TAMBURLAINE, PARTS I and II Opens this Sunday at Theatre for a New Audience

By: Nov. 14, 2014
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Christopher Marlowe's 1587 epic Tamburlaine, Parts I and II, edited and directed by Olivier Award-winner Michael Boyd and starring John Douglas Thompson, opens Sunday, November 16, at 1:00pm at Theatre for a New Audience, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place.

Theatre for a New Audience's production of Tamburlaine, Parts I and II, with a company of 19 actors playing 60 roles, is the play's first major New York production since 1956 on Broadway.

Marlowe's two-part drama will be performed as one 3-hour play, plus a 30-minute intermission, through December 21.

Michael Boyd, former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, observes, "The more I work on Marlowe's great double-headed masterpiece, with John Douglas Thompson and this brilliant New York company of actors, the more we see how much Shakespeare learned and stole from him, and understand why."

Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience, notes, "This is the second time we have produced Marlowe. The first was in 2007 when F. Murray Abraham played Barabas in Marlowe's The Jew of Malta in repertory with Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Tamburlaine, Parts I and II is shocking, darkly funny, and subversive. The story of a Scythian Shepherd who rises to power to become king of half the world was more than a huge popular hit. Marlowe wrote about what was dangerous. Soon after it opened, seditious rumors circulated that artisans and workers, frustrated with the status quo, would identify with Tamburlaine and rebel against the government."

Tamburlaine, Parts I and II launched Marlowe's career and was revived again and again in and beyond his lifetime. The two parts are set in an imaginative time and space encompassing the medieval Ottoman Empire, Persia and Central Asia. Tamburlaine humbles kings and emperors, conquering vast territories while gathering ever more strength from his driving will.

John Douglas Thompson, recognized as "one of the most compelling classical stage actors of his generation" by The New York Times, played the title roles in Othello (2009) and Macbeth (2011) at Theatre for a New Audience. Most recently, he appeared as Louis Armstrong and Joe Glaser in Satchmo at the Waldorf. Last season on Broadway, he appeared as Carl Lee Hailey in A Time to Kill. Other memorable portrayals include Brutus Jones in The Emperor Jones; Herald Loomis in Joe Turner's Come and Gone at The Mark Taper Forum; Joe Mott in The Iceman Cometh at The Goodman; Hotspur in Henry IV at The Royal Shakespeare Company and Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and the titular role in Richard III at Shakespeare & Company. Mr. Thompson has been honored with OBIE, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel, and Callaway awards.

Michael Boyd, four-time Olivier Award-winner, was knighted for services to drama. Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2002 to 2012, his many productions include his eight-play Histories Cycle, described by The Guardian as "one of the great events of modern theatre." As Artistic Director of the RSC, he led the $190 million reconstruction of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and commissioned and produced the Complete Works Festival 2006 - 2007, the World Shakespeare Festival for the London Olympics 2012, and Matilda the Musical. In 2011 he brought a repertoire of seven Shakespeare plays to the Park Avenue Armory as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

Arthur Solari's percussion score is a combination of nearly fifty pieces from around the world: marimba, Taiko drums, brake drums, 55 gallon barrel, steel posts, thunder sheet, bell plates, Thai gongs, tam-tams, bass drums, tom toms, crotales, cymbals, Semantron, temple bowls, bongos, a lion's roar, and a whistle. Mr. Solari's credits include Artist in Residence, BMDA, Beijing, China, 2014; Chéri (Signature Theater), 2013; The Piano Upstairs (Spoleto Festival, Italy), 2013; Dorian C (Cannes Film Festival), 2013; Angel Reapers (Joyce Theater), 2011; Garden of Earthly Delights (Minetta Lane Theater), 2008-2009. Mr. Solari was a member of New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, founded by pioneer percussionist Ray DesRoches.

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) was one of the most influential and popular playwrights of the Elizabethan era. He was the first to demonstrate the muscular force of blank verse ("Marlowe's mighty line"), the first to recognize the resonance of exotic "outsider" characters, and the first to openly dramatize homoeroticism. He helped define a new, modern drama that influenced Shakespeare and others.

Stephen Greenblatt, author and scholar, writes, "What happens again and again in Marlowe's plays is that the incantatory power of his verse releases a destructive energy that cannot be contained within any conventional boundaries...Reckless desire, mocking all hierarchies and indifferent to the consequences, had been given a passionate, devastatingly eloquent voice."

The son of a shoemaker, Marlowe was born two months before Shakespeare in Canterbury, old spiritual capital of England -- a place where public anxiety over religion had simmered ever since three compulsory changes in state religion were violently enforced between 1547 and 1558. At sixteen, Marlowe won a scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he earned a B.A. in 1584. While at Cambridge, he began working as a spy for Queen Elizabeth's secret service. Marlowe was probably a double agent and also arrested multiple times -- for murder, street-fighting, and counterfeiting. In 1593, when someone nailed a bloody sign to a church, signed Tamburlaine, the authorities went against Marlowe. Several days later, he was mysteriously killed in a barroom brawl -- stabbed above the eye by a man who worked for his patron, as others who worked for the secret service looked on. He was 29.

Joining John Douglas Thompson in Tamburlaine, Parts I and II are:

Oberon K.A. Adjepong (Menaphon/King of Argier/Captain) Off-Broadway: Like I Say, Cellophane (The Flea); Mother Courage, The Blacks (Classic Stage, Classical Theatre of Harlem); Hieroglyphic Graffiti (HHTF); The Hamlet Project (La MaMa E.T.C.); Oya and Sango (NBT, Audelco nomination). Regional credits: Civil War CHRISTMAS (Centerstage); Electric Baby (Two Rivers); Good Goods (Yale Rep); Ruined (La Jolla, Huntington Theatre (IRNE Award), Berkeley Rep, PTC); Timon of Athens, Coriolanus (Shakespeare Theatre); and Rhyme Deferred (P.S. 122). Film/TV: The Knick, Blacklist, Freedom, NYC 22, and Law & Order: SVU. Training: B.A.D.A., Howard University.

Carlo Alban (Usumcasane) Regional: A Parallelogram (CTG), Lydia (Denver, Yale, CTG), All About Us (Westport), Dreamlandia (Dallas), Night of the Iguana (Guthrie). New York: Intríngulis (writer / performer), A Small Melodramatic Story, References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot, A Summer Day, Flipzoids. TV: Law & Order, Oz, Thicker Than Blood, Prison Break, Sesame Street, Girls. Film: Hurricane Streets, Strangers With Candy, Life Support, 21 Grams, Whip It, Margaret. Member of Labyrinth Theater Company.

Matthew Amendt (Agydas/Alcidamus King of Arabia/Orcanes King of Natolia) Off-Broadway: TFANA: Much Ado About Nothing; Henry V as Henry V (The Acting Company, New Victory); The Subject Was Roses, The Misanthrope (The Pearl). Regional: Numerous theaters, including Henry IV parts 1 and 2 (The Shakespeare Theatre); 13 productions at the Guthrie, notably The Great Gatsby and Henry V. A Presidential Scholar in the Arts with a B.F.A. in Acting from the Guthrie/ U of M. Ivey Award winner and Joe Dowling Fellow for writing/performing.

Nilanjana Bose (Ebea/Virgin/Olympia) Off-Broadway: The Memorandum (The Actor's Company Theater, Beckett, Theater Row), c*ck(Duke on 42nd Street). Regional: Noises Off (Dorset Theater Festival). Television: Crossbones, NBC. Education: The Juilliard School. Nilanjana is also a trained Classical Indian dancer.

Patrice Johnson Chevannes (Zabina/King of Syria) Broadway: Racing Demon and The Crucible, starring Liam Neeson; Othello (Desdemona, opposite Patrick Stewart). Off Broadway: Banished Children of Eve; Coriolanus. Audelco Nomination, Best Actress: Angelique. Barrymore Nomination, Best Actress: Coming Home. Audelco Award: Four Colored Girls (dir. Ntozake). Patrice directed three feature films through her company God-And-All-O-Wee Productions: Kings County, NY's Dirty Laundry, and Hill and Gully, currently on the festival circuit.

Vasile Flutur (Suceavus/Spy/King of Barbary/Celebinus, youngest son of Tamburlaine) Romanian-born and recent graduate, Brooklyn College (M.F.A., Acting). He is deeply indebted to John McEneny and Piper Theatre Productions, for many fruitful collaborations, including Nocturnes, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Frankenstein, and Splitfoot. He would like to warmly thank Michael Boyd, Jeffrey Horowitz, and Debby Brown for this beautiful opportunity and the chance to make his Off-Broadway debut.

Caroline Hewitt (Anippe/Virgin) Alley Theater: Warrior Class (dir: Wilson Milam); American Conservatory Theater: The Caucasian Chalk Circle (dir: John Doyle), A Christmas Carol; Baltimore Center Stage: Twelfth Night (Viola), The Rivals; Chautauqua Theater Company: Arcadia, The Winters Tale; Portland Stage: Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh; Virginia Stage: The Great Gatsby; Gulfshore Playhouse: Blithe Spirit; Surflight Theater: Barefoot in the Park. B.A. in French from Vassar and an M.F.A. from ACT. Founding member of The_______Space.

Andrew Hovelson (Theridamas) Broadway: Lucky Guy (w/ Tom Hanks), An Enemy of the People (MTC). Off-Broadway: Golden Age (MTC), As You Like It (NYSF). World Premiere: a cautionary tale by christopher oscar pena. Regional (select): Chautauqua Theater Company, American Players Theatre, Antaeus Theater Company LA. Film: Threshold, The Rapture of 1863, upcoming Stranger in the Dunes. TV: Unforgettable, The Good Wife, ER. Training: M.F.A. NYU Graduate Acting, B.F.A. U of MN/Guthrie Theater.

Zachary Infante (Magnetes, an Egyptian Courtier/Amyras, middle son of Tamburlaine) is returning to TFANA after playing Francis Flute in Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream. He is a proud member of AEA & SAG - AFTRA whose credits include School Of Rock, Jeffrey, Alpha House, SOMEWHERE at Hartford Stage and Peter Pan at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

Chukwudi Iwuji (Bajazeth/King of Trebizon) Associate Artist: Royal Shakespeare Company. King Lear (Edgar, Public/Delacourt Theatre), Antony and Cleopatra (Enobarbus, Public Theatre/RSC), Richard III (Buckingham, London Old Vic/BAM), Misanthrope (Comedy Theatre, London), Welcome to Thebes, The Observer (National Theatre, London); Henry VI parts I, II and III (Henry VI, Olivier Award (Best ensemble/revival). Film: NOW: In the Wings of a World Stage, the multi-award-winning Exam, Fall to Rise. TV: Murder in Manhattan (ABC), Dr Who, Wizards vs Aliens, The Three Kings (SKY), The Garden (Tiger Aspect), and Proof (RTE).

Merritt Janson (Zenocrate/Callapine) TFANA: Notes From Underground (dir. Robert Woodruff). Off-Broadway: The Last Will (dir. Austin Pendleton, Abingdon Theatre); House For Sale (dir. Daniel Fish, Transport Group). Regional: Yale Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Shakespeare & Company, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Denver Center Theatre, Wilma Theater, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and Vineyard Playhouse. Film/TV: Otto and Anna, and Mail Order Wife. Training: M.F.A., American Repertory Theatre Institute at Harvard University.

Paul Lazar (Mycetes, King of Persia/Soldan of Egypt/Almeda the Jailor) Theatre: North Atlantic, Brace Up!, Emperor Jones and The Hairy Ape (The Wooster Group, dir. Elizabeth LeCompte); The Three Sisters (dir. Austin Pendleton); Mudd (dir. David Esbjornson); Lear (Writer and dir. Young Jean Lee); Richard The Third (dir. Brian Kulick). Film: Silence of the Lambs, Mickey Blue Eyes, Lorenzo's Oil, Philadelphia, Married To The Mob, The Host, and Snowpiercer. Director: We're Gonna Die (Joe's Pub); Elephant Room, Major Bang (Saint Ann's Warehouse); Bodycast (BAM Fisher).

Tom O'Keefe (Ortygius/King of Morocco/Frederick/King of Jerusalem) Off-Broadway: Hamlet & Saint Joan (Bedlam/Lynn Redgrave Theater). Other New York: The Best of Everything (HERE Arts), A Hard Wall at High Speed (APAC), The Libertine, (Kirk Theater). Regional: Richard II, The Taster, Measure for Measure (Shakespeare & Co.), From Orchids to Octopi (Central Square Theater), Humble Boy (Public Theater Boston), Questa (Court Theater). TV: CSI, Criminal Minds, E.R., The Shield. Film: A New Tomorrow, Avenging Angel, Crash N'Burn. www.Tom-OKeefe.com

Saxon Palmer (Cosroe, Prince and later King of Persia/King of Fez/Sigismund King of Hungary/Governor of Babylon) TFANA: King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, The Broken Heart, Macbeth, Ohio State Murders, The Merchant of Venice (NYC & RSC), The Jew of Malta. Broadway: Three Sisters, Design for Living. New York: Measure for Pleasure (The Public), You Never Can Tell (Roundabout), A Flea in Her Ear (Bill Irwin, dir.). Regional: Deathtrap (BCP), Tonight at 8:30 (Williamstown), David Copperfield (Joanne Woodward, dir.), The Pillowman, title roles in Hamlet and Coriolanus. Film/TV: Limitless, "Law & Order." Training: F.S.U. and Florida School of the Arts.

Ian Saint-Germain (Young Callapine/Olympia's Son) is making his stage debut in TFANA's production of Tamburlaine.

Steven Skybell (Meander) TFANA: Richard in Richard II, Richard III (dir. Ron Daniels for both), As You Like It (dir. Mark Rylance), Titus Andronicus (dir. Julie Taymor). Broadway: Pal Joey, Wicked, The Full Monty, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Cafe Crown, and Ah Wilderness! Off-Broadway: Antigone In New York (Obie award) among many more! Inaugural company member: Shakespeare's Globe. Film/TV: Elementary, 666 Park Avenue, Simply Irresistible, Cradle Will Rock, Tom and Francie, Everybody Wins, Sex and the City, Law and Order, Queens Supreme.

Keith Randolph Smith (Techelles) International: Jitney (National Theatre-London). Broadway: Fences; Come Back Little Sheba; King Hedley II; Salome; The Piano Lesson. Off-Broadway: Intimacy (New Group); First Breeze of Summer (Signature); Fabulation (Playwrights Horizon); Holiday Heart (MTC). Regional: Water by the Spoonful (Old Globe); In Walks Ed (Long Wharf); Antony and Cleopatra (Hartford Stage); Gem of the Ocean (McCarter); God of Carnage (Alliance). Training: American Academy of Dramatic Arts (NY). Recipient of TCG's Fox Fellowship.

James Udom (Ceneus/King of Barbary/Calyphas, eldest son of Tamburlaine) New York City debut! Regional: Julius Caesar (Mark Antony); Of Mice and Men (George); King Lear (Edgar); Macbeth (Malcome); world premiere: Scamoramaland (Freddie). Training: Steppenwolf, Dell'arte, and Shakespeare and Co. Winner: National Irene Ryan Award (Best Actor), Regional Irene Ryan Award (Best Supporting Actor).

The creative team includes:

Sam Pinkleton (Choreographer) Broadway: Machinal (Roundabout). Off-Broadway: Mr. Burns; Fly By Night; Stage Kiss; (Playwrights Horizons), Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 (Kazino); Marie Antoinette (Soho Rep); Buyer and Cellar (Barrow Street/Tour); The Lightning Thief (Theatreworks). Regional: The Understudy (McCarter), Spring Awakening (Olney). Co-director: The Dance Cartel's ONTHEFLOOR (Ace Hotel). Teaching: NYU. Associate Artist: The Civilians and Witness Relocation. Upcoming: Kansas City Choir Boy (Prototype), Pretty Filthy (The Civilians), Amélie (Berkeley Rep). www.sampinkleton.com

Tom Piper (Set & Costume Designer) As Associate Designer of the Royal Shakespeare Company Tom has designed over 30 of their shows including Antony & Cleopatra, a new edit by Tarell Alvin McCraney (RSC/Miami/New York); The Histories Cycle (Courtyard Theatre/the Roundhouse) & As You Like It (RSC/New York). Other recent credits include Bakersfield Mist (West End) & Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre & New York). Tom designed the critically acclaimed Poppies installation at the Tower of London.

Matthew Richards (Lighting Designer) TFANA: The Killer. Broadway: Ann. Off-Broadway: Atlantic Theater Company; Lincoln Center; MCC; Playwrights Horizons; Primary Stages; Rattlestick; Second Stage. Regional: Actors Theater of Louisville; Arena Stage; Baltimore's Center Stage; Cincinnati Playhouse; Cleveland Playhouse; Dallas Theater Center; Ford's Theatre; The Goodman; Hartford Stage; The Huntington; La Jolla; Long Wharf; New York Stage and Film; The Old Globe; Shakespeare Theatre; Westport Playhouse; Williamstown; Yale Repertory Theatre. Graduate: University of Massachusetts, Yale School of Drama. matthewrichardsdesign.com.

Jane Shaw (Sound Designer & Additional Composition) TFANA: The Killer, Merchant of Venice, Antony and Cleopatra (Darko Tresnjak), Measure for Measure (Arin Arbus), Jew of Malta (David Herskovits). Recently: The Fatal Weakness (Mint), Grounded (Page 73), The Little Foxes (Cleveland Play House), Hamlet (Hartford Stage). Next: O.P.C. (American Repertory Theater). Awards: Bessie, Henry, Premios ACE 2012, Meet the Composer, TCG's Career Development Program. Nominations: Lortel, Connecticut Critics Circle, Henry Hewes, Elliot Norton. Graduate: Harvard University, Yale School of Drama.

Jeremy Chernick (Special Effects Designer) creates Special Effects. He specializes in making it snow, rain, burn, bleed and explode for the entertainment industry. Recent theatre credits include: You Can't Take it With You (Longacre Theater, Broadway), Aladdin (New Amsterdam Theatre, Broadway), Rocky (Winter Garden Theatre, Broadway), Let the Right One In (The Apollo Theater, West End UK). His work was recently featured at the Museum of Art & Design.

Kathy Fabian (Props Supervisor). Fabian has created props for over 50 Broadway productions. Recent credits include: The Realistic Joneses, If/Then, Rocky, Bridges of Madison County, I'll Eat You Last, Kinky Boots, Lucky Guy, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Chaplin, Nice Work If You Can Get It, A Streetcar Named Desire, Stick Fly, The Normal Heart, House of Blue Leaves, and Anything Goes. Off Broadway: Piece of My Heart and Appropriate (Signature Theatre) and Somewhere Fun (The Vineyard Theatre).

Alison Bomber: (Vocal & Text Coach) After taking the M.A. Voice Studies at CSSD, London, Alison spent seven years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, five of them as Senior Text and Voice Coach. Shows included Michael Boyd's award-winning Histories Cycle and many more. She is now a freelance coach, working with the RSC and other theatre companies, as well as a diverse range of individuals and businesses. Alison is an Associate Artist of the RSC.

J. Allen Suddeth (Fight Director) S.A.F.D. Fight Master, J. Allen is a Broadway veteran of twelve shows, over 150 Off-Broadway shows, and hundreds of Regional Theater productions. He has staged over 750 television shows, and teaches at SUNY Purchase, and Strasberg. Allen authored a book, Fight Directing For The Theatre. For TFANA he has worked on The Killer, The Broken Heart, Henry V, Cymbeline, As You Like It, and several more.

Jonathan Kalb is dramaturg for this production and Cole Bonenberger is the production stage manager.

Single tickets, now on sale, are $55-$85 and may be purchased online at www.tfana.org, by phone at 866-811-4111, or in person at the Theatre for a New Audience Box Office (262 Ashland Place). Box office hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 1:00pm to 6:00pm. A limited number of premium seats are available for $100.

New Deal tickets for ages 30 and under or full-time students of any age are priced at $20 each and can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the box office.

Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:00pm, with matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00pm. There is a 7:00pm performance on Monday, November 24, and there is a matinee, and no evening performance, on Wednesday, November 26. There is no performance on Thursday, November 27.

Subscriptions for Theatre for a New Audience's 2014-2015 Season are $147 for a 3-play package and are available by calling (212) 229-2819, ext. 10. Flex Passes are also available for $208 and include four tickets to be used in any combination over the 2014-2015 Season. For information or to subscribe online, please visit www.tfana.org.

Theatre for a New Audience's New Deal Ticket Program is supported by Macy's. This production is sponsored by Deloitte. This production is made possible, in part, by support from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Howard Gilman Foundation Fund for Classic Drama.

Photo by Ruth Sovronsky