Stanley Houghton's HINDLE WAKES Opens Tonight at Mint
Mint Theater presents a rare revival - the first in 95 years - of Stanley Houghton's Hindle Wakes. Performances continue through February 17th at the Clurman Theater at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street). Opening Night is tonight, January 18th.
It's "Wakes Week" in Hindle; the mill is closed and the workers are idle. Fanny Hawthorn is relaxing at the seashore with a girlfriend when she runs into Alan Jeffcote, the mill owner's son. Alan takes Fanny to a hotel in Wales for a few days of fun, but the fun stops when their parents find out. Of course, Alan should marry Fanny-who cares if Alan is already engaged. Should Alan do the right thing and make an honest woman of Fanny, or should he do the right thing and stand by his fiancé? The astonishing resolution will have you "squirming with glee," according to What's On Stage, reviewing the centennial production at the Finborough in London, 2012.
Hindle Wakes premiered in London, in 1912. Many critics called it the best play of the year. The Sunday Times hailed Hindle Wakes as "a work of illuminating force... as timely as it is significant" while The Observer noted, "To see Hindle Wakes is to have enlarged one's life." However, the play's unsentimental depiction of two young people seeking pleasure without commitment sparked moral outrage, filling England's newspapers with passionate argument over the play's controversial subject matter. Hindle Wakes "not only scandalized playgoers, but persons who had never been inside a theatre and who were never likely to visit one, joined in the general outcry," according to The Guardian. Of course, controversy was good for business and Hindle Wakes became a hit.
Later that year in New York, however, the play flopped. The headline of the New York Times review branded it as "very poorly acted" and it lasted only 30 performances. New York tried again in 1922-this time the Times acknowledged that, "it is now, as it was then... a shrewd, and nourishing and artful comedy."
Gus Kaikkonen will direct a cast that features Jeremy Beck (West End - Shakespeare's R&J; Encores! - Girl Crazy; Culture Project- Betrayed; Transport Group - Bury the Dead); Rebecca Noelle Brinkley (recent UNC graduate), Emma Geer (Lincoln Center Theater - How To Transcend A Happy Marriage), Jonathan Hogan (original productions: Hot L Baltimore, Fifth of July, Balm in Gilead, Burn This, As Is; Mint: London Wall, Madras House, A Picture of Autumn), Sara Carolynn Kennedy (Off-Broadway debut), Ken Marks (Broadway: Dear Evan Hansen, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Spring Awakening, Hairspray, Mamma Mia!), Brian Reddy (Broadway: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Free Man of Color, Finian's Rainbow, Gypsy, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Dinner at Eight, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, The Crucible), Sandra Shipley (Broadway: Present Laughter, The Importance of Being Earnest, After Miss Julie, Blithe Spirit, The Retreat From Moscow, Vincent in Brixton; Mint: Rutherford and Son) and Jill Tanner (Broadway - Dividing the Estate, Enchanted April; Off-Broadway -The Traveling Lady; Mint - Fashions for Men, A Picture of Autumn, Mary Broome). Hindle Wakes will have scenic design by Charles Morgan; costume design by Sam Fleming; lighting design by Xavier Pierce; and sound design and original music by Jane Shaw. Casting by Stephanie Klapper, CSA.
Hindle Wakes mixes questions of ethics, class, custom, sex and morals into an effervescent fizz of comic realism. Over a century after Hindle Wakes' much-discussed premiere-and following an acclaimed production at London's Finborough Theatre-Houghton's rousing and "remarkable play" (The Observer) continues to resonate.
Stanley Houghton (1881-1913) "startled England with the brilliant originality of his comedies of Lancashire life" (The New York Times). Blending truthfully observed realism with shrewd comic grit and "supremely sophisticated dexterities" (The Manchester Guardian), Houghton wrote over a dozen plays, many of which called for women's sexual and economic freedom. The Gaiety's 1912 London premiere of Hindle Wakes established Houghton as one of the preeminent young dramatists of his generation, while setting off a shockwave of controversy. Tragically, only a year and a half after Hindle Wakes, Houghton died of meningitis on December 11, 1913, at the age of thirty-two.
Performances for Hindle Wakes will be Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30pm with matinees Saturday & Sunday at 2pm. Wednesday Matinees on 1/17 and 2/14 at 2pm. No performance on 12/24 or 12/31. All performances are at The Clurman Theatre at Theater Row (410 West 42nd Street between 9th and Dyer Avenues). Tickets for Hindle Wakes are $65.00 (including $2.25 theater restoration fee) and can be purchased online at Telecharge.com, by phone at 212-239-6200 or in person at the Theatre Row Box Office.
"Thank heaven for the unwavering commitment of Jonathan Bank, the theatrical archaeologist whose Mint Theater Company unearths long-forgotten plays and imbues them with new life," declared The New York Times in response to Mint most recent production. Mint was awarded an OBIE for "combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition" and a special Drama Desk Award for "unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit." Ben Brantley in The New York Times Arts & Leisure hailed the Mint as the "resurrectionist extraordinaire of forgotten plays."
For more information, including photos and videos of Mint productions, visit minttheater.org.