Dianne Wiest to Lead Yale Rep's HAPPY DAYS at Theatre for a New Audience
Theatre for a New Audience will present the Yale Repertory Theatre production of Samuel Beckett's masterpiece Happy Days. Two-time Academy Award-winner Dianne Wiest (Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets over Broadway) plays Winnie, widely considered modern drama's pinnacle female role, alongside Jarlath Conroy, who plays Willie, directed by Yale Repertory Theatre Artistic Director James Bundy.
Buried up to her waist and sinking into the earth, Winnie is an endlessly fascinating spirit of buoyant resourcefulness and unassuming grace in the face of inevitable oblivion. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, compassionate and ferocious, this extraordinary Happy Days comes to Polonsky Shakespeare Center (262 Ashland Place), TFANA's state-of-the-art home in the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District, for a strictly limited engagement, April 23 - May 28.
Samuel Beckett's Happy Days continues the collaboration between TFANA and Yale Repertory Theatre, following Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground, adapted by Bill Camp and RoBert Woodruff, and Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters. Looking to the future, the companies are exploring a new co-production.
Wiest waited 30 years to play Winnie, whom she has described as "the Hamlet for actresses," before finally undertaking the challenge. The role had always seemed utterly daunting to her: aside from requiring a nuanced mixture of humor and pathos, Winnie entails performing what amounts to a monologue for nearly two hours, while halfway, and then almost entirely, submerged in sand. Her counterpart in this two-hander, her husband Willie-played by Jarlath Conroy-utters just one word in the entire second act. Over ten years ago, James Bundy asked Wiest if there was a role she'd like to play, if she could choose, and she told him Winnie. But it wasn't until 2014 that she decided to take it on.
For Wiest, Happy Days marks a return to Beckett after four decades away. Early in her career, she appeared in the U.S. premiere of Beckett's Footfalls, directed by the preeminent Beckett director Alan Schneider, in 1976. Theatre for a New Audience last presented Beckett in 2011 when it staged Fragments, an evening of five of the Irish playwright's short works, directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne.
The production features scenic design by Izmir Ickbal, costumes by Alexae Visel, lighting by Stephen Strawbridge, sound design by Kate Marvin, vocal coaching by Walton Wilson, movement coaching by Jessica Wolf, dramaturgy by Catherine Sheehy and Nahuel Telleria, casting by Tara Rubin Casting, and stage management by Kelly Montgomery.
Performances of Happy Days take place April 23 and 25-30, and May 2, 4-6, 9-13, 16-20, and 23-27 at 7:30pm; May 3 at 7:00pm; and May 6 & 7, 13 & 14, 20 & 21, and 27 & 28 at 2:00pm. Critics are welcome May 2 at 7:30pm and May 3 at 7:00pm for an official opening May 4 at 7:30pm.
Tickets are $85-95 (with a limited number of premium seats available at $120 each) and are on sale to the public at www.tfana.org, 866-811-4111 and the Polonsky Shakespeare Center box office. New Deal tickets - for those aged 30 and under, and for full-time students of any age - are available for all performances for $20, and can be purchased online, by phone or at the box office, in advance or day-of, with valid ID. Happy Days runs approximately two hours, including one intermission. Polonsky Shakespeare Center is located at 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217.
TFANA Talks, free post-show conversations with artists and scholars, will take place after the Sunday matinee performances on May 7 and May 14. After the 7:30pm performance on Sunday, April 30, TFANA will host one of its popular Post-Show Parties. Every ticket purchased for that evening includes a drink ticket for use at the party.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Jarlath Conroy (Willie), Broadway: The Seagull; The Weir; The Iceman Cometh; On the Waterfront; Philadelphia, Here I Come!; The Visit; Ghetto; Macbeth; Comedians. Off-Broadway: Loot, The Coward, A Man of No Importance, Pigtown, A Life, Our Lady of Sligo, A Couple Blaguards, Gardenia, the American premiere of Translations, and The Matchmaker. Regional: Hamlet; Outside Mullingar; The Homecoming; Da; The Steward of Christendom (Barrymore Award); Juno and the Paycock (Helen Hayes Award); Henry V (Helen Hayes nom.); Faith Healer; Molly Sweeney; Twelfth Night; Ah, Wilderness!; The Plough and the Stars; and A Christmas Carol. At the Royal Court: Cromwell and Hamlet. He has also directed productions of True West and Human Resources. Film/TV: Putzel, True Grit (2010), The Art of Getting By, Across the Universe, Kinsey, Stay, Day of the Dead, Heaven's Gate, Law & Order: SVU, NYPD Blue, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Beat, Summer, and A Marriage: O'Keefe and Stiegletz.
Dianne Wiest (Winnie), New York Theater credits include Rasheeda Speaking (The New Group), The Cherry Orchard (Classic Stage Company), Arthur Miller's All My Sons on Broadway, The Seagull (CSC), Third, Memory House, Salome and Oedipus with Al Pacino, The Shawl, Hunting Cockroaches, After the Fall, Beyond Therapy, and The Art of Dining. For Yale Rep, she previously appeared in Hedda Gabler and A Doll House. Her film credits include Five Nights in Maine; Sisters; The Humbling; Synecdoche, New York; A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints; Hannah and Her Sisters (Academy Award); The Purple Rose of Cairo; Radio Days; September; Bullets Over Broadway (Academy Award); Parenthood (Academy Award nomination); Rabbit Hole; Footloose; Edward Scissorhands; and The Birdcage. She received Emmy Awards for her performances in The Road to Avonlea and the HBO series In Treatment and currently appears in the CBS series Life In Pieces.
James Bundy (Director), Dean of Yale School of Drama and Artistic Director of Yale Repertory Theatre since 2002, has director for Yale Rep; The Acting Company; Great Lakes Theater Festival; Alabama, California, and Oregon Shakespeare Festivals; and the Juilliard School, among others. He was the 2007 winner of the Connecticut Critics Circle's Tom Killen Award for extraordinary contributions to theatre in the state, and served on the board of directors of Theater Communications Group from 2007-2013. A graduate of Harvard College, he trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and Yale School of Drama.
Izmir Ickbal (Scenic Designer) is a third-year MFA candidate at Yale School of Drama, where his credits include Deer and the Lovers and The Troublesome Reign of King John. Other credits include Cloud Tectonics, Touch, A New Saint for a New World (Yale Cabaret); The Gunpowder Trail, Hearth (The Esplanade Theatre Studio, Singapore); Nadirah, Charged, Not Counted (Teater Ekamatra, Singapore); Dairyland, and The Guadalupe (Chautauqua Theater Company). Izmir holds a BA in theatre studies and English literature from the National University of Singapore.
Alexae Visel (Costume Designer) joins Theatre for a New Audience for the first time. Recent works include Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing! at The Public Theater; Happy Days at Yale Repertory Theatre; Othello at the California Shakespeare Theatre; Love's Labour's Lost and Richard III at the Stratford Shakespeare Academy; Women Beware Women and The Children at the Yale School of Drama. Upcoming this summer will be Bye Bye Birdie at Playmakers Repertory Company.
Stephen Strawbridge (Lighting Designer), Over 200 productions on and off Broadway and at most major regional theater and opera companies across the US. International: Bergen, Copenhagen, The Hague, Hong Kong, Linz, Lisbon, Munich, Naples, Sao Paulo, Stratford-upon-Avon (RSC), Stockholm, Vienna, and Wroclaw. Recent: Athol Fugard's Master Harold and the Boys, Signature Theatre; Turn Me Loose with Joe Morton, Westside Arts; Pericles, directed by Trevor Nunn, TFANA. Nominations and awards: American Theatre Wing, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, Connecticut Critics Circle, Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum, Helen Hayes, Henry Hewes Design and Lucille Lortel. Co-chair of Design Department, Yale School of Drama; Resident Lighting Designer, Yale Repertory Theatre.
Kate Marvin (Sound Designer) is a New York-based sound designer, composer, and musician. Recent work: Porto (The Bushwick Starr); The Messenger (Clubbed Thumb Winterworks); Sotto Voce (Portland Stage); Ugly Lies the Bone (ALLIANCE THEATRE); Now is the Time (Little Lord); Elevada, Happy Days (Yale Repertory Theatre); He Left Quietly (Toronto Summerworks Festival); The Tempest, Uncle Vanya, Second Language (Target Margin Theater); How to Hamlet, Three Seagulls or MASHA MASHA MASHA (Theater Reconstruction Ensemble). Kate is Associate Artistic Director of Theater Reconstruction Ensemble and an Associate Artist with Target Margin and Little Lord. MFA: Yale School of Drama.
Walton Wilson (Vocal Coach) serves as Head of Voice & Speech at Yale School of Drama and Resident Vocal Advisor for Yale Repertory Theatre. His credits include world premiere productions of plays and adaptations by David Adjmi, Jane Anderson, Christopher Bayes/Steven Epp, Eric Bogosian, Bill Camp/RoBert Woodruff, Martha Clarke, David Henry Hwang, Len Jenkin, Moises Kaufman/Tectonic Theatre Project, Stacy Klein/Double Edge Theatre, Han Ong, Rosary O'Neil, Jihae Park, David Rabe, Bill Rauch/TraCy Young, Jose Rivera, and Mary Zimmerman.
Jessica Wolf (Movement Coach) is an internationally recognized Alexander Technique teacher and an Associate Professor Adjunct of Acting at Yale School of Drama. She founded Jessica Wolf's Art of Breathing, and created the first three-dimensional animation of the respiratory system. She maintains a teaching practice in New York City, where she coaches performance artists who appear on and off-Broadway, and in films and television. She travels internationally, giving workshops to performers and healthcare providers.
Catherine Sheehy (Production Dramaturg) Resident Dramaturg (Yale Rep), Professor, Chair of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism (Yale School of Drama). Dramaturgy at YRT includes: Happy Days; These Paper Bullets; In a Year with 13 Moons; The Winter's Tale; The King Stag (also co-adaptor). Other work includes: Pride and Prejudice (adaptor, Asolo Rep/Dallas Theater Center); Yale Institute of Music Theatre, RSC, Public Theater, Signature Theater, Center Stage, Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Former associate editor of American Theatre and Theater magazines.
Nahuel Telleria (Production Dramaturg) is a third-year MFA candidate at Yale School of Drama, where his credits include Women Beware Women, The Rules, and This Fucking Commedia Project. He has acted, directed, and dramaturged at Yale Cabaret, and served as a mentor for the Dwight/Edgewood Project two years in a row. Nahuel has a BA in English and drama/theatre arts from Columbia University and an MA in humanities from the University of Chicago.
Tara Rubin Casting (Casting Director) Selected Broadway: Prince of Broadway (upcoming), Bandstand, Indecent, Sunset Boulevard, Miss Saigon, Dear Evan Hansen, A Bronx Tale, Cats, Falsettos, Disaster!, School of Rock, Gigi, Bullets Over Broadway, Aladdin, Les Misérables, The Heiress, How to Succeed.., Billy Elliot, Shrek, Young Frankenstein, Mary Poppins, Spamalot, ...Spelling Bee, The Producers, Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, The Phantom of the Opera. Off-Broadway: The Band's Visit; Here Lies Love; Love, Loss, and What I Wore.
Kelly Montgomery (Stage Manager) makes her TFANA debut. Regional credits include Happy Days, Caucasian Chalk Circle (Yale Repertory Theatre); Sweet Bird of Youth, A Christmas Carol, Other Desert Cities, Measure for Measure, By the Way Meet Vera Stark, The Jungle Book (Goodman Theatre). Additional work: Transcendence Theatre Company, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Maine State Music Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, among others. She holds an MFA in Stage Management from Yale School of Drama.
Yale Repertory Theatre, the internationally celebrated professional theatre in residence at Yale School of Drama since 1966, has championed playwrights including Christopher Durang, August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sarah Ruhl, Amy Herzog, and many others. Thirteen Yale Rep productions have advanced to Broadway, garnering more than 40 Tony Award nominations and eight Tony Awards. Yale Rep is also the recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Yale's Binger Center for New Theatre, established in 2008, has distinguished itself as one of the nation's most robust and innovative new play programs. To date, the Binger Center has supported the work of more than 50 commissioned artists and underwritten the world premieres and subsequent productions of 24 new American plays and musicals at Yale Rep and theatres across the country. Indecent, created by playwright Paula Vogel and director Rebecca Taichman, which was commissioned and first produced by Yale Rep in 2015, is currently playing on Broadway. yalerep.org
Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) is a modern classic theatre. It produces Shakespeare alongside other major authors from the world repertoire, such as Harley Granville Barker, Edward Bond, Adrienne Kennedy, Richard Nelson, Wallace Shawn and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. TFANA has played Off- and on Broadway and toured nationally and internationally.
In 2001, Theatre for a New Audience became the first American theatre invited to bring a production of Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Stratford-upon-Avon. Cymbeline, directed by Bartlett Sher, premiered at the RSC; in 2007, TFANA was invited to return to the RSC with The Merchant of Venice, directed by Darko Tresnjak and starring F. Murray Abraham. In 2011, Mr. Abraham reprised his role as Shylock for a national tour.
After 34 years of being itinerant and playing mostly in Manhattan, Theatre for a New Audience moved to Brooklyn and opened its first permanent home, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, in October 2013. Built by The City of New York in partnership with Theatre for a New Audience, and located in the Brooklyn Cultural District, Polonsky Shakespeare Center was designed by Hugh Hardy and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture with theatre consultants Akustiks, Milton Glaser, Jean-Guy Lecat, and Theatre Projects. Housed inside the building are the Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage (299 seats)-the first stage built for Shakespeare and classical drama in New York City since Lincoln Center's 1965 Vivian Beaumont-and the Theodore C. Rogers Studio (50 seats).
TFANA's productions have been honored with Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Drama League, Callaway, Lortel and Audelco awards and nominations and reach an audience diverse in age, economics and cultural background.
Theatre for a New Audience created and runs the largest in-depth program in the New York City Public Schools to introduce students to Shakespeare, and has served nearly 129,000 students since the program began in 1984. TFANA's New Deal ticket program is one of the lowest reserved ticket prices for youth in the city: $20 for any show, any time for those 30 years old and under or for full-time students of any age.