Photo Flash: EgoPo Classic Theater Presents LYDIE BREEZE TRILOGY
The pinnacle of EgoPo's 25th Anniversary season and its season-long John Guare Festival will be seeing Guare's Lydie Breeze Trilogy in one of two marathon formats. EgoPo is collaborating with Guare to present all three plays, now titled Cold Harbor, Aipotu, and Madaket Road in a consecutive cycle, with music by Jay Ansill and Cynthia Hopkins. This epic piece of theater about an American family, set between the Civil War and the birth of the 20th-century, runs from April 25-May 6. During this time, there will be two opportunities to see the trilogy over three consecutive evenings, and four opportunities to see all three plays in one day.
Three-Day Marathons run Wed. April 25, Thurs. April 26, Fri. April 27 at 7pm and Wed. May 2, Thurs. May 3, Fri. May 4 at 7pm. Tickets to the Three-Day Marathons start at $100. Audiences can also see the trilogy in Single-Day Marathons. Single-Day Marathon dates are: ?Saturday, April 28; Sunday, April 29; Saturday, May 5; and Sunday, May 6. The performances for the Single-Day Marathon run 1 pm-11 pm with two meal breaks. Tickets start at $150. All performances of the Lydie Breeze Trilogy are held at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street. More information about the trilogy, tickets, and information about the company can be found online at www.egopo.org
The Lydie Breeze Trilogy is the masterwork of TONY Award-winning playwright John Guare. In development for 30 years, EgoPo's production this will mark its premiere as the single theatrical experience Guare intended it to be. The trilogy begins with Lydie's childhood in the age of American whaling on Nantucket, then moves through the Civil War and American Utopianism, before ending at the birth of the 20th-century. EgoPo has assembled an ensemble of 25 actor/musicians for this once-in-a-lifetime theatrical event.
Part One: Cold Harbor
As the story begins, under the orders of Ulysses S. Grant, wave after wave of men charge to their death, 700 dead in 30 minutes. Names are put on the young soldiers' backs to identify the dead, while Nurse Lydie Breeze collects their valuables to deliver back home to their loved ones. On the bloody battlefields, Lydie meets Amos, Dan, and Joshua, and together they seek a truce to stop the madness of General Grant. On their journey, they uncover whaling ship mutinies, talking pigs and buzzard gods, the Underground Railroad, and Lydie's long buried family secrets. Out of the chaos of war, they forge a vision for a new life and a new America. Guare's trilogy begins with this explosive adventure play.
Part Two: Aipotu
As the story continues, Lydie, Joshua, Dan, and Amos settle on Nantucket to create a Utopian commune to heal the scars of war. Aipotu will become a beacon for a new America. Faced with the realities of communal living - What will we do for money? Who's turn to tend to the baby? Where is the cow? - each member grapples with their commitment to Aipotu and each other. Can an unexpected treasure from a dubious source save them, or do the fractures within the group run too deep? As America searches for its new post-war identity, this makeshift family must make room for their inner demons to find a new path.
Part Three: Madaket Road
In the stirring conclusion to the trilogy, the story moves to the dawning of the 20th century. Nantucket island is slowly sinking into the sea. The legacy of Aipotu lingers on. Surrounded by the ghosts of their past, the next generation grapples with the crumbling foundation of their family. When a strange visitor in black arrives on their shores, the past and present blur, and the sky, sea, and land melt into one. On the beach at night alone, a father gifts his daughter her mother's journal. Histories are revealed, family is discovered, ghosts dissolve into memories, and the light of utopia flickers again. In this haunting conclusion to the Lydie Breeze Trilogy, Madaket Road, Guare takes his daring theatrical form to uncharted territories.
The cast for the Lydie Breeze Trilogy includes: Melanie Julian as Lydie Breeze, Charlie DelMarcelle as Joshua Hickman, Ed Swidey as Amos Mason, and David Girard as Dan Grady. The ensemble cast for Cold Harbor includes Terrill Braswell, Andrew J. Carroll, Nathan Foley, Victoria Goins, Mark Knight, Shamus Hunter McCarty, Marcellus McQueen, Frank Nardi Jr., Amanda Jill Robinson, Kristy Joe Slough, Grant Struble, Jahzeer Terrell, Hannah Van Sciver, Clara Weishahn, Kylie Westerbeck, David Strattan White, and Philip Anthony Wilson. The ensemble for Aipotu includes: Carroll, Hannah Gold, Knight, McCarty, Jonas Parker, Robinson, Slough, and Westerbeck. The ensemble members in Madaket Road are: Kristie Ecke, Dane Eissler, Goins, Gold, McCarty, Struble, Terrell, Van Sciver, Westerbeck, and Wilson.
Directed by Lane Savadove, the trilogy also includes new music by Music Director Jay Ansill and Obie Award-winning composer Cynthia Hopkins. Marketa Fantova designed all three sets which change with each production and move to accommodate the marathons. Marie Anne Chiment is the Costume Designer. Mike Inwood is the Lighting Designer. Jamel Baker is the Stage Manager.
John Guare and Director Lane Savadove have been working for 16 years to make this production a reality. Guare has been in residence throughout the process re-working the scripts as needed to make the trilogy a unified theatrical experience. Each of the plays has gone through a name change to define the arc of the trilogy more clearly, while maintaining each show's stand-alone integrity. Each of the plays has its own style, so as audiences move through American history they also move through the history of theatrical forms, including changing the arrangement of the audience in relation to the action.
Savadove met Guare in 1999, fresh out of graduate school, when he was hired as Associate Director for a new Guare work at the Guthrie Theater. While researching the American Master he discovered Lydie Breeze. "I was fascinated by his theatrical voice, but it was when I came upon the Lydie Breeze plays that I felt like I had discovered a buried treasure. These plays all had separate productions in major theaters, but had never been done together, and had never been celebrated at the level they deserved. Together, they are a giant sweeping epic that joins a personal spiritual journey with the landscape of American history. They are heartfelt and vulnerable while containing soaring theatrical lyricism. It hit me that John had created a new American Expressionism that carried forward the legacy of Tennessee Williams and early Eugene O'Neill," said Savadove.
Savadove then found himself working with Guare again, this time on rewrites of what would become Parts II and III of the Lydie Breeze Trilogy. Throughout this experience, Savadove strongly felt that the plays needed to be produced together. He added, "By this time, I already considered John a mentor and dear friend. With young director chutzpah, I told John that I felt like his legacy would not be complete without the Lydie plays getting the attention they deserved, and that it was my dream to produce the whole trilogy. Unbelievably to me, even today, John responded: 'if you can pull it off, the trilogy is yours.'"
John Guare's plays include The House of Blue Leaves (NY Drama Critics Circle Award); Six Degrees of Separation (NY Drama Critics Circle Award; Olivier Award, Best Play); Landscape of the Body; Two Gentlemen of Verona (TONY Award); and A Free Man of Color (Pulitzer Prize finalist). He wrote the script for the film Atlantic City (Oscar nomination, Venice Film Festival Best Film). He is the recipient of the 2003 PEN Master Dramatist Award; the 2004 Gold Medal in Drama, American Academy of Arts and Letters; and the 2005 Obie Sustained Excellence. He has taught playwriting at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, NYU, and Juilliard. He is the co-editor of the Lincoln Center TheaterReview.
Jay Ansill is an accomplished Celtic and Folk composer and musician and is a regular collaborator with Mabou Mines in New York City. His award-winning compositions and original scores have been performed throughout the country by symphonies, folk bands, string quartets, and theaters.
Cynthia Hopkins is an internationally acclaimed composer and performance artist. Her honors include the Doris Duke Artist Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, and Alpert Award in Theater. Hopkins work has been seen at St. Anne's Warehouse, BAM, The Walker Arts Center, and The Kitchen, and has been honored with a Bessie and Obie Award.
Major support for the Lydie Breeze Trilogy has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
EgoPo is a Philadelphia theater company founded by Artistic Director Lane Savadove, known for bold, innovative versions of classic dramatic plays. Celebrating its 25th season, EgoPo, whose name derives from the French for "The Physical Self," uses a dynamic vocal and physical style of acting to create immersive theatrical worlds. Winner of 2017 Barrymore Awards for Best Evolving Theater and Best Production for Chekhov's The Seagull, EgoPo has staged over thirty productions nationally in New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago, and San Francisco; internationally in Indonesia and Croatia; and on National Public Radio.
Kylie Westerbeck and Hannah Gold