EgoPo's Classic Theater's 2014-15 American Giants Festival to Continue with STAIRS TO THE ROOF, 2/11-3/1
EgoPo Classic Theater's 2014-15 American Giants Festival continues with the Philadelphia premiere of Tennessee Williams' rarely-seen early play, Stairs to the Roof, running February 11-March 1 at the Latvian Society, with press opening on Friday, February 13.
This remarkable play is an atypical romantic comedy by one of our country's most respected playwrights. Journey back to the bustling 1940's, into the mind of an average working man, Ben Murphy, struggling to find freedom in the oppressive regimentation of his nine-to-five job. Ben's adventure opens before us as he searches for meaning beyond the everyday. This production is presented in partnership with Rowan University's College of Performing Arts, featuring generations of alums from their theater program.
EgoPo carries on their tradition of producing annual themed festival seasons. This year's exploration of the American Dream began with Arthur Miller's signature Death of a Salesman, continues into the little known Stairs to the Roof by Tennessee Williams, and will conclude with Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece, The Hairy Ape. Through the work of these great playwrights, EgoPo is examining the history of the American Dream, and its current role in contemporary America. All three plays scrutinize American capitalism and its effect on our emotional and spiritual fulfillment.
Stairs to the Roof is the first full-length play that Tennessee Williams ever began writing and it is unlike anything else he has written since. Though very young, Williams begins working with many themes we'll see in his later work. Biographically, Tennessee Williams wrote this play while working in his father's shoe company, though in Stairs to the Roof it becomes the Consolidated Shirt Makers, just as his fictional doppelgänger Tom does in The Glass Menagerie.
It is in this play that Williams begins developing the theme of a young man searching for his sexual identity, a man dwindling under his everyday responsibilities. Originally titled A Prayer for the Wild of Heart Who Are Kept in Cages, the young William wrote this play while still closeted to his friends and family. What emerges is a fantastical journey of an artist, searching for a life of freedom he can only dream of.
Though rarely-seen, Stairs to the Roof shares a similar scope with Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape or Sophie Treadwell's Machinal, and is a fantastic example of early American Theatrical Expressionism. The play will bring audiences in into the mind of Ben Murphy, a young office clerk working in a shirt factory.
Ben finds himself helplessly unhappy, unable to fit into the box society has made for him. The weight of exchanging dreams for routine, forces him to find an escape. Ben finds a secret stairs to the roof of his office, a magical retreat from his stifling work. He ventures up the stairs, breaking the boss' orders, and his journey from the ordinary to the extraordinary begins. Audiences follow Ben's fantastical adventures across the city. From freeing the animals in the zoo, to a journey among the stars, Ben's adventure is unlike any Tennessee Williams you've experienced before.
This will be EgoPo's first production produced in partnership with Rowan University's College of Performing Arts. EgoPo's Artistic Director, Lane Savadove, serves as the Head of Acting and Directing at the Glassboro, New Jersey University. EgoPo and Rowan have been working together for many years to develop an in-depth actor training, focused on integrating physical and psychological techniques. Many Rowan graduates have continued to work and train with EgoPo.
In the first production of its kind, Stairs to the Roof will be performed exclusively by Rowan students and alumni who have all gone through the physical training that is the basis of EgoPo's work. The innovative partnership brings these performers together to utilize their shared training in a professional artistic venture.
EgoPo is happy to introduce a powerful ensemble of young professionals including: Craig O'Brien, as Ben Murphy, who has worked regionally with 11th Hour, Quintessence, and Theatre Horizon; Angela Smith (Lantern, Luna, and Common Wealth Classic Theater); and Dexter Anderson (Quince Productions and Bootless StageWorks). EgoPo is also welcoming back several familiar faces including Jenna Kuerzi (Artaud Unbound), Rachel O'Hanlon-Rodriguez (Company, Artaud Unbound, Uncle Tom's Cabin), and Matthew Weil (Uncle Tom's Cabin).
EgoPo is excited to work once again with Christopher Marlowe Roche who last served as the music director for EgoPo's GINT. Now Roche will appear on-stage as the mysterious Mister E. He is a veteran performer, having worked at Arena Stage, the Kennedy Center, and Woolly Mammoth. He is also the Head of Musical Theater at Rowan University.The piece will be directed by EgoPo Artistic Director, Lane Savadove. Recent graduate, Dane Eissler, will serve as Associate Director. Savadove and Eissler will bring to life Ben's extraordinary adventure with the help of a 15 person cast and a visionary team of designers.
EgoPo is thrilled to welcome back set designer, Dan Soule, for this special production. Soule returned to EgoPo last year, after earning his masters at NYU, to design Lady from the Sea. Past credits include Vieux Carre, Bluebird, Woyzeck, Endgame, and Waiting for Godot. Soule's playful set, inspired by period pop-up books and Puppet Theater, will continuously become more fantastic as Ben travels to freedom. EgoPo is also happy to welcome back veteran designers: costume designer Robin Shane (Death of a Salesman, Lady from the Sea, Doll's House), lighting designer Matt Sharp (GINT, Lady from Sea, Uncle Tom's Cabin), and Robert Carlton (Death of a Salesman).
Stairs of the Roof will be staged at The Latvian Society. Previews begin February 11th, with Press Opening on Friday February 13th; the show will run three weeks, closing on March 1st.