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TFANA's 40th Anniversary Season Features Will Eno, Samuel Beckett, and More

TFANA's 40th Anniversary Season Features Will Eno, Samuel Beckett, and More

Theatre for a New Audience founding artistic director Jeffrey Horowitz, having just received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 OBIEs, today announces TFANA's 40th anniversary season. The 2019-2020 programming exemplifies what makes TFANA, in the words of the OBIE committee, one of the city's most vital institutions championing adventurous and urgent productions of Shakespeare alongside other writers.

The season's Shakespeare offering is director Simon Godwin's staging of Timon of Athens (January 11-February 9, 2020) featuring longtime TFANA collaborator Kathryn Hunter and co-produced with Washington, D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre Company, in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The coming season also includes the U.S. premiere of Why? (September 21-October 6, 2019), written and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, and featuring Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni and Hayley Carmichael; a new production of María Irene Fornés' Fefu and Her Friends (November 16-December 8, 2019), directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz; the New York premiere of Will Eno's Gnit (March 7-March 29, 2020), directed by Oliver Butler; and a new staging of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot (April 25-May 24, 2020), starring Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks.

Schedule & Details

Written and Directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne
Featuring Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni, and Hayley Carmichael
September 21-October 6, 2019

Why theatre? What is it for? What is it about? Why takes these questions, and many others, on a journey that is both dramatic and joyful. This piece allows us to discover that we are not alone in asking these questions and that many great theatre practitioners have been inspired by the exploration of these questions. Theatre is a very dangerous weapon. These words were written in the 1920s by one of the most creative and innovative directors the theatre has known Vsevold Meyerhold. Meyerhold saw the menacing dangers that the theatre, and art in general, were facing in 1930's Russia and saw the writing on the wall. This did not deter him in his work as he held onto the hope that the revolution could win.

Why? received its world premiere at C.I.C.T/Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, France on June 19, 2019.

The project was co-commissioned by C.I.C.T./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Theatre for a New Audience, Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, National Performing Arts Center, Taiwan R.O.C. National Taichung Theater, Centro Dramatico Nacional, Madrid; Teatro Dimitri, Verscio, Théâtre Firmin Germier, La Piscine.

Why? is presented as part of Crossing the Line Festival. Crossing the Line Festival is produced by the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF).

Peter Brook was born in London in 1925. Throughout his career, he distinguished himself in various genres: theatre, opera, cinema and writing. He directed his first play in London in 1943. He went on to direct over 70 productions in London, Paris and New York. In 1971, he, along with with Micheline Rozan, founded the International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris and in 1974, opened its permanent base in the Bouffes du Nord Theatre. Recently, he directed The Suit (2012), The Valley of Astonishment (2014) and Battlefield (2015) many of these performed both in French and English.

Marie-Hélène Estienne joined the CICT in 1976 and has since never left from press secretary to Peter Brook's assistant, to casting, she has worked on many shows including casting the pieces. In time, she became Peter Brook's collaborator, adapting texts, writing alone or with him and finally participating in the staging of the shows. Their recent work includes The Suit, The Valley of Astonishment and The Prisoner.

Kathryn Hunter TFANA: The Valley of Astonishment (CICT/Bouffes du Nord), directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Helene 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-Helene Estienne). Other theatre 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 credits 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).

Marcello Magni studied at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris with Pierre Byland, Philippe Gaulier, and Monica Pagneux. Co-founder of Complicit in 1983, he performed in A Minute Too Late; Help I'm Alive; Anything for a Quiet Life; Please, Please, Please; The Visit; Out of a House Walked a Man; The Winter's Tale; Street of Crocodiles, Foe; and the opera A Dog's Heart. Marcello has a passion for the Commedia dell'Arte and, with Jos Houben and Kathryn Hunter, created a solo show Arlecchino. He performed at the National Theatre in Marivaux, and at Shakespeare's Globe in The Merchant of Venice, Comedy of Errors (both Dromios), and Pericles. In 2006 he performed with Jos in Fragments, directed by Peter Brook at Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, in the documentary The Tightrope about Peter Brook's work, and in The Valley of Astonishment by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, created at Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord. He has performed in Fragments and The Valley of Astonishment at TFANA. He was also the movement director of A Magic Flute by Peter Brook. He produced, directed, and performed in Tell Them That I Am Young and Beautiful (Arcola Theatre), and acted in Playing Cards: Hearts directed by Robert Lepage. He recently choreographed Faithful Ruslan in Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Citizen Theatre Glasgow. Films include Nine, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Doctor Who, and Mr. Turner. Marcello is the voice of Pingu. Marcello collaborated with Mark Rylance, Hideki Noda (Japan), George Kimoulis (Greece), Annie Castledine, Neil Bartlett, Helena Kaut Howsen (Poland and UK), Mike Alfred, David Glass, Jack Sheppard, Nancy Meckler, and with Kathryn Hunter.

Hayley Carmichael is co-founder of Told By An Idiot and has both devised and performed in many of their productions. Other theatre credits include: Crave (Barbican), Cymbeline (Kneehigh), The Dispute (RSC), Bliss (Royal Court), Zumanity (Cirque de Soleil), Street of Crocodiles (Complicite), Theatre of Blood (RNT/Improbable). In 2009, she first collaborated with Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne in Fragments by Samuel Beckett in 2009. Film/television credits includes: Tale of Tales Dir: Matteo Garrone (2015), Kiss Me First (C4), Chewing Gum (C4), The Witness for the Prosecution (BBC, 2016).

By María Irene Fornés
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
November 16 December 8, 2019

Fefu and Her Friends, one of the most beloved and discussed plays of the late Cuban-American dramatist María Irene Fornés, tells the story of a group of intelligent, outgoing young women who have so internalized male views of their sex that they lash out indirectly in mysterious ways. The play is a classic of both feminist and environmental theatre. The women's fascinatingly enigmatic gathering at a New England country house in 1935 is seen through multiple perspectives and degrees of intimacy.

María Irene Fornés was born in Havana, Cuba, and came to New York City in 1945 at the age of 15. Her first play, Tango Palace, was produced in 1963. Among her most celebrated plays are Promenade, The Successful Life of 3, Fefu and Her Friends, The Danube, Mud, The Conduct of Life, And What of the Night?, Abingdon Square, The Summer in Gossensass and Oscar and Bertha. Ms. Forn s was the recipient of nine Obie Awards, one of which was for Sustained Achievement in Theater and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for And What of the Night?. In 2019 she was inducted into the playwrights sidewalk in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher Street in the West Village.

Lileana Blain-Cruz Recent projects: Marys Seacole at LCT (Obie Award), Thunderbodies at Soho Rep., The House That Will Not Stand at NYTW, Fabulation, Or the Re-Education of Undine at Signature Theatre, Water by the Spoonful at Mark Taper Forum/CTG, Pipeline at Lincoln Center, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World at Signature Theatre (Obie Award), Henry IV, Part One at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Bluest Eye at The Guthrie, War at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater and Yale Repertory Theater, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again at Soho Rep, Red Speedo at New York Theatre Workshop, Salome at Jack, Much Ado About Nothing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; and Hollow Roots at the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater. She was a 2050 Artistic Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop, a member of the Lincoln Center Director's Lab, and an Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage. She was recently named a 2018 United States Artists Fellow. She received her MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama. Upcoming: Girls at Yale Rep.

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Simon Godwin
Featuring Kathryn Hunter
A Co-Production with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington D.C.
In Association with the Royal Shakespeare Company
January 11 February 9, 2020

Simon Godwin returns to TFANA with a restaging of his recent acclaimed production of Timon of Athens, featuring Olivier Award-winner Kathryn Hunter, mostly recently seen at TFANA in last season's The Emperor, and will be appearing in Peter Brook's Why? in the 2019-2020 season.

Timon lives in a world of opulence and generosity throwing wild parties attended by politicians, artists and the celebrities of Athens. When she loses her wealth and her friends abandon her, Timon takes to the forest, exchanging her luxurious gowns for sackcloth and plotting revenge against the city she loves.

Simon Godwin is the incoming Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company and an Associate Director at the National Theatre, where he has directed Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in Antony and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night, Sunset at the Villa Thalia, The Beaux Stratagem, Man and Superman, and Strange Interlude. At the Royal Court, his work includes Routes, If You Don't Let Us Dream, We Won't Let You Sleep, NSFW, The Witness, Goodbye to All That, The Acid Test and Wanderlust. For Bristol Old Vic, The Little Mermaid, Krapp's Last Tape, A Kind of Alaska, Faith Healer and Far Away. For the RSC, he has directed Hamlet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. He has also directed Richard II for Shakespeare's Globe and a national tour of Pat Barker's acclaimed novel, Regeneration. For Roundabout Theatre Company in New York he directed The Cherry Orchard. Most recently he directed Occupational Hazards for Hampstead Theatre.

Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC), a recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is the nation's premier classical theatre company. For 33 years under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn, STC has become synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible to audiences in and around the nation's capital. As Kahn retires this season, incoming Artistic Director Simon Godwin will take the helm alongside Executive Director Chris Jennings, continuing the Company's mission to create innovative productions that inspire dialogue and connect classic works to the modern human experience. The Company focuses on works with profound ideas, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare and others ambitious, enduring plays with universal themes for all audiences. At this time of transition, the Company's mission evolves with a three-year initiative to produce family-friendly theatre during the holidays, and an expansion of the definition of classic to include playwrights previously excluded from the canon, with a renewed commitment to high-quality, exhilarating, inclusive theatre.

A leader in arts education, STC has a dynamic range of initiatives that teach and excite learners of all ages, from school programs and adult acting classes to accessible community programming like play-relevant discussion series and the Free for All. For the past 27 years the Free For All program has offered an annual remount of a popular production completely free of charge to all audience members.

Located in downtown Washington, D.C., STC performs in two theatres, the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre and the 761-seat Sidney Harman Hall. In addition to STC productions appearing year-round, these spaces also accommodate presentations from outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. The Company has been a fixture in the vibrant Penn Quarter neighborhood since 1992.

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and shared around the world. The RSC produces an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today's writers. Everyone at the RSC from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians play a part in creating the world seen on stage. All RSC productions begin life at its Stratford workshops and theatres and are brought to the widest possible audience through touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. Wherever one experiences the RSC, they experience work made in Shakespeare's home town. The RSC has trained generations of the very best theatre makers and continues to nurture the talent of the future. It encourages everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre. It reaches 530,000 children and young people annually through its education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.

By Will Eno
Directed by Oliver Butler
March 7 March 29, 2020

Gnit is the celebrated American playwright Will Eno's acerbically witty adaptation of the Ibsen classic Peer Gynt. Eno has reimagined that sprawling, satirical, 19th-century quest tale about a self-absorbed wannabe epic hero as a quick-paced contemporary journey-play about a glib, non-committal sloucher. Packed with Eno's signature wordplay, absurdity, and deflated pretentiousness, Gnit is a profoundly funny portrait of fecklessness, obliviousness, and self-deceit.

Will Eno recently completed the Residency Five Fellowship at the Signature Theatre, which premiered his play Title and Deed in 2012, and The Open House in 2014 and Wakey, Wakey in 2017. The Realistic Joneses appeared on Broadway in 2014, where it won a Drama Desk Award, was named USA Today's Best Play on Broadway, topped The Guardian's 2014 list of American plays, and was included in The New York Times' Best Theatre of 2014. The play was recently included in 25 Significant Plays of the last 25 Years, in The New York Times. The French premiere, Juste Les Jones, will be directed for the Paris stage by documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. The Open House won the 2014 Obie Award, the Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, and a Drama Desk Award, and was included in both the Time Out New York and Time Magazine Top 10 Plays of the Year. Title and Deed was on The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine's Top Ten Plays of 2012. Middletown, winner of the 2011 Horton Foote Award, premiered at the Vineyard Theatre and subsequently at Steppenwolf Theater and many other American theatres and universities. The Canadian premiere, at The Shaw Festival in 2017, received a rapturous response from critics and audiences and was remounted in 2018 in Toronto. Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. It was performed by Michael C. Hall in a sold-out and pitch-perfect revival at the Signature Theater in the fall of 2018. In spring 2019 Will Eno wrote the book for the hugely successful ad campaign Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical, which also starred Michael C. Hall. Will's play The Underlying Chris will premiere at Second Stage Theatre in October 2019, directed by Kenny Leon, and The Plot will premiere at Yale Repertory in November 2019, directed by Oliver Butler.

Oliver Butler (Director) Broadway: What the Constitution Means To Me (2019 Tony Award nomination for Best Play); Off-Broadway: collaborations with Will Eno including the first NYC revival of Thom Pain (Signature Theater, starring Michael C. Hall) and The Open House (Signature Theater, Lortel Best Play, Obie Award); world premiere of Jordan Harrison's The Amateurs (Vineyard Theater). Regional: The Whistleblower (Denver Center), Thom Pain (Geffen Playhouse, starring Rainn Wilson), Legacy (Williamstown), Bad Jews (Long Wharf), An Opening in Time (Hartford). International: Timeshare (Australia). He is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a Bill Foeller Fellow. Oliver is Co-Artistic Director of The Debate Society, productions include The Light Years (Playwrights Horizons), Jacuzzi (Ars Nova), Blood Play (Bushwick Starr), Buddy Cop 2 (Ontological), Cape Disappointment (PS122), and 4 other TDS plays.

By Samuel Beckett
Director to be announced.
Featuring Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks
April 25 May 24, 2020

Since their first appearance in a tiny Paris theatre in 1953, Samuel Beckett's iconic down-and-outs Vladimir and Estragon have rarely been off the stage. Nearly every evening, somewhere on the globe, they show up for their dubious appointment with a savior named Godot who never comes, filling time with games and musing aphoristically on existence. Hilarious and heartbreaking, Waiting for Godot is the modern theatre's indispensable document of rootlessness, uncertainty, and perpetually postponed deliverance. This production will reunite actors Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks, who last worked together at TFANA in Ionesco's The Killer, directed by Darko Tresnjak in 2014.

Samuel Beckett was born in the Dublin suburb of Foxrock, to a middle-class Protestant family of comfortable means. He attended the prestigious Portora Royal School and Trinity College, where he excelled in French and Italian, then taught briefly at the Ecole Normale Sup rieure in Paris. There he moved in the circle of artists and writers around James Joyce and began writing prose and poetry. He traveled widely in Europe in the 1930s, including Germany under the Nazis, and ultimately settled in Paris for the rest of his life. In 1946 he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his work with the French Resistance.

Feeling that WWII had wasted his precious time and energies, Beckett withdrew into creative seclusion afterwards, producing a torrent of astonishingly powerful and original prose, including the introspective, formally challenging, darkly hilarious novel trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable. These books written in French, in which Beckett said it was easier to write without style were ignored or dismissed when they appeared, then later hailed as paradigm-changing masterpieces and literary landmarks.

Beckett first turned to drama as a break from the novel-writing he considered his real work, but it soon became much more than a sideline. The international success of Waiting for Godot his 1953 play about two tramp-like characters filling time while waiting for someone who never comes made him a public figure and ensured his continued involvement in theatre despite his shyness and distaste for publicity. He went on to refine his dramatic vision in Endgame, Happy Days, Krapp's Last Tape and many other plays that featured similarly castoff, ambiguously fictional characters trapped in starkly desolate and symbolic situations. These works permanently altered the Western world's perception of the nature and purpose of dramatic art. Beckett received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969 and at his death two decades later was widely considered the 20th century's greatest dramatist.

Michael Shannon Broadway: Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Grace; Long Day's Journey Into Night (Tony nom, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle awards). Off-Broadway: The Killer (TFANA); Uncle Vanya (Soho Rep); Bug, Our Town, Mistakes Were Made (Barrow Street Theatre); Little Flower of East Orange (Public/Labyrinth); Lady (Rattlestick); Killer Joe (SoHo Playhouse). London: Killer Joe (Bush, Vaudeville); Bug, Woyzeck (Gate); Chicago: Mojo, Man from Nebraska, The Pillowman (Steppenwolf); Bug, Mistakes Were Made, Simpatico (A Red Orchid Theatre). Regional: Simpatico (McCarter Theatre). Film: Bug; World Trade Center; Shotgun Stories; Before the Devil Knows You're Dead; Take Shelter; Premium Rush; The Iceman; Man of Steel; 99 Homes; Midnight Special; Elvis and Nixon; Revolutionary Road (Oscar nom.); Nocturnal Animals (Oscar nom.); What They Had; The Shape of Water. TV: Boardwalk Empire; Waco; The Little Drummer Girl; Fahrenheit 451; Room 104; At Home with Amy Sedaris.

Paul Sparks Broadway: Hedda Gabler. Off Broadway: Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo; Buried Child; The Killer; Dusk Rings a Bell; Lady; Pumpgirl; American Sligo; Essential Self Defense; Finer, Noble Gases; Landscape of the Body; Bug; Blackbird; Coyote on the Fence. Six-time Drama Desk nominee, Drama League Distinguished Performance Nominee. Film: Thoroughbreds; The Greatest Showman; Midnight Special; Mud; Trust Me; Sparrows Dance; Blackbird and upcoming The Lovebirds. Television Series: Sweetbitter; House of Cards (Emmy nomination); The Girlfriend Experience; Boardwalk Empire (SAG Award) and upcoming Castle Rock . Mini-Series: Waco ; The Night Of.

Season subscriptions with benefits including priority booking, flexible exchange policy, 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.

2019-2020 subscription packages:

  • Six Play Package ($330): one ticket each to Fairview (performances through July 28, 2019), Why?, Fefu and Her Friends, Timon of Athens, Gnit, and Waiting for Godot. $55 per play.
  • Five Play Package ($275): one ticket each to Why?, Fefu and Her Friends, Timon of Athens, Gnit, and Waiting for Godot. $55 per play.
  • Three Play Package ($174): one ticket each to Timon of Athens and two other 2019-2020 season productions. $58 per play.
  • 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 2019-2020 season.

Subscriber add-ons include Guest Tickets for $60 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 ticket types include: Full Price Ticket: $90-$100 and Premium: $115. 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.

All performances take place at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, located at 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

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