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Metropolitan Playhouse to Present THE TRANSCENDENTALFEST This Winter

Metropolitan Playhouse, Obie Award winner for exploring American culture through theater, hosts The TranscendentalFest, the theater's tenth Living Literature Festival inspired by the lives and works of American writers. Performances take place daily from January 11 to 24, 2016 at the Metropolitan Playhouse. The opening reception will be held January 11 at 9:00 pm.

TranscendentlFest is a collection of seven new works by artists and companies from near and far, taking their inspiration from the writings, causes, and lives that shaped the American Transcendentalist Movement. (Project descriptions and schedule follow.)

Tickets may be purchased online at www.metropolitanplayhouse.org, or by phone at 800-838-3006. Tickets for range from $15 to $18, with discounts available for seniors, students, children, and pass buyers. Performances play Mondays - Saturdays at 7:30; Fridays and Saturdays at 9 pm; and Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm and 4pm.

TranscendentalFest includes one-act and full-length works, and two evenings of musical interpretation, ranging from adaptation to biographical fantasy . Each production receives 4 performances, and there are 24 presentations over two weeks. The work by various artists and companies is drawn from diverse inspirations, including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sarah and George Ripley, and Margaret Fuller.

Previous years' festivals were the Poefest (2006), Twainathon (2007), Hawthornucopia (2008-"exhilarating"--nytheatre.com), and Melvillapalooza (2009 "divine.... put the life and works of Melville in a new light" - New Theatre Corps), Another Sky (2010), and A Harlem Renaissance Festival (2011 - "very satisfying indeed" -- nytheatre.com), The Horatio Alger Festival (2012), The Founder's Festival (2013 - "cogent and up to the minute" -- nytheatre.com), The Gilded Stage (2014). Metropolitan Playhouse explores America's theatrical and cultural moment. Metropolitan has earned accolades from The New York , The Village Voice, BackStage, and nytheatre.com. Notable productions include Icebound, The Man of the Hour, Alison's House, Self, The Boss, Both Your Houses, The House of Mirth, The Jazz Singer, From Rags to Riches, One-Third of a Nation, The Great Divide, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Drunkard, Dodsworth, The Return of Peter Grimm, Year One of the Empire, The Pioneer: 5 plays by Eug
ene O'Neill, and Denial.


PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS (In order of first performance):

EMERSON SPEAKS (A theatricalization of Emerson)
Mahayana Landowne performs Emerson's Divinity School Address in a theatricalized lecture.

PERFORMANCES: Monday, 1/11 at 7:30; Saturday 1/16 at 7:30; Friday 1/22 at 9; Sunday, 1/24 at 4

LEAVING BROOK FARM and THE FIFTH WOMAN (Two new short plays together in one program)

"Leaving Brook Farm" by Nina Davis
Produced by Frontline Productions
On the night of March 3, 1846, a disastrous fire totally destroyed a new building at Brook Farm - a utopian community near Boston, Massachusetts. Sophia Ripley has had enough. She urges her husband George to leave what she feels is a losing proposition.

"The Fifth Woman" by Toni Schlesinger (Inspired by Louisa May Alcott)
In 1870, an up-and-coming reporter gets a hot tip that leads him down a dark and mysterious road: there weren't just four "Little Women."

PERFORMANCES: Tuesday, 1/12 at 7:30; Saturday, 1/16 at 2; Friday, 1/22 at 7:30; Saturday, 1/23 at 4

WINTER (A cycle of Transcendentalist poetry, accompanied by hammer dulcimer)
by Kelly King
Kelly King presents an overture of sound, poetry, thought and nature inspired by Frederic Church with Christopher Pearse Cranch, James Russell Lowell, William Ellery Channing, George William Curtis and Julia Ward Howe. Sentiment from Transcendental masters Henry David Thoreau, Molly Vonk and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Original music by Kelly King. "Thought is deeper than all Speech. Feeling deeper than all thought."

PERFORMANCES: Wednesday, 1/13 at 7:30; Saturday, 1/16 at 4; Thursday, 1/21 at 7:30; Sunday, 1/24 at 2

WHITMAN SINGS (Walt Whitman in folk, gospel, hip hop, and spoken word)
Using a great author's own words in the tradition of "Mark Twain Tonight," California actor/singer John Slade embodies another titan in American literature, Walt Whitman. Twain was the funniest; Dickinson the wittiest; but Whitman was the most inspiring. His times were more divided than our own, but he never lost his faith in America, in life, and the possibility of things getting better.

PERFORMANCES: Thursday, 1/14 at 7:30; Saturday 1/16 at 9; Monday, 1/18 at 7:30; Saturday, 1/23 at 2

THE ARTIST OF THE BEAUTIFUL (A new play)
by Jonathon Ward, based on the story by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A meditation on art and the artist's life, based on the Nathaniel Hawthorne short story about a clockmaker's apprentice who falls in love with his master's daughter and loses her to his friend the blacksmith. The day before he leaves for Europe, Owen Warland visits Annie Danforth with a belated bridal present. He's discovered, in the unrealized love of their past, how to live the beautiful life. Inviting her to live it, too, he hopes they may transcend the practical world of 1840s America.

PERFORMANCES: Friday 1/15 at 7:30; Sunday, 1/17 at 4; Wednesday, 1/20 at 7:30; Saturday 1/23 at 9

THE POLL TAX MATTER (A one-act comedy)
by Dan Evans
A Lulu LoLo Production
In Concord, Massachusetts, 1846, Henry Thoreau is arrested at the local shoemaker's for refusing to pay his state poll tax as a protest against slavery. His nights spent in jail, wearing only one shoe, and jawing with his cellmate, a boisterous outspoken drifter, inspires him to develop his doctrine of civil disobedience. Suddenly a young fugitive slave uses their cell to hide in.

PERFORMANCES: Friday 1/15 at 9; Sunday, 1/17 at 2; Tuesday, 1/19 at 7:30; Saturday, 1/23 at 7:30


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