Kathleen Chalfant, Robert Cuccioli and More to Take Part in Red Bull Theater's Revelation Readings

By: Jan. 07, 2020
Kathleen Chalfant, Robert Cuccioli and More to Take Part in Red Bull Theater's Revelation Readings

Red Bull Theater (Jesse Berger, Artistic Director | Jim Bredeson, Managing Director) today announced the cast for the next offering of their season of REVELATION READINGS, the OBIE Award-winning series: Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women, adapted by Jesse Berger, directed by José Zayas, featuring Juliana Canfield, Kathleen Chalfant, Robert Cuccioli, Zachary Fine, Sam Lilja, Matthew Rauch, Julia McDermott, Diana Oh, Luis Quintero, Laila Robins, Derek Smith, and John Douglas Thompson. This one-night-only event will take place on Monday January 27th at 7:30pm at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street, between Bleecker and Hudson Streets).

"One of the best non-Shakespearean plays from the Jacobean era -- with one of the best titles -- Thomas Middleton's wicked social satire is a playful parody of serious sexual games, speaking with a shockingly contemporary voice about abuse of power and the effects of gender inequality. This is the first chance for New York audiences to experience the play since our hit production of 2008, and we're excited to share it with this fabulous cast" said Mr. Berger.

Middleton's outrageous masterpiece is as funny, sexy, frightening and entertaining today as it must have been 400 years ago. Red Bull Theater's critically acclaimed, extended-run 2008 production was the first New York revival of Middleton's uproarious masterpiece in nearly forty years, and paved the way for many more revivals at theaters across the country. Variety heralded Red Bull's 2009 production, "Women Beware Women is proof not just that classic theater is alive, but that it can still be surprising after hundreds of years." The New York Times lauded "The female sex is at the turbulent center of Women Beware Women, a tragedy spiced with comedy, or a comedy with a hyperactively tragic conclusion, by Shakespeare's contemporary Thomas Middleton. A Jacobean rarity...this sizzling brew of adultery, incest and murder, murder and more murder has been spruced up, juiced up and set scampering across the stage.". "Highly entertaining and visually rich...quickly and excitingly proves to have contemporary blood in its veins. A most worthwhile theatrical experience," TheaterMania declared. And Backstage deemed it "delicious and dizzying...wickedly entertaining...vibrant and captivating."

a??Scholar Mario DiGani, who will lead a post-reading discussion, explains that "Middleton links a domestic tragedy about a failed marriage to a revenge tragedy about a corrupt court. Like John Webster in the similarly woman-centered tragedy The Duchess of Malfi (1614), Middleton explores the hazards faced by strong women subjected to the desires and ambitions of powerful men, whether family members or political rulers. In the Duke's seduction of Bianca, Middleton shows how effortlessly the ruler can deform moral standards that he is supposed to embody and uphold. Realizing the threat to her chastity, Bianca cries, 'Oh treachery to honor,' but the Duke simply redefines honor as the favor that is his to dispense or withhold: 'She that is fortunate in a duke's favor / Lights on a tree that bears all women's wishes.' Bianca appears to yield, but what does consent mean when the Duke can command what he initially requests? Is Bianca wrong in trying to reap some benefit from a loss that seems inevitable? Perhaps not, but in playing by the Duke's rules, Bianca finds that she has been corrupted from within as well as without: 'Yet since mine honor's leprous, why should I / Preserve that fair that caused the leprosy? / Come poison all at once.'"

a??Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) was one of the most prolific and important playwrights of his age. Born the son of a London gentleman and bricklayer, Middleton attended Oxford University, but did not take a degree. Instead, he began a career as a professional writer, publishing two poems while still a student. By 1602 he had begun writing plays for the Admiral's Men in London, and shortly after was producing comedies for the all-boy playing companies at St. Paul's and the Blackfriars. For the King's Men, he collaborated with Shakespeare on Timon of Athens and apparently revised both Macbeth and Measure for Measure after Shakespeare's death. Like Shakespeare, Middleton produced major works in all four major dramatic genres: comedy, history, tragedy, and tragicomedy. Often hypothesized to be the Anonymous author of The Revenger's Tragedy, he was particularly known for satirical comedies set in contemporary London-including Michaelmas Term; The Roaring Girl, co-authored with Thomas Dekker; and A Chaste Maid in Cheapside-as well as tragedies of courtly vice, such as Women Beware Women and the wildly popular A Game at Chess, which created a political controversy that ended Middleton's playwriting career. Middleton also participated in the political and civic life of London, writing one of the speeches for the "Magnificent Entertainment" that greeted the new King James to London in 1603 and publishing pamphlets describing the effects of plague and of poverty on Londoners. Beginning in 1613, Middleton wrote several Lord Mayor's Pageants, the public, civic equivalent to the kind of private court masque that concludes Women Beware Women, and in 1620 he was appointed City Chronologer, a post he held until the end of his life.

Revelation Readings offer the unique opportunity to hear rarely-produced classic plays, and brand new plays in conversation with the classics, performed by the finest actors in New York. This year's slate of readings is sure to delight audiences all season long. Revelation Readings will take place on Monday evenings (7:30PM) at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street between Bleecker & Hudson Streets).

Subsequent Readings will include:

Monday February 10th: Kate Hamill's The Scarlet Letter, based on the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, directed by Sarna Lapine, featuring Robert Sean Leonard, Kelley Curran, Kate Hamill, Olivia Oguma and more to be announced. This brand new adaptation of the classic novel sheds new light and laughter on the sin, shame, and utter insanity of a puritanical society.

Monday March 16th: Ana Caro's The Courage to Right a Woman's Wrongs (Valor, Agravio y Mujer), a brand new translation directed by Melia Bensussen, featuring Carson Elrod, Lorenzo Pisoni, Matthew Saldivar and more to be announced. Presented in association with Diversifying the Classics | UCLA. Spanish Golden Age playwright Ana Caro Mallén de Soto presents a witty critique of society through the story of Leonor, a woman who sets out to find her one-time lover (Don Juan, naturally) and bring him to justice.

Monday April 6th: John Milton's Paradise Lost, adapted by Michael Barakiva with Michael Cerveris and Carol Halstead. With its exquisite language and Shakespearean scale, Milton's epic poem poses and seeks to answer a fundamental question of the human experience: What is evil? Note: This reading will be of an edited version of the first half of Milton's poem, primarily focused on the fall of Satan.

Monday May 18th: Anchuli Felicia King's Keene, directed by Ethan McSweeny, featuring Clifton Duncan and more to be announced. Presented in association with American Shakespeare Center. New York Premiere. In this brand new play, dreams merge with reality as a graduate student pursues his thesis on Ira Aldridge, possibly the first black man known to perform the role of Shakespeare's Othello.

Monday June 15th: Lynn Rosen's The Claudias, directed by Meredith McDonough, featuring Ben Chase, Jennifer Mudge, Socorro Santiago, Jeanine Serralles, Danielle Skraastad, and more to be announced. Commissioned by Red Bull Theater. This new play ecstatically and hilariously exhumes the stories of historical women named Claudia, whose tales were buried by the powerful men who dominated their lives and the world.

Coming this Spring: Red Bull's next mainstage production of the season will be The Alchemist by Jeffrey Hatcher adapted from Ben Jonson, directed by Jesse Berger. This will be the World Premiere of a Red Bull Theater commission from the same team that created the acclaimed hit The Government Inspector. Following recent acclaimed productions of Keith Hamilton Cobb's American Moor, Erica Schmidt's Mac Beth, John Webster's The White Devil, and David Ives's The Metromaniacs, The Alchemist brings the greed and absurdity of Jonson's Jacobean London to brilliant contemporary life in this brand new adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher, whose version of inane corruption à la Gogol delighted New York audiences in The Government Inspector. Performances begin in May at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Cast and design team will be announced shortly.

This Summer, Red Bull will present the 10th Annual Short New Play Festival, the annual festival of 10-minute plays of heightened language and classic themes, featuring two commissions from established writers, alongside six new plays that have been chosen from hundreds of submissions from emerging playwrights across the country. Red Bull Theater's annual Short New Play Festival has generated over 1,000 new short plays of classic themes and heightened language, presenting over 60 of them in performance with some of New York's finest actors and directors.

Red Bull Theater, hailed as "the city's gutsiest classical theater" by Time Out New York, brings rarely seen classic plays to dynamic new life for contemporary audiences, uniting a respect for tradition with a modern sensibility. Named for the rowdy Jacobean playhouse that illegally performed plays in England during the years of Puritan rule, Red Bull Theater is New York City's home for dynamic performances of great plays that stand the test of time. With the Jacobean plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as its cornerstone, the company also produces new works that are in conversation with the classics. A home for artists, scholars and students, Red Bull Theater delights and engages the intellect and imagination of audiences, and strives to make its work accessible, diverse, and welcoming to all. Red Bull Theater believes in the power of great classic stories and plays of heightened language to deepen our understanding of the human condition, in the special ability of live theater to create unique, collective experiences, and the timeless capacity of classical theater to illuminate the events of our times. Variety agreed, hailing Red Bull's work as: "Proof that classical theater can still be surprising after hundreds of years."

Since its debut in 2003 with a production of Shakespeare's Pericles starring Daniel Breaker, Red Bull Theater has served adventurous theatergoers with Off-Broadway productions, Revelation Readings, and the annual Short New Play Festival. The company also offers outreach programs including Shakespeare in Schools bringing professional actors and teaching artists into public school classrooms; Bull Sessions, free post-play discussions with top scholars; and Master Classes in classical acting led by veteran theater professionals.

For tickets and more information about Revelation Readings or any of Red Bull Theater's productions and programs, visit www.redbulltheater.com.

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