Theatre for a New Audience Adds Performance of HE BROUGHT HER HEART BACK IN A BOX

By: Feb. 06, 2018
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Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA; Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director) has added a performance (February 8 at 9pm) to its critically lauded world premiere production of Adrienne Kennedy's He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, directed by Evan Yionoulis. The run will conclude, as a scheduled, on February 11.

Set in Georgia and New York City in 1941, He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box is a heartbreaking, nail-biting memory tale of segregation, theatrical yearning, and doomed love. The action, driven by parallel monologues and a tour through a storeroom of charged images, braids together the indignities of Jim Crow, rising Nazism, sexual hypocrisy, Christopher Marlowe, and the lingering shadow of a terrible crime. Juliana Canfield (The Profane, Chautauqua Theater Company) and Tom Pecinka (Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare in the Park) play two lovers: Kay, a biracial seventeen-year-old girl, and Chris, a white seventeen-year-old boy whose father is the "architect of segregation" in their small Georgia town.

The production has earned vast praise. Hilton Als writes in the current issue of The New Yorker, "He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, evocatively directed by Evan shaped like the shimmering and original scripts that made Kennedy's name in the nineteen-sixties and have kept her in a place of her own in the New York theatre scene ever since." Michael Feingold of The Village Voice describes Heart as "unnerving and dizzying, guaranteed-as Kennedy's plays are always guaranteed-to trouble the mind for weeks on end."

Led by director Evan Yionoulis, who staged the OBIE- and Lucille Lortel Award-winning revival of Kennedy's Ohio State Murders for TFANA in 2007, the creative team features set designer Christopher Barreca, costume designer Montana Levi Blanco, lighting designer Donald Holder, composer and sound designer Justin Ellington, and video designer Austin Switser. Cole Bonenberger is production stage manager, and Shane Schnetzler is assistant stage manager.

In her landmark 1960 play Funnyhouse of a Negro, Adrienne Kennedy, now 86, created her own nonlinear form of storytelling to explore race and segregation in America. First produced just before the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, that play was the beginning of Kennedy's sustained exploration of mixed identities and fluidity of the mind in conflict with rigid stratifications of society.

Kennedy's writing is just as indispensable today as when Funnyhouse made manifest the psyche of a woman caught between polarized identities. If ever there were a time to consider Kennedy's contributions to the discourse about racial conflict and violence in America, it is now.

In an interview with Suzan-Lori Parks, for BOMB Magazine in 1996, Kennedy explained, "My mother told me complex, violent stories of her dreams and of her childhood. They were loaded with imagery and tragedy, darkness and sarcasm and humor. She could describe a day when she was sitting on her porch in Georgia and what happened ... and my father always gave speeches about the cause, the Negro cause. So, there is no doubt in my mind that I try to merge those two things. I'm genuinely fascinated and I will always be-by that pool of stories I heard when I was growing up." Family is an important component of Kennedy's work. She collaborated with her son on her OBIE-winning play Sleep Deprivation Chamber, about his having been followed, beaten, and wrongly arrested by the police. She wrote He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box for her teenage grandson, Canaan Kennedy, himself a writer.

Through monologues delivered by Kay and Chris, He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box largely mines the social and physical makeup of a small town in Georgia, itself a miniature of the America's structures of Jim Crow-era oppression. In her interview with Parks, given long before He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box was written, Kennedy described that that her "mother was the illegitimate child of a wealthy white landowner in Georgia. [And] her mother was a young woman who worked in his peach orchards...That town has a mythic quality to it. It has that red sand and the cornfields, all those white buildings."

That quality is transposed into beauty and horror in He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box through the accounts of Kay and Chris. As the play's fluid setting shifts from a production at a boarding high school for the biracial children of wealthy white fathers, to a storage room packed with images of segregation, to a dressing room in a New York theatre, Kay and Chris spell out their family histories in chilling juxtaposition. Bits of Christopher Marlowe's The Massacre at Paris-the 1593 play about the mass murder of the Huguenots, following the marriage of the Protestant Henry III of Navarre and the Catholic French King's sister, Margaret of Valois-course ominously through Kennedy's new work.

Performance Schedule, Ticketing and Other Information

The world premiere of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box began performances January 18 and opened January 30 at Polonsky Shakespeare Center (262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217). Remaining performances take place February 6-11 at 7:30pm, February 8 at 9pm, and February 10 & 11 at 2pm.

Tickets, $20-100* (with a limited number of premium seats available at $125 each), are available at, 866.811.4111 and the Polonsky Shakespeare Center box office.

*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 online, by phone or at the box office, in advance or day-of, with valid ID(s) required at pickup.

Companion Programming

Jonathan Kalb will moderate a free post-show TFANA Tall after the 2pm performance on February 10.

Juliana Canfield (Kay) makes her Theatre for a New Audience debut with He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box. Her regional credits include The Profane, The Taming of The Shrew (Chautauqua Theater Company), Once Five Years Pass, Dental Society Midwinter Meeting (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Seven Guitars, Cymbeline (Yale Rep). Juliana received her BA from Yale College and her MFA from Yale School of Drama.

Tom Pecinka (Chris) makes his Theatre for a New Audience debut with He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box. His Off-Broadway credits include Troilus and Cressida (Shakespeare in the Park, Public Theatre), The Soldier's Tale (Carnegie Hall), and Torch Song (Second Stage). His regional credits include Arcadia (Yale Rep, Connecticut Critics Circle Award Nomination); Cloud 9 (Hartford Stage, Connecticut Critics Circle Nomination), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Hartford Stage); Deathtrap, Design for Living, and Cat and the Canary (Berkshire Theatre Festival); and As You Like It and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare on the Sound). Tom will next be seen in Suzan Lori Parks' Father Comes Home from the Wars at both Yale Rep and ACT in San Francisco. He received his BA from Fordham University; and his MFA from Yale School of Drama.

About the Creative Team

Adrienne Kennedy (Playwright) Adrienne Kennedy has been a force in American theatre since the early 1960s. She is a three-time Obie award winner, including for Funnyhouse of a Negro in 1964, June and Jean in Concert in 1996 and Sleep Deprivation Chamber which she co-authored with her son Adam Kennedy. Among her honors are the American Academy of Arts and Letters award, a Guggenheim fellowship, an Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and a Modern Language Association Honorary Fellow in 2005. She has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard University, among others and has been commissioned by The Public, the Royal Court, Juilliard and by Jerome Robbins. Signature Theatre devoted its entire 1995-96 Season to her work. Her memoir People Who Led To My Plays was recently reissued by Theatre Communications Group. In 2008 Theatre for a New Audience produced the Off-Broadway premiere of Ohio State Murders featuring Lisa Gay Hamilton and directed by Evan Yionoulis. On this occasion Adrienne Kennedy would like to remember Jim Houghton's kindness and thoughtfulness; his interest in her work changed her life.

Evan Yionoulis (Director) has directed new plays and classics in New York, across the country, and internationally, including Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour (Broadway), Three Days of Rain (OBIE Award for direction, Manhattan Theatre Club), and Everett Beekin (Lincoln Center Theater), as well as Adrienne Kennedy's Ohio State Murders (Lortel Award for Best Revival, Theatre for a New Audience). Regionally: South Coast Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, Dallas Theater Center, the Huntington, Williamstown, and many others. She is a resident director at Yale Repertory Theatre where credits include Cymbeline, Richard II, The Master Builder, Galileo, Caryl Churchill's Owners and The King Stag. Princess Grace Foundation Awards recipient.

Christopher Barreca (Set Designer) Broadway: Rocky (2014 Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards), Search and Destroy, Our Country's Good, Chronicle of a Death Foretold (American Theatre Wing Award). Off-Broadway: Turn Me Loose (starring Joe Morton), Athol Fugard's Master Harold, Painted Rocks, The Train Driver, Blood Knot, Three Days of Rain (Drama Desk nom.), Neon Psalms (American Theater Wing nom.). Opera: Wole Soyinka's Scourge of Hyacinths (BMW Award nom.) Teaching: CalArts.

Montana Levi Blanco (Costume Designer) TFANA debut. Off-Broadway: The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Lortel nom.) and In the Blood (Signature); Pipeline (LCT); Red Speedo, Nat Turner in Jerusalem (NYTW); The Last Match (Roundabout); Hamlet, Teenage Dick, Pretty Hunger (Public); O, Earth (the Foundry Theatre); and Orange Julius (Rattlestick). Regional: The Bluest Eye (Guthrie); An Octoroon (Berkeley Rep); War (Yale Rep); Measure for Measure (Santa Cruz Shakespeare/CA Shakespeare); Side Show and Our Country's Good (Trinity Rep). Upcoming: Is God Is and Fairview (Soho Rep); Angels in America (Berkeley Rep); Lempicka (Williamstown). Training: Yale School of Drama, MFA; Brown University, MA; Oberlin, BA; Oberlin Conservatory of Music, BM.

Donald Holder (Lighting Designer) TFANA: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Oroonoko, The Last Letter, many others. Broadway: Over fifty productions, two Tony Awards (The Lion King and South Pacific) and twelve Tony nominations. Recent projects include: Oslo, M. Butterfly, Anastasia, She Loves Me, Fiddler On The Roof, The Father, The King and I, The Bridges of Madison County, Golden Boy, Spiderman, Ragtime, many others. Television: Smash, seasons 1 and 2 (NBC-Dreamworks).

Justin Ellington (Composer & Sound Designer). Broadway: Other Desert Cities. Off-Broadway: Pipeline (LCT); The Pride (dir. Joe Mantello); Fetch Clay, Make Man (dir. Des McAnuff); The Seven (dir. Jo Bonney); American Clock (workshop dir. Rachel Chavkin); X or Betty Shabazz vs The Nation of Islam (dir. Ian Belknap). Other theatre: Until the Flood (dir. Neel Keller), As You Like It (dir. Des McAnuff), The Mountaintop (dir. Steve Broadnax), Syncing Ink (dir. Nigel Smith), Trouble in Mind (dir. Valerie Curtis Newton), Move Act Free (dir. George C. Wolfe). Awarded by: The American Society of Composers and Publishers, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and The Industry Film Producers Association.

Austin Switser (Video Designer) is a New York-based designer that focuses on the integration of video and live performance. Opera: Onegin (Spoleto Festival), Trojan Women (National Changgeuk Company of Korea), Paradise Interrupted (Spoleto Festival, Lincoln Center Festival), Emilie (Lincoln Center Festival, Finnish National Opera), Facing Goya (Spoleto Festival), Tristan and Isolde (The Dallas Opera). Austin is the resident video designer for The Builders Association (Elements of Oz, Sontag: Reborn, House/Divided, Jet Lag 2010) as well as the creative director of Switser + Knight.

About Theatre for a New Audience

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 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. 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.

Funding Credits

Principal support for Theatre for a New Audience's season and programs is provided by Booth Ferris Foundation, The Hearst Foundations, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Polonsky Foundation, The SHS Foundation and The Winston Foundation. Additional support provided by The Shubert Foundation, Inc., and The Thompson Family Foundation, Inc.

Lead Season Sponsorship for Theatre for a New Audience's 2017-2018 Season is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Theatre for a New Audience's season and programs are also made possible, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities; Shakespeare in American Communities: a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


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