Austin Shakespeare's ANTHEM to Play Baryshnikov Arts Center, 9/25-12/1

The Austin Shakespeare Theatre Company will present the New York premiere of Ayn Rand's novel ANTHEM. Adapted for the stage by composer Jeff Britting, curator of the Ayn Rand Archives, previews for ANTHEM begin September 25 at the Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (450 W. 37th Street). Opening night is scheduled for Monday, October 7th for a limited ten-week run through December 1, 2013.

ANTHEM is the story of a young man, EQUALITY 7-2521, who is born into a future world that has banished all individuality. Not satisfied with a world lighted by candles, EQUALITY fosters his love of discovery in an abandoned subway, a relic of the past. In solitude, EQUALITY rediscovers electricity and a new source of light. Above ground he meets and falls in love with LIBERTY 5-3000, committing a further "sin of preference."

The cast of ANTHEM includes: Matthew Christian as Equality, Lelund Durond Thompson as International, Tina Johnson as Old Woman, and Sofia Lauwers as Liberty. Sarah Walker Thornton & Alex Teicheira make up the ensemble.

Directed by Ann Ciccolella, artistic director of the Austin Shakespeare Theatre Company, ANTHEM has set design by Kevin Judge, Costume Design by Theresa Squire, Lighting Design by Jason Amato and Sound Design by Anthony Mattana.

Originally conceived as a play while Rand was a Soviet university student, the novel ANTHEM was written in the U.S in the summer of 1937, during a break Rand took from the writing of her novel The Fountainhead. ANTHEM was published in England in 1938. Since its full American publication in 1961, the work has sold more than 5 million copies.

As reported in 2010, ANTHEM was the most popular adult novel checked out of the New York Public Library system. The novel remains a favorite among youth and is the subject of the most popular high school essay contest in the world, with more than 19,000 entries annually.

Originally produced by Austin Shakespeare in 2011, ANTHEM's Off-Broadway staging coincides with the celebration of the 75thAnniversary of the novel's publication.

The principle ethical-political issue in ANTHEM-and of our time-is individualism versus collectivism. Is the individual the primary element of society, or is the group the basis of society? The play poses the questions: Do individuals have the right to think and choose their own goals in life-and pursue their own happiness? Or do the wishes of society determine the goals of individual lives-and is service to others the primary moral obligation among men?

Ann Ciccolella (director) is artistic director for the Austin Shakespeare Theatre Company, Ann has directed: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Noel Coward's Design for Living, Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman, and Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart. Also Shakespeare's: Macbeth, Much Ado about Nothing, Measure for Measure, Hamlet,Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Winter's Tale and a Bollywood-inspired Twelfth Night for Austin Shakespeare in the Park. As a director at Zachary Scott Theatre, Ann directed: Cabaret, The Vagina Monologues, Full Gallop, Closer, Master Class, andMisery. Also for the annual Summer Musical in Zilker Park, she staged Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods. Other Austin directing credits include: Hedda Gabler, and Other People's Money, as well as productions of her scripts as a playwright. Before moving to Austin, Ann served as associate director for Shakespeare on Wheels, from the University of Maryland Baltimore County for three years. For ten years, she led the Renaissance Theater Company as artistic director, producing and directing in New York and along the East Coast with shows ranging from Oedipus Rex to Cyrano de Bergerac. A frequent guest lecturer at the University of Texas department of Theatre and Dance, Ann is a graduate of NYU in dramatic literature, history of theater and cinema.

Jeff Britting (stage adaption) is curator of the Ayn Rand Archives at the Ayn Rand Institute. He holds a B.A. degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley, where he attended the university's first course on Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. He is the author of Ayn Rand, a biography in the Overlook Illustrated Lives Series published by The Overlook Press in February 2005. His essays"Adapting Anthem: Projects That Were and Might Have Been," and "Anthem and the 'Individualist Manifesto'" are included in Essays on Ayn Rand's "Anthem", edited by RoBert Mayhew (Lexington Books in 2005). He associate produced Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, a 1997 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature. He managed the Ayn Rand Archives from 1997 through 2011, when he began the first systematic preservation and arrangement of its Ayn Rand Papers and special collections. Mr. Britting also associate produced and composed the incidental music for the first stage production of Rand's play Ideal. His special interests are music and drama.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and immigrated to the United States in 1926. A child during the Bolshevik Revolution in her native country, Rand rejected the communist system and its base in the ethics of altruism. Her affirmation of reason and individualism-and the supreme value of human life-would later influence the themes present in all of her published works. She worked for many years as a screenwriter in Hollywood (credits include the films "Love Letters" and "You Came Along") and briefly as a playwright, but is best known for her novels. Anthem, a novel, was published in 1938, and her first major literary success came with the publication of her novel The Fountainhead in 1943, which she followed with Atlas Shrugged in 1957. The publication of these two works propelled her to international fame, and her philosophical system, which she called Objectivism, garnered admirers and staunch critics worldwide. She lived for thirty-six years in New York City, where she died in 1982. Rand's work and philosophy still influences politicians, writers, and thinkers around the globe.

Austin Shakespeare is the only professional classical theater company in Central Texas. A nonprofit professional theater company, Austin Shakespeare operates under an Actors Equity Small Professional Theater contract. A Resident Company of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin Shakespeare presents a season of plays by Shakespeare and other playwrights. This season includes The Belle of Amherst, based on the life of Emily Dickinson, and Shakespeare's Othello and As You Like It.

ANTHEM begins previews September 25 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center's Jerome Robbins Theater (450 W, 37th Street). Opening on October 7th, ANTHEM will run through December 1, 2013. Tickets, priced at $50-69, will be available through: www.AnthemthePlay.com or through Ovation Tickets at 866-811-4111.

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