Washington Stage Guild Presents HARD TIMES By Charles Dickens

By: Nov. 05, 2019

The Washington Stage Guild continues its season of great writers with a vividly theatrical adaptation of one of Charles Dickens's novels, Hard Times. Dickens's tale of love, loss, and circus folk is set against the backdrop of Industrial Revolution England. This clever version, in which four actors play dozens of characters, has not been seen in Washington for over two decades!

Hard Times, in part a satire of the 19th century movement utilitarianism, entangles some of Dickens's most colorful characters in a story taking place in the north of England, in the fictitious city of Coketown, where loveless marriages are arranged, facts are valued over imagination, and the cotton lords who own the mills are determined to prevent the weavers from striking.

"Stephen Jeffreys's adaptation turns the Dickensian story into an actors' tour de force, as four actors transform again and again," says Artistic Director Bill Largess. "As they turn from circus performers to schoolteachers to businessmen to union organizers, they bring to mind the tales of Dickens performing his own stories for the public, playing all the roles. While we can't quite match that, our cast is wonderfully bringing Coketown to life on a stage that becomes over a dozen locations. Four company favorites will display amazing range as they take on the many roles each one has to play."

Steven Carpenter is the Stage Guild's Associate Artistic Director. Hard Times marks his 19th show as an actor and his 35th show overall with WSG. Last season, he played the one-armed Joseph Tooker in Summerland. Other acting credits at the Guild include Widowers' Houses, Henry Higgins in Pygmalion, The Countess, and Stephen Undershaft in Major Barbara. He was nominated for his third Helen Hayes Award for sound design, performing the live on stage effects in the Guild's productions of It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. In DC, his credits include work with Ford's Theatre, Round House Theatre, the Folger and other companies. Regional credits include work at Virginia Rep, both Baltimore and Virginia Shakespeare Festivals and Wayside Theatre. He has directed at Rep Stage, Bay Theatre, Theater J, Theatre Alliance and Washington Stage Guild, including last season's Ibsen-bending hit Resolving Hedda. Also an audio book narrator, Steven has narrated 400+ titles for the National Library Service for the Blind.

Brit Herring has been in numerous WSG productions including: The Apple Cart and Discord, both directed by Bill Largess, and Red Herring and Inventing Van Gogh directed by Steven Carpenter. He has appeared Off-Broadway in Paradise at The Lion Theatre on Theatre Row and in the critically acclaimed revival of The Devil and Billy Markham by Shel Silverstein at Soho Playhouse. Brit has been seen in A Raisin in the Sun at Arena Stage, and Great Expectations at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore. At Shakespeare Theatre Company, he did turns in A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Alchemist and The Critic/The Real Inspector Hound (A joint production with The Guthrie Theatre). Brit has also performed with numerous other area companies. In addition, Brit narrates audio books for The Library of Congress.

Chelsea Mayo was last seen at the Stage Guild as Treva in Gulf View Drive. Other DC credits include Hamlet, Twelfth Night, King Charles III (u/s), Tartuffe (u/s), and The Importance of Being Earnest (u/s) at Shakespeare Theatre Company; Don Juan and bootleg productions of Henry VI Part 3 and Richard III at Taffety Punk Theatre Company; Doubt, The Night Alive, The Lady with the Little Dog, and The Veil at Quotidian Theatre Company. Chelsea has worked numerous times with Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and is also a teaching artist at STC and Ford's Theatre.

Sue Struve returns to the Washington Stage Guild, where she understudied the role of Aunt Julia in last season's Resolving Hedda. At Annapolis Shakespeare Company, Sue played Queen Margaret in Richard III, Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Mrs. Henry Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Sue played Margrethe Bohr in Copenhagen (Perisphere Theater), Ruth Steiner in Collected Stories (Peter's Alley Theatre Productions), Leonato in Much Ado about Nothing (Baltimore Shakespeare Factory), Mother in The Wedding Dress (Spooky Action Theater) and Marcela in Waxing West (4615 Theatre). Among other Annapolis area credits, Sue has also performed seventeen characters in Eleanor Roosevelt: Her Secret Journey at Compass Rose Theater.

Hard Times is directed by Bill Largess, a founding company member whose previous productions for the Guild include The Nibroc Trilogy, Back to Methuselah, Pygmalion, Discord, Murder in the Cathedral, The Marriage of Figaro, The Family Reunion, The Countess, and many others.

Set designers are Resident Designer Carl Gudenius and Jingwei Dai. Other design elements are provided by two of WSG's resident designers-Frank DiSalvo with sound, and Marianne Meadows with lighting; and we are delighted to welcome back Basmah Alomar to design costumes.


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