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Two Shakespearean Comedies, X: OR, BETTY SHABAZZ V. THE NATION Set for The Acting Company's 2017-18 Season

Two Shakespearean Comedies, X: OR, BETTY SHABAZZ V. THE NATION Set for The Acting Company's 2017-18 Season

The Acting Company has announced its 2017-18 season, which exemplifies the venerable organization's commitment to cultivating a national audience for the theater with exceptional touring productions of classical and new works; developing the best young American actors by giving them an opportunity to practice their craft in a wide-ranging repertory; and educating students that have limited access to the arts.

The programming realizes the Company's belief that-in these challenging times for the arts, and for the country-it has never been more important to bring theater to communities that will benefit from its unique power to explore humanity and help us to better understand our world.

The season begins with a new staging, by Belknap, of Love's Labour's Lost, co-produced with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF). In addition to performances on the Festival's panoramic stage on the Hudson River (August 14-29), the production tours the Hudson Valley (August 12-September 2) and New York City schools (September 18-29).

Two Shakespearean Comedies, X: OR, BETTY SHABAZZ V. THE NATION Set for The Acting Company's 2017-18 Season The season continues with Marcus Gardley's play X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation, January 13-February 25, 2018, at the Theatre at St. Clement's. Staged by The Acting Company in repertory with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at the New Victory Theater earlier this year, Gardley's vital take on the assassination of Malcolm X garnered considerable critical praise and returns due to popular demand.

Concluding the season, The Acting Company and Delaware's acclaimed Resident Ensemble Players (REP) present a new co-production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Nightat the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Theatre for a New Audience's state-of-the-art home in downtown Brooklyn, May 10-27, 2018. Maria Aitken, perhaps best known for The 39 Steps-which received six Tony nominations, including one for her as director, and won an Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2007-helms this production featuring The Acting Company's alumni actors alongside ensemble performers from the REP.

The Acting Company's popular John McDonald Salon Reading Series will return for a 22nd season in Spring 2018. Titles and dates will be announced at a future time.

Of the season, Artistic Director Ian Belknap says, "From the acerbic wit of Love's Labour's Lost to the longing and excess of Twelfth Night, Shakespeare's understanding of the human condition always makes him relevant. To produce his work alongside Marcus Gardley, who so perfectly articulates the life and death of Malcom X, shows how theater can look at the past to understand the present. We are thrilled to be collaborating with The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and The Resident Ensemble Players, two theaters that share The Acting Company's affinity for the classics, and to have Maria Aitken bringing her singular comedic sensibility to the direction of Twelfth Night."

The Acting Company'S 2017-18 SEASON:

Love's Labour's Lost
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Ian Belknap
A Co-Production with The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF)
Performances at HVSF: August 14 - 29, 2017 (including free family matinees on August 15, 22, 29)
Hudson Valley Tour: August 12 - September 2
New York City School Tour (September 18 - 29, 2017)

"Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but Love."

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own constitutions in this hilarious Shakespearean comedy that forces gentlemen in love to keep love-and food, and sleep-at arms' length.

The Acting Company teams up with Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival to co-produce a new staging of Shakespeare's comedy, directed by Ian Belknap. The play will be performed on the Festival's waterfront stage August 14-29, amidst a tour of venues across the Hudson Valley, August 12 - September 2. The production will then tour to schools in four of New York City's five boroughs, where it will reach thousands of students. The school tour will include The Acting Company's signature education programs "Learning Through Theater" and "Shakespeare for Teachers," part of the organization's ongoing effort to introduce new generations to theater.

Ian Belknap is Artistic Director of The Acting Company. He has directed or produced many of Shakespeare's plays, including Hamlet, Love's Labour's Lost, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He has co-produced nine national tours with the Guthrie Theatre and The Acting Company, teaches at New York University and guest directs at resident theaters nationwide.

Hudson Valley tour schedule:

Saturday, August 12
Ridgefield Playhouse
Ridgefield, CT

Saturday, August 19
Hudson River Museum
Yonkers, NY

Sunday, August 20
SPACE on Ryder Farm
Brewster, NY
FREE for kids, $5 for adults

Thursday, August 31
Iona College
New Rochelle, NY (private performance)

Friday, September 1, and Saturday, September 2
Storm King Art Center
New Windsor, NY
Tickets (including admission to Storm King for the day of the performance): Children 4 & Under FREE, Children 5-18 $25, Adults $35, Seniors $32, SKAC Members $15

X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation
By Marcus Gardley
Directed by Ian Belknap
The Theatre at St. Clement's (423 W 46th St, New York, NY)
January 13-February 25, 2018

Award-winning writer Marcus Gardley's critically acclaimed play X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation lyrically explores the assassination of Malcolm X-both the story we think we know and illuminating details that have seldom been shared. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar provides a framework for Gardley to deepen our understanding of one of America's most complex, compelling historical figures, and to explore the tumultuous landscape of ideology and activism in the 1960s.

This return engagement follows a sold-out run of the play in Spring 2017 at the New Victory Theater, where it was performed in repertory with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. X earned acclaim including a New York Times Critic's Pick review from Elisabeth Vincentelli, who wrote, "[Gardley] and the director, Ian Belknap, bring the feuds that roiled the radical black-liberation movement of the 1960s to vivid life."

Marcus Gardley is a multiple award-winning poet and playwright from West Oakland, California, whose short play Desire Quenched by Touch premiered in The Acting Company's 2015-16 season. The New Yorker describes Gardley as "the heir to Garcia Lorca, Pirandello and Tennessee Williams." His play The House That Will Not Stand (Berkeley Rep, Yale Rep, London's Tricycle, New York Theater Workshop (upcoming)) received the 2014 Glickman Award and was a finalist for the 2015 Kennedy Prize. He was the 2013 USA James Baldwin Fellow and the 2011 PEN Laura Pels Award winner for mid-career playwright. His play The Gospel of Lovingkindness (Victory Gardens Theater) won the 2014 BTAA award for best play/playwright. Every Tongue Confess (Arena Stage, starring Phylicia Rashad, directed by Kenny Leon) was the recipient of the Edgerton New Play Award and was nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award and the Charles MacArthur Award for Best Play. His musical On The Levee (Lincoln Center) was nominated for 11 Audelco Awards, including Outstanding Playwright. Gardley holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and is a member of New Dramatists, The Dramatists Guild and the Lark Play Development Center.

Twelfth Night
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Maria Aitken
A Co-Production of The Acting Company and Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players (REP)
Polonsky Shakespeare Center (262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217)
May 10-27, 2018

"If music be the food of love, play on!"

Maria Aitken (The 39 Steps)directs this new co-production, with Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players (REP), of Shakespeare's beloved comedy. Twelfth Night is an engaging mixture of mischief, unrequited love and gender confusion-all interwoven with music and some of Shakespeare's most beautiful language. Shipwrecked in the alluring country of Illyria, twins Viola and Sebastian each believe the other dead and embark on parallel adventures of mistaken identity and self-discovery.

Before coming to TFANA's Polonsky Shakespeare Center, in the Brooklyn Cultural District, the production will run April 19 - May 6, 2018 at the Thompson Theater at Roselle Center for the Arts (110 Orchard Rd, Newark, DE).

Maria Aitken directed the Olivier and Tony Award-winning production of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and the Tony Award-nominated Man and Boy (West End and Broadway). Other directing credits include Lady Bracknell's Confinement (Vineyard Theatre); As You Like It (Shakespeare Theatre); Bedroom Farce, The Seagull, The Cocktail Hour, Betrayal, Private Lives, and Educating Rita at the Huntington; Heartbreak House (The Resident Ensemble Players); The Cocktail Hour (Guthrie); The Gift (Geffen Playhouse/Melbourne Theatre, Australia) and Quartermaine's Terms (Williamstown Theatre Festival). As an actress at the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, and in the West End, work included roles in Hay Fever, Blithe Spirit, Bedroom Farce, Travesties, Waste, Private Lives, and The Vortex, among others. Film credits include A Fish Called Wanda (BAFTA nomination). Ms. Aitken is a visiting teacher at the British American Drama Academy, The Juilliard School, Yale School of Drama, New York University, The Actors Center in New York and the Academy for Classical Acting. Books: A Girdle Round the Earth and Style: Acting in High Comedy. Trustee, Noël Coward Foundation.

The Resident Ensemble Players (REP) is a professional theater company located on the campus of the University of Delaware. REP productions celebrate and demonstrate the range and breadth of a full-time resident ensemble of nationally respected actors. REP productions are directed by Artistic Director Sanford Robbins and nationally known guests like Mark Lamos, Maria Aitken, Ethan McSweeney, Adrian Hall, Gregory Boyd, John Langs, Ed Stern, Joe Hanreddy, Jade King Carroll, Kate Buckley, and J.R. Sullivan. REP designers include nationally known artists Eugene Lee, Neil Patel, Alexander Dodge, Fabio Toblini, Candace Donnelly, Philip Rosenberg, and Lindsay Jones.

Founded in 1972 by John Houseman and Margot Harley, The Acting Company (Ian Belknap, Artistic Director; Elisa Spencer-Kaplan, Executive Director) is "the major touring classical theater in the United States" (The New York Times) and the only professional repertory company dedicated to the development of classical actors. The Company has reached 4 million people in 48 states and 10 foreign countries with its productions and education programs, and has helped to launch the careers of some 400 actors, including Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Rainn Wilson, Jesse L. Martin, Keith David, Frances Conroy, David Ogden Stiers, Harriet Harris, David Schramm, Jeffrey Wright and Hamish Linklater. Over a dozen commissioned new works and adaptations include plays by Lynn Nottage, Tony Kushner, John Guare, David Mamet, Beth Henley, Rebecca Gilman, Maria Irene Fornes, William Finn, Ntozake Shange, and more. The Company received a special Tony Honor for Excellence in Theater in 2003 for its contributions to the American theater.

Photo Credits: Travis Magee and T. Charles Erickson

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