Raul Esparza Will Star in Classic Stage Company's THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI
Classic Stage Company will begin its 2018-2019 season with an unsettlingly timeless work: Bertolt Brecht's allegorical depiction of the rise of fascism, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Today CSC announced that four-time Tony Award nominee and Law and Order: SVU alum Raúl Esparza will star as the Al Capone-like, Hitler-paralleling Arturo Ui in this production.
Directed by John Doyle, this comical yet disturbing play from one of the greatest political satirists of all time follows a Depression-era Chicago mobster, Arturo Ui, who, with the help of his henchmen, manipulates and murders his way to totalitarian rule of the cauliflower trade. Society, of course, fails to act upon his "resistible rise."
John Doyle says of Arturo Ui, "Everyday I read the play, I think, 'I hear these words on CNN as I read them on the page.' The play will be falling right around the midterm elections, and it's fitting that it reminds us of the choices that are available to us in relation to the way the world can go. That really is at the foundation of what classical theater says. Classic plays have politics at their heart-you take a play like Richard III or the Scottish Play-they're warnings. And there's a warning in Arturo Ui. This is a time for theater to say something; if we're not screaming and shouting now, when are we ever going to do it?"
Brecht wrote Arturo Ui in 1941, while in exile from Nazi Germany, in Finland. During that time, he was awaiting his U.S. visa, and thereby imagined a vision of totalitarianism fit for America, and the American stage. (Though the play, ultimately, was never performed until 1958 in Germany, after Brecht's death.) In Arturo Ui, Brecht recast and reframed the fascism whose roots he had experienced firsthand, before leaving Germany for fear of persecution for his politically scalding works in 1933. Within a make-believe, vaudevillian portrayal of American mafia culture, the narrative of Arturo Ui is written to meticulously parallel events and individuals that brought the Third Reich to power, and led them to overtake their neighbors.
Though this is a highly contemporary work in the vast history of theater canon, Arturo Ui has a classical air, its "epic theatre" style emblematic of Classic Stage Company's work. Written largely in verse, Brecht's play nods to Richard III, speaking to the ubiquity of violent authority through time-while foreshadowing its potential for reemergence any time in the present and future. Before directing Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle in 2010, Doyle's acclaimed style-often minimal and anti-naturalist, highlighting ensemble casts, making visible the act of performance-was noted for having already deeply incorporated Brechtian qualities. With the democratic ethos and introspection-inducing nature of Brecht's and Doyle's theater-making, the production takes to heart our ability to resist violent power structures.
Today CSC also announced the two directors of the two August Strindberg plays that will follow Arturo Ui, and perform in repertory, in their 2018-2019 season. Mies Julie, Yaël Farber's celebrated adaptation of Miss Julie-resetting the classic play in a farmhouse in the Karoo of South Africa on the evening of the annual Freedom Day celebration-will be directed by Shariffa Ali, a creative leader working at the intersection of the performing arts and humanitarianism. The Dance of Death, Strindberg's mordant depiction of a venomous marriage and the social institutions governing it, will be directed by Tony winning performer and director Victoria Clark. Mies Julie will begin performances January 15, 2019 and The Dance of Death will begin January 17, 2019.
Performances of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui take place at Classic Stage Company (136 E 13th St, New York), with previews beginning Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The production opens Wednesday, November 14, 2018, and closes Saturday, December 22. Performance times are Tues.-Thurs. at 7pm, Fri.-Sat. at 8pm, and Sat.-Sun. at 2pm.
There will be no Saturday matinee on the first Saturday, November 3, 2018. A student matinee scheduled for Wednesday, November 29, 2018. There will be no performances on Thursday, November 22, 2018 or Friday, November 23, 2018 due to Thanksgiving.
Tickets are currently on sale to members. Members receive the best prices, flexibility, exclusive benefits, and invitations to special events throughout the season. Memberships begin at $50 ($25 for Students). For more information visit classicstage.org or call 212.677.4210.
Single tickets ($75 previews, $80 post opening, $125 prime) go on sale to the public September 20, and can be purchased at classicstage.org or 212-352-3101(or toll free 866-811-411).
Raúl Esparza is a Cuban-American actor best known for his role as New York Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba in "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." A man of both the screen and the theatrical stage, Raúl Esparza first signed on with "Law & Order: SVU" back in 2012 during Season 14, and soon became a series regular. During that stint, he took on a few other noteworthy TV roles, such as Dr. Frederick Chilton in "Hannibal," and Princess Carolyn's mousey love interest Ralph Stilton in Bojack Horseman. He also joined Hulu's The Path Season 3 as the religion professor Jackson Neill.
As for theater, Raúl just finished Vassar and New York Stage and Film's second Main Stage Powerhouse production of "The Waves," a musical adaptation of the novel by Virginia Woolf, which employed him as creative consultant and actor. Raúl has received Tony nominations for his role as Philip Salon in the Boy George musical Taboo in 2004; Robert, an empty man devoid of connection in the musical comedy Company in 2006; a lazy and snarky man in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming; and an aggressive volatile movie producer in David Mamet's Speed The Plow. He is also famous for his role of Riff Raff on Broadway in the revival of The Rocky Horror Show and the role of Caractacus Potts in the Broadway musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
In film, Raúl has established himself as a well-known voice artist with his role of Moreno in the Oscar-nominated Twentieth Century Fox animated feature Ferdinand directed by Carlos Saldanha. He also had a supporting role with Max Thieriot in the 2010 horror thriller, My Soul to Take.