Playground Supports Immersive Theater Company WITNESS And New Production, LAST DAYS OF THE TSARS
Colin Callender's Tony and Golden Globe award-winning production company Playground (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Lucky Guy) today announces its expansion into immersive theatre with its support of WITNESS, a new theatre company created and led by Artistic Director Michael Bontatibus, former creative executive at Playground. WITNESS's recent sold-out productions include Noirtown which premiered at the Rave Theatre Festival and was hailed by The New York Times as "electrifying," Found Footage at Colonels Row on Governors Island, and The Visitation at the Wyckoff House, the oldest building in New York.
"What is so exciting about Michael's work at WITNESS is that through a brilliant combination of imagination and ingenuity he created fully immersive experiences with both Noirtown and The Visitation that attracted audiences in their droves. The success of both productions is proof positive that people are hungry for experiential storytelling that is bold, innovative and entertaining." says Callender, Chairman and CEO of Playground. "We're thrilled to be working with WITNESS to help them expand the scale and frequency of their extraordinary productions, and to further explore the possibilities of this form-breaking medium with them."
Bontatibus, Artistic Director of WITNESS says: "We're elated to have the support of Playground as Witness embarks on its next chapter of immersive theatre experiences. Playground's creative track record and forward-thinking ethos make them the ideal partner to expand the reach and scope of our productions."
WITNESS's upcoming production is Last Days of the Tsars. Written by Bontatibus, it will take place within the historic Stimson-Green Mansion in Seattle from February 25 to March 15, 2020. Audiences are invited to step into the Tsar's palace and find themselves in the midst of a royal household on the brink of collapse, surrounded by figures such as Tsar Nicholas II, Princess Anastasia, and Grigori Rasputin. Plunging into the dark and mystical final days of Imperial Russia, history and phantasm collide as audience members are set free to follow whichever characters they please, heeding their impulses and choosing how they want to experience the story over the course of the evening.
Playground is a New York and London based television, film and theatre production company founded in 2012 by award-winning producer Colin Callender. It is committed to producing smart, entertaining drama for the screen and the stage bringing together the finest US and UK talent from the worlds of theatre, film, and television.
Playground has produced over 75 hours of primetime television drama garnering 15 Emmy nominations, 26 BAFTA nominations, and 12 Golden Globe nominations, including winning a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries.
Recent productions include Wolf Hall, the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Peabody Award winning miniseries starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis and Claire Foy for the BBC and Masterpiece, and The Dresser, the RTS winning television adaptation of Ronald Harwood's acclaimed play starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins and directed by Richard Eyre for the BBC and Starz, The White Princess, a limited series for Starz drawn from the bestselling book by Philippa Gregory, Howards End, Academy Award-winner Kenneth Lonergan's adaptation of E.M. Forster's classic novel starring Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen and Tracey Ullman directed by Hettie Macdonald for the BBC and Starz, Little Women adapted by Heidi Thomas and starring Emily Watson, Michael Gambon and Angela Lansbury for the BBC and Masterpiece, King Lear starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and directed by Richard Eyre for the BBC and Amazon, Lucy Kirkwood's Chimerica starring Alessandro Nivola, Cherry Jones and Sophie Okonedo for Channel 4, and The Spanish Princess, a continuation of The White Princess and The White Queen starring Charlotte Hope, Laura Carmichael and Harriet Walter for Starz.
Playground's previous theatre productions on Broadway include: Nora Ephron's Tony-nominated Lucky Guy directed by George C. Wolfe starring Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut, Harvey Fierstein's Tony-nominated Casa Valentina directed by Joe Mantello, the Tony award-winning revival of musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jez Butterworth's The River directed by Ian Rickson starring Hugh Jackman, and Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford's critically acclaimed groundbreaking production of Macbeth at The Park Avenue Armory in New York, and, in the West End, John Tiffany's The Glass Menagerie and Casey Nicholaw's Dreamgirls.
Playground, in partnership with Sonia Friedman Productions, is currently producing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End where it won a record-breaking 9 Olivier Awards, on Broadway where it won 6 Tony Awards, including Best Play, in Melbourne, and in San Francisco. Other current theatre productions include the Tony Award-winning best musical Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway.
WITNESS creates immersive theater experiences. In Witness productions, audience members are given the agency to choose how they want to experience a narrative, and are free to follow whichever characters and pathways they please.
WITNESS was started in 2017 in New York City, and made their debut with The Visitation. They've since premiered multiple productions in locations across New York, and will debut their next immersive theater show, Last Days of the Tsars, in Seattle.