Burning Coal Theatre Presents World Premiere of JUDE THE OBSCURE, 4/12-5/5

Burning Coal Theatre Company will close its 15th season with the world premiere of Jude the Obscure, Parts 1 & 2 by Ian Finley, with music and lyrics by Thomas Hardy, Bruce Benedict, Jerome Davis and Jonathan Fitts. The production will run April 12 – May 5, 2012 at the Murphey School, 224 Polk Street, Raleigh, NC. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm (April 12 – 14, 19 – 21, 26 – 28 and May 3 - 5, 2012), Saturdays at 2 pm (April 21, 28 and May 5, 2012) and Sundays at 2 pm (April 15, 22, 29, 2012). Sunday, April 15 (Part 1) and Sunday, April 22nd (Part 2) at 2 pm are our 'Pay What You Can' days. Those performances will also be Audio Described. Tickets are $20 or $15 for students, seniors and active military. All tickets are $10 on Thursday evenings. For reservations and information, please call 919-834-4001 or visit www.burningcoal.org.

Exact performance dates and times for Part 1 are 7:30 pm on April 12, 13, 14, 26th and May 3rd and April 15th, 21st, and 28th and May 5th at 2 pm.

Exact performance dates and times for Part 2 are 7:30 pm on April 19, 20, 21, 27th, 28th and May 4th and May 5th and April 22nd and 29th at 2 pm.

About Jude the Obscure

Considered by many to be Thomas Hardy's greatest novel, Jude was met with a profoundly negative public outcry upon its publication in 1895. It was reportedly burned by the Bishop of Wakefield, and was commonly referred to as Jude the Obscene because of its frank depiction of sexual concerns and its negative attitude toward the institution of marriage. Hardy was so dismayed by the critical and public reception that he never wrote another novel (though an earlier novel did get published after Jude ).

The novel's primary concern is to question the value of institutions in our lives. It was written at a time when the industrial revolution was building up momentum, when rural people's lives were being changed inexorably, and one way of life was being replaced by another, more unrecognizable way of life. The shift was from rural to urban. The principles upon which families, villages and whole societies had been founded were crumbling and a new set of principles was perhaps hastily being put up as a replacement for those age-old principles. Amidst this scenario, Hardy envisioned a young man, "Jude", who was convinced that he could do anything he wanted to do if he worked hard enough, including scaling the walls of the most formidable institutions. Along the way, he falls in love with his cousin, Sue Bridehead and together they try to make a life for themselves against seemingly insurmountable odds.

About Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy wrote novels, plays and poetry. He is best known for the novels The Mayor of Casterbridge, Far from the Madding Crowd, and Tess of the D'urbevilles. He was born in England and based most of his novels in the "Wessex" area, which was based on his native Dorchester. He tended to write about the social conditions of poor and rural peoples and about outcasts, people for whom the social structure was not working.

About the Writing Team

Ian Finley is currently "Piedmont Laureate" for central North Carolina. He has served as education director for Burning Coal Theatre Company for the past eight years. He has an MFA in Playwriting from NYU and an undergraduate degree from the University of Utah. Bruce Benedict holds a BA in Religion from James Madison University. He is currently Worship and Community Life Director for Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Raleigh. Jonathan Fitts graduated with a degree in theatre from Appalachian State University. He is pursuing an MFA in playwriting from NYU. He appeared with Burning Coal in Hair in 2009. Jerome Davis is Burning Coal's Artistic Director.

About the Director

Jerome Davis, Burning Coal Theatre Company's founding artistic director, last staged the Southeastern premiere of Lucy Prebble's Enron for Burning Coal and Benjamin Britten's Turn of the Screw for NC Opera. Originally from Tennessee, Davis spent a dozen years living in and working out of New York City as a professional actor and director before moving to Raleigh in 1996 to open Burning Coal with his wife, Simmie Kastner. For Burning Coal, he has staged David Edgar's East European trilogy, Pentecost, The Prisoner's Dilemma, The Shape of the Table (the latter two American premieres), the world premiere of Ian Finley's 1960, Ron Hutchinson's Rat in the Skull, Alex Finlayson's Winding the Ball, Tom Stoppard's Night and Day, and others. He recently directed The Turn of the Screw by Benjamin Britten and Myfanwy Piper for NC Opera. Nationally, he has worked at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, People's Light & Theatre Company near Philadelphia, Wellfleet Harbor Actors' Theatre in Massachusetts and The Phoenix Theatre at SUNY/ Purchase. He has worked or studied with David Edgar, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Jenkins, Adrian Hall, Nikos Psyacharapolous, Amanda Peet, Uta Hagen, Julie Bovasso and Ralph Waite.

About the Cast and Crew

Jude Fawley will be played by Raleigh's Stephen LeTrent (Lipstick Traces, Twelfth Night). Arabella Donn will be played by Liz Beckham (To Kill A Mockingbird, Tartuffe) of Austin, TX. Sue Bridehead will be played by NYC-based actor Alice Rothman-Hicks, a recent Columbia University graduate, who makes her Burning Coal debut with this production. The role of Richard Phillotson will be played by Elon's Kirby Wahl (The Prisoner's Dilemma). The cast also includes Samantha Rahn, John Allore, Julie Oliver, Angela Santucci, David Klionsky, Rob Jenkins, Greg Paul, Amy Amerson, Ashlea Barnett and, making his professional stage debut, Josh Martin as Young Jude/Little Father Time.

The scenery will be designed by New York City-based designer Warren Stiles (UNC School of the Arts) and the lighting will be designed by the New York City-based lighting designer Daniel Winters (Ohio University). Costumes will be designed by Raleigh's Karen Williams. Props will be created by Chapel Hill's Joncie Sarratt and Sound will be designed by Raleigh's Aharon Segal. The video elements of the production will be created by Chapel Hill's Ernie Gilbert. The production stage manager is Raleigh's Kim DiPiano. The assistant director will be Chapel Hill's Josh Benjamin and New York City's Robby Lotfy. The Production Dramaturg will be Marshall Botvinik of Durham and the technical director if Cary's Barry Jaked.

For further information, please contact Burning Coal's managing director, Simmie Kastner, at 919.834.4001 or visit our website at www.burningcoal.org.

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