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Theatre for a New Audience Presents TAMBURLAINE, PARTS I AND II, Beginning Tonight


John Douglas Thompson will lead a company of 19 actors playing 60 roles in the first major New York production since Broadway 1956 of Christopher Marlowe's 1587 epic Tamburlaine, Parts I and II, Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience, announced. Directed and edited by Olivier Award-winner Michael Boyd, former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Marlowe's two-part drama will be performed as one 3.5-hour play, plus a 30-minute intermission.

Tamburlaine, Parts I and II previews begin tonight, November 1, at 7:00pm at Theatre for a New Audience, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place. The opening is Sunday, November 16, at 1:00pm for a scheduled run through December 21.

Michael Boyd observes, "The more I work on Marlowe's great double-headed masterpiece, with John Douglas Thompson and this brilliant New York company of actors, the more we see how much Shakespeare learned and stole from him, and understand why."

Jeffrey Horowitz notes "This is the second time we have produced Marlowe. The first was in 2007 when F. Murray Abraham played Barabas in Marlowe's The Jew of Malta in repertory with Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Tamburlaine, Parts I and II is shocking, darkly funny and subversive. The story of a Scythian Shepherd who rises to power to become king of half the world was more than a huge popular hit. Marlowe wrote about what was dangerous, unexpressed and just beneath the surface. Soon after it opened, seditious rumors circulated that artisans and workers, frustrated with the status quo, would identify with Tamburlaine and rebel against the government."

Tamburlaine, Parts I and II launched Marlowe's career and was revived again and again in and beyond his lifetime. The two parts are set in an imaginative time and space encompassing the medieval Ottoman Empire, Persia and Central Asia. Tamburlaine humbles kings and emperors, conquering vast territories while gathering ever more strength from his driving will.

John Douglas Thompson, recognized as "one of the most compelling classical stage actors of his generation" by The New York Times, played the title roles in Othello (2009) and Macbeth (2011) at Theatre for a New Audience. Most recently, he appeared as Louis Armstrong and Joe Glaser in Satchmo at the Waldorf. Last season on Broadway, he appeared as Carl Lee Hailey in A Time to Kill. Other memorable portrayals include Brutus Jones in The Emperor Jones; Herald Loomis in Joe Turner's Come and Gone at The Mark Taper Forum; Joe Mott in The Iceman Cometh at The Goodman; Hotspur in Henry IV at The Royal Shakespeare Company and Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and the titular role in Richard III at Shakespeare & Company. Mr. Thompson has been honored with OBIE, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel, and Callaway awards.

Michael Boyd, four-time Olivier Award-winner, was knighted for services to drama. Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2002 to 2012, his many productions include his eight-play Histories Cycle, described by The Guardian as "one of the great events of modern theatre." As Artistic Director of the RSC, he led the $190 million reconstruction of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and commissioned and produced the Complete Works Festival 2006 - 2007, the World Shakespeare Festival for the London Olympics 2012, and Matilda the Musical. In 2011 he brought a repertoire of seven Shakespeare plays to the Park Avenue Armory as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) was one of the most influential and popular playwrights of the Elizabethan era. He was the first to demonstrate the muscular force of blank verse ("Marlowe's mighty line"), the first to recognize the resonance of exotic "outsider" characters, and the first to openly dramatize homoeroticism. He helped define a new, modern drama that influenced Shakespeare and others.

Stephen Greenblatt, author and scholar, writes, "What happens again and again in Marlowe's plays is that the incantatory power of his verse releases a destructive energy that cannot be contained within any conventional boundaries...Reckless desire, mocking all hierarchies and indifferent to the consequences, had been given a passionate, devastatingly eloquent voice."

The son of a shoemaker, Marlowe was born two months before Shakespeare in Canterbury, old spiritual capital of England -- a place where public anxiety over religion had simmered ever since three compulsory changes in state religion were violently enforced between 1547 and 1558. At sixteen, Marlowe won a scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he earned a BA in 1584. While at Cambridge, he began working as a spy for Queen Elizabeth's secret service. Marlowe was probably a double agent and also arrested multiple times -- for murder, street-fighting, and counterfeiting. In 1593, when someone nailed a bloody sign to a church, signed Tamburlaine, the authorities went against Marlowe. Several days later, he was mysteriously killed in a barroom brawl -- stabbed above the eye by a man who worked for his patron, as others who worked for the secret service looked on. He was 29.

Joining John Douglas Thompson are (in alphabetical order) Oberon K.A. Adjepong, Carlo Alban, Matthew Amendt, Nilanjana Bose, Vasile Flutur, Caroline Hewitt, Andrew Hovelson, Zachary Infante, Chukwudi Iwuji, Merritt Janson, Patrice Johnson Chevannes, Paul Lazar, Tom O'Keefe, Saxon Palmer, Ian Saint-Germaine, Steven Skybell, Keith Randolph Smith, and James Udom.

Choreography: Sam Pinkleton; Sets and Costumes: Tom Piper; Lighting: Matthew Richards; Sound Design/Additional Composition: Jane Shaw; Percussion Composition: Arthur Solari; Special Effects: Jeremy Chernick; Props: Kathy Fabian/Propstar; Vocal Coach: Alison Bomber; Fight Director: J. Allen Suddeth; Dramaturg: Jonathan Kalb; and Production Stage Manager: Cole Bonenberger.

Box Office
Single tickets, on sale this week, are $60-$85 and may be purchased online at, by phone at 866-811-4111, or in person at the Theatre for a New Audience Box Office (262 Ashland Place). Box office hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 1:00pm to 6:00pm. A limited number of premium seats are available for $100.

New Deal tickets for ages 30 and under or full-time students of any age are priced at $20 each and can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the box office.

Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:00 pm, with matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00pm except for Saturdays, November 1 and 8, and Sundays, November 2 and 9. There are two Sunday evening performances. November 2 and 9. There is also a matinee, and no evening performance, on Wednesday, November 26, and no performance on Thursday, November 27.

Subscriptions for Theatre for a New Audience's 2014-2015 Season are $147 for a 3-play package and are available by calling (212) 229-2819, ext. 10. Flex Passes are also available for $208 and include four tickets to be used in any combination over the 2014-2015 Season. For information or to subscribe online, please visit

Theatre for a New Audience's New Deal Ticket Program is supported by Macy's. This production is sponsored by Deloitte. This production is made possible, in part, by support from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Howard Gilman Foundation Fund for Classic Drama.

John Douglas Thompson and Theatre for a New Audience are participants in the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships, funded by the William & Eva Fox Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group.

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