Cygnus Ensemble Presents SOUNDING BECKETT at CSC, 9/14-23

Cygnus Ensemble Presents SOUNDING BECKETT at CSC, 9/14-23

SOUNDING BECKETT - a singular evening of theater and music that pairs three plays by Samuel Beckett from his "ghost period" with new works by contemporary composers written expressly in response to those plays - will be presented September 14-23 at the Classic Stage Company (136 E. 13 St.) in Manhattan.

This world-premiere production is directed by the award-winning theatre director Joy Zinoman, Founding Artistic Director of The Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. The music will be performed live by Cygnus Ensemble, William Anderson, Music Director.

Comprised of Beckett's one-act plays "Footfalls," "Ohio Impromptu" and "Catastrophe" -- written from 1975 to 1982 in the twilight of the playwright's career -- SOUNDING BECKETT features a cast that includes the award-winning actors Philip Goodwin, Ted Van Griethuysen and Holly Twyford, along with the voice of the Tony-nominated and Drama Desk and two-time Obie Award-winning actress Kathleen Chalfant.

SOUNDING BECKETT will feature performances of all three Beckett plays, each followed immediately by a live performance of a new composition, offering theater-goers the opportunity to experience Beckett's powerful language, rhythms and imagery with a contemporary musical response. New music compositions by the composers Chester Biscardi and Laura Schwendinger ("Footfalls"), David Glaser and Laura Kaminsky ("Catastrophe") and John Halle and Scott Johnson ("Ohio Impromptu") will alternate during performances of the two-week run at CSC.

The music will be performed by Cygnus Ensemble members Tara Helen O'Connor (flute), James Austin Smith (oboe), Pauline Kim (violin), Chris Gross (cello), William Anderson (guitar, mandolin) and Oren Fader (guitar).

The evening now entitled SOUNDING BECKETT began earlier this year as a one-night-only event directed by Ms. Zinoman at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC., an event comprised solely of Beckett's haunting "Ohio Impromptu" performed by Ted Van Griethuysen, followed by composer Dina Koston's work "Distant Intervals," performed by Cygnus Ensemble.

Beckett's niece Grace Bouton, who attended the Library of Congress event and participated in a pre-show discussion (replete with surprising personal tales about her uncle), will join Ms. Zinoman for a similar Q&A following the SOUNDING BECKETT performance on Sunday, September 16.

The success of that March 2012 performance has multiplied into the extraordinary undertaking that will debut in September.

About SOUNDING BECKETT, Ms. Zinoman states, "When asked to pair these plays with composers and musicians inspired by modernists, it seemed like a natural fit. Filled with disembodied spirits and doppelgangers, Beckett's tiny masterpieces are brimful of silences and sounds -- of pacing and knocking and what Beckett himself called 'the distant sound of applause.'"

SOUNDING BECKETT has set design by Debra Booth and Luciana Stecconi, lighting design by Michael Gianniti, costume design by Helen Huang and sound design by Jeremy Tressler.
SOUNDING BECKETT will perform Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. from September 14 to 23. Tickets are $50 and $75. Tickets can be purchased by calling Ovation Tix at 866-811-4111 or on online at

JOY ZINOMAN is the Founding Artistic Director of The Studio Theatre, where she directed 70 productions, including A NUMBER by Caryl Churchill, for which she received the 2005 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Director. That same year she also received The Washington Post Award for Innovative Leadership in the Theatre Community. In 2000 she received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Director for Tom Stoppard's INDIAN INK. She has led The Studio Theatre through 178 productions which have garnered 225 Helen Hayes Award nominations. Ms. Zinoman has received nine Helen Hayes Award nominations for Oustanding Direction. Recent credits include MOONLIGHT, THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, ROCK 'N' ROLL, THE ROAD TO MECCA, THE HISTORY BOYS, SHINING CITY, PILLOWMAN and AMERICAN BUFFALO, her final production before retiring as Studio Theatre's Artistic Director last year. Her numerous honors include the Mayor's Art Award for Excellence in Artistic Discipline and the Washingtonian of the Year Award. She is Founder of The Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory, now in its 37th year, along with Studio's 2ndStage program for emerging theatre artists.

SOUNDING BECKETT is presented by Cygnus Ensemble, William Anderson, Music Director. Founded in 1985 by Mr. Anderson, CYGNUS ENSEMBLE explores the work of living American composers. Cygnus is comprised of a remarkable group of musicians, all masters of their instruments and with extraordinary commitment to the work of modernist composers. Cygnus Ensemble was singled out by Steve Smith of The New York Times as "an excellent sextet." Cygnus performs regularly in its home city, New York, and has given concert tours in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. The group has four recordings, selected by Art of the States for broadcast in over 50 countries. Cygnus's virtuoso players work with many great musical institutions such as New York Philharmonic Metropolitan Opera Chamber Players and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Ted Van Griethuysen's many appearances on Broadway include SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER, THE MOON BESIEGED, HAMLET and INADMISSABLE EVIDENCE. He is a three-time Helen Hayes Award winner and has appeared in numerous productions at The Studio Theatre, including MOONLIGHT and ROCK 'N' ROLL, both directed by Joy Zinoman, along with over 50 appearances at Shakespeare Theatre Company, including the recent STRANGE INTERLUDE and MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION.

Kathleen Chalfant appeared on Broadway in ANGELS IN AMERICA, MILLENIUM APPROACHES (Tony and Drama Desk nominations) and PERESTROIKA (Drama Desk nomination). She won the 1999 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress for WIT. She is the recipient of two Village Voice Obie Awards, including one for Alan Bennett's TALKING HEADS.

Philip Goodwin's many New York credits include KING LEAR at The Public Theatre, RICHARD III at CSC, PRISONER OF THE CROWN with Irish Rep and CYMBELINE and TROILUS AND CRESSIDA with Theatre for a New Audience. He is a two-time Helen Hayes Award winner and appeared in TYNAN at The Studio Theatre last year and previously in THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY and IVANOV. He has performed major roles at many of the country's leading regional theatres including Shakespeare Theatre Company, Williamstown and Cleveland Playhouse.

HOLLY TWYFORD is a four-time Helen Hayes Award winner: THE SHAPE OF THINGS at The Studio Theatre, THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED, TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA and ROMEO AND JULIET. She has been nominated for the Helen Hayes a total of 13 times for her work at The Studio Theatre, Folger Shakespeare Library, Source, Signature Theatre and Theatre J.

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) was an Irish playwright, poet, novelist and theatre director. Among the most influential writers of the 20th century, Beckett's timeless, iconoclastic works include WAITING FOR GODOT, ENDGAME, KRAPP'S LAST TAPE and Happy Days. He received the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Related Articles

Off-Broadway THEATER Stories | Shows

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...