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Theater for the New City Presents STARRY MESSENGER 1/27-2/13


"Starry Messenger" was one of Galileo's most revolutionary works. It was the first scientific paper about the universe as seen through a telescope, and contained confounding ideas about the moon, stars and planets. A new play of the same name by Ira Hauptman, directed Susan Einhorn, will be presented by Theater for the New City January 27 to February 13, 2011 featuring David Little as the famed scientist. The play is a modern retelling of Galileo's resistance and ultimate capitulation to the Inquisition over his support of the Copernican theory of the earth's rotation.

There is ample drama in the history of Galileo's famous recantation of his belief that the earth moves. It's rumored that even after Galileo swore his recantation, he muttered "But still it moves." Ira Hauptman's seven character play is unique in that it traces the effects of Galileo's ordeals on his family--his son and two daughters--and his childrens' role in his decision to renounce his discoveries. Notions of science, faith, demons, madness and self-sacrifice are raised and overturned. As Cardinals Borgia and Zacchia negotiate with Galileo over his recantation, we are also afforded a close look at the process of reconciling new science with the power structure--a clash that we are mindful of in our present-day conflicts over evolution and global warming.

"Starry Messenger" had its first staged reading at FirstStage in Hollywood. It was then awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation commission by the Magic Theatre in San Francisco and had a staged reading at the San Francisco Exploratorium, a cutting edge science museum. Other professional readings followed in the Science and the Arts series at the CUNY Graduate Center, and at the Jazzschool in Berkeley. This is the play's world premiere.

The role of Galileo will be played by David Little. The other actors will be Brian Gagne, Jorge Luna, Elisa Matula, Jeremy Rishe, Marnye Young and Lou Vuolo. Set and costumes will be designed by Meghan E. Healey; lighting will be designed by Jeff Greenberg; sound design will be by Nel Paese.

Playwright Ira Hauptman is a professor of theatre at Queens College and a graduate of Yale Drama School. His plays have been performed in New York at the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the International Cringefest; in Los Angeles at the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Theatre, FirstStage, Odyssey and Moving Arts; in Berkeley at the Aurora Theatre; and in San Francisco at the Magic Theatre. His plays have also been produced in Paris, Brussels and Bangalore. Mr. Hauptman has received two play commissions from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project. The first was for "Partition," about the early twentieth century mathematicians Ramanujan and Hardy. "Partition" was published by Playscripts in 2006. The second was for "Starry Messenger." Mr. Hauptman has contributed to Partisan Review, The New Republic and other magazines. This is his first show at TNC. He writes, "Theater for the New City has nurtured challenging, innovative playwriting for many years. It has combined this artistic mission with unusual sensitivity to the needs of its surrounding community. This successful combination has made Crystal Field a legendary force in New York theater. I am grateful that she is giving me an opportunity to reach a New York audience, which is the dream of every playwright."

Director Susan Einhorn has directed over 70 productions and considers her specialty to be nurturing and developing new work. She was Assistant Director to the legendary Alan Schneider for four Broadway productions. Her first major NY success was "I Can't Keep Running in Place" at the Westside Arts Theater, starring Helen Gallagher. She has also directed in NY at the Promenade, Circle in the Square, the Vineyard, Primary Stages, Playwrights Horizons, La MaMa, HB Playwrights Theatre, Open Space, Ubu Rep, Jewish Rep, and regionally at Milwaukee Rep, Syracuse Stage, Pittsburgh Public, Whole Theatre, and Washington D.C.'s Arena Stage, New Playwrights Theatre and Studio Theatre. She has been a Professor of Theatre and head of the Acting Program at Queens College for 28 years. Her productions at Theater for the New City include "Reed!" by Wilson Lehr (her first professional production), "Before She Is Even Born" by Leah Friedman, "Finding Claire" by Kim Merrill (now published by Dramatists Play Service) and "On Naked Soil: Imagining Anna Akhmatova," a three-character play about the Soviet-era poet, written by and featuring Rebecca Schull. Einhorn notes, "Theater for the New City has played a crucial role in my career, in which I have specialized in developing new American plays. 'Starry Messenger' is my fifth world premiere at TNC."

David Little (Galileo) has appeared in Broadway's "Brooklyn Boy," "Six Degrees of Separation," "Zalman or The Madness," "Thieves" and "Blood Knot" as well as Off-Broadway and in major regional theatres across the country. He has made several feature and independent films including "Running Wild," "King of the Gypsies," "Claire Dolan," "The Bet" and "Occupant." He has played many guest starring roles on television in TV shows including "Law & Order," "Ed", "The Sopranos," "Swift Justice," "Guiding Light," "Lipstick Jungle" and "Damages."

"Starry Messenger" is produced by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, IL.

Theater for the New City to present the world premiere of "Starry Messenger" by Ira Hauptman, directed by Susan Einhorn.
Play on Galileo shows us how, as with global warming, there are perils in reconciling new science with the power structure.

January 27 to February 13
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at East 10th Street)
Presented by Theater for the New City
Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM; Sundays at 3:00 PM
Added performance Sunday, January 30 at 8:00 pm
Tickets $15 general admission and $12 for students/seniors.
Box office (212) 254-1109,
Running time 90 minutes. Critics are invited on or after January 29.

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