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Saratoga Shakespeare Company and Saratoga Performing Arts Center Present the World Premiere of TESTAMENT


TESTAMENT, a new audio play about Ludwig van Beethoven, will be available online August 22nd -23rd.

Saratoga Shakespeare Company and Saratoga Performing Arts Center Present the World Premiere of TESTAMENT

On August 22, Saratoga Shakespeare Company (SSC) will premiere the audio performance of Testament, written by Damian Lanigan and co-produced with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in association with The Philadelphia Orchestra. Commissioned by Saratoga Shakespeare Company to be premiered during SPAC's Beethoven 2020 Festival, Testament is a portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven in a moment of crisis - grappling with the loss of his hearing, and emerging from his suffering to write one of the greatest symphonies of all time, the "Eroica."

Part of SPAC's Beethoven 2020 celebration, the production features recordings from The Philadelphia Orchestra, recreations of period instrumentation, and appearances by professional actors including several students and alumni from Skidmore College. In keeping with SSC's commitment to presenting free and accessible professional productions, the performance will be available to stream online for free on both SSC and SPAC's websites from August 22 at 8 p.m. until 11:59 p.m. on August 23.

 "Being able to present a world premiere theatrical event based on a profoundly critical moment in Beethoven's personal and artistic life was going to be one of the true highlights of our SPAC Summer season - and Beethoven 2020. We are incredibly grateful to Marcus Fuller and Saratoga Shakespeare Company for their collaboration - and for their re-imagination of the event as an audio play," says Elizabeth Sobol, President & CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Testament had originally been planned as a live performance at SPAC's Spa Little Theater as part of the SSC's 2020 summer season, but in response to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, the company pivoted to an audio presentation that Fuller describes as a "musically driven audiobook." Testament marks the second collaboration between SSC and SPAC, following the Saratoga Shakespeare Company's successful 2019 production of The Tempest, directed by Fuller.

"We looked at all the platforms being used to continue performances, but the challenge was how to present Testament in a way that served both the actor performances and the music," says Marcus Dean Fuller, the Director of Testament and Executive and Artistic Director of SSC. "The decision to record the actors' performances in a studio rather than remotely seemed self-evident to me. There is a magic that happens between actors during a live performance that just cannot be replicated remotely." 

"Audio allows you to get right inside the minds of the characters, and at the same time speak quite deeply to an audience -- not least because the medium allows access to the characters' inner lives in ways that wouldn't work on stage," says playwright Damian Lanigan about the pivot to an audio performance. "The music becomes a more prominent part of the whole thing. If there was ever a subject suitable to an audio production, it's this one."

Testament was recorded and mixed at Galileo Media Arts in Saratoga Springs by GRAMMY Award-winner and Galileo Media Arts founder John Wager. The production features recordings of the Eroica Symphony by The Philadelphia Orchestra, and period instrumentation arranged and performed by Lucas Wager that re-creates the sound of a fortepiano, the instrument that Beethoven would have played. "I found it so fascinating in Testament how Beethoven transformed his emotional turmoil and despair into music that really challenged the conventions of the time," says Lucas Wager, "how he used dissonance and drama in his music to convey emotions that weren't always pleasant...but were authentic, and spoke to the emotional highs and lows of the human condition."

Julian Tushabe, a Ugandan actor and third-year student at Skidmore College, will be making his professional debut in the role of Beethoven. The cast also includes Skidmore College alums Chris Naughton and Evy Yergan, as well as Saratoga residents Liam McKenna and John Romeo. Michael Stewart Allen rounds out the cast.

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