Art and class collide, as a group of Northern English miners unexpectedly ascend to the top of the art world in The Pitmen Painters at ACT – A Contemporary Theatre. Penned by playwright Lee Hall, author of the celebrated Billy Elliot, this critically acclaimed play from London and Broadway receives its regional premiere in ACT's dynamic in-the-round Allen Theatre directed by ACT's Artistic Director Kurt Beattie tonight April 26, and the show is scheduled to run until May 20.

The Pitmen Painters chronicles the true story of a group of miners from Ashington, Northumberland who discover their hidden potential for art. The sudden notoriety of the Ashington Group puts the pitmen at odds with their community, their work, and threatens their close-knit friendships.

In 1927, an artist and instructor named Robert Lyons from the Worker's Education Association visits Ashington to teach local miners about art appreciation, but after a combative and frustrating start, he suggests they instead try painting to gain a better understanding of art. Despite their lack of training, the miners soon become celebrated artists in the 1930s and 40s British art world. Art critic William Fever took an interest in the group and its meteoric rise and composed a book chronicling their lives and art called Pitmen Painters: The Ashington Group 1934-1984, and that manuscript later provided playwright Lee Hall with the source material for the stage adaption.

"The Pitmen Painters is a serious discussion about the potential in all of us, and how art offers us a chance to be most ourselves," says director Kurt Beattie. "But despite the in-depth conversation of society and art there is a great deal of humanity and humor in this play. These characters are at their best when they're expressing opinions and frank assessments of each other's work; the witty and honest critiques make for great lively banter."

Originally staged in Newcastle in 2007, the sold-out production moved to London's Royal National Theatre where it won the 2008 Evening Standard Award for Best Play. A touring and West End success, The Pitmen Painters also ran on Broadway to sold-out houses and critical acclaim, and is now being produced across the United States.

The Pitmen Painters is ACT's second Mainstage Production of the 2012 season featuring an exclusively all-Seattle design team as well as some of Seattle's favorite actors including R. Hamilton Wright and Charles Leggett and the ACT debut of Jason Marr in the lead role of Oliver. Also appearing will be Seattle actors Daniel Brockley, Christine Marie Brown, Frank Lawler, Joseph P. McCarthy, and Morgan Rowe.

There will be brief nudity.

Tickets are now on sale from (206) 292-7676 or Members of Teen Tix: $5. Adults: Single tickets $37.50 - $55. Students: $15; People 25 & under: $20; Seniors: 25% off adult ticket price.

Available to ACTPass holders. Pay-what-you-will: Every day, day of show (in person, starting at 1:00pm). Prices fluctuate based on demand. Artists subject to change.

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