No Rules Theatre Begins Signature Theatre Residency with BLACK COMEDY, Now thru 3/2

No Rules Theatre Company, now in their 4th Season, will begin residency at Signature Theatre with Peter Shaffer's "Black Comedy" tonight, February 7 - March 2, 2013.

A power-outage causes endless hilarity in this classic farce from famed playwright Peter Shaffer ("Equus", "Amadeus"). Young sculptor Brindsley Miller's schemes to impress his fiancée's father and a millionaire art collector are plunged into chaos when a fuse blows inside of his London apartment. Hilarious hijinks ensue in what is widely regarded to be one of the funniest farces of all time.

Press opening will be Saturday, February 9 at Signature Theatre 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA.

"I am thrilled to be able to bring 'Black Comedy' to life during our first season at Signature," said director Matt Cowart. "This play is funny, unique and inventive and the script provides both elements of slapstick comedy and character-driven wit."

"This is the centerpiece around which we built our season," said Producing Artistic Director Brian Sutow. "For [Co-Artistic Director] Joshua Morgan and I, humor has always been such a huge part of our lives, and yet No Rules has never before done a full out farce. We wanted to start our time at Signature with what we believe is one of the absolute funniest plays of all time."

Tickets for "Black Comedy" can be purchased online at or by calling 703-820-9771. Tickets are $30 and performances are Thursdays - Sunday at 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. through March 2.

Preview performances are February 7and 8 at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. $15 student rush tickets are available at the box office one hour before the performance. Subscriptions to No Rules Theatre Company's 4th season are available.

"Black Comedy" is written by Peter Shaffer and Directed by No Rules Theatre Company Member Matt Cowart. The play features Company Member Lisa Hodsoll, Producing Artistic Director Brian Sutow as well as Jerzy Gwiazdowski, Mandy Nicole Moore, Matthew R. Wilson, Ryan Mitchell and Dorea Schmidt. The Assistant Director is Kelly Wetherald with Scenic and Props Design by John Bowhers, Costume Design by Chelsey Schuller, Lighting Design by Travis McHale and Sound Design by Derek Knoderer

Playwright Peter Shaffer was born in Liverpool, England, on May 15, 1926, along with his twin brother, Anthony, who would also become a writer. Shaffer studied history on a scholarship from Cambridge University, and worked a number of odd jobs including coal miner, bookstore clerk, and assistant at the New York Public Library, before discovering his dramatic talents. Shaffer's first play, "The Salt Land" (1954) was presented on the BBC. Encouraged by this success, Shaffer continued to write and established his reputation as a playwright in 1958 with the production of "Five Finger Exercise" which opened in London under the direction of John Gielgud and won the Evening Standard Drama Award. When Five Finger Exercises moved to New York in 1959, it was equally well-received and landed Shaffer the Drama Critics Award.

Shaffer's canon contains a unique mix of philosophical dramas and satirical comedies such as "The Royal Hunt of the Sun" (1964) and "Black Comedy" (1965). As well as "Equus" (1973) which won Shaffer the 1975 Tony Award for Best Play as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and ran for over 1000 performances on Broadway. Shaffer followed this success with "Amadeus" (1979) which won the Evening Standard Drama Award and the Theatre Critics Award for the London production.

Director Matt Cowart most recently co-directed "Kiki Baby" at the New York Musical Theater Festival with long-time collaborator, Lonny Price. In April of last year, he produced and associate directed "Company" with the New York Philharmonic, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Martha Plimpton, Jon Cryer, Patti LuPone, and Christina Hendricks, which played in movie theaters across the country. Other directing credits include: "Camp Wanatachi", a new electro-musical that premiered Off-Broadway at La MaMa ETC; "Sondheim: the birthday concert", which aired on PBS Great Performances [Producer and Associate Director], "Annie Get Your Gun" at Ravinia in Chicago, starring Patti LuPone [Associate Director]; Broadway: "Three Generations" [Kennedy Center, Co-directed with Lonny Price]; "Camelot" with the New York Philharmonic starring Gabriel Byrne [Associate Director]; "My Favorite Things", a Rodgers and Hammerstein revue starring Shirley Jones [Associate Director]; "Beautiful Girls", starring Zoe Caldwell, Patti LuPone, Marin Mazzie, Donna McKechnie, and Jenn Colella [Associate Director]; the Broadway revival of "110 in the Shade" starring Audra McDonald [Assistant Director]; "Kiki Baby" at the Eugene O'Neill Music Theater Conference, the world premiere of "We Three" [Clark Studio Theater, Lincoln Center], and the critically acclaimed "Salacious Uncle Baldrick".

In the summer of 2009, he co-wrote and co-directed the original children's musical, "Dream Machines" (also with Isaac Klein and James Stewart). Matt is currently the co-artistic director of MUDasMAN productions, has served as artistic director of the OffBeat Theater Company, and as the associate artistic director of the 78th Street Theatre Lab. He was a 2004-05 Kenan Directing Fellow at the Lincoln Center Institute, and is an alumnus of the 2005 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. Matt is a member of SDC, and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He is currently developing a new musical, "Legend of the Word" with Isaac Klein and James Stewart as well as associate directing the upcoming premiere of "Sleepless in Seattle: the Musical".

No Rules Theatre Company found its origins at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Anne Kohn, Joshua Morgan and Brian Sutow, all students with a reputation for creating work beyond their rigorous course loads, decided to come together to produce a show. The result was a sold-out run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch that played at The Garage in Winston-Salem. Excited by their success, but not certain that their journey with that story was complete, the group began looking to transfer the production to a second location. In June of 2009 Hedwig began a second run in Washington, DC, where it was also met by critical praise and boasted many sold-out performances. From these humble beginnings the company's unique dual-city structure of performing work in Washington, DC and Winston-Salem, NC was born.

In just a few short seasons NRTC has grown rapidly, thanks in no small part to its reputation for consistently strong casting, experiential designs and dynamic programming. Each season the company presents a broad spectrum of work that seeks to illuminate a theme from several dynamically unique perspectives. In 2011 No Rules received the Helen Hayes Award for Best Emerging Theatre Company in recognition of the company's talent and unique contribution to the city's artistic landscape.

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