Russian Crime Novelist and Political Dissident Boris Akunin to Take on HAMLET Off-Broadway

By: Mar. 21, 2017
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The best-selling Russian crime fiction writer Boris Akunin's new stage adaptation of Shakespeare's HAMLET will debut this spring Off-Broadway when Red Lab Productions and Roust Theatre Company present HAMLET. A VERSION, with previews beginning April 21, prior to the official press opening on April 25 at The Theater at St. Clement's (423 W. 46 St.) in New York City. HAMLET. A VERSION is directed by Irina Gachechiladze. The production features original music by Georgian composer Giya Kancheli.

An outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and author of an enormously popular series of historical mysteries set in Imperial Russia (translated into more than 50 languages, with more than 30 million copies sold), Akunin has turned his talents to playwriting with HAMLET. A VERSION, setting Shakespeare's classic in a hierarchical empire in a burgeoning police state rife with intrigue, opportunism and political scheming. Akunin's HAMLET provides a radically prescient perspective on a contemporary international political issue: how to eradicate the old to make way for the new. And who gets caught in the crossfire?

The cast of HAMLET. A VERSION features Matt Weiss (ELEMENTARY), Claire Brownell (THE 39 STEPS), Galen Murphy-Hoffman (FILM NOIX), Joy Hermalyn (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF), James Phillip Gates (PERICLES), Alan I. Ross (HEARTBREAK HOUSE) and Michael Sweeney Hammond (IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT). Mark Mullen is Executive Producer.

Running April 21-May 7, HAMLET. A VERSION will perform, as follows: April 21 - 8:00 pm; April 27, 28 and 29 - 8:00 pm; April 22 - 8:00 pm (Press Preview); April 30 - 3:00 pm; April 23 - 6:00 pm (Press Preview); April 24 - 8:00 pm (Press Preview); May 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 - 8:00 pm; April 25 - 8:00 pm (Press Opening); and May 7 - 3:00pm. Approximate running time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, with no intermission. Tickets are $18; for more information, visit


Boris Akunin (Playwright) is the pen name for the Georgian-native Grigol Chkhartishvili, born in 1956. The popularity of Akunin's series of crime novels THE ADVENTURES OF ERAST FANDORIN and his ROMAN-KINO series set during World War I has earned him the title of "undisputed champion" of Russian crime fiction. Akunin has been called "the JK Rowling" of Russia given the breadth of his literary following.

IRINA GACHECHILADZE (Director) is a New York-based stage and opera director. Previous productions include The Seagull (TheatreLab, NYC); The Breadbaker's Apprentice and High Above the City (aMios, NYC); Mozart's Don Giovanni (National Armenian Opera in Yerevan); and Eugene Onegin, after the novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin (Marjanishvili Theater, Tbilisi, Georgia). A native of the Republic of Georgia, she holds a master's degree in stage directing from the Russian Academy of Performing Arts (GITIS, Moscow). She is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab in New York, and also has extensive film and visual arts credits. Her films An Apple and Stigma received awards at the Kinoshok Film Festival in Anapa, Russia. Most recently she staged a salon performance of The Telephone by Gian Carlo Menotti in London. More of her work can be found at

GIYA KANCHELI (Composer) was born in Tbilisi in 1935. Best-known as a composer of symphonies and other large-scale works, Kancheli has written seven symphonies and a "liturgy" for viola and orchestra, "Mourned by the Wind". His Fourth Symphony ("In Memoria di Michelangelo") received its American premiere with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Yury Temirkanov conducting, in January 1978, shortly before the cultural freeze in the United States against Soviet artists. The advent of glasnost brought growing exposure for and recognition of Kancheli's distinctive musical voice, leading to prestigious commissions and increasingly frequent performances in Europe and America. Dennis Russell Davies, Jansug Kakhidze, Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Kim Kashkashian, Mstislav Rostropovich and the Kronos Quartet are among his passionate champions. In recent seasons, world premieres of specially commissioned works have taken place in Seattle ("Piano Quartet in L'istesso Tempo by the Bridge Ensemble," 1998) and New York ("And Farewell Goes Out Sighing..." for violin, countertenor and orchestra by the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur, 1999). North American premieres of major scores by Kancheli have been presented by the Philadelphia and Chicago Symphony Orchestras and at the Vancouver International New Music Festival.

Sam Kusnetz (Sound Designer) has been designing, composing, photographing, filming, stage managing, and solving all manner of theatrical challenges for nearly twenty years. He has toured nationally and internationally with acclaimed physical theater companies Imago Theater and Do Jump!, designed sound Off-Broadway at the New Victory, the Duke on 42nd Street, and the Mint Theater, and regionally at Provincetown Theater and Portland Center Stage, where he earned a Drammy Award for his design of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. At Brown University, his alma mater, Sam designed sound for the world premiere of JorDan Harrison's Kid Simple. As an assistant and associate designer, Sam has worked with established and respected designers such as David Van Tieghem, Leah Gelpe, Bart Fasbender, Jeremy Lee, and DarRon West. His input has helped guide sound system designs at Lincoln Center's Claire Tow theater and the Pershing Square Signature Center. Sam is a proud member of United Scenic Artists, the union of professional theatrical designers and scenic artists.

Isabella Byrd (Lighting Design) Recent: Sundown Yellow Moon (Ars Nova / WP Theatre), The Winter's Tale (Warren Miller PAC, Montana), OKAY by Taylor Mac, Pirates of Penzance (Amarillo Opera), Returning to Albert Joseph (Satori Group), Queen for a Day (St. Clements), Remix 38 (Actor's Theater of Louisville, Humana). Associate: The Antipodes (Signature), The Hairy Ape (Park Ave Armory), Everybody (Signature), Othello (NYTW), A Life (Playwrights), The Flick (New York Premiere & The National Theatre), Monica Bill Barnes & Co, PigIron Theatre Company, Lincoln Center, Spoleto Festival USA, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and PigPen Theater Company.

MICHAEL IVANISHVILI (Projection Design) Born in Tbilisi, Georgia. He started his carrier at Georgian Public Broadcasting's computer center in 1996 and soon understood that visual design is much more attractive than mathematical calculations. Collaborations with Irina Gachechiladze include the opera Don Giovanni (National Armenian Opera); Sound Sculptures (installation at Tbilisi Historical Museum); and the films An Apple and Stigma. He has also done video design for various television and industrial events, including the Tbilisi New Year's and Independence day celebrations, the Tbilisi and Black Sea Jazz Festivals, and Tbilisi Concert Hall, where he has worked since 2009. He is married to Mariam Kublashvili and they have two daughters.

HEATHER KLAR (Costume Designer) graduated from UD in 2002 having double majored in fashion apparel and costume design while also working at the university's graduate theatre program, the PTTP. She then relocated to London working at fashion houses and costume shops for two years before arriving in NY and costuming 35+ plays, ballets and operas. She was a founding member of Firework Theatre Company, a Production Company for which she has designed Blue Martini for The New York International Fringe Festival, Octopus Love Story, Conference Room A, and The Night Carter Was Bad among other original plays. Other notable New York theatre credits include Jose Riviera's Cloud Tectonics, Lee Blessing's Two Rooms and Macbeth with the Roust Theatre Company, The Making of Marilyn with The Bridge Theatre Company, and the Dance Company Everything Smaller's The Map and the Machine among others, and also regionally for the CSC in Boulder, CO. In fashion, Heather was the chief technical designer for Imitation of Christ from 2005-2006, notably for their couture showing at the Louvre. Her fashion clients include Patricia Field, Scarlett Johansson, Redken, L'Oreal Professional as well as fashion styling for various photographers and agencies.

Ileana Alexandra Orlich (PhD English, Arizona State University) (Translator) is Professor of Romanian, English and Comparative Literature. She is Head of German, Romanian and Slavic Faculty and Director of the Arizona State University Romanian Studies Program and teaches a variety of culture and literature courses with a comparative and interdisciplinary focus. She is also the Director of Central European Cultural Collaborative, housed in the English Department, which has been hosting numerous academic exchanges.

MATT WEISS (Hamlet) is originally from Los Angeles where he attended the L.A. County High School for the ARTS. He received his BFA from Stephens College for WOMEN as one of 12 male apprentices. He is a founding member of both the Fishtank Performance Studio and The Living Room Theatre in Kansas City, MO. He studied at Ringling Bros. Clown College in Sarasota, FL and The Magic Castle, Hollywood. He recently starred in the soon to be released feature film GOODLAND and spent three years working on the CBS show ELEMENTARY. Most months you can find him acting or directing for SHOTZ, a monthly theatrical pressure cooker hosted by Amios Theatre Co. Favorite rolls include Robert in 'On An Average Day', Father Flynn in 'Doubt', C.C. Showers in 'The Diviners' and many many more. For more news and info you can visit

Claire Brownell (Ophelia) Broadway & National Tour: The 39 Steps; Off Broadway: Indian Ink (with RoseMary Harris); Off-off Broadway: The King's Whore; Regional Theatre: Shakespeare Theatre Company: An Ideal Husband & The Government Inspector, Hartford Stage: Boeing Boeing! (Connecticut Critics Circle Award), American Conservatory Theatre: The Rivals; Pioneer Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Rep, Gulfshore Playhouse, Florida Repertory Theatre, Palm Beach Dramaworks, Maltz Jupiter Theater, Guthrie Lab & Shakespeare on the Sound; Television: Inside Amy Schumer, The Knick & Jessica Jones; Film: Slow Machine, The Inspector, the Lady & the Thief, BFF, This is the Story of Ted and Alice. Claire is a proud member of The Actors Center, and received her MFA from American Conservatory Theatre

GALEN MURPHY HOFFMAN (Horatio): New York: The Dishonorable Discharge of Private Pitts (IATI), Film Noix (New York Fringe Festival), Cookin' with Oil (Gotham Comedy Club). Regional: Titus Andronicus (California Shakespeare Theater), Romeo and Juliet Short Shakespeare! (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) Cymbeline (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival), Hamlet (Compass Rose Theater), Assassins (Shotgun Players), Mame (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Reefer Madness (San Jose Stage Company), Hedda Gabler (Vintage Theater Collective), The Rose Tattoo (A.C.T.). B.F.A. in Acting from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program. American Conservatory Theater's Young Conservatory alumnus.

Joy Hermalyn (Gertrude) has been performing professionally since the age of 8 - a long time! Broadway/Off-Bway Credits include: Fiddler on the Roof, Cyrano, Candide, Christmas Carol, La Boheme, Death Takes a Holiday, numerous Encores. Opera from Alaska-Italy-Oklahoma-Utah. Faves: Sweeney Todd (NY Philharmonic/PBS), Sound of Music Live! NBC, Seven Deadly Sins -NYCB, Into the Woods (Witch), and Baby (Arlene) -BroadwayWorld Best Actress Award. Upcoming: Gypsy (Rose) and Prospect Theatre NY Can You Hear Me Baby. Joy teaches Voice/Audition Technique at: Yale University in the Shen Curriculum for Musical Theatre, Kean University, & privately in NY & via Skype. Proud mom, yogi, francophile and member of AEA/SAG-AFTRA. Come visit

JAMES PHILLIP GATES (CLAUDIUS) is a London-native who moved to New York as a theatre director over 10 years ago. Playing the role of Claudius in Akunin's HAMLET. A VERSION marks his return to the stage after a 15 year hiatus. He originally trained as a classical actor at the prestigious Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England (founded by Sir Laurence Olivier in 1946), graduating in 1993. Credits include: Theseus/Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Creon in Anouilh's Antigone, Banquo in Macbeth, the title role in Pericles, Macduff in Lady Macbeth, Don Gonzalo in Don Juan, The Traveller in The Queen and the Rebels, Dorante in The Feigned Inconstancy, Captain Plume in The Recruiting Officer, Moon in The Real Inspector Hound, Gayev in The Cherry Orchard, Jonas in Jonas Quick and the Temple of Time, Judd in Bouncers. Go to

ALAN I. ROSS (Polonius) Theater: Mazzini Dunn in Shaw's Heartbreak House at Resident Ensemble Players directed by Maria Aitken. Alex in Halcyon Days by Steven Dietz and chorus in Oedipus Rex at the Wilma Theatre. Angel in The Angles of Swedenborg conceived and directed by Ping Chong at the Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; Arthur in Nosferatu also conceived and directed by Ping Chong at Illusion Theater. Also at Illusion: Hatch in The Sea by Edward Bond and title role in the world premiere of Anderson: Dream Lover by Kenneth Cavander. Utah Shakespeare Festival. Mr. Ross also records audiobooks and does voice over work. Training: MFA from the PTTP at the University of Delaware; Master Acting Class with Lee Brock at the Barrow Group. Website:

Michael Sweeney HAMMOND (Laertes) Regional credits include the National Tour of In the Heat of the Night (LA Theatre Works), Julius Caesar, All's Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare Theatre DC), His Girl Friday, The Car Plays: San Diego (La Jolla Playhouse), Torch bearers (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Solid Gold Cadillac (Studio Theatre), as well as productions with the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, the El Portal Theatre, and readings with The Kennedy Center, Woolly Mammoth, Theatricum Botanicum, East West Players, and Moving Arts. He is a graduate oF Brown University and of the MFA acting program at UC San Diego. He is a proud member of AEA and is a company member of the Moving Arts Theatre in LA.

Michael Propster (Guildenstern) is a Brooklyn-based actor. Some of his favorite credits include: Orphans (Phillip) at Seacoast Rep, Lips Together, Teeth Apart (Sam) at Bay Theatre, A Christmas Carol (Bob Cratchit) at Trinity Rep, the title role in Perceval in the NY Fringe Festival, and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Peter Quince) at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. Other credits include: The Metropolitan Opera, Amios' Shotz, Mabou Mines, New Perspectives Theatre, Trinity Rep, Round House Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Imagination Stage, Summer Repertory Theatre, JAGFest, and the National Players. Michael is also a proud volunteer with the 52nd Street Project. TV: Do Not Disturb, Twist of Fate, Disappeared, One Life to Live. MFA: Brown/Trinity Rep. Go to

OWEN SCOTT (Rosencrantz) is an Actor/Teacher/Director based in NYC. He is a founding member of Clown Gym with regular shows at the People's Improv Theatre. Regional credits include, The Rivals, Snow Falling on Cedars, Young Playwright's Festival (Centerstage). A Christmas Carol (Fords Theatre). The History Boys (Studio Theatre) where he was nominated for best supporting actor and best ensemble, Helen Hayes Awards. He trained at the GSA Conservatoire in London where he received the Sir Michael Redgrave scholarship.

RED LAB (Producer) is an international collective dedicated to cultural diplomacy through art and performance. Previous productions include Don Giovanni (National Armenian Opera); Eugene Onegin (Marjanishvili Theater, Tbilisi, Georgia); The Seagull (TheatreLab in NYC); and Three Sound Sculptures (Tbilisi Historical Museum).

This summer, Red Lab will present a four-week festival of new plays from the Republic of Georgia at Teatro Circulo in the East Village. Led by producers Irina Gachechiladze and Adam Knight. Red Lab is supported by a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

ROUST THEATRE COMPANY (Producer) is dedicated to radical and epoch making theatre. They aim to challenge and inspire an audience, and firmly believe that theatre allows us to connect with the communities around us, to open us to experiences and people we may never encounter. Over the past ten years, since the company's inaugural production of Brecht's Private Life of the Master Race, hailed by the New York Times as 'angry, passionate, bare-bones and uncompromisingly personal and political', Roust has sought to educate and inform both new and seasoned audiences, and to hold this audience in the grip of unrelenting and imagiNative Theatre which forces them to sit up and question the world around them.

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