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MAY VIOLETS SPRING to Give Ophelia a Voice at Shetler Studios, 4/16-27

New York City actor and musician James Parenti has nurtured a love of verse all his life, and May Violets Spring is his first outing as an adapter and playwright. In 2011, while preparing to play the title role in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Parenti became frustrated by Ophelia's limited place in the story. Dreaming of a production of Hamlet that gave Ophelia a voice, over the next three years Parenti adapted the material himself. The result is a love letter to classical heroines slighted by the narratives of our past and too often in productions of the present.

May Violets Spring is a new play adapted primarily from Shakespeare's Hamlet, but also features original verse by Parenti along with fragments of many of the Bard of Avon's other plays and sonnets. Directed by Reesa Graham, the resident and literary director of the all-female Manhattan Shakespeare Project, this production focuses on Ophelia and her journey as a protagonist through the canon events of Hamlet - asking whether a tragic end is the only possible outcome for the marginalized.

The cast features Gwenevere Sisco as Ophelia, with playwright James Parenti taking on the role of Hamlet. Michael Griffin and Mat Leonard round out the cast as Ophelia's father and brother, Polonius and Laertes; Monique Yvonne St. Cyr plays Horatio, and Sarah Eismann and David Bodenschatz take on Gertrude and Claudius. Reesa Graham directs, supported by Alexander Sovronsky (Music Director/Fight Choreographer), Dara Fargotstein (Costumes), Emily C. A. Snyder (Verse Coach), and Krystle Phelps (Stage Manager).

May Violets Spring is produced by Dare Lab. Co-founded by Reesa Graham and James Parenti in January 2013, Dare Lab was conceived primarily as a place for playwrights, directors, and actors to be able to hone and practice their craft while in between projects. This collective of theatre artists has progressed into a place to develop new works as well, leading to Dare Lab's first foray into producing with May Violets Spring in April 2014.

The play will run from Wednesdays-Sundays, April 16-27 at The Bridge Theatre in Shetler Studios, 244 W. 54th Street, 12th Floor. Tickets are $18 pre-sale, $20 at the door. $15 tickets are available for students and industry. Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets.

Pictured (clockwise from top left): James Parenti (Playwright/Hamlet), Monique St. Cyr (Horatio), and Gwenevere Sisco (Ophelia). Photo by Patricia Phelps.

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