SEPTEMBER 21 - 24, 2017

2017 Press Releases

Announcing Provincetown's First Annual Equinox Party (9-4-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org 

PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL
AND THE MASTHEAD RESORT
ANNOUNCE THE FIRST ANNUAL
EQUINOX PARTY

booze, beer, and live Music
Saturday, September 16, 2017

 

September 4, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival and The Masthead Resort and Cottages are pleased to launch the first annual Equinox Party. The event, produced in partnership with local website ptownie.com and with South Dennis craft brewery Devil’s Purse Brewing Co., will be held at 31-41 Commercial Street in Provincetown on Saturday, September 16, from 3 p.m. to sunset.

Tickets are available at twptown.org. Entry to the event includes free spirits and beer, plus a special performance by Funktapuss, a Hyannis-based, six-piece band playing funk, jazz, hip-hop, and soul. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, or $100 for “Funkstar” status.

Funkstar tickets include an $80 tax-deductible donation to the Festival. Funkstars will receive a free pass to the Pirate’s Ball at Town Hall on September 21, plus a special additional benefit to be announced before the Festival.

Proceeds benefit the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, which brings four days of international theater and performance to Provincetown September 21-24. For the full line-up of shows – featuring performers from Philadelphia, Texas, South Africa, Turkey, Ghana, New York, Los Angeles, and the Cape – visit twptown.org

Says Festival Executive Director Jef Hall-Flavin: "So many people tell me that fall is their favorite time of year in Provincetown, and I have to agree! September is a breathtakingly beautiful month, and it's time we had a big town-wide party to celebrate the coming of fall. The end of the season is a mixed blessing in any tourist town. As the crowds thin, there is a bittersweet feeling that those long, hot days are ending. As much as we love summer, the people who live and work in Provincetown look forward to fall. It's our time of year, when we can take a breath and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

“This year, we wanted to inaugurate a new tradition that everyone in town can look forward to: the Equinox Party. We think fall is a great time to celebrate what makes Provincetown so amazing: the people that live here!

“The autumnal equinox is also a great moment to kick off the Tennessee Williams Festival, which happens at the end of every September. Each year at the Festival, we try to capture the essence of that transition from summer to fall. We're immensely proud of our hometown, and we hope this new annual party will become a must for everyone in P'town."

 

About Funktapuss

In the band’s own words, Funktapuss is “a six-piece groove factory that churns out smooth, sweaty New England style funk. Popping bass lines and hot guitar drive the bopping rhythm section, the backdrop to the band’s smooth, sexy vocals. With funky keyboards and saxophone added to the mix, Funktapuss keeps the crowds smiling and feet on the dance floor…

“From concert halls, to the bar, to the club, Funktapuss is a machine that brings the party wherever they go. They can rock a huge late-night festival crowd, or have heads bobbing in the jazz club. If you ever wondered what it would sound like if Stevie Wonder and Maceo Parker got together, you’re going to want to check out Funktapuss.”

The music of Funktapuss comprises original tunes and influences from such artists as Stevie Wonder, Soulive, Maceo Parker, and Victor Wooten, and many more that create music that hits you where it needs to.

The lead singer of Funktapuss, La Tez, appeared in the world premiere of the Williams play Green Eyes at the Provincetown TW Theater Festival in 2008.

 

About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.

This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn & Lounge.

TW Festival and the National Theatre of Ghana Present Ten Blocks on the Camino Real (8-30-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org

 

PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL
AND THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF GHANA PRESENT
TEN BLOCKS ON THE CAMINO REAL

Outdoor, drum-fueled production
will tour St. Louis, Detroit, Ann Arbor,
Washington D.C., and Worcester
with Provincetown performances September 21-24

 

August 30, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival (September 21-24) is excited to welcome a new touring production of the Tennessee Williams play Ten Blocks on the Camino Real, directed by Festival Curator David Kaplan and performed by Abibigromma, the national drama company of Ghana.

This 1947 one-act play, which eventually became Williams’ full-length drama Camino Real in 1953, is a thrilling phantasmagoria about a big-hearted hero lost in a ruthless world. It’s the story of Kilroy, a boxer with a “heart as big as the head of a baby,” who falls in love with a Gypsy’s daughter – and remains faithful even after death.

The big-hearted production, which brings vibrant music and West African flair to Williams’ story of love and heroism, toured marketplaces and outdoor venues in Accra in April 2016, and continues to tour throughout Ghana. Performed in English, the 75-minute show retains Williams' text, yet resonates with Ghanaian culture.

This September, Ten Blocks on the Camino Real comes to Provincetown as part of a multi-city U.S. tour, hosted by the Festival in partnership with the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, the University of Michigan in Detroit and Ann Arbor, the Georgetown University Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics in Washington, D.C., and Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

In Provincetown, the show performs at the “bas relief,” the green park behind Town Hall at the foot of Pilgrim Monument, September 21-24.

 

Williams Around the World

Since 1993, Kaplan has staged plays by Williams in Russia, Hong Kong, Uruguay, and throughout America, most recently the 2016 Rooming House Plays in St. Louis. Since the early years of the TW Festival in Provincetown, Kaplan says, the full-length Camino Real has struck him as a show that could be performed outdoors with a small ensemble of actors. “From the beginning,” he says, “I thought of it as a street theater performance.”

The idea led to Festival collaborations with director Sarah Michelson – whose revelatory version of Camino Real with the five-actor troupe Brooklyn on Foot played Provincetown in 2007 – and with director Davis Robinson, whose Boston company Beau Jest Moving Theatre performed Ten Blocks on the Camino Real with actors and marionettes in 2012.

The following year, Kaplan staged an outdoor production of Ten Blocks on the Camino Real with Raul Rodríguez Da Silva and his Taller de Teatro in a public marketplace in Paysandu, Uruguay. For that show, the team chose bright colors for the costumes and outsized gestures for the actors, so that the show resembled a circus act.

“The audience is meant to recognize these stock characters at once,” Kaplan says. “We put up banners that had the names of the characters on them, like fortune-telling cards. And because the story is episodic, the audience didn’t have to see everything to know what was going on. You could get something out of it just from walking by.”

The play speaks across cultures, Kaplan says, in its lyric writing and its folkloric images of love, greed, and bravery. It evokes Bertolt Brecht plays from the early twentieth century about sinister cities, as well as commedia dell’arte, the Italian street theater tradition established in the sixteenth century.

It also resembles Concert Party, a style of West African popular theater that evokes Italian commedia’s stock characters and musical storytelling style. It’s the heritage of Abibigromma, which was established in 1983 at the University of Ghana at Legon and became the resident troupe of the National Theatre of Ghana in 1991.

Ghana has a history of creatively appropriating European theater. During the decades-long struggle for independence from Great Britain, live performances relayed the rebellion’s successes, unreported by the colonial government. 

Ghanaian Concert Party began in the early 1900s, and still continues. Today, Abibigromma has developed a rich blend of music, dance, mime, movement, and dialogue with a strong social, spiritual, and folkloric base.

 

Rehearsal, Far and Wide

Kaplan connected with Abibigromma and visited the company in Accra for three weeks in the spring of 2016, during which time the group developed its Ten Blocks on the Camino Real and performed in marketplaces and outdoor venues around the country. Since last year, most rehearsals have been held online, via video conference.

The resulting show, Kaplan says, sits at “the crossroads of world theater. It combines commedia and Brecht with African theater traditions. From the moment rehearsals began in Ghana, we were laughing at the same jokes as actors and audiences in America and Uruguay.”

“I have so much respect for Abibigromma’s craft,” Kaplan adds. “The company has trained to travel, to perform, to teach, and to be involved in varied communities throughout Ghana, and now in America. They put into practice the power of the group. It’s been a privilege to work with them.”

Ghanaian actress Abena Takyi, who plays the courtesan Marguerite, spent much of her childhood in Manhattan and Queens, then returned to study theater and music at the University of Ghana at Legon. She joined Abibigromma last year.

“Tennessee Williams is brilliant,” she says, “and Camino Real is really a depiction of life. I’ve never played such a role before, but in this show, everyone is a star – everyone gets their shining moment.”

In the past year, she says she has grown closer to her Abibigromma friends with each successive show: “Playing together all the time gives you such good chemistry.”

When performing outside in public spaces, Takyi says, “the shyness factor has to go out the window.” There’s no room for stage fright when “we’re playing inside the audience, just like in the markets. We have a lot of interaction with them before the show, in costume, to get them to laugh and empathize with us. We get to know the type of people we’re playing for.”

In addition to her role in Ten Blocks on the Camino Real, Takyi appears in this year’s Festival production of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra – also directed by Kaplan – as one of several performers playing Cleopatra.

While the two plays were written hundreds of years apart, Ten Blocks on the Camino Real and Antony and Cleopatra both resonate powerfully today, says Kaplan. “If we’re all going to die someday, then in the interim, let’s enjoy life and love for a while. Asking that question of what it means to love, knowing that you’re going to die soon, is a very Tennessee Williams aim, and it feeds our production of Antony and Cleopatra as well.”

 

2017 U.S. Tour – Ten Blocks on the Camino Real

Sept 7 – 11      Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
Sept 12 – 18    University of Michigan Ann Arbor, with performances in Detroit
Sept 21 – 24    Provincetown TW Theater Festival
Sept 25 – 27    Georgetown Univ. Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, Washington D.C.
Sept 28 – 29    Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts

 

About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.

This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn and Lounge.

TW Festival Presents The Hotel Plays (7-19-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org

 

PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL
PRESENTS THE HOTEL PLAYS

 

Providence-based Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, in association with Trinity Rep,
will perform scenes from Williams and Shakespeare at
Provincetown’s historic Gifford House Inn
September 21-24

 

July 19, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival (September 21-24) is pleased to present a new staging of scenes from Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare by the Spectrum Theatre Ensemble (STE) of Providence, Rhode Island, in association with Trinity Repertory Company.

The Hotel Plays will combine the two iconic poet-playwrights under one roof at the historic Gifford House Inn. In the “hotel play” format, first developed by the Festival in 2009, audiences will move from room to room, where surprises wait behind every door.

This year, audiences will enjoy two of Williams’ most lyric texts: Mister Paradise, along with Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen... Waiting down the hall will be scenes set in inns from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and The Comedy of Errors.

The Hotel Plays has a cast of 14 and will feature actors Leslie Fray, Jim O’Brien, and Jason M. Shipman. The show come to the Festival from Providence, Rhode Island, staged by Trinity Rep’s Artistic Leadership and Inclusion Fellow, Clay B. Martin. His company, STE, is made up of theater artists along the autism spectrum, in collaboration with “neurotypical” actors who are not on the spectrum.

 

A Portal to the Poets 

“Environmental theater has become a signature of what our Festival can bring to the world of Williams,” says Festival Executive Director Jef Hall-Flavin. “Since 2009, when we first began producing short plays by Tennessee Williams in hotel rooms, the beauty and power of site-specific stagings has caught on. In recent years, theatergoers have discovered the joy of seeing Williams plays performed in hotel rooms around the globe, from Boston to London to South Africa.” 

In a Festival year that presents full productions of plays by Williams and Shakespeare side by side, Martin and co-director Erin Cawley see The Hotel Plays as a chance to more deeply connect our understanding of both playwrights.

“One thing we found, and really love, is the fluidity of both writers’ styles,” says Martin, “and how they can so easily navigate between comedy and tragedy, within almost the same breath. Mister Paradise can easily be done as a tragedy, but we’re finding such wry humor in it. And even though The Comedy of Errors is a comedy, it’s full of dark subject matter.”

Martin and Cawley both studied in the School of Theatre and Dance at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and they are alumni of the annual Tennessee Williams Institute (TWI), an immersive University-level symposium offered during the Festival.

TWI was founded at the graduate level to share the study of Williams with current and future theater artists and opinion-makers – including critics, teachers, and directors – who will leave Provincetown ready to share and build on what they’ve learned. 

Martin attended TWI in Provincetown in 2013; Cawley attended in 2015. In addition, both selected Williams as the focus of their thesis projects at Texas Tech.

“To come out of a program like TWI, and then to be invited back for our first festival production with STE – that is an exciting opportunity, and a wonderful thing,” says Martin. 

Cawley is trained in Shakespeare, and she assistant directed the Williams play Kirche, Küche, Kinder at last year’s Festival. During her thesis work on Williams, she says, “I was fascinated to see how many times he set his work in way stations, like boarding houses and hotel rooms. For me, this is an opportunity to explore this sense of being somewhere in the middle – and to put it on its feet in a practical setting.”

 

The Birth of a Company

While he was studying in Texas Tech’s fine arts graduate program, Martin’s desire to work alongside students with autism led him to co-found The BurkTech Players – a collaboration between the School of Theatre and Dance and the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research – in 2014. The company produces shows and leads performing arts classes for elementary, middle, and high school students with autism. 

Soon after, Martin began to learn more about the country’s largest theater program designed for people with autism: Trinity Rep’s Active Imagination Network (TRAIN), run by Trinity Repertory Company at Brown University. During a visit to Providence, Martin met with TRAIN founder Jordan Butterfield

The meeting grew into an application, co-written by Martin and Butterfield, for a grant from Theatre Communications Group’s (TCG) Leadership U. Last summer, soon after earning his Master’s degree from Texas Tech, Martin received the grant for $75,000. This allowed Martin to join Trinity Rep as the Artistic Leadership and Inclusion Fellow, and to collaborate with Butterfield on the creation of STE – a sibling company to The BurkTech Players in Lubbock – through early 2018.

“For the last seven years, TRAIN has been reaching children and adults on the autism spectrum through theater, playwriting and improvisation,” says Butterfield. “These art forms are inherently social and require empathy and understanding, but also allow you to be introspective, creative, and in tune with your own body.” 

Many of the young artists who are now part of STE, she adds, are TRAIN alumni. “This group will not only make powerful productions, but also help to create a more sensory friendly season at Trinity Rep, and teach theater workshops out in the community,” she says. “It expands the TRAIN network while adding access for many people who would not otherwise see or partake in theater.”

“STE is diverse,” agrees Martin. “The group includes adults on the autism spectrum, as well as professional actors who are neurotypical, some of whom have been performing at Trinity Rep for years.” The group, he adds, will live on past the end of his grant in early 2018.

 

Advance Showings in Providence

In advance of their arrival to Provincetown, STE’s actors will present a scene from The Hotel Plays at Trinity Rep’s season opener event on the evening of Sunday, September 10. Entry is free. 

Then, from September 14-16, STE will perform The Hotel Plays in full at Providence’s historic Barnaby Castle. This will be a fundraiser for the company as well as for the Victorian mansion, which was built in 1875. Ticket prices will be announced later this summer.

The following week, from September 21-24, The Hotel Plays will run in Provincetown at the historic Gifford House. Constructed in the mid-19th century at one of the highest points in Provincetown, the Gifford House Inn was the last stop for the stagecoach as early as 1858.

 

About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival: 

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.

This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn & Lounge. 

Announcing the 2017 Season: Williams and Shakespeare (6-5-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org

 

PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL
ANNOUNCES 2017 SEASON:

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS AND WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
SEPTEMBER 21-24

 

June 5, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) A South African Hamlet performed in a shallow tank of water at Fisherman’s Wharf. A drum-fueled, outdoor production of Ten Blocks on the Camino Real imported from Ghana. Pericles staged on board the 66-foot Rose Dorothea fishing schooner.

These are just a few of the colorful, international shows that make up the 12th annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

This year’s Festival presents plays by Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare: the two great poet playwrights of the English language. The four-day extravaganza presents shows all over town, performed by theater companies from around the world. Audiences will experience Williams and Shakespeare side by side, offering a new understanding of both playwrights. 

This year’s shows include Hamlet at the Wharf by Cape Town’s Abrahamse-Meyer Productions, Ten Blocks on the Camino Real by the National Theatre of Ghana, and a new production of Pericles by DieCast, a Philadelphia ensemble adept at performing in non-theater spaces. 

This year’s program also includes Abrahamse-Meyer’s Sweet Bird of Youth starring South African film and stage star Fiona Ramsay, the 2017 Hotel Plays staged throughout various rooms of the historic Gifford House by the Spectrum Theatre Ensemble from Providence, and a fusion of Shakespeare’s clowning and Williams’ grotesque humor called Dumb Show and Noise featuring professional clown Jay Stewart. 

Rounding out the Festival are a lovely and lunatic staging of the Williams one-act The Gnädiges Fräulein from Texas Tech University, directed by Festival Executive Director Jef Hall-Flavin, and a special Sunday performance of Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra, directed by Festival Curator David Kaplan with an international cast including Robertson Dean, Marcel Meyer, TC Meltem from the National Theater of Turkey, AB Abenyi from the National Theater of Ghana, and the legendary Everett Quinton from New York City’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company. 

The Festival also features educational classes, parties, donor events, movies and musical events throughout the four-day celebration. Further programming will be announced throughout the summer. 

Shakespeare and Williams mastered their craft while living in turbulent times, says Kaplan. “For Shakespeare, the death of his only son in the year the queen of England died; for Williams, the death of his long-time lover in the year the president died.” 

In these periods of Williams’ and Shakespeare’s writing, Kaplan says, water recurs as an image of instability: “Both has twenty more years to live, and in that score of years their plays upended conventional ideas of what was farce and what was tragedy in a world for them turned as suddenly unstable as a ship in a storm.” 

In the scenic, seaside village of Provincetown, Festival Board President Patrick Falco sees a perfect setting for these plays. “Not only do these stories carry us across the centuries,” he says, “they come to us from theater groups all across the globe.” 

“Last year’s Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill was our most popular festival ever,” Falco adds. “We are delighted to see the festival continue to grow in the heart of this historic arts colony, and to host thousands of visitors and artists that are global and also deeply local.”

The program includes: 

Plays by William Shakespeare:

HAMLET
Tragedy at Sea
Abrahamse & Meyer Productions / Cape Town, South Africa
directed by Fred Abrahamse
featuring Marcel Meyer

This acclaimed South African production of Shakespeare’s most famous play is inspired by records of a performance on board an East India merchant ship over 400 years ago.

In September 1607, the captain of a British ship off the coast of West Africa wrote in his diary: “We had The Tragedy of Hamlet: and in the afternoon, we went together ashore, to see if we could shoot an elephant.” The following year, a second performance of Hamlet was held off the east coast of South Africa. 

From these footnotes to history, Abrahamse & Meyer Productions has crafted a much-loved production of Hamlet that, in Provincetown, will be performed in a shallow tank of water inside the historic Fisherman’s Wharf. 

It’s a vicious and vivid show that pays homage – from its pool-side design to its quick-changing, all-male cast – to a play that keeps evolving across oceans and centuries. 

Hamlet is paired, in repertory, with Tennessee Williams’ rarely-seen classic Sweet Bird of Youth.

 

PERICLES
Pirate Romance
DieCast / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
directed by Brenna Geffers
featuring Chris Anthony

Shakespeare’s thrilling Mediterranean adventure comes to life aboard the Rose Dorothea, a 66-foot fishing schooner, staged by the creators of last year’s hit The Hairy Ape

In a legendary and impure world, the big-hearted hero Pericles is washed clean, and the innocent heroine Marina is beset by horrors. Chris Anthony – who played Yank in The Hairy Ape – will play Gower the narrator, as well as a pirate who rescues Marina from the brink of death, only to sell her to a bordello (spoiler alert: there’s a happy ending). 

Brenna Geffers’ company, DieCast, performs in non-theater spaces, and in Provincetown they will stage Pericles on the deck of the Rose Dorothea, the 66-foot fishing schooner inside the Provincetown Library. 

Pericles is thematically paired with the National Theatre of Ghana’s production of Ten Blocks on the Camino Real.

 

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
A Love for the Ages
TW Festival / Provincetown, Massachusetts
directed by David Kaplan
featuring AB Abenyi, Robertson Dean, TC Meltem,
Marcel Meyer, and Everett Quinton 

Actors from around the world gather at Town Hall for one performance that captures this year’s biggest ideas and themes. 

Who owns the right to tell your story – and how will history remember you as a result? These questions swirl at the heart of Shakespeare’s tragic romance in a stripped-down production of the first three acts, directed by Festival Curator David Kaplan with an international cast. 

Starring Robertson Dean (from last year’s Kirche, Küche, Kinder) as Marc Antony, and Cleopatras from around the world: TC Meltem from the National Theatre of Turkey, AB Abenyi from the National Drama Company of Ghana, and Everett Quinton from New York City’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company. A constellation of Festival actors fills out the cast. 

In Antony and Cleopatra, the act of history-making is as bold an endeavor as love-making, and more lasting. The play is the key to the Festival’s theme: exploring the reconciliation of opposites such as male and female, Rome and Egypt, modernity and tradition, love and death, and the mix of farce and tragedy we live with in America today.

 

Plays by Tennessee Williams:

TEN BLOCKS ON THE CAMINO REAL
Open-Air Drama
National Theatre of Ghana / Accra, Ghana
directed by David Kaplan 

A big-hearted Williams one-act about love and heroism, staged with West African flair in a performance full of vibrant song and dance, perfectly suited to the outdoor marketplace. 

This one-act play from 1947, which eventually became Williams’ full-length drama Camino Real in 1953, still stands as a thrilling phantasmagoria about a big-hearted hero lost in a ruthless world. It’s the story of Kilroy, a boxer with a “heart as big as the head of a baby,” who falls in love with a Gypsy’s daughter – and remains faithful even after death. 

Director David Kaplan created this production with Abibigromma, the national drama company of Ghana. The show has played outdoors in Ghanaian marketplaces, and arrives as part of a multi-city tour in summer 2017 to communities throughout the United States.

In Provincetown, the show performs at the “bas relief,” the green park behind Town Hall at the foot of Pilgrim Monument. 

Ten Blocks on the Camino Real is thematically paired with DieCast’s production of Pericles.

 

SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
Southern Drama
Abrahamse & Meyer Productions / Cape Town, South Africa
in association with the TW Festival
directed by Fred Abrahamse
featuring Marcel Meyer and Fiona Ramsay

An ambitious golden boy’s dreams run aground on the rocky shores of small-town Mississippi politics in Williams’ rarely-seen classic, staged by Festival favorites from South Africa. 

Set in the Gulf Coast village of Saint Cloud, where small-town politics are as rotten as any in the state of Denmark, Sweet Bird of Youth tracks the fading dreams of a traveler returning home. Marcel Meyer plays the gigolo Chance Wayne as a mirror to Hamlet: another princely hero who is expected to save the day and does not. 

Like Shakespeare’s HamletSweet Bird is a drama of hesitation and inaction that asks: what does it mean to be a king or queen, and what does it mean to be a hero?

Alongside Chance, the former movie star Alexandra Del Lago (traveling incognito as Princess Kosmonopolis)—played here by South African film and stage star Fiona Ramsay – faces her own uncertain future. 

This all-new production of Sweet Bird of Youth is paired in repertory with Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Hamlet. Both shows are directed by Fred Abrahamse, whose Festival credits include The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here AnymoreKingdom of Earth, and Desire Under the Elms.

 

THE GNÄDIGES FRÄULEIN
Absurdist Drama
Texas Tech University / Lubbock, Texas
directed by Jef Hall-Flavin
featuring Rachel Hirshorn and Anthea Thompson

Williams’ hilariously bizarre one-act about ragged souls trapped in a cruel, surrealist version of Key West is hard to pronounce – and impossible to forget. 

In The Gnädiges Fräulein, Williams leaves behind the poetic realism of his earlier plays. The resulting one-act – which translates from German as “the lovely maiden” – depicts the feral inhabitants of a place called Cocaloony Key. The titular character, a German cabaret star grown old, supports herself by competing for fish with the mythical cocaloony birds that hover threateningly overhead. 

This lovely, lunatic play is produced with Texas Tech University, which bravely brought us last year’s Kirche, Küche, Kinder (An Outrage for the Stage). This year’s show, under the direction of the Festival's Executive Director Jef Hall-Flavin, pairs two of the Festival’s most shameless leading ladies: Rachel Hirshorn (Kirche, Küche, Kinder) and Anthea Thompson (Kingdom of Earth).

 

Plus special events:

THE 2017 HOTEL PLAYS
Environmental Theater
Spectrum Theatre Ensemble / Providence, Rhode Island
in association with Trinity Rep
directed by Clay Martin and Erin Cawley 

Worlds of hilarity and heartbreak await behind every door… 

This year’s Hotel Plays combine Shakespeare and Williams under one roof: Provincetown’s historic Gifford House. Audiences will travel through the building’s many portals, encountering two of Williams’ most lyric texts: Mr. Paradise and Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen… Waiting down the hall will be scenes from Cymbeline and The Comedy of Errors, set by Shakespeare in inns. 

The 2017 Hotel Plays come from Providence, Rhode Island, staged by Trinity Rep’s Artistic Leadership and Inclusion Fellow Clay Martin, co-director Erin Cawley, and the Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, made up of theater artists along the autism spectrum.

 

DUMB SHOW AND NOISE
Slapstick
Stewart Family Entertainment / Brewster, Massachusetts
by Jay Stewart and Mike Smith 

Shakespeare’s clowning and Williams’ grotesque humor fuse together in a fast-paced, slapstick recap of the Festival – from tears to triumphs to storms at sea – performed while speaking nary a word.

In this year’s lineup of plays, the boundaries between farce and tragedy melt away. But in this almost-silent dumb show, Shakespeare and Williams’ fools and tragic heroes collide in a waterlogged free-for-all featuring Brewster-based clown Jay Stewart, joined by his Idaho-based partner Mike Smith

Pouring out the slapstick, they will reprise the flow of the Festival, from Hamlet’s storm at sea to the fountain of the Camino Real – with few words, and buckets of humor.

 

WILLIAMS 101
Discussion
with Patricia Navarra and Festival guest artists

This entertaining 90-minute lesson on Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare will brief audiences on the playwrights, with handy insights about our lineup of performances.

Hosted by Patricia Navarro of Hofstra University, Williams 101 is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare. 

With brief, informative backgrounds on each playwright, the discussion will prime your pump for a weekend of theater. Peppered with Festival artists, Williams 101 provides audience members with practical insights into the thematic through-lines of the Festival lineup. 

 

About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival 

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook

This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn & Lounge.

Theater Director Michael Kahn Receives First Annual TENN Award (5-18-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org

 

THEATER DIRECTOR MICHAEL KAHN
RECEIVES FIRST ANNUAL TENN AWARD
FROM THE PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL

 

May 18, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival is pleased to announce American theater director, educator, and arts leader Michael Kahn as the recipient of the Festival’s first-ever TENN Award.

This recognition inaugurates an annual tradition in which the Festival honors an individual, group, or organization that advances the spirit of Tennessee Williams through performance, public awareness, study, or publication.

Throughout his accomplished career, Kahn has delved deeply into the work of Williams and of Shakespeare — making him an exemplary honoree in advance of the organization’s 12th-annual Festival, which will celebrate Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare when performances around the world come to Provincetown from Sept. 21-24, 2017.

Accepting the award, Michael Kahn says that “Tennessee Williams has made an indelible impression on me, and his writing continues to shape and provoke deep questions about what is possible on stage. I am thankful that the Tennessee Williams festival in Provincetown has dedicated the past 12 years to uncovering lesser-known and unseen sides of Williams, and I am honored to receive this year’s TENN Award. I am eager to see the festival continue to grow, and I look forward to seeing more discoveries made by Williams-inspired artists around the world in coming years.”

Festival Executive Director Jef Hall-Flavin says that “Michael Kahn is a brilliant theater artist, and because of his longstanding commitment to staging great texts, audiences better understand what makes Tennessee Williams our great American playwright. His tireless passion for Shakespeare, which has animated his 31-year tenure at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, opens up new worlds to us year after year, even within well-known and much-loved texts.”

Festival Curator David Kaplan feels that Kahn is especially noteworthy because “he's been an advocate for Tennessee Williams since the 1960s. The collective impact of his work has changed Williams' reputation – especially for the one-acts. These productions successfully expand, for audiences and theater artists, the magnitude of Williams’ achievement, well beyond conventional cultural gate-keepers.”

Hall-Flavin adds that “Kahn’s direct personal connection to Williams in the ’60s and ’70s, combined with his 50-plus years of work to champion lesser-known plays by Williams, positions him beautifully to receive this award. His legacy as a Williams director and our work here at the Provincetown Festival are in perfect harmony.”

 

About Michael Kahn:

Born in Brooklyn in 1937, Kahn has worked as Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) in Washington, D.C. since 1986. Concurrently, he was also the Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division at the Juilliard School in New York City from 1992 to 2006.

Kahn began his career Off-Off Broadway in 1964, directing experimental plays and other works that included Shakespeare. He became a staff member at Juilliard in 1968.

In addition to his extensive credits directed Shakespeare over the years, Kahn has a storied history of directing Williams plays. He directed the inaugural production of Camino Real at the new Robert S. Marx Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park in 1968.

His 1974 production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT transferred to Broadway in 1975 – a run that earned Elizabeth Ashley a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Maggie the Cat alongside Keir Dullea, Fred Gwyne, and Kate Reid.

In a 2013 essay for The New York Times, Jeb Brown reflected on his role, as a ten-year-old actor, in that production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and recalls the regular presence of “Tennessee himself” during that yearlong rehearsal process. “It’s almost hard to imagine today that he collaborated with us as a living playwright,” Brown wrote. “He assembled a new third act for our production, revised the play extensively and went on record again and again with his enthusiasm for Michael Kahn’s staging. And he reserved special, worshipful praise for Liz, whom he felt was giving audiences the Maggie he had always imagined.”

In the mid-1970s, Kahn directed a cast of Juilliard students (which included Robin Williams) in The Night of the Iguana, as well as a production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ that featured actors Glenn Close as Stella and Shirley Knight as Blanche. In 1975 he produced a revised version of Kingdom of Earth at the McCarter, which was directed by Garland Wright.

Kahn directed The Glass Menagerie for the Chautauqua Theater Company in 1985, Ten by Tennessee off-Broadway for The Acting Company’s 1985-86 season, and Five by Tenn for The Acting Company’s 1987-88 and 1990-91 seasons.

In 2004, Kahn directed a new Five By Tenn that featured the world premieres of five one-acts plays, which he staged at the Manhattan Theatre Club and at STC in Washington, D.C. His successful staging of those one-acts, which were not offered for production or publication during Williams’ lifetime, provided much of the impetus for getting them published in what became Mister Paradise and Other One-Act Plays in 2005.

At the STC, Kahn’s Tennessee Williams directing credits also include productions of Sweet Bird of Youth in 1998 and Camino Real in 2000. He has also worked as the artistic director for several other companies, directing regional theater and opera and receiving numerous awards and honors.

On February 8, 2017, Kahn announced that he will resign as Artistic Director in July 2019.

About the 2017 Festival Program: 

Details of the Festival’s full September 2017 line-up of shows will be announced at the Annual Dinner on Saturday, June 3, 2017. The gala will be held at Town Hall in Provincetown.

Festival board members Deborah Bowles and Jim Mauro will co-chair the event, and the Festival thanks Fleur du Cap wines for their sponsorship of this event.

Premium seats, general admission tickets, and table sponsorships for the Annual Dinner are available online at twptown.org or by phone at 866-789-TENN.

The line-up will include productions of Williams’ work paired with works by Shakespeare, as well as lighter “lagniappe” experiences similar to recent cabaret and late-night Festival events such as last year’s Saloon Songs.

This year’s theme builds off the success of last year’s festival, during which plays by Williams were paired with plays by Eugene O’Neill. In 2017, the experience of Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare side by side in performance, educational programming, and social events will offer Festival audiences a new understanding of both playwrights.


About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival:
 

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.

This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn & Lounge.

Emmy-Winning Actor Dana Delany is Guest of Honor at June 3 Gala Celebration (5-2-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org

 

EMMY-WINNING ACTOR DANA DELANY
IS GUEST OF HONOR AT JUNE 3 GALA CELEBRATION
FOR THE PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL

 

May 2, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival is pleased to announce two-time Emmy Award-winning stage and screen actor Dana Delany as the guest of honor at the Festival’s Annual Dinner on Saturday, June 3, 2017.

The gala will be held at Town Hall in Provincetown to support the organization’s 12th-annual Festival, which will celebrate Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare when performances from around the world come to Provincetown from Sept. 21-24, 2017. Per tradition, details of the Festival’s full program will be announced at the dinner.

Delany comes to Provincetown following her recent appearance onstage as Maxine, the hotel manager in the 1961 Tennessee Williams play The Night of the Iguana – a role previously played by Bette Davis and Ava Gardner – in a production directed by Michael Wilson at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge in February and March.

In a moderated conversation at the June 3 dinner, Delany will discuss her recent stage work in Boston, and shed light on her entry into the world of Tennessee Williams alongside co-stars James Earl Jones, Amanda Plummer, and Elizabeth Ashley. 

Delany’s career spans more than thirty years, including leading roles on several hit TV shows including ABC’s China Beach from 1988-1991, for which she won two Primetime Emmy Awards. More recently, Delany starred in the ABC dramas Body of Proof and Desperate Housewives, and in films including Light Sleeper, Tombstone, Exit to Eden, Fly Away Home, True Women, and Wide Awake. She is currently starring in season two of Hand of God on Amazon.

Festival Executive Director Jef Hall-Flavin says that Delany is “an accomplished performer and advocate for the arts, and an engaging addition to this year’s kick-off celebration,” citing Delany’s unique and varied career in film, television, and theater since the late 1970s. “We are delighted to welcome her, and we look forward to hearing about her recent work with Tennessee Williams as well as her diverse career bringing memorable and provocative characters to life.”

Delany says that Tennessee Williams has always captivated her. “Since childhood, my dream was to play Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” she says. Although her initiation into Williams came later in life, she says she’s newly excited by the possibilities: “Now I get to play the older women. Now the juicy stuff really starts.”

After finishing the run of Iguana in March, and reading John Lahr’s 2014 biography Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, Delany says she is “even more obsessed with Williams” and looks forward to “meeting as many people as I can and learning as much as I can” at the June 3 dinner.

Delany’s desire to become an actor began in childhood, when she attended many Broadway shows with her family. Born in New York City, Delany grew up in Stamford, Connecticut. She performed onstage as a student at Phillips Academy in Andover and later majored in theater at Wesleyan University, during which time she honed her craft in summer stock productions. 

In the 1980s, before moving to Hollywood, Delany starred in the Broadway show A Life and received critical acclaim in Nicholas Kazan’s 1983 off-Broadway production of Blood Moon. She returned to theater in the 2000s, appearing in a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dinner With Friends that ran in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston, as well as in a 2003 San Diego production of Much Ado About Nothing, in which she played the funny and irascible leading lady Beatrice. 

The Hollywood machine pulled Delany in at the age of 22, but she says that “I started in theater, and the older I get, the more I try to do theater.” Unlike acting on camera, she adds, “theater uses all of you, and it’s a great challenge. It takes 100 percent of your being to do theater, and everything – the text, the energy, the focus, the audience – has to come together quickly on one night. As an actor, that makes a huge difference.” 

Delany adds that she is especially excited to attend the Dinner for the reveal of this year’s Festival line-up of Williams and Shakespeare productions, since she admires how both playwrights created characters who are “at the end of their rope, or on the edge somehow, and they both do it in language that is earthy, human, and poetic at the same time.” 

Premium seats, general admission tickets, and table sponsorships for the Annual Dinner are available online at twptown.org or by phone at 866-789-TENN

Festival board members Deborah Bowles and James Mauro will co-chair the event, and the Festival thanks Fleur du Cap wines for their sponsorship of this event. 

The 2017 Annual Dinner will also inaugurate a new tradition by awarding the first-ever TENN Award to an individual, group, or organization that advances the spirit of Tennessee Williams through performance, public awareness, study, or publication. The recipient of the TENN Award will be announced in a separate release. 

About the 2017 Festival Program 

The 2017 Festival program will be announced in full at the Dinner. The line-up will include productions of Williams’ work paired with works by Shakespeare, as well as lighter “lagniappe” experiences similar to recent cabaret and late-night Festival events such as last year’s Movie Night and Saloon Songs

This year’s theme builds off the success of last year’s festival, during which plays by Williams were paired with plays by Eugene O’Neill. In 2017, the experience of Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare side by side in performance, educational programming, and social events will offer Festival audiences a new understanding of both playwrights. 

About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival:

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.

This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn & Lounge.

Festival and International Artists Rehearse "Antony and Cleopatra" in Turkey (4-12-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org

 

PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL
AND INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS
REHEARSE ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
AT BILKENT UNIVERSITY IN ANKARA, TURKEY

 

Shakespeare’s tragedy takes a global path to Provincetown
with actors Robertson Dean, Marcel Meyer, and Everett Quinton 

 

April 12, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) With six months to go until the annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival in September, Festival artists were hard at work 5,000 miles away.

During a two-week residency in March at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, performers from the U.S. and South Africa rehearsed alongside Turkish undergraduate theater students and faculty on a new international staging of the 400-year-old tragedy Antony and Cleopatra.

Directed by Festival Curator David Kaplan, the show will take a prominent place in this year’s Festival, which will celebrate connections between Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare in Provincetown from Sept. 21-24.

Kaplan plans to anchor this year’s Festival with a special, one-day-only performance of the first half of Antony and Cleopatra on Sunday, Sept. 24 at the historic Town Hall in Provincetown.

This work in progress will be presented in association with Bilkent University, which was founded in 1984 as the first private university in Turkey. Several Turkish actors from Bilkent plan to travel to Provincetown to take part in the Festival performance.

A Global Cast

“David Kaplan created an environment that was all about exploration,” says Jason Hale, Chair of the Theatre Department at Bilkent.

The residency began with two days of general Shakespeare workshops, Hale says, before shifting into rehearsals for Antony and Cleopatra. The residency also included an open rehearsal presentation in the university’s 700-seat symphony orchestra hall on March 27, in celebration of World Theatre Day.

For rehearsals with the Turkish students, Kaplan was joined by the Los Angeles-based actor Robertson Dean (who directed and performed in last year’s Kirche, Küche, Kinder) and by actor Marcel Meyer from Cape Town, South Africa, whose company Abrahamse-Meyer Productions has collaborated with the Festival for many years, most recently for last year’s productions of Desire Under the Elms and A Perfect Analysis Given By a Parrot.

Dean will play Marc Antony, while Meyer will play Octavius Caesar (Augustus). American actor and Festival favorite Jeremy Lawrence will play Lepidus. Four actors from Turkey – including two Bilkent faculty members who are stars of the Turkish National State Theatre – have been sponsored by Bilkent University to continue the work they began in Ankara, playing several roles including Sextus Pompey.

These actors will be joined onstage in Provincetown by Obie Award-winning actor Everett Quinton, who last appeared at the Festival in 2016 to direct In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel. A longtime member of the queer-surrealist Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York, Quinton will play “one of the Cleopatras,” says Kaplan.

This unusual casting detail – that the queen of Egypt will be played by several actors – is driven by Kaplan’s interest in “dramatizing the appropriation” of that famous figure.

“Who is Cleopatra?” says Kaplan. “It depends on whom you ask. She’s African. She’s Greek. She’s an aging boy actor. She’s a fantasy projection. She’s an exotic temptress. She’s a wise ruler. She’s Sarah Bernhardt. She’s Claudette Colbert. She’s Liz Taylor. In this production, I want to dramatize that. Who she is depends on who’s telling the story.”

Living History

Turkey proved a dramatic and relevant setting in which to rehearse a play that so strongly echoes the histories of this part of the world.

During their two-week residency, Kaplan and the artists took a day trip to Ankara’s ancient Monumentum Ancyranum to read the inscription of the “Deeds of the Divine Augustus,” carved there on behest of the first Roman emperor – a main character in Antony and Cleopatra – before his death in 14 A.D. The emperor who bested Antony and Cleopatra wrote the history; Augustus proclaims his victories, but doesn’t mention his opponents by name.

Today, Ankara – a cosmopolitan capital located near the center of the country – enjoys a reputation as a center for the performing arts, including national theater companies, the State Opera and Ballet, and the Presidential Symphony Orchestra. Bilkent University enrolls roughly 13,000 students, 90 percent of whom are native Turkish. The school’s medium of instruction is in English.

“Kaplan has brilliant insights, but he puts things in very simple terms,” Hale says. “It’s to his credit that his openness brings students in. Working with someone like David expands our students’ understandings of world directors and world theater.”

As for Kaplan and the visiting artists, Hale says, “I think their eyes were widened by a better understanding of Turkish culture. Turkey strongly embraces Western theater – like Williams, Miller, and O’Neill – and the audiences who go to see shows in this country are varied and diverse, from teenagers to intellectuals to working class people.”

Hale, an American expat living and working in Turkey for the past four years, has 25 years of experience as an actor, director, and teacher of acting in the U.S. and internationally. He took a faculty position at Bilkent after his award-winning 2011 production of The Glass Menagerie at the National Turkish State Theater toured the country for two years, and was selected to perform at the International Sabanci Theater Festival in Adana and Istanbul.

Speaking to the Gods

For September’s Festival performance at Town Hall, Kaplan explains, the audience will be seated in the balcony, while the actors perform down below. This will allow the production to play with distance.

“This is a play about who is telling the story, and to whom, and which stories we choose to believe,” Kaplan says. “The story is begun by Octavian, which means you’re first hearing about Antony and Cleopatra from someone who doesn’t like them. We have an ongoing conflict, with Antony, Octavian, Cleopatra, and many other characters, all fighting to tell the story. It gives the audience a job: whose story do they follow? The players look up to address the audience, in the same way that actors in Shakespeare’s Globe and in the Roman Colosseum looked up.”

This one-off Sunday production will feature numerous actors and performers from other Festival shows, making it an important touchstone in this year’s line-up.

Kaplan describes this production as a “tuning fork” of sorts. “It’s like the dominant key in the music of this year’s shows,” he says, “and it will show audiences what all of our programming has in common this year – based on what two great masters of the English language were able to accomplish using language and nothing else.”

For the Provincetown showing on Sept. 24 at Town Hall, Lefty Lucy will design the costumes, and Dan Jackson will design the set – a minimal space that will include only tables and chairs. As Kaplan puts it: “this is not a play about palm trees and pyramids.”

Shakespeare and Williams

This year, the Festival inquires into one simple question: what can we see in Shakespeare’s plays by looking through the lens of Tennessee Williams?

“Williams and Shakespeare both moved seamlessly, in the later years of their writing, from tragedy to farce and back again, within the same work,” Kaplan says. “This is very true in Antony and Cleopatra. It’s also a play, like much of Williams, that is encrusted with a history of misunderstandings.” The play, while intimate, centers on an urgently political story – a far cry from romances like Romeo and Juliet.

“Like our season, this play ultimately is about the reconciliation of opposites – East and West, male and female, Rome and Egypt, modernity and tradition, love and death – and how adults learn to live with that,” Kaplan says. “Romeo and Juliet die young, but adults have to learn to live with ambivalence in an unsure world. This is also what Williams is talking about in his later plays: the mix of farce and tragedy, something we live with in America today.”

This is why Kaplan’s production of Antony and Cleopatra this year will only run through the end of Act 3, Scene 2.

“At that moment in the play, the characters are in the same kind of bubble that Williams so often presents: a floating bubble of hope. When audiences watch a Williams play, they are aware that the bubble is going to fall, but they still hope that it doesn’t. Can we see this happen in a Shakespeare play, too? I think so – and we can make it funny and satisfying, too.”

About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival:

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.

This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn & Lounge.

TW Festival and Texas Tech Present "The Gnädiges Fräulein" (3-21-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org

 

PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL
AND TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY
PRESENT THE GNÄDIGES FRÄULEIN

 

March 21, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival and the Department of Theatre and Dance at Texas Tech University (TTU) are pleased to announce a co-production of the Tennessee Williams play The Gnädiges Fräulein as part of the 12th-annual Festival this September.

The new production, directed by Festival Executive Director Jef Hall-Flavin, will be presented at The Provincetown Theater at 238 Bradford Street in Provincetown. This year’s Festival, to be held in Provincetown Sept. 21-24, will celebrate connections between Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare

Festival Curator David Kaplan sees the show as a doorway into the sensibility of a season in which Tennessee Williams plays will be paired thematically with Shakespeare plays. It is, Kaplan says, “a head-turning play in which Williams sets out strategies for survival, simultaneously poignant and ridiculous.”

About the Play:

Published in 1965, The Gnädiges Fräulein (pronounced “ga-NEH-de-gus FRAH-line”) was first produced as one of two plays under the title Slapstick Tragedy, alongside The Mutilated (produced by the Festival in 2013).

The play depicts the inhabitants of a rooming house in a place called Cocaloony Key. The titular character — now grown old, but still known as the “gracious young woman” — must support herself by competing for fish with the mythical cocaloony birds that hover threateningly overhead.

In the opening stage directions for The Gnädiges Fräulein, Williams describes the set as “a totally unrealistic arrangement … I mean like Picasso designed it.” It only gets stranger from there. As Williams wrote in his preface to the play for Esquire: “The style of the play is kin to vaudeville, burlesque and slapstick, with a dash of pop art thrown in.” 

The style and tone of The Gnädiges Fräulein departs from the poetic realism of earlier Williams plays. Williams has described the style of his plays from the 1960s onwards as “less naturalistic” and part of a new theater “where everything is very free and different.” In 1975, Williams commented that “I’m quite through with the kind of play that established my early and popular reputation. I’m doing a different thing, which is altogether my own.” 

About the Production:

The Gnädiges Fräulein marks the second co-production between the Festival and TTU following last September’s successful production of the Williams play Kirche, Küche, Kinder (An Outrage for the Stage), which the visiting New York Times reviewed as “superb” and “entrancingly bizarre.”

The Gnädiges Fräulein will feature performers Rachel Hirshorn and Randall Rapstine, both of whom appeared in Kirche, Küche, Kinder, as well as South African actress Anthea Thompson, last seen at the Festival in Kingdom of Earth in 2012 and 2013.

The play, Hall-Flavin says, is “a refracted view on Key West as a metaphor. While the subject matter of delicate souls trapped in a cruel world is at the core of so many of Williams’ plays, he was blending forms at this point in his career. So, you’ll find the pathos of tragedy as well as farcical comic moments, all rolled into an absurdist drama.”

“I am decidedly outside my comfort zone, and thrilled to be there,” says Hall-Flavin, who will travel to Lubbock, TX to rehearse the show in June. “All Williams plays are poetic and nonrealistic in certain ways, but this one seems more like something out of a surrealist painting than a poet’s notebook.” It is a nice fit, he adds, for a season that will explore “what happens to a writer later in life when they don’t feel constrained by form.”

A Growing Relationship with Texas Tech:

The Festival’s collaborative ties with TTU date back to the founding of the Festival 12 years ago. This growing relationship led Mark Charney, Director of the university’s Department of Theatre and Dance, to join with the Festival’s Literary Director Thomas Keith and Producing Director Charlene Donaghy in 2012 to develop and launch the Tennessee Williams Institute (TWI).

TWI is an immersive university-level symposium for graduate and doctorate level students offered in conjunction with the Festival. Several alumni of the TWI program, including Rapstine, will be involved in this year’s production of The Gnädiges Fräulein, as will Hirshorn, a faculty member at TTU who teaches Voice and Speech.

Charney sees such opportunities, borne of the TWI program, as central to the experiential education mission of TTU’s School of Theatre and Dance. “Not only do we have the pleasure of seeing all productions, meeting artists, and discussing our research with the best scholars in the business,” he says, “but we also are privileged to be among the select few collaborating on productions that break new ground and establish exciting contexts for Williams’ plays too often ignored.”

“The challenge is great,” Charney says, “but the fulfillment well worth it,” and credits the TWI team with “helping establish a connection that has grown in its influence and importance to our MFA and doctoral programs. I can’t imagine not attending the festival annually.”

Kaplan sees last year’s co-production with TTU, Kirche, Küche, Kinder, as “a completely successful show, which realized the weirdly discordant beauty of that piece.”

“Our hope with TWI,” Kaplan explains, “is that as students come out of that program, some will direct and some will design and some will lead programming. That’s exactly what is happening. The school is developing a collection of people with the sensibility to handle late Williams.”

"It takes time to develop that understanding,” Kaplan adds. “But these are the relationships that the Festival is here to cultivate.”

About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival:

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.

This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn & Lounge.

TW Institute 2017 Welcomes Special Guest Scholar Felicia Londré (3-8-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org

 

PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL
WELCOMES SPECIAL GUEST SCHOLAR FELICIA LONDRÉ
TO THE 2017 TENNESSEE WILLIAMS INSTITUTE

 

March 8, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival is pleased to announce Felicia Hardison Londré, professor of theater at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, as the special guest scholar at the sixth annual Tennessee Williams Institute (TWI), an immersive University-level symposium offered during the Festival from Sept. 20-24, 2017.

Londré, who specializes in Shakespearean dramaturgy as well as 19th and 20th-century American, French, and Russian theater history, will provide a rich and valuable perspective for graduate student scholars enrolled in TWI. Londré will attend performances alongside students, as well as lead and participate in discussions of this year’s theme — Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare — in a workshop setting.

“We are thrilled to welcome Professor Felicia Londré to this year’s Institute,” says Festival Literary Director and TWI Coordinator Thomas Keith. “Her expertise as both a Shakespeare scholar and a Williams scholar is a perfect combination for our performance-based seminar. Felicia’s decades-long experience as a dramaturg and Shakespeare advisor in the professional theater make her an invaluable asset to the participants of TWI.”

This year's Festival will afford Londré the chance to study and discuss the intersections of Williams and Shakespeare plays in a week-long seminar environment. Londré says that she has not previously had the opportunity to do this, but anticipates some rich conversation. As poets and playwrights, Londré says, Williams and Shakespeare were “both very conscious of life's trajectories — ups and downs, success and failure, and getting old as time passes. They were both obsessed with these themes.”

In the intensely personal writing of Williams, tracking these themes is “complicated by the author’s tendency to revise his writing over long periods of time,” Londré explains in her essay “A Vast Traumatic Eye”: Culture Absorbed and Refigured in Tennessee Williams’s Transitional Plays, published in Brenda Murphy’s The Theatre of Tennessee Williams (2014).

Londré writes that Williams’ “perennial obsessions and concerns are seen developing throughout his work, from 1936 to 1983. Seen in this context, his recognizable tropes and themes take on a resonance and depth that it is impossible to see if one only looks at the great plays he wrote between 1944 and 1961.” These include “entrapment and escape … the plight of the artist, the bohemian, the romantic, and the misfit in contemporary America; the search for God, the gnawing of guilt, and the drive toward atonement; [and] the struggle with sexuality and gender identity.”

Londré adds that she visited Provincetown a decade ago, at which point she became aware of the Festival, which at the time was just beginning. Her visit in September will be a long-awaited opportunity to return to the seaside village for a week of theater and discussion. “What could be better than going to the theater every evening?" she says. "I would go to the theater three times a day, if I could. I'm insatiable!”

About Dr. Felicia Londré:

Londré is a theatre historian specializing in American, French, and Russian theatre, as well as a recognized Oxfordian scholar in the field of Shakespearean authorship. She has published over 60 scholarly articles, 25 journalistic publications, 100 book and theatre reviews, and 14 books. These include Tennessee Williams (1979), which Maurice Yacowar reviewed in the journal Modern Drama as “lively” and “effective because Professor Londré deals with small effects as well with the large themes. She prods us to respond to those fine details of staging that have always been important in Williams.” Londré has also published Tennessee Williams (1985) and Tennessee Williams: Life, Work, and Criticism (1989).

For 22 years (1978-2000), Londré was dramaturg and literary manager for the Missouri Repertory Theatre (now the Kansas City Repertory Theatre). She is an honorary co-founder of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, and she served as dramaturg for the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival from 1990 to 2009. She was the founding secretary of the Shakespeare Theatre Association of America, and has served as president of the American Theatre and Drama Society.

In 1998, Londré received a University of Montana Distinguished Alumna Award, having earned her B.A. in French there. She earned her M.A. at the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin. In 1999, she was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

In 2001, she was elected to the National Theatre Conference. That year she also received the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s national award for 2001 as Outstanding Teacher of Theatre in Higher Education. Ten years later, she received the 2011 Betty Jean Jones Award for Outstanding Teacher of American Theatre and Drama.

Dr. Londré has held visiting professorships at Hosei University in Tokyo and at Marquette University in Milwaukee. She has lectured internationally, including Beijing, Nanjing, Tokyo, Osaka, Venice, Rouen, Caen, Paris (Sorbonne), Brussels, Moscow, and a lecture tour of Hungary.

Felicia Hardison Londré joins the Tennessee Williams Institute faculty for the 2017 Festival

About the Tennessee Williams Institute (TWI):
Now in its sixth year, TWI is an immersive University-level symposium for graduate and doctorate level students offered in conjunction with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival. Students attend a wide array of performances from across the globe, participate in private seminars with scholars, and interact with theater professionals.

TWI was initially developed by Thomas Keith, Williams editor and scholar, who is the Literary Director for the Festival, and Charlene Donaghy, the Festival’s Producing Director as well as a playwright and educator, in collaboration with Mark Charney, Director of Texas Tech University’s Department of Theatre and Dance.

Past TWI scholars have included:

  • Michael Paller, dramaturg and Director of Humanities for the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco
  • Annette Saddik, Professor of English and Theatre at New York City College of Technology
  • Tom Mitchell, Associate Head of the Department of Theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • David Savran, Distinguished Professor of Theatre and the Vera Mowry Roberts Chair in American Theatre at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

 Past TWI artist participants have included:

  • Lee Breuer,playwright, theater director, academic, educator, filmmaker, poet, lyricist, and a founding co-artistic director of Mabou Mines Theater Company in New York City
  • Maude Mitchell, Obie Award-winning actress, dramaturg, and producer
  • Laurie Sansom, former artistic director of National Theatre of Scotland
  • Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer, co-founders of Abrahamse Meyer Productions in Cape Town, South Africa

 

About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival:

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.

This Festival is funded in part by Mass Humanities and Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn & Lounge.

Announcing the 2017 Dinner and First Annual TENN Award (2-8-17)

Download this Press Release (PDF)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:                                        
Hunter Styles, Marketing Manager
(202) 306-5429 // hunter@twptown.org

 

PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS THEATER FESTIVAL
CELEBRATES TENNESSEE WILLIAMS AND SHAKESPEARE
WITH JUNE CELEBRATION AND THE FIRST ANNUAL TENN AWARD

 

February 8, 2017 — (Provincetown, MA) The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival announces today that its Annual Dinner will be held on Saturday, June 3, 2017. The gala will be held at Town Hall in Provincetown to support the organization’s 12th-annual Festival, which will celebrate Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare when performances around the world come to Provincetown from Sept. 21-24, 2017.

Festival board members Deborah Bowles and James Mauro will co-chair the event. The 2017 Annual Dinner will inaugurate a new tradition by awarding the first-ever TENN Award to an individual, group, or organization that advances the spirit of Tennessee Williams through performance, public awareness, study, or publication.

The 2017 TENN Award will be announced this spring. Premium seats, general admission tickets, and table sponsorships for the Annual Dinner are available online and by phone at twptown.org or by calling 866-789-TENN.

Past guests of honor at the Annual Dinner have included award-winning stage and film actors Brian Dennehy (2016), Cherry Jones (2015), Zachary Quinto (2014), and Elizabeth Ashley (2013).

The 2017 Festival program will be announced in full at the Dinner. The line-up will include productions of Williams’ work paired with works by Shakespeare, as well as lighter “lagniappe” experiences similar to recent cabaret and late-night Festival events such as last year’s Movie Night and Saloon Songs.

This year’s theme builds off the success of last year’s festival, during which plays by Williams were paired with plays by Eugene O’Neill. The 2016 Festival audiences enjoyed making connections between the two playwrights — explored through performance, educational programming, and social events. 

In 2017, the experience of Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare side by side in performance will offer festival audiences a new understanding of both playwrights.

 “After both playwright/poets had mastered their craft,” says Festival Curator David Kaplan, “the countries where they lived experienced seismic political change. For Shakespeare, it was after the death of Queen Elizabeth; for Williams it was after the assassination of President Kennedy.”

Kaplan adds that “water recurs as an image of instability — tears, sweat, a fountain, the river Nile, and the Gulf of Mexico — in the plays of both writers, who assaulted their era’s conventional forms of tragedy or comedy, removing the certainty of a happy ending, and undoing the finality of tragedy with farce.”

Festival Executive Director Jef Hall-Flavin says: “Because we live on a narrow strip of sand, water plays an important role in the history and culture of Provincetown. We are excited to announce a season of great plays that celebrate the shimmering mystery and buoyancy surrounding us. This year’s gala will be a night to remember, with our first recipient of the TENN Award, surrounded by the friends and supporters who’ve kept this Festival sailing for the past 11 years.”

About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival:

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.

This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn & Lounge.

Past Press Releases

Media Contact

For media inquiries and interviews, please contact:

Hunter Styles
cell: (202) 306-5429
hunter@twptown.org

 

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Marketing Inquiries

For advertising, sales, sponsorships and other marketing inquiries, please contact:

Jef Hall-Flavin, Executive Director
866.789.TENN
Email 

 

Past Festivals

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