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American Premiere of CHAINS by Elizabeth Baker to be Presented at Theatre Row

Featuring the Complete Cast From 2020: Jeremy Beck, Anthony Cochrane, Christopher Gerson, Olivia Gilliatt, and more.

American Premiere of CHAINS by Elizabeth Baker to be Presented at Theatre Row

Today Mint Theater Company's Producing Artistic Director Jonathan Bank announced that Elizabeth Baker's Chains would make its long delayed American premiere at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street). Mint originally scheduled Chains to open in May 2020, but canceled it due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown of theater in New York City. Now, more than two years later, with the complete cast as announced then, Chains will begin performances June 7th, with Opening Night set for June 23rd. This limited Off-Broadway engagement will run through July 17th.

Jenn Thompson directs a company that features every one of the eleven actors announced in 2020: Jeremy Beck (previous Mint appearances: Conflict, Hindle Wakes; Girl Crazy - City Center Encores!; Bury the Dead - Transport Group; The Gravedigger's Lullaby, She Stoops to Conquer, The Cocktail Party - The Actors Company Theatre; Widowers' Houses - TACT/Gingold Theatrical Group); Anthony Cochrane (Broadway: The Audience, War Horse, Cymbeline, The Coast of Utopia; RSC/Barbican: Coriolanus; Off-Broadway/LCT: Nikolai and the Others); Christopher Gerson (Off-Broadway debut); Olivia Gilliatt (Mother of the Maid - Public Theater); Laakan McHardy (Off-Broadway debut); Ned Noyes (previous Mint appearances: Youth, The New Morality, Love Goes to Press, So Help Me God!, The Fifth Column; Broadway: The Play That Goes Wrong, You Can't Take It With You, National Tours: Cabaret, The Play That Goes Wrong); Brian Owen (Off-Broadway debut); Claire Saunders (Marry Harry - York Theatre); Peterson Townsend (Off-Broadway debut!); Amelia White (previous Mint appearances: Conflict, Women Without Men; Broadway: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Crazy For You; National Tour: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time); and Avery Whitted (Off-Broadway debut). The returning creative team includes John McDermott (scenic design), David Toser (costumes), Paul Miller (lighting), M. Florian Staab (sound), Chris Fields (props), Amy Stoller (dialects and dramaturgy), and Stephanie Klapper, CSA (casting).

"I never really imagined that we would be able to keep together the cast of eleven terrific actors we first cast in Chains back in 2020. I also never imagined we wouldn't try. I hope the fact that we succeeded is a testament to the play, to the Mint, and to our great director Jenn Thompson," said Jonathan Bank.

Chains, the second offering in Mint's series "Meet Miss Baker," is Mint's latest effort in its ongoing commitment to create new life for neglected women playwrights. From Pulitzer-Prize winning plays by Zona Gale and Susan Glaspell, to forgotten works by Teresa Deevy, Rachel Crothers, Cicely Hamilton, Githa Sowerby, Hazel Ellis, Maurine Dallas Watkins, Lillian Hellman, Rose Franken and Dawn Powell, Mint has long been a champion of neglected plays by women.


"Meet Miss Baker'' began in 2019 with The Price of Thomas Scott, Baker's fascinating and frustrating portrayal of a man struggling with his conscience. "To its credit, the Mint has long rescued obscure plays by women, from Maurine Watkins's So Help Me God! and Dawn Powell's Walking Down Broadway to the rehabilitation of Teresa Deevy (who landed four productions over seven years). It's easy to see what drew the Mint Theater Company, that esteemed excavator of long-forgotten works, to The Price of Thomas Scott... The show brings up tantalizingly thorny issues of faith, hypocrisy, sacrifice and selfishness, they are like dark clouds hovering above the story," said Elisabeth Vincentelli in The New York Times. "Baker's play is a fascinating curio from another time, its revival here yet another feather in the Mint Theater's multi-feathered cap. The Price of Thomas Scott is the opener of a Mint series with the umbrella title 'Meet Miss Baker,' which will offer revivals of three plays by Elizabeth Baker over a period of two years, all of them receiving their American premieres. Judging from the quality of this first entry, the initiative is well worthwhile. So, bravo - and brava!," wrote Michael Portantiere, Talkin' Broadway/Broadway Radio

In 1909, Elizabeth Baker went from "obscure stenographer making five dollars a week" to "one of the most widely discussed playwrights in London" when Chains had a one-performance "try-out" at the Royal Court in London. The next year, Baker's drama was running in repertory with the plays of Galsworthy, Barrie, Granville Barker and Shaw and was hailed as "the most brilliant and the deepest problem play by a modern British writer since Major Barbara" by The New Age.

Chains tells the stories of a few ordinary people yearning for a less ordinary life. Charley lives with his wife Lily in suburban London, sharing a cramped house with a lodger. Charley commutes daily to an office in London, his only pleasure is the tiny garden patch beside the house which gives little satisfaction. Charley's sister-in-law, Maggie, finds the drudgery of shop work so stifling that she plots an escape by marrying a kind man she doesn't love-an escape that can't provide the adventure she craves. Charley & Maggie are both shaken when Charley's lodger announces that he's tired of the grind and he's leaving for Australia-the day after tomorrow. His decision sends a tremor through the family that threatens to break the ties that bind Maggie and Charley to their ordinary lives. "There is a touch of genius in its absolute sincerity and pathos. Not one word too much, not one situation too extreme mars it," wrote The Sun, 1910.

Baker was applauded for her "keenness of observation, her powers of drawing characters from life, and her gift of writing dialogue that is natural and unforced," but much of the attention had an astonished, condescending tone. "How came Miss Elizabeth Baker, an unknown, inexperienced playwright, to give us a work so fresh, so unconventional, and in a sense, so stimulating as this? One is given to understand that she has not previously tried her hand at dramatic authorship, and that she has lived laborious days hitherto in a City office as a typewriter. "

Baker followed Chains with a versatile range of challenging and original plays that premiered on the stages of England's repertory theaters, as well as in the West End. These included Edith (1912), a one-act feminist comedy for the Women Writer's Suffrage League; the comic drama The Price of Thomas Scott (Gaiety Theatre - Manchester 1913 and Mint Theater Company 2019 - the American Premiere); and her scintillating business-world comedy Partnership (1917, Court Theatre). Long independent, Baker also found a mid-life romance with James Edmund Allaway, a widower who worked in the upholstery trade; she married him in 1915, at the age of forty. In 1922, the pair emigrated for two years to the Cook Islands.

Jenn Thompson is a Drama Desk-nominated director whose work has been acclaimed in New York City and at theaters across the country. For Mint Theater she directed the critically-acclaimed productions of Conflict and Women Without Men, which garnered five Drama Desk Award nominations including Outstanding Director and Revival as well as Lortel and Off-Broadway Alliance Award nominations for Outstanding Revival. Jenn served as Co-Artistic Director of Off-Broadway's acclaimed TACT/The Actors Company Theatre from 2011 to 2015, directing productions of The Gravedigger's Lullaby, Beth Henley's Abundance (Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Revival); William Inge's Natural Affection (first staging in 50 years); Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers with revisions approved by Mr. Simon (Drama Desk nomination - Best Revival); Eccentricities of a Nightingale (New York Times "Year in Theater: Top Ten"); among others. She has also worked with NAMT, MCC, Primary Stages, Hartford Stage, Hartford Theatreworks, York Theatre, Barrow Group, Abingdon, The Bridge Theatre, and Rattlestick, among others.

"Thank heaven for the unwavering commitment of Jonathan Bank, the theatrical archaeologist whose Mint Theater Company unearths long-forgotten plays and imbues them with new life," declared The New York Times in response to a recent Mint production. Terry Teachout writing about Mint's production of Conflict in The Wall Street Journal said "I've reviewed 13 Mint productions since 2005, each one a gem-but it's still worth saying yet again that no New York-based theater company has a better batting average. The invisible hero of Conflict is, of course, Jonathan Bank, the Mint's producing artistic director. It's a wonder how he manages to track down so many plays that both deserve and richly re-pay a second hearing. Mr. Bank is one of a handful of theater artists in America whose name is an absolute guarantee of quality, and Conflict is further proof of his perfect taste."

Mint Theater was awarded an OBIE Award for "combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition" and a special Drama Desk Award for "unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit."

Performances will be Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm, with matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. (No performances on Sunday June 19th, Friday June 24th, Tuesday July 12th. No evening performance on Wednesday June 29th or July 6th). Tickets are available online at Theatre Row Box Office. Tickets may also be purchased by phone at 212/714-2442, ext. 45 (Monday - Sunday. 12pm - 5pm), or in person at the Theatre Row Box Office Box Office (410 West 42nd Street) two hours prior to curtain. Additional service fees will apply for online or phone orders.

Theatre Row, located at 410 West 42nd Street (between 9th & 10th Avenues), is a fully accessible venue: all bathrooms are accessible; there is an elevator to all floors; the bar and lounge are fully accessible; assisted listening devices are available. Theatre Row is committed to the safety of its patrons and staff. For the latest COVID safety information & requirements, please click here for our full COVID-19 safety policy.

For more information, including photos and videos of previous Mint productions, visit minttheater.org.



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