in the Americas. In a dramatic recreation of this shocking proceeding, THE CONTROVERSY OF VALLADOLID illuminates one of the greatest moments in the history of imperialism, when religion was inextricably intertwined with politics. The play jolts the audience into understanding that slavery was a choice – one that might have been decided very differently. THE CONTROVERSY OF VALLADOLID also reminds us that the legacy of Valladolid continues to resonate in today's world where so many peoples and races continue to be marginalized and excluded in the name of religion.

THE CONTROVERSY OF VALLADOLID received its world premiere in 1999 at the Theatre de l'Atelier in Paris. VARIETY wrote that it was "one of the most moving shows in Paris" that year. This marks the world premiere of Richard Nelson's translation of the play.

The cast of THE CONTROVERSY OF VALLADOLID includes Gbenga Akinnagbe, Jon DeVries, Herb Foster, William S. Huntley III, Jeremy Michael Kuszel, Ron Moreno, Monica Salazar, Steven Skybell, Josef Sommer and Graham Winton.

THE CONTROVERSY OF VALLADOLID has scenic design by Klara Zieglerova, costume design by Ilona Somoghi, lighting design by Mark McCullough, and sound design by Sten Severson.

JEAN-CLAUDE CARRIÈRE (Playwright) began writing for the theatre in 1968 (L'AIDE-MÉMOIRE, LA TERRASSE) and has been working with Peter Brook for the past twenty-five years (LA CONFÉRENCE DES OISEAUX, LE MAHABHARATA, L'HOMME QUI).

Carrière has also established himself as one of France's foremost screenwriters. Beginning his film career with director Pierre Etaix, Carrière went on to collaborate with the likes of Milos Forman, Jacques Deray, Jean-Luc Godard, Volker Schlondorff, Philippe de Broca, and Bertrand Tavernier. His most fruitful professional association was with Luis Buñuel. His scripts for Buñuel's THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE (1972) and THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (1977) earned him Academy Award nominations. Still another Oscar nomination came his way for his work on Philip Kaufman's THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING. Carrière's own directorial career thus far consists of a 1968 short subject and the 1985 feature L'UNIQUE. As an actor, he has appeared in Buñuel's DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID and THE MILKY WAY, as well as the 1994 feature NIGHT AND THE MOMENT.

RICHARD NELSON (Translator) has written a wide variety of works for almost every media and form of entertainment. His plays include BETWEEN EAST AND WEST, LIFE SENTENCES, THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO, RIP VAN WINKLE OR THE WORKS, SENSIBILITY AND SENSE (produced on television by American Playhouse Theatre), THE VIENNA NOTES, and AN AMERICAN COMEDY. His adaptations include Chekhov's THE THREE SISTERS, Dario Fo's THE ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST, and Chekhov's THE SEAGULL, which premiered in the 2001 summer season of Shakespeare in Central Park, presented by The Public Theater.

Mr. Nelson wrote the book for the musical CHESS and the screenplay for the movie ETHAN FROME. He is also co-writer of the book MAKING PLAYS - THE WRITER-DIRECTOR RELATIONSHIP IN THEATRE TODAY with David Jones.

He is the recipient of the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Award (1991), A Time Out London award, two Obies, two Giles Cooper Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Rockefeller playwrighting grants, and two National Endowment for the Arts playwrighting fellowships. He wrote the book and was co-lyricist for the musical version of James Joyce's THE DEAD for which he won a Tony award in 2000. In that same year his play GOODNIGHT CHILDREN EVERYWHERE received the Olivier Award.

David Jones (Director) has worked extensively in theater, film and television throughout his career. Recent theater productions include: Richard Nelson's MISHA'S PARTY at the Royal Shakespeare Company; NO MAN'S LAND (with Robards and Plummer) at the Roundabout; THE HOT HOUSE (with Pinter playing the lead) in London's West End; Ronald Harwood's TAKING SIDES (with Ed Harris and Daniel Massey) on Broadway, and most recently THE CARETAKER at the Roundabout. Film: Kafka's THE TRIAL (screenplay by Pinter, Kyle MacLachlan as Josef K.) and THE CONFESSION (with Ben Kingsley and Alec Baldwin). Television: "Time to Say Goodbye" (with Eva-Marie Saint and Richard Kelly); "A Christmas Carol" (with Patrick Stewart and Joel Grey) and "The Education of Max Bickford" (with Richard Dreyfuss and Marcia Gay Harden). David was Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (Aldwych) 1973-78 and of the B.A.M. Theater Company 1979-81. He now lives permanently in New York with photographer Joyce Tenneson.

Gbenga Akinnagbe last appeared at The Public in HENRY V. His credits also include ROMEO AND JULIET, THE OEDIPUS PLAYS (The Shakespeare Theatre), and a recurring role on "The Wire"… Jon DeVries appeared in KIT MARLOWE, ONE FLEA SPARE, TITUS ANDRONICUS and THE BALLAD OF SOAPY SMITH (all at The Public). Broadway: EXECUTION OF JUSTICE, MAJOR BARBARA and DEVOUR THE SNOW…Herb Foster: The Public: CYMBELINE, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH, HENRY VIII, MEASURE FOR MEASURE, among others. Broadway: INTO THE WOODS, BLITHE SPIRIT, KISS ME KATE and AMY'S VIEW…William S. Huntley III appeared in BENVENUTO CELLINI at the Metropolitan Opera (Andrei Serban), RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR, and for PHISH at Madison Square Garden. His film credits include LONESOME LOSER…Jeremy Michael Kuszel has appeared on "Sesame Street 2000", "One Life to Live," and "As the World Turns." His film credits include FRIENDS & FAMILY…Ron Moreno has appeared in such productions as SEX AND HUNGER, SOCCER LEGS, THE RIGHT OF PASSAGE and THE IMMIGRANT'S SON. His film credits include HOPELESSLY BLURRED, BETTER SERVED COLD, ELI'S GAME, and QUARTET…Monica Salazar has appeared in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, DON JUAN, INVENTING VAN GOGH (Seattle Repertory Theatre), NICKEL AND DIMED (Intiman), and ANNA BELLA EEMA (New Georges Theatre)… Steven Skybell appeared in The Public's recent production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING at The Delacorte. Other theater credits include THE FULL MONTY; LOVE, VALOUR, COMPASSION; CAFÉ CROWN and AH! WILDERNESS…Josef Sommer has appeared in numerous productions on and off Broadway. His film credits include PATCH ADAMS, THE MIGHTY DUCKS, INDEPENDENCE DAY, DIRTY HARRY and THE STEPFORD WIVES…Graham Winton appeared on Broadway in THE TEMPEST (directed by George C. Wolfe). Additional Public Theater credits include HENRY VI, ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, TWELFTH NIGHT and THE WINTER'S TALE.

Tickets for THE CONTROVERSY OF VALLADOLID, which are $50, will be on sale beginning January 14th at The Public Theater box office, 425 Lafayette Street; on-line at; and Box office hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 1:00pm to 7:30pm, and Sunday and Monday from 1:00pm to 6:00pm.

Generous support for this production has been provided by THE LAURA PELS INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION.

Additional very generous support was received from The Florence Gould Foundation

The New York Community Trust – LuEsther T. Mertz Advised Fund provides leadership support for The Public Theater's year-round activities. Additional generous support is provided by Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman, JPMorgan Chase, The Laura Pels Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Mr. Kenneth B. Lerer and Ms. Katherine Sailer, Carole Shorenstein Hays, The George Delacorte Fund at The New York Community Trust – Fund for Performances at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Donald E. Newhouse, Warren Spector and Margaret Whitton, The Starr Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Haywood, and the Booth Ferris Foundation. Public support is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. We are also deeply grateful to The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for its leadership commitment to The Public Theater's Endowment Fund in support of new work. Continental Airlines is the official airline of The Public Theater.

Founded by Joseph Papp as the Shakespeare Workshop and now one of the nation's preeminent cultural institutions, The Public is an American theater in which all the country's voices, rhythms, and cultures converge. Under the leadership of Producer George C. Wolfe and Executive Director Mara Manus, The Public's mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day on stage and through its extensive outreach and education programs. Over 250,000 people annually attend Public Theater-related events at its six downtown stages including Joe's Pub, and at Shakespeare in Central Park and Joe's Pub in the Park.