Chalfant to Star in NY Premiere of Barker's 'A Hard Heart'

Epic Theatre Ensemble (formerly Epic Theatre Center) announced that celebrated actor and activist Kathleen Chalfant will play the lead role of 'Riddler' in the New York premiere of A Hard Heart, a play by Howard Barker, directed by Will Pomerantz (Great Expectations; Culture Project Director-in-Residence).  Kicking off the newly re-christened company's seventh season, performances of this provocative and timely work begin on October 30, 2007, at the Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street) and run through December 2, 2007.  Opening night is November 11, 2007.

"Written long before 9/11, the Patriot Act, the new Pope and the current immigration debate, A Hard Heart is a prescient and electrifying play exploring the ways we protect our political and human borders.  Barker's prophetic drama imagines a country facing invasion.  'Praxis' the Queen enlists the Genius 'Riddler' to devise a strategy to protect their threatened culture, but is the sacrifice too much?  Epic Theatre Ensemble is proud to finally bring this chilling tale to our own city under siege.  In conjunction with A Hard Heart, Epic has announced that Post-Show forums will follow every performance," as described in press notes.

Winner of OBIE, Lucille Lortel and OTTO Awards, Epic Theatre Ensemble was founded in 2001 by Zak Berkman, Melissa Friedman, Teri Lamm, Ron Russell and James Wallert.  The complete casting, design team and performance schedule for A Hard Heart will be announced shortly. 

Kathleen Chalfant has been a part of many major Broadway productions including Encores! Presentation of Bloomer Girl, Angels in America, for which she was nominated for a Tony and Drama Desk Award, Racing Demon, the New York premiere directed by Richard Eyre, Dance with Me and M. Butterfly. Off-Broadway work includes: Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell, Great Expectations at TheatreworksUSA; Guantanamo at the Culture Project; The Last Letter by Vasily Grossman; Alan Bennett's Talking Heads; Savannah Bay by Marguerite Duras; Far Away by Caryl Churchill; The Vagina Monologues; Wit (Drama Desk, Obie, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics awards); Nine Armenians (Drama Desk nomination); Twelve Dreams (written and directed by James Lapine); Henry V (New York Shakespeare Festival, directed by Doug Hughes, Callaway Award) and True History and Real Adventures (by Sybille Pearson, directed by Michael Mayer).  Awards include 1996 Obie for Sustained Excellence of Performance and Drama League and Sidney Kingsley awards for body of work.  She has made numerous film and TV appearances.

Howard Barker was born in 1946.  Major works for the stage span the last three decades and include Claw, Victory, The Love of a Good Man, The Power of the Dog, Scenes from an Execution, The Castle, The Europeans, A Hard Heart, Seven Lears, The Bite of the Night, The Possibilities, Rome, Hated Nightfall, Judith, The Gaoler's Ache for the Nearly Dead, (Uncle) Vanya, He Stumbled, A House of Correction, Ursula, Fear of the Estuary, and Gertrude, A Cry.  In 1988, a group of actors from the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company formed The Wrestling School, a British theatre company devoted solely to producing Barker's work.  The name is derived from the feeling that the company must 'wrestle' with the ideas of the author's challenging texts before being able to present them effectively on stage.  In 2004, Barker directed his new work, Dead Hands, for the company.  He is also a poet and essayist.

Tickets are $50.00 and will be available as of August 23, 2007 through TicketCentral by calling (212) 279-4200 or visiting

Photo of Kathleen Chalfant by Genevieve Rafter-Keddy

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