DEFIANCE Comes To Bristol Riverside Theater 3/26- 4/12
Bristol Riverside Theatre presents the Philadelphia Premiere of Defiance, the second installment in American playwright, John Patrick Shanley's planned trilogy exploring hierarchies in America - which began with the award winning Doubt: A Parable.
Originally produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City (February 2006), Defiance follows the incredible national success of Shanley's Doubt: A Parable - winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. Shanley went on to write and direct Doubt, the film adaptation which received high accolades and was nominated this year for five Golden Globes and five Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay. With both Doubt and Defiance, Shanley's work continues to look deeply into American social institutions and push audiences to ask provocative questions that inspire change.
A "very rich and satisfying" (The Village Voice) play "filled with... provocative questions and bristling dialogue" (The New York Times), Defiance explores ethics of power in the military and presents a riveting look at race relations, honor and morality as two Marines, a white colonel and an African American captain, clash over issues of authority, discrimination, infidelity and loyalty in North Carolina in 1971.
Directed by BRT Founding Producing Director Susan D. Atkinson, Defiance begins previews March 24, opens March 26, and closes April 12, 2009. Tickets are $29 - $37, with $10 student tickets, and are available by calling the Box Office at (215) 785-0100 or visiting the theatre at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, with information online at www.brtstage.org. [A full performance schedule follows on page 3.]
In 1971 at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base, during the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, Lt. Colonel Littlefield (Keith Baker), a crusading white officer, sets out to combat heightened racial tensions amongst black and white soldiers and enlists the assistance of Captain Lee King (Lindsay Smiling), an African American Marine. Power struggles ensue as the military's traditional chain of command is turned on its head and Captain King must confront his commander with charges of sexual misconduct with the wife of fellow Marine, P.F.C. Evan Davis (Michael Brinckman). After a boot camp introduction from Gunney Sergeant (Gene D'Alessandro), the drama unfolds, observed by the intrusive Chaplain White (Clayton Dean Smith), who with questionable motives stirs the brewing conflict, and Littlefield's wife Margaret (Barbara McCulloh), who watches from the sidelines.
"I have said that I feel doubt is an important and valuable exercise, a hallmark of wisdom," said John Patrick Shanley in an essay featured in the Manhattan Theatre Club publication. "My attitude towards defiance is different. Defiance is a necessary step in the life of an individual and in the life of a nation. But it is an intermediate step. A man or woman who remains indefinitely in a posture of defiance lives a perpetual adolescence. A population that's reflexively cynical of all authority has yet to mature."
Defiance, like Doubt, draws from Shanley's own life experiences. From 1970 to 1972, Shanley served as a Flame Thrower Gunner in the United States Marine Corps and was stationed primarily at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where Defiance is set. "In 1971, Camp Lejeune was in bad shape," said Shanley. "Vietnam was destroying morale, racial tension was at an all time high, drug use and violent crime were endemic. The moral illness of the country was reaching deep into the heart of the armed services."
John Patrick Shanley is an American playwright, screenwriter, producer and director. He was born in The Bronx, New York City, to a telephone operator mother and a meat-packer father. His other plays include Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Four Dogs and a Bone, Psychopathia Sexualis, and Savage Limbo. He has written extensively for TV and film and is the winner of a 1988 Academy Award for Best Screenplay for his seminal work Moonstruck which he also directed and which starred Cher and Nicolas Cage. In 1990, Shanley directed his script of Joe Versus the Volcano. His play Doubt: A Parable was honored with numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony Award for Best Play, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play, Obie Award for Playwriting, and Drama Critics' Circle Award. In 2008, Shanley adapted for film and directed Doubt starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, which was recognized with Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Susan D. Atkinson's theatrical career spans 40 years of directing, producing, and teaching on both the east and west coasts. She has directed well over 150 plays and musicals in her career, including world and area premieres from such playwrights and composers as Doug Katsoras, Mark St. Germain, Dan Rustin, Michael Hickey and Larry Gatlin. For BRT, Atkinson has directed shows such as The Good Earth, Wintertime, Irma La Douce, Alive and Well, The Price, 110 in the Shade, A Sunbeam, Inspecting Carol, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Arsenic and Old Lace, A Little Night Music, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Holiday, Talley's Folly and Proof. In 1998, Atkinson directed Larry Gatlin's Texas Flyer both at BRT and at Theatre Under The Stars in Houston, Texas.