Red Bull Theater Concludes 2017-18 Revelation Readings With THE CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE
Red Bull Theater (Jesse Berger, Artistic Director | Jim Bredeson, Managing Director) today announced the cast for the next REVELATION READING, The Clandestine Marriage by David Garrick and George Colman the Elder, directed by Marc Vietor: Scott Aiello, Mark Linn-Baker, Nick Choksi, Kelly Hutchinson, Dana Ivey, Talene Monahon, Reg Rogers, Ryan Spahn, Katy Sullivan, Dina Thomas and CJ Wilson. This will take place on Monday June 18th at 7:30 PM at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street, between Bleecker and Hudson Streets).
Wealthy merchant Mr. Sterling tries to better his social standing by marrying his eldest daughter Betsy to Sir John Melvil. Just one problem: Melvil is in love with the younger daughter Fanny, who happens to be secretly married to the humble clerk, Lovewell. And it's up to Lovewell to convince Melvil to look elsewhere. Set in the finely landscaped garden of Sterling's country home, it's effervescent comedy of manners at its finest - co-authored by David Garrick, famed actor-manager-playwright of London's great Drury Lane Theatre, where the play first delighted audiences.
The Clandestine Marriage (1766) was inspired by Hogarth's Marriage a la Mode (1745), a series of six satirical paintings depicting the disastrous results of arranged marriages driven by money. The first plate, "The Marriage Settlement," shows one such marriage between the son of a bankrupt Earl and the daughter of a wealthy, title-hungry city merchant - darker prototypes for characters in the play.
The issue of arranged marriages held considerable potency in English culture at the time, as the Marriage Act of 1753 tightened the existing ecclesiastical rules regarding marriage. The law was enacted to prevent clandestine marriages, which were seen as a threat to the preservation of aristocratic privilege: the fear that shameless middle-class girls would seduce vulnerable aristos, threatening their fortunes and titled inheritance and further eroding the distinctions between aristocratic and mercantile wealth. It's this very erosion of class privilege that propels the frothy exuberance that characterizes the period, as the aristocracy loses significance to the newly prosperous and increasingly literate middle class. The novel becomes the representative genre of the century, with the profound optimism of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and the bitter satire of Swift's Gulliver's Travels defining the age. In the theater, the power of the middle class registers in the development of sentimental comedy, moving away from the bracing amorality of Restoration theater. The mercantile class now wants to see itself on stage and demands a flattering reflection of its bourgeois success. Gone is the excoriating depiction of Hobbesian self-interest in the earlier comedy of manners; now audiences want to embrace the accomplishments of the middle class. In this new sentimental comedy "the virtues of private life are exhibited rather than the vices exposed ... flattering every man in his favorite foible," as Oliver Goldsmith notes in his essay "A Comparison between Laughing and Sentimental Comedy" (1772). The spectator pardons and applauds the characters' faults because of "the goodness of their hearts;" they may lack humor but possess an abundance of sentiment and feeling, so that folly, instead of being ridiculed, is commended.
The Clandestine Marriage reflects many of the sentimental elements of the period: Fanny, the virtuous, "fainting heroine"; Lovewell, the "man of feeling"; and Lord Ogleby (the role designed for Garrick himself), whose fifth act expression of "good heartedness" reverses his persona in the previous four acts as a lively descendant of the Restoration fop. But the play also includes elements of "laughing" comedy in the farcical servants and the self-congratulatory nouveaux riches - angling sentimental comedy in a laughing direction.
David Garrick (1717-1779) is considered the greatest actor of the eighteenth century. Brought to London by his friend and mentor Samuel Johnson in 1737, he started a wine business with his brother that proved unsuccessful. He took on small roles until 1741, when his performance as Richard III caused a sensation - his acting characterized by a naturalism that rejected the declamatory style prevalent at the time. As Thomas Davies, his friend and biographer noted, he "banished ranting, bombast, and grimace and restored nature, ease, simplicity and genuine humor." Diderot revised his conception of the art of acting after he saw him perform. Garrick continued with notable performances as King Lear (which he modeled on the behavior of a lunatic) and in Otway's Venice Preserv'd and Buckingham's The Rehearsal, taking on a total of eighteen roles in just six months. He appeared at Drury Lane Theatre in 1742 and retained his connection with that theater for thirty-four years as leading actor, manager, joint owner, and co-author of over twenty plays.
George Colman (1732-1794) studied at Lincoln's Inn and was admitted to the bar but, despite the opposition of his family, began to write for the stage. His early plays met with great success, especially The Jealous Wife and The Clandestine Marriage. He wrote or adapted thirty-five plays and managed Covent Garden and Haymarket Theaters. His son, known as George Colman the Younger, was also a noted playwright.
Red Bull Theater concludes its 2017-2018 OBIE Award-winning Revelation Reading Series, providing the unique opportunity to hear rarely produced classic plays performed by the finest actors in New York.
Red Bull Theater, hailed as "the city's gutsiest classical theater" by Time Out New York, is the not-for-profit Off-Broadway theater dedicated to shining a light on the classics, bringing rarely seen plays to dynamic new life for contemporary audiences. With the Jacobean plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as our cornerstone, Red Bull Theater is New York City's home for dynamic performances of great plays that stand the test of time. The company also produces new works that are in conversation with the classics.
Acclaimed as "a dynamic producer of classic plays" by The New York Times, Red Bull Theater has previously staged productions of Pericles, The Revenger's Tragedy, Edward the Second, Women Beware Women, The Duchess of Malfi, The Witch of Edmonton, The Maids, The Dance of Death, Loot, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Volpone, 'Tis Pity She's A Whore, The Changeling, The School For Scandal, Coriolanus, David Ives's The Metromaniacs, and last season's runaway comedy hit, Gogol's The Government Inspector for an extended run at the Duke on 42nd Street and New World Stages. The company's work has been hailed as "the most exciting classical theater in New York" (Time Out New York), "Dynamite!" (The New York Times), "Triumphant" (Associated Press), and "Proof that classical theater can still be surprising after hundreds of years" (Variety).
Red Bull Theater's work has been recognized with multiple Drama Desk, Drama League, Lucille Lortel, Callaway and OBIE Award nominations and awards, including the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Revivals in the 2015-'16 season (School for Scandal) and 2017-2018 season (The Government Inspector). The company has staged over 150 Revelation Readings, named by the Village Voice "Best Play Reading Series," also developing new plays of heightened language and classical adaptations through workshops.
Red Bull Theater offers Master Classes throughout the year. Taught by top working professionals including Kathleen Chalfant, Sam Gold, John Douglas Thompson, Olympia Dukakis, Heidi Griffiths, Charlayne Woodard and Patrick Page, Red Bull Theater's intensives and workshops cover a variety of disciplines, including auditioning, text, voice, movement, clowning, stage combat, and acting Shakespeare. Classes are open to adults at all levels of training or experience. They range from one to four days with limited class sizes to allow one-on-one attention. You can enroll in any combination of classes, or take the whole series for a year-long training experience. Red Bull Theater also offers Shakespeare In Schools education outreach programs for Middle and High Schools residencies with teaching artists and opportunities for student matinee performances. Post-play Bull Session discussions with scholars and experts following select Sunday matinees and Readings are free and open to the public.
For tickets and more information about Revelation Readings, or any of Red Bull Theater's productions and programs, visit www.redbulltheater.com.