PTP/NYC to participate in British playwright's worldwide tribute
October 9, 2009
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Actors on four continents and in 18 countries will join together to perform the work of British playwright Howard Barker in an event called "21 for 21," a celebration of the 21st birthday of Barker's theatre company, the Wrestling School, that will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Middlebury College affiliated PTP/NYC, an off-Broadway theatre company, will participate with its own sold-out production of Barker's "Judith, a Parting from the Body" just a few days later on Oct. 26 at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in Chelsea. PTP/NYC co-director Richard Romagnoli will direct Jan Maxwell, Alex Draper and Stephanie Janssen in the production.
Inspired by Artemsia Gentileschi's "Judith Beheading Holofernes," the brief play revolves around the Biblical story of Judith, the legendary heroine who decapitated the invading general Holofernes.
Maxwell has acted previously with PTP/NYC. Her acclaimed performance in PTP/NYC's 2008 production of Barker's "Scenes from an Execution" garnered her Drama Desk and New York Innovative Theatre (IT) Award nominations as Best Leading Actress. She is currently appearing on Broadway in "The Royal Family" and performed in New York in "Coram Boy," "Sound Of Music," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "Entertaining Mister Sloane." She has been nominated for two Tony Awards.
The other actors include Alex Draper, who played the central character in PTP/NYC's 2007 "No End of Blame," and was nominated for a New York IT Award for Best Actor. He is also a Middlebury College assistant professor of theatre. Stephanie Janssen, who also has a role, appeared in PTP/NYC's 2008 production of "Crave." She is a graduate of Middlebury, where she majored in theatre.
Along with his role as co-director of PTP/NYC, Richard Romagnoli is the director of all of Barker's work for the company. He is a professor of theatre at Middlebury College.
PTP/NYC co-founder and Middlebury College Professor of Theatre Cheryl Faraone said, "PTP/NYC is known for political theatre and has performed a number of Barker's works since it was founded in 1987 so it's very fitting that we take part in an event that celebrates his work. We are truly honored and excited to be a part of it."
During the worldwide celebration, Barker's plays and poetry will be spoken in seven languages by more than 200 performers. The festival includes a diverse range of theatre groups, from the long-established Royal Shakespeare Company, which will be in Newcastle, England, to the international Avatar Repertory Theatre, which will be performing in the online world of Second Life.
The project is the brainchild of executive producer Sarah Goldingay. She said, "Howard has been writing plays since the 1970s. I first came across his work when I was a student; I was mesmerized by his dark and erotic stories and poetic language. The 21st anniversary of the Wrestling School Theatre Company gives us a great reason to revisit his rich body of work, old and new. His plays seem even more relevant now in a world that is trying to understand the wars it is fighting and economic turmoil it is in. Everyone involved in the project is giving their time for free."
Off-Broadway theatre company PTP/NYC, which operates in association with Middlebury College, was founded in 1987 by the artistic triumvirate of Cheryl Faraone, Jim Petosa and Richard Romagnoli. During its 20 seasons (1987-2006) in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, the company produced 75 main stage productions along with numerous new play readings and late-night experimental productions.
In the summer of 2007, Potomac Theatre Project, as it was then known, returned to New York, with an annual month-long repertory season of political theatre that encompasses full productions, readings and a variety of ancillary events. The company performs at Atlantic Stage 2.
The 2010 season, running during July, will include Snoo Wilson's "Lovesong of the Electric Bear;" a play about Alan Turing, the code breaker of Bletchley Park and father of the modern computer; along with two other evenings of theatre and the late night After Dark series.
In its 23 seasons, the voices of PTP/NYC's writers have addressed the necessity and difficulty of art, pornography, AIDS, homelessness, censorship, totalitarianism, apartheid and gender wars, always in passionate, deeply human terms.
PTP/NYC's association with Middlebury is the only such collaboration in the country between a professional theatre company and an undergraduate liberal arts college.
More information about PTP/NYC is available at http://www.potomactheatreproject.org/.
More information about "21 on 21" is available at http://www.21421.co.uk.