TFANA-Commissioned TAMBURLAINE Will Open RSC's Swan Season
Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA; Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director) is pleased to announce that Gregory Doran, artistic director, Royal Shakespeare Company, has invited Michael Boyd to stage his edit of Tamburlaine, Boyd's version of Christopher Marlowe's two-part epic, Tamburlaine the Great, which will open the Swan Theatre season at the Stratford-Upon-Avon based RSC.
TFANA commissioned Boyd's edit of Tamburlaine, which Boyd first staged on the Scripps Mainstage at TFANA's Polonksy Shakespeare Center in 2014. The RSC production, performed August 16-December 1 as part of the RSC's Winter 2018 artistic program, marks Boyd's return to the RSC for the first time since stepping down as Artistic Director in 2012. He collaborates once again with designer Tom Piper in this new production of the disturbingly contemporary Elizabethan epic.
With Parts I and II-each originally five acts long-edited by Boyd into a single three-hour production, Tamburlaine follows a Scythian shepherd of ferocious will who rises to power to become king of half the world, and reveals the extravagant savagery which can result when unlimited political ego is let loose. The spectacle was first performed in 1587; prior to its staging by Boyd at TFANA, the last major New York production of had been in 1956 on Broadway.
When Boyd's Tamburlaine premiered at TFANA, Ben Brantley wrote in a New York Times Critics' Pick review that Boyd's "version is packed with pomp and pageantry and stylized violence, but also with a coruscating theatrical wit that lets us chuckle uneasily even as we recoil from the events portrayed... And through ingeniously theatrical means, he highlights the repetitiveness of Marlowe's text to bring home a sense of human inhumanity as it's practiced in war, as an unending and unavoidable cycle." The production at TFANA received a number of accolades, including an Obie Award and Drama Desk Award for John Douglas Thompson's starring performance, a Drama Desk Award for Arthur Solari and Jane Shaw for "Music in a Play," Drama Desk nomination for "Outstanding Revival of a Play," a Drama League nomination for "Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play," an Off-Broadway Alliance Award nomination for "Best Play Revival," and more.
In a Q&A with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Boyd explained what drove him to revisit the play: "Tamburlaine begins as a brilliant, playful and almost chivalrous underdog, ideally qualified to exploit the corruption and weakness of moribund rulers to the point where he himself emerges as a ruthless potentate. We had a lot of success with Tamburlaine in New York, so it wasn't a straightforward decision to revisit the play for the RSC, but in the end I felt that the world and our understanding of the nature of tyranny have changed so much since 2014 that we will have no choice but to reread the play anew for a contemporary audience."
"If Christopher Marlowe were alive today, I bet he'd he admire the poetry, power and politics of great hip hop artists and rapping. It was terrific to work with Michael Boyd on Tamburlaine. Marlowe's 'mighty line' of iambic pentameter became urgent and contemporary," says Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience. "Michael's edit of the two parts of Tamburlaine captures the proportion of the original and the dramatic arc of the story. Theatre for a New Audience is thrilled Michael is revisiting the play with the Royal Shakespeare Company with whom TFANA has been privileged to collaborate with for many years."
About Michael Boyd
Michael Boyd was the RSC's Artistic Director from 2002-2012 and directed a huge range of productions including the Olivier award-winning cycle of Shakespeare's History plays as well as Macbeth, As You Like It, Antony and Cleopatra, The Grain Store, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Measure for Measure, Much Ado about Nothing, The Spanish Tragedy and The Broken Heart. For the Tron Theatre, Glasgow where he was Founding Artistic Director his work includes The Trick is to Keep Breathing, Crow, Macbeth, The Guid Sisters, The Real Wurld. Other theatre work includes Miss Julie (Theatre Royal, Haymarket), Right Now (Traverse/Royal Bath/Bush Theatre), The Big Meal and The Open House (Ustinov studio, Bath) and The Cherry Orchard (Bristol Old Vic). His opera work includes Orfeo (Roundhouse/ROH) and Eugene Onegin (Garsington). He was knighted for services to drama in 2012.
The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world. The company produces an inspirational artistic program each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today's writers.
The RSC has trained generations of the very best theatre makers and they continue to nurture the talent of the future. The RSC encourages everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre. They reach 530,000 children and young people annually through our education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.
Everyone at the RSC-from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians-plays a part in creating the world audiences see on stage. All of the RSC's productions begin life at their Stratford workshops and theatres and they bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity.
Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) is a modern classic 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 featuring 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. Housed inside the building are the Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage (299 seats)-the first stage built for Shakespeare and classical drama in New York City since Lincoln Center's 1965 Vivian Beaumont-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 over 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.