Axis Company Announces Stage Adaptation of HIGH NOON
Axis Company today announces the remount of High Noon, their adaptation of the screenplay for the 1952 Western film, devised by an ensemble led by Artistic Director Randy Sharp. The play returns October 3-27, following an acclaimed first run in January of this year. TheaterMania called it an "onstage anxiety dream [that] forces us to reexamine what really is the 'right thing'" and "couldn't be timelier as we reexamine political authority and who has the legitimacy to wield it." This Week in New York wrote that High Noon "transforms a classic American Western into an existential purgatory...Waiting for Godot meets Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter." Arts Journal deemed it a "provocative, complicated nexus of ideas-the sort that's possible off-off-Broadway."
In Axis' High Noon, the Wild West is not the place of heroes and rollicking adventure, but a landscape of vast nothingness where humans, and their troubled moral compasses, are cast in glaring light. As a town awaits the alleged return, and savage revenge streak, of a released murderer on an incoming train, a retiring marshal desperately tries to rally support and save his own life.
Randy Sharp references the inherent theatricality of the story and structure of High Noon, itself loosely based on the John M. Cunningham short story The Tin Star. "If you take it without any shot-lists, you're left with maybe one third of the script," she says. "And when you delete all of that, it reads like a Beckett play. It's extremely spare. We're translating that into live theater. How do you show people-who've seen hundreds of movies about the Wild West, and seen hundreds of photographs-how the nothingness of it can be dangerous? Those are exciting challenges ahead of us." Using the stylistic choices for which Axis has become known-avoidance of the artifice of staging traditions like costume changes, blackouts, and actors leaving the stage-High Noon provides uninterrupted immersion into the tense world its narrative depicts in near-real-time.
High Noon was a rare Western film that became controversial among genre-enthusiasts for its lack of an undaunted male hero. Centered on a protagonist (played in the film by Gary Cooper) far less swaggeringly assured than the John Wayne archetype, this was not the tale of a hero saving a town in a series of edge-of-your-seat shoot-'em-ups. (The character's very existence in fact incensed John Wayne himself.) Rather, the film and this theatrical interpretation follow someone deliberating saving a town, and, with increasing desperation, soliciting the help of people who mostly want to pretend there's nothing wrong-particularly if it means saving themselves. Tension in the play is not derived from guns, but from conflicting moralities and motives. Is the marshal attempting to commit a heroic act, or simply self-aggrandizing at the expense of everyone around him? Are the townspeople callously refusing his pleas, or calling out self-interest masquerading as bravery?
High Noon's cast includes Spencer Aste, Brian Barnhart, Andrew Dawson, George Demas, Britt Genelin, Phil Gillen, Jon McCormick, Nicholas McGovern, Brian Parks, and Katie Rose Summerfield. The creative team includes Randy Sharp (Director), Erik Savage (Production Stage Manager) Laurie Kilmartin (Asst. Stage Manager), David Zeffren (Lighting Designer), Amy Harper (Asst. Lighting Designer), Chad Yarborough (Set Designer), Karl Ruckdeschel (Costume Designer), Jess Gersz (Asst. Costume Designer) Lynn Mancinelli (Prop Designer), and Paul Carbonara (Composer/Sound Designer).
High Noonbegins performances Wed., October 3 and runs through Sat., October 27. Performances run Oct. 3-6, 8-13, 18-20, 24-27 at 8pm. Critics are welcome as of Fri., October 5, at 8pm for an official opening Monday, Oct. 8, at 8pm.
Tickets for each are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors/students, and $10 for artists and people under 30. The performances are FREE for veterans and active U.S. service members and their families. Tickets can be purchased online at www.axiscompany.org.
About Randy Sharp (Director)
Randy Sharpis Axis Theatre Company's founder and Artistic Director. Her plays include the Drama Desk Award-nominated Last Man Club (published by DPS), Nothing on Earth, Down There, Seven in One Blow (published by DPS and performed every December in NYC and around the country) and the long-running serial Hospital. Sharp wrote and directed The Vast Machine (2015), and co-wrote (with former Blondie member Paul Carbonara) and directed Evening - 1910, which premiered at acclaim at Axis in 2016.Sharp's directing credits also include Last Man Club, Nothing on Earth, Down There, Seven in One Blow, Hospital, Edgar Oliver's East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House (Fringe First Award, Edinburgh Fringe; Spoleto Festival USA 2011) and In the Park, A Glance at New York (Edinburgh Fringe & NYC), Julius Caesar and the U.S premiere of Sarah Kane's Crave, starring Deborah Harry.
Randy Sharp founded Axis Company in 1996. The company acquired a permanent home in 1998 at 1 Sheridan Square in New York City's West Village. Built in 1834 by Samuel Whitmore, the building once housed Café Society, the historic site of performances by Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughn, Art Tatum, Big Joe Turner and other jazz greats; and later was the home of Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company. Axis transformed interior performance space into one where audiences are totally immersed, surrounded by the experience of a theatrical production the moment they enter. Distractions from the material are minimal.
Among the wide variety of works Axis has produced in the theater are Beckett's Play; Benjamin Baker's 1848 vaudeville A Glance at New York (also at the Edinburgh Festival); the U.S. premiere of Sarah Kane's Crave, starring Deborah Harry; the premieres of Edgar Oliver's East 10th Street (New York Times Critic Pick; Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Spoleto Festival, USA) and In the Park; David Crabb's Bad Kid (New York Times Critic Pick, now an acclaimed book published by HarperCollins Perennial); Marc Palmieri's The Groundling; and Sharp's The Vast Machine, Last Man Club (Drama Desk-nomination), Solitary Light, Nothing on Earth, Down There, Seven in One Blow and Hospital.