TFANA Announces 2018-19 Season; World Premiere Starring Jessica Hecht and More

TFANA Announces 2018-19 Season; World Premiere Starring Jessica Hecht and More

Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA; Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director), an award-winning company presenting Shakespeare alongside other classic and contemporary drama at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Downtown Brooklyn, is pleased to announce its 2018-19 season-the 39th since its founding in 1979.

"The Emperor, The Prisoner, and About Alice are plays about confrontation with the self. In each work, the self is interrogated through role-playing and imaginative, compassionate channeling of alternative selves, the better to understand the world. And in Julius Caesar, Brutus, the play's central character, is a troubled, conflicted self writ large on the body politic," says Founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Horowitz about this season's offerings.

Schedule & Details


By Ryszard Kapuscinski
Adapted by Colin Teevan
Featuring Kathryn Hunter & Temesgen Zeleke
Directed by Walter Meierjohann
Co-production: Young Vic, HOME, and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg
U.S. Premiere
September 9 - September 30, 2018

In 2016, the Young Vic, HOME & Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg co-produced the world premiere of The Emperor, Colin Teevan's theatrical adaptation of Ryszard Kapu?ci?ski's celebrated and controversial 1978 book of the same title about the downfall of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. Directed by Walter Meierjohann, The Emperorstarred the magnificent shapeshifting Kathryn Hunter.

Kathryn Hunter, Colin Teevan and Walter Meierjohan were the team for the acclaimed Young Vic production of Kafka's Monkey which played at TFANA in 2013. In The Emperor,they are joined by Ethiopian musician Temesgen Zeleke, who accompanies Kathryn Hunter live on stage.

Kicking off its new season, TFANA presents the American premiere of The Emperor. Hunter, who has also played at TFANA in The Valley of Astonishment, directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne, and as a memorable Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Julie Taymor, is a unique artist. She transforms to create the physical shapes and inner hearts of characters she plays - female, male, animal or spirit.

The Emperor explores political power. Set at the brink of Selassie's downfall, Hunter gets inside of ten different male servants of Haile Selassie, including his pillow-bearer, purse-bearer and dog-urine wiper, to create complex human portraits. Kapu?ci?ski, who many consider a candidate for the Nobel Prize, cagily used The Emperor to illuminate corruption and avarice in his native country, communist Poland. Today, as adapted and performed by this incomparable theatrical team, the material just as strongly illuminates our world's continuing and disturbing fascination with despotism.

Kathryn Hunter (Actor). TFANA: The Valley of Astonishment (CICT/Bouffes du Nord, directed by Peter Brook and Marie- Hélène Estienne), Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Kafka's Monkey (Young Vic, adapted by Colin Teevan and directed by Walter Meierjohann), and Fragments (CICT/Bouffes du Nord, directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne). Other credits include: Antony & Cleopatra, King Lear (RSC); The Diver (Soho Theatre); Yerma (Arcola Theatre); and The Visit (National Theatre), for which she won an Olivier Award for Best Actress. Film includes: A Midsummer Night Dream, Mike Leigh's All or Nothing and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Her directing credits include: My Perfect Mind (Young Vic/New York), Othello (RSC), The Birds (National Theatre), and Pericles (The Globe).

Temesgen Zeleke (Musician) is a former student of Ethiojazz legend Mulatu Astatke, and leader of London-based Ethiopian three-piece Krar Collective.

Walter Meierjohann (Director). TFANA: Kafka's Monkey (Young Vic). His UK directing credits include All My Sons (Curve); The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Liverpool Playhouse); Unleashed (The Barbican); and Romeo & Juliet (Victoria Baths for HOME). Walter was Artistic Director of the Contemporary International Line of The Dresden State Theatre from 2004-2007. His short films include Dear Anna starring Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni. He was appointed Artistic Director of Theatre at HOME, Manchester's international center for contemporary visual art, theatre, and film, in 2013.

Ryszard Kapuscinski (1932-2007) (Author) was a Polish journalist and writer. He worked as a correspondent for PAP, a Polish news agency, from 1959 to 1981. His texts - which blur the boundaries between journalism, literature, and scientific research - have been published in the New York Times, Time Magazine, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. His literary work includes The Emperor, Another Day of Life, and collections such as The Soccer War and Imperium. Kapu?ci?ski was elected journalist of the century by the Plebiscite of Polish Journalists in 1999. He died on January 23, 2007, in Warsaw.

Colin Teevan (Adaptor) is a celebrated playwright, translator, and screenwriter. He returns to TFANA following the success of Kafka's Monkey, which began at Young Vic and enjoyed a world tour including Bouffes du Nord in Paris. Other work includes Monkey (Young Vic), Doctor Faustus (Duke of York's), How Many Miles to Basra? (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Kingdom (Soho Theatre), The Diver, The Bee (both co-written with Hideki Noda, Soho/Setagaya Tokyo); Peer Gynt (Dundee/National Theatre of Scotland); Missing Persons (Assembly Rooms/Trafalgar Studios); and Bacchai (National Theatre). Colin wrote and created the hit TV serials Charlie and Rebellion. His other work for TV includes: Silk, Vera, and Single Handed. Colin is Professor of Playwriting and Screenwriting at Birkbeck, University of London.


Text by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne
Directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne
Featuring Hiran Abeysekera, Omar Silva, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Donald Sumpter
Production: C.I.C.T. / Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Co-Production: National Theatre London, The Grotowski Institute Wroclaw, Ruhrfestspiele Ricklinghausen, Yale Repertory Theatre, Theatre for a New Audience
New York Premiere
November 24 - December 16, 2018

Peter Brook, an English theatre artist, has been based in France since the early 1970s. His awards include multiple Tony and Emmy Awards and an Olivier Award. He is recognized as one of the most influential directors working today.

In The Prisoner, Brook and his longtime collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne examine the complexities of crime, justice, and compassion in a breathtaking new international production. A man sits alone outside a prison. Who is he, and what is he doing there? Is he free, or is he the prisoner?

Peter Brook (Director) was born in London in 1925. Throughout his career, he distinguished himself in various genres: theater, opera, cinema and writing. He directed his first play there in 1943. He then went on to direct over 70 productions in London, Paris and New York. His work with the Royal Shakespeare Company includes Love's Labour's Lost (1946), Measure for Measure (1950), Titus Andronicus (1955), King Lear (1962), Marat/Sade (1964), US (1966), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1970) and Antony and Cleopatra (1978). In 1971, he founded with Micheline Rozan the International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris and in 1974, opened its permanent base in the Bouffes du Nord Theatre. There, he directed Timon of Athens, The Iks, Ubu aux Bouffes, Conference of the Birds, L'Os, The Cherry Orchard, The Mahabharata, Woza Albert!, The Tempest, The Man Who, Qui est là, Happy Days, Je suis un Phénomène, Le Costume, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Far Away, La Mort de Krishna, Ta Main dans la Mienne, The Grand Inquisitor, Tierno Bokar, Sizwe Banzi, Fragments, Warum Warum, Love is My Sin, 11 and 12, Une Flûte Enchantée (opera), The Suit (2012) and The Valley of Astonishment (2014)- many of these performing both in French and English. In opera, he directed La Bohème, Boris Godounov, The Olympians, Salomé and Le Nozze de Figaro at Covent Garden; Faust and Eugene Onegin at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, La Tragédie de Carmen and Impressions of Pelléas, at the Bouffes du Nord, Paris and Don Giovanni for the Aix en Provence Festival. Peter Brook's autobiography, Threads of Time, was published in 1998 and joins other titles including The Empty Space (1968) - translated into over 15 languages, The Shifting Point(1987), There are no Secrets (1993), Evoking (and Forgetting) Shakespeare (1999) and With Grotowski (2009). His films include Moderato Cantabile (1959), Lord of the Flies(1963), Marat/Sade (1967), King Lear (1969), Meetings with Remarkable Men (1976), The Mahabharata (1989) and The Tragedy of Hamlet (2002, TV).

Marie-Hélène Estienne (Director). In 1974, she worked with Peter Brook on the casting for Timon of Athens, and consequently joined the Centre International de Créations Théâtrales (CICT) for the creation of Ubu aux Bouffes in 1977. She was Peter Brook's assistant on La tragédie de Carmen, Le Mahabharata, and collaborated on the staging of The Tempest, Impressions de Pelléas, Woza Albert!, La tragédie d'Hamlet (2000). She worked on the dramaturgy of Qui est là. With Peter Brook, she co-authored L'homme qui and Je suis un phénomène shown at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord. She wrote the French adaptation of Can Themba's play Le costume and Sizwe Bansi est mort by authors Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona. In 2003, she wrote the French and English adaptations of Le Grand inquisiteur, based on Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. She was the author of Tierno Bokar in 2005, and of the English adaptation of Eleven and Twelve by Amadou Hampaté Ba in 2009. With Peter Brook, she co-directed Fragments, five short pieces by Beckett, and again with Peter Brook and composer Franck Krawczyk, she freely adapted Mozart and Schikaneder's Die Zauberflöte into Une Flûte enchantée as well as The Suit and The Valley of Astonishment.


By Calvin Trillin
Featuring Jessica Hecht as Alice
Directed by Leonard Foglia
World Premiere
January 8 - February 3, 2019

About Alice, a new two-character play, is inspired by Calvin Trillin's best-selling memoir of the same title-a love letter to his wife, Alice, who died in 2001 at the age of 63 while awaiting a heart transplant.

The play begins with Alice's death, goes back in time to when the couple first met and then returns to the present. In Trillin's memoir we experience Alice only through Calvin (aka Bud.) In the play, Alice is present in Calvin's memory but she is also present as an independent character-a character who says of how she appears in Bud's writing, "Someone once said, 'They're like Burns and Allen, except that she's George and he's Gracie.'" Calvin sees her through the eyes of a humorist ("She believed that if your child is in a school play and you don't go to every performance, the county will come and take the child") and through the eyes of a husband whose writing leads a reader to remark, "I sometimes look at my boyfriend and think, 'But will he love me like Calvin loves Alice?" Though About Alice incorporates some of the actual words of Alice and Calvin Trillin, the play goes beyond literal representation and expresses a universal story.

About Alice features Jessica Hecht (seen most recently in Joshua Harmon's Admissions, Lincoln Center) as Alice. Casting for the role of Calvin will be announced at a future date. The production will be directed by Leonard Foglia (Anna Deavere Smith's Notes From the Field).

Calvin Trillin is an American author and journalist. His writing blends humor, journalistic detail and emotional power. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker over five decades. His 1964 An Education in Georgia about the desegregation of the University of Georgia is considered a classic of civil rights reporting. His 2011 Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin won the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Jessica Hecht (Actor), Broadway: The Price, Fiddler on the Roof, The Assembled Parties (Lilly Award), Harvey, A View from the Bridge (Tony, Drama League nominations), Brighton Beach Memoirs, Julius Caesar, After the Fall, The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Off-Broadway includes Admissions, The House in Town (LCT), King Lear (Shakespeare in the Park), Stage Kiss (Outer Critics Circle nom.), The Three Sisters, Stop Kiss (Drama League nom.), Flesh and Blood (NYTW) and Williamstown Theatre Festival (11 seasons). Film includes Anesthesia, J. Edgar, Dan in Real Life, Sideways and The Grey Zone. TV includes "Red Oaks," "Breaking Bad," "Jessica Jones," "Bored to Death" and "Friends." Upcoming: The Tempest (a collaboration with Syrian refugees in Ritsona, Greece).

Calvin Trillin (Playwright) has been writing for The New Yorker since 1963. His many books include the comic novels Floater and Tepper Isn't Going Out; the memoirs Messages from My Father and About Alice, which he has recently adapted into a play; The Tummy Trilogy, a collection of three books about food; and Jackson, 1964: And Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America. He was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor for his book Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff.

Leonard Foglia (Director) is a theater and opera director as well as librettist. Broadway: Master Class, Wait Until Dark, On Golden Pond, Thurgood, The People in the Picture, The Gin Game. Off Broadway: Notes From The Field, Let Me Down Easy, The Stendhal Syndrome, One Touch of Venus, If Memory Serves, Opera: Moby Dick, Everest, Cold Mountain, The End of the Affair, Three Decembers, It's a Wonderful Life, His production of Dead Man Walking was produced by New York City Opera, etc. As a librettist, he wrote (and directed) El Pasado Nunca Se Termina/The Past Is Never Finished, with composer José "Pepe" Martínez, A Coffin in Egypt with composer Ricky Ian Gordon and Cruzar la Cara de la Luna/To Cross the Face of the Moon with composer Martínez.


By William Shakespeare
Directed by Shana Cooper
March 17 - April 28, 2019

Too much power in one man's hands.

Julius Caesar is a marked man. Adoring commoners celebrate his battlefield victories, but those higher up the Roman political ladder worry that his ambition has grown too large. On a stormy night full of alarming sights and ominous portents, Cassius persuades Caesar's friend Brutus to help him with a momentous task: assassinate Caesar for the good of the Republic. But death doesn't stop Caesar, whose spirit haunts the destinies of his friends and enemies, threatening the republican ideal for which they murdered him. Shakespeare's political thriller explores powerbrokers' strategies-honorable and not-and their unexpected, violent consequences.

This production of Julius Caesar directed by Shana Cooper was originally produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2017; Bill Rauch, Artistic Director and Cynthia Rider, Executive Director.

Shana Cooper (Director). Woolly Mammoth Director-in-Residence, co-founder of New Theater House; and former Associate Artistic Director, California Shakespeare Theater. Director: Straight White Men (Studio Theatre); Julius Caesar, The Unfortunates, Love's Labor's Lost (OSF); Hir, The Nether (Woolly Mammoth); The Unfortunates (ACT/SF); American Night, Romeo & Juliet (Yale Rep); The Taming of the Shrew (California Shakespeare Theater). Directing credits at Willamette Repertory Theatre, Sonoma Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater Student Company, Washington Shakespeare Festival, Amherst College, Willamette University, Magic Theatre's Young California Writer's Project. She is the recipient of a TCG Leadership U Grant, the 2010 Princess Grace Award, Julian Milton Kaufman Memorial Prize in Directing, Drama League Directing Fellow, TCG Observership Grant, OSF Phil Killian Directing Fellow, and G. Herbert Smith Presidential Scholarship. Yale School of Drama, Directing MFA.

Ticketing and Other Information

Season subscriptions-with benefits including priority booking, free exchange privileges, discounted guest tickets, discounts at Food & Drink and the Book Kiosk in the Polonsky Shakespeare Center lobby, and more-are available online at; by phone at 212.229.2819 x10; and in person at the box office.

Four Play Package ($220): one ticket to each show in the 2018-2019 season-The Emperor, The Prisoner, About Alice, and Julius Caesar. $55 per play; savings of up to 45%.

Three Play Package ($174): 1 ticket each to Julius Caesar and two other 2018-2019 season productions. $58 per play; savings of up to 42%.

Flex Pass ($240): a four-ticket package for just $60 per ticket. These tickets may be used in any combination, for any of the plays in the 2018-2019 season. Savings of up to 40%.

Subscriber add-ons include Guest Tickets for $55 and New Deal Tickets for $20. Subscriber New Deal tickets-for those aged 30 and under, and for full-time students of any age-are available for all performances for $20, and can be purchased in advance or day-of online, by phone, or at the box office with valid ID(s) required at pickup.

All sales are final. No refunds. All packages subject to a $10 handling fee. All productions, artists and dates are subject to change.

Single tickets for The Emperor will go on sale to the general public in July.

Single ticket types include: Full Price Ticket: $90-$100 and Premium: $125. New Deal tickets-for those aged 30 and under, and for full-time students of any age-are available for all performances for $20, can be purchased in advance or day-of online, by phone, or at the box office with valid ID(s) required at pickup.

Polonsky Shakespeare Center is located at 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) is a modern classical theatre. It produces Shakespeare alongside other major authors from the world repertoire, such as Harley Granville Barker, Edward Bond, Adrienne Kennedy, Richard Nelson, Wallace Shawn and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. TFANA has played Off- and on Broadway and toured nationally and internationally.

In 2001, Theatre for a New Audience became the first American theatre invited to bring a production of Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Stratford-upon-Avon. Cymbeline, directed by Bartlett Sher, premiered at the RSC; in 2007, TFANA was invited to return to the RSC with The Merchant of Venice, directed by Darko Tresnjak and starring F. Murray Abraham. In 2011, Mr. Abraham reprised his role as Shylock for a national tour.

After 34 years of being itinerant and playing mostly in Manhattan, Theatre for a New Audience moved to Brooklyn and opened its first permanent home, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, in October 2013. Built by The City of New York in partnership with Theatre for a New Audience, and located in the Brooklyn Cultural District, Polonsky Shakespeare Center was designed by Hugh Hardy and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture with theatre consultants Akustiks, Milton Glaser, Jean-Guy Lecat, and Theatre Projects. Polonsky Shakespeare Center is the first theatre built for Shakespeare and classical drama in New York City since Lincoln Center's 1965 Vivian Beaumont. Housed inside the building are the Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage (299 seats) and the Theodore C. Rogers Studio (50 seats).

TFANA's productions have been honored with Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Drama League, Callaway, Lortel and Audelco awards and nominations and reach an audience diverse in age, economics and cultural background.

Theatre for a New Audience created and runs the largest in-depth program in the New York City Public Schools to introduce students to Shakespeare, and has served nearly 130,000 students since the program began in 1984. TFANA's New Deal ticket program is one of the lowest reserved ticket prices for youth in the city: $20 for any show, any time for those 30 years old and under or for full-time students of any age.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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