Peculiar Works to Present ANDROBOROS: VILLAIN OF THE STATE at Fraunces Tavern Museum
Peculiar Works Project and Fraunces Tavern Museum announce their unique collaboration for the World Premiere of "Androboros: Villain of the State," America's first published play written in 1714 by Robert Hunter and adapted for today by S.M. Dale.
Ralph Lewis directs a multi-talented cast in this rare work that will be performed inside the historic Flag Gallery of the Museum, an intimate venue inside Lower Manhattan's oldest Landmark, built during the same era as the play was written.
Fraunces Tavern Museum will also offer audiences a site specific opportunity to view its period rooms and treasured artifacts on the way to watch the show.
Performances begin Friday, October 6th and run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7PM throughout October with a special press opening on Monday, October 9th.
Back in 1710 the New York colony had already suffered a slew of appalling leaders by the time Robert Hunter arrived. As the new Governor, he was thwarted at every turn by a hostile assembly. After silently enduring this political gridlock, he later vented his frustrations by writing a clever satire to strike back at his enemies. "Androboros" remains a biting critique of early civic unrest when New Yorkers demonstrated little faith in their government. Based on a true story of intrigue and crime (The Vestment Scandal of 1714) Hunter's well crafted work is full of witty word play, slapstick and scatological humor that is just as comical today.
In "Androboros" Hunter matches his own real life dilemma with the character of the "Keeper", a leader stymied from governing by an obstructive congress. When one brave politician takes a stand against the deadlock he is voted out, and the raucous majority plots to replace the Keeper with a ridiculous outsider. Enter Androboros, the villain! He joins forces with two clerical scoundrels in a plot to disgrace the Keeper by blaming him for a scatological break-in of the church vestry. Hunter's mix of Elizabethan comedy and Italian Commedia del'arte are further enhanced by Peculiar Works site-specific adaptation offering 10 original songs performed live and dance to cap off the merriment.
More than America's first play, "Androboros" exposes many surprising comparisons to the current political scene with an edgy humor that parallels today's non-stop partisan madness. 300 years later its similarities to today's trend against an "establishment" government or the "deep state" are simultaneously undeniable and comical. The play should also act as both a reminder and pleasant distraction from the current election season.
First presented in a sold-out three night workshop at the Overthrow Boxing ring before last November's election, this full run of"Androboros" required a completely different site-specific venue. Fraunces Tavern Museum brings this 75 minute spectacle back to its beginning.
The talented creative team bringing Robert Hunter's prescient satire to life includes director Ralph Lewis (PWP's co-artistic director and co-producer of their 2007 Obie Award winning production Off Stage), adapter S.M. Dale (PWP's 3 Christs), composer Spencer Katzman (The Lady Grey film score), choreographer Lynn Neuman (Artichoke Dance) and Peter Davis, author of From Androboros to the First Amendment, A History of America's First Play who wrote additional text.
Other artists include dramaturg Barbara Yoshida, lighting designer David Castaneda (Irena's Vow on Broadway), costume designer Illana Breitman, projection designer King Man Ho, animation by Blue Bliss with stage managers Amy Marin and Yasmin Schancer.
The versatile cast is led by Matt Roper ("Wilfredo", I'll Say She Is: The Lost Marx Brothers Musical) in the title role, alongside Kendra Augustin, Oliver Burns*, Oscar Castillo*, Iftiaz Haroon, Bianca Illich, Roy Koshy, Caiti Lattimer, Hank Lin, Amy Marin, Zoe Raphael*, Yasmin Schancer, Ben Strate, and featuring Trav. S.D. (author of No Applause Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous). The musicians are: Maria Dessenaon on keyboards and Rob Mitzner on percussion. Produced at Fraunces Tavern by Jacqueline Masseo and Amy Kennard. *(Member of Actors Equity Association)
Peculiar Works Project was founded by Ralph Lewis, Barry Rowell and Catherine Porter to create, develop and present original multi-disciplinary performances that engage and entertain diverse audiences. Since 1993 they have challenged the clichés of alternative performance by presenting their creations in unconventional, non-theater spaces with the belief that unique sites have a reciprocal impact on their work and the venue itself. PWP's performances have taken place in city streets, landmark buildings, gutted storefronts and other site-specific locations around NYC. They've also partnered with other organizations to bring unusual work to new audiences co-producing events with Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Judson Church, The Culture Project, HERE Arts Center, Dixon Place, Soho Think Tank, Instituto Cervantes and many others.
"Androboros: Villain of the State" begins at Fraunces Tavern Museum (54 Pearl Street, corner of Broad Street-1,R, W, 4, 5, J, Z trains) on Friday October 6th at 7PM and runs thru Sunday October 29th with performances on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays. Special press opening on Monday October 9th at 7PM. The performance schedule is as follows: Previews October 6,7 and 8, Opening Monday October 9, Playing October 13,14,15,20,21,22, 27,28,29. All shows begin at 7PM. General admission is $20, $15 for members, seniors, students, Early bird tickets for preview performances $10. For tickets click: frauncestavernmuseum.org/events-calendar/2017/8/31/the-world-premiere-of-americas-first-play.
Pictured: Matt Roper (as Androboros at the top), Oscar Castillo (middle) and Bianca Ilich