Alice Ripley and More Join Reading of THE ALCHEMIST
Red Bull Theater today announced that Tom Riis Farrell, Glenn Fleshler, and Alice Ripley would join the next REVELATION READING, Ben Jonson's THE ALCHEMIST, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher and directed by Jesse Berger, along with the previously announced Duane Boutte, Christopher Fitzgerald, John Glover, Tracie Lane, Teresa Avia Lim, Euan Morton, Noah Robbins, Steve Rosen, and Spiff Weigand. Tom Riis Farrell and Glenn Fleshler replace Steven Boyer and Stephen DeRosa, who had to withdraw due to schedule conflicts.
This one night only event will take place on Monday June 24 at 7:30pm at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street, between Bleecker and Hudson Streets).
The greed and absurdity of Jonson's Jacobean London have never shone more brilliantly than in this brand new adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher, whose version of inane corruption à la Gogol delighted Red Bull audiences in The Government Inspector. Claiming alchemical powers, quick-witted con men Face and Subtle, together with the brilliantly sexy prostitute Dol Common, scam a series of chumps that they lure to the respectable Blackfriars house where they've set up shop. Jonson's legendary satire spared no one, and Hatcher ensures today's audience doesn't miss a beat, in this side-splitting update of classic comedy at its best.
"Samuel Coleridge wrote that Ben Jonson's The Alchemist was one of the 'three most perfect plots ever planned.' The not so subtle message to the writer adapting Jonson's play being: 'Don't screw up the plot.' So when Jesse Berger asked me to adapt The Alchemist for Red Bull, I figured I would focus on the language. Jonson's plot, his arrangement of actions, exposition, and expectations is, as Coleridge said, a perfect, densely packed machine and a joy to watch unwind. But his language can be daunting. He's very funny, but he's funniest to those who know what Jonson knew. His erudition, his references and Jacobean era in-jokes can be lost on us if we haven't done our homework. I stubbed my toe on more than one of Jonson's Latin-based witticisms and double entendres that combine a sexual joke with the name of one of Jonson's colleagues (read: rival). There's nothing more deadening than a joke that requires the audience to read a footnote that explains why it's funny. Purists will call this a free adaptation, but any inventions of my own, even the anachronistic ones, are intended to be in Jonson's style and spirit, if not his meter. Of course I did end up screwing around with the plot. I know: that way madness lies. But ours is a slimmed down version of the play, with fewer characters, one setting instead of three - or four, depending on how you view the original. In making it more compact, I couldn't help changing some of Jonson's perfectly planned plot. To those in the know, this will be evident in the role of Dol. Dol has more to do in this adaptation than she does in the original. Jonson's Dol Common is a great character, but Jesse and I thought she got tossed about a bit, so she's been given more, what's the word, agency. Ditto Dame Pliant. Dol and Dame Pliant are the only women in this adaptation. That's two women against eight men. We've tried to make it more of a fair fight. So, apart from dumbing down the jokes, ruining the perfect plot, inventing anachronistic things for the women to do that they never did before, and adding a song first sung by Shirley Bassey, the play is pretty much your grandmother's The Alchemist. If your grandmother was Shirley Bassey," said Mr. Hatcher.
Jeffrey Hatcher's Broadway credits include Never Gonna Dance (book). Off-Broadway credits include Red Bull's acclaimed production of The Government Inspector; Three Viewings and A Picasso at Manhattan Theatre Club; Scotland Road and The Turn of the Screw at Primary Stages; Tuesdays with Morrie (with Mitch Albom) at the Minetta Lane;Murder by Poe, The Turn of the Screw, and The Spy at The Acting Company; and Neddy at American Place. Other credits include Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Mrs. Mannerly, Murderers, Mercy of a Storm, Smash, Korczak's Children, To Fool the Eye, Confederacy of Dunces, The Critic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and others at The Guthrie, Old Globe, Yale Rep, The Geffen, Seattle Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Cleveland Playhouse, South Coast Rep, Arizona Theater Company, San Jose Rep, The Empty Space, Indiana Rep, Children's Theater Company, History Theater, Madison Rep, Intiman, Illusion, Denver Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Rep, Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Actors Theater of Louisville, Philadelphia Theater Company, Huntington, Shakespeare Theatre (D.C.), Asolo, City Theater, Studio Arena and dozens more in the U.S. and abroad. Film and television credits include Stage Beauty, Casanova, The Duchess, Mr. Holmes, and episodes of "Columbo" and "The Mentalist." Grants/awards: NEA, TCG, Lila Wallace Fund, Rosenthal New Play Prize, Frankel Award, Charles MacArthur Fellowship Award, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Barrymore Award Best New Play, and IVEY Award Best New Play. He is a member and/or alumnus of The Playwrights Center, the Dramatists Guild, the Writers Guild, and New Dramatists.
Red Bull Theater continues its OBIE Award-winning Revelation Reading Series, providing the unique opportunity to hear rarely produced classic plays performed by the finest actors in New York.
Red Bull Theater, hailed as "the city's gutsiest classical theater" by Time Out New York, brings rarely seen classic plays to dynamic new life for contemporary audiences, uniting a respect for tradition with a modern sensibility. Named for the rowdy Jacobean playhouse that illegally performed plays in England during the years of Puritan rule, Red Bull Theater is New York City's home for dynamic performances of great plays that stand the test of time. With the Jacobean plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as its cornerstone, the company also produces new works that are in conversation with the classics. A home for artists, scholars and students, Red Bull Theater delights and engages the intellect and imagination of audiences, and strives to make its work accessible, diverse, and welcoming to all. Red Bull Theater believes in the power of great classic stories and plays of heightened language to deepen our understanding of the human condition, in the special ability of live theater to create unique, collective experiences, and the timeless capacity of classical theater to illuminate the events of our times. Variety agreed, hailing Red Bull's work as: "Proof that classical theater can still be surprising after hundreds of years."
Since its debut in 2003 with a production of Shakespeare's Pericles starring Daniel Breaker, Red Bull Theater has served adventurous theatergoers with Off-Broadway Productions, Revelation Readings, and the annual Short New Play Festival. The company also offers outreach programs including Shakespeare in Schools bringing professional actors and teaching artists into public school classrooms; Bull Sessions, free post-play discussions with top scholars; and Master Classes in classical acting led by veteran theater professionals.
Red Bull Theater's mainstage production of Mac Beth recently completed its acclaimed run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
For tickets and more information about Revelation Readings, or any of Red Bull Theater's productions and programs, visit www.redbulltheater.com.