Author: primarystagestheatercompany

Primary Stages Annual Gala 2017

The annual Primary Stages Gala was held at Tribeca 360° on October 16, 2017. This year, we celebrated Artistic Honorees Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (the Tony-winning songwriting team behind Ragtime, Once On This Island, and Anastasia); Producer Honorees, Janet B. Rosen and Marvin Rosen (In Transit on Broadway); and Corporate Honorees Jose Mendez and Katie Graziano (The Excel Group and MIC Floor Covering, LLC).

It was a beautiful evening filled with good food, fun conversation, and showstopping performances (Liz Callaway, the cast of In Transit, Ramin Karimloo, and Quentin Earl Darrington, among others). Thank you to all of our featured guests and attendees for making it such a warm and festive event, and to everyone for supporting the work and vision of Primary Stages as we continue building an off-Broadway home for American theater creators.

For more information about supporting Primary Stages and our extensive education programs, visit our website.

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Kate Hamill’s Pride and Prejudice: Suggested Reading

In Kate Hamill’s new adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, the classic story gets a modern sensibility with a hearty dose of quirk. As a companion to the production, we’ve put together the following additional resources for your pleasure, whether you’re already a die-hard Janeite or have your own prejudices towards the oft-cited story.

Pride and Prejudice, Mary Evans Picture Library

Books

  • The Annotated Pride and Prejudice (2012) by Jane Austen and David M. Shapard: With thousands of annotations to accompany the full text (explanations of historical context, citations from Austen’s other writings, etc.) as well as maps and illustrations, this exhaustive edition is indispensable to first time readers of Austen and lifelong devotees alike.  
  • Jane Austen: A Life (1999) by Claire Tomalin: Many biographies on Austen have reinforced the popular idea of a sheltered and untroubled spinster. Tomalin upsets that narrative by abstaining from embellishment and gossip in favor of piecing together the more serious and tumultuous moments in the author’s life.
  • Jane Austen: The Complete Works (2015) by Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Love and Friendship. These iconic novels have had generations of readers in a swoon.  Even in our modern age, her mastery of the English language leaps off the page.   

Still from the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley.

Film & TV

  • Pride and Prejudice (1995): Seen by many as the definitive Pride and Prejudice adaptation, the BBC/A&E’s co-production—starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth—was a cultural phenomenon and one of the most popular programs in the history of both networks.
  • Pride and Prejudice (2005): In the most recent film adaptation of the book, director Joe Wright encouraged some marked deviation from the original text. It was a commercial success and found a loyal and lasting following through its aesthetic vision and in leading actors Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.
  • Death Comes to Pemberley (2014): This PBS and Masterpiece Mystery! mini-series—adapted from P.D. James’ novel of the same name, which was written as a continuation of Pride and Prejudice—is Austen meets Agatha [Christie]. Taking place six years after the marriage of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, ball preparations at Pemberley are halted abruptly when a corpse is discovered.
  • Clueless (1995): Loosely based on Emma and set in Beverly Hills, high school it girl Cherilyn “Cher” Horowitz plays matchmaker to two of her high school’s teachers. When she tries to do the same for a new student, affairs of the heart turns her world upside down.
  • Love & Friendship (2016): The recent film adaptation of Austen’s epistolary novel (a novel structured as a series of documents, most commonly letters), Lady Susan, features a cast that includes Kate Beckinsale and Stephen Fry. Though it uses the title of another Austen work, the story follows the escapades of the recently-widowed Lady Susan and her crusade to secure wealthy husbands for herself and her daughter.
  • “Furst Impressions”, Wishbone (1995): The Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series broadcast on PBS Kids in the 1990s sparked young imaginations and introduced an entire generation of children to some of the greatest works of literature from around the world, as told by its title character: a daydreaming Jack Russell Terrier.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-2013): A multiplatform adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was the first YouTube series to win a Primetime Emmy Award. Reimagined as a series of vlogs, our “Lizzie” here is a grad student who decides to start documenting the trials and tribulations of her life on video as a part of her thesis.

Documentaries

  • The Divine Jane: Reflections on Austen (2010) by Francesco Carrozzini: Originally commissioned for an exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum, this series of short films features six leading writers, scholars, and actors and engages with each individual on Austen’s lasting legacy.
  • Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors (2017) by Lucy Worsley: English historian, author, curator, and television presenter Lucy Worsley guides audiences through Austen’s life by way of the different houses where she stayed and how each residence left a lasting impression on the celebrated author and the fictional worlds she created.

Illustration by Susie Hogarth

Articles

  • “The Word Choices That Explain Why Jane Austen Endures” by Kathleen A. Flynn and Josh Katz: If you love linguistics and visualizing data this article is the cherry on top for any Austen fan—her acute perceptiveness of her fellow human beings has met few equals.   
  • “Reading Jane Austen’s Final, Unfinished Novel” by Anthony Lane: Jane Austen died four months after writing the last line of her final, unfinished manuscript (now known as “Sanditon”). Reviews were mixed, with many questioning whether Austen was experimenting with new directions in her writing, or whether no consensus could be made with death hovering over the author.     
  • “How Jane Austen’s Emma changed the face of fiction” by John Mullan: “Revolutionary” and “Jane Austen” rarely share the same sentence, but Mullan makes a compelling case for Emma’s stylistic triumphs.

Performances of the Primary Stages production of Pride and Prejudice start November 7 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.

First Look: Inside the Pride and Prejudice Rehearsal Room

The company of Kate Hamill’s Pride and Prejudice came together on October 17 at Primary Stages for the first read through of the show. Enjoy a glimpse of this joyous cast, featuring Mark Bedard, Kimberly Chatterjee, Kate Hamill, Jason O’Connell, Amelia Pedlow, Chris Thorn, John Tufts, and Nance Williamson.

Photography by Ashley Garrett

Performances of the Primary Stages production of Pride and Prejudice start November 7 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.

Gospelists, philosophers, and writers: get to know the historical figures of Discord

A former president, the writer responsible for “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, and a Russian aristocrat dressed like a peasant walk into a room… The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord by Scott Carter imagines what might happen if these three men were trapped in limbo together.

Whether you’re a devotee of one of these men or only know them by their most famous contributions, they were defining characters of their time beyond our stage—their philosophies and written texts shaped (and continue to shape) a legion of followers.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was the 3rd U.S. president, and a longtime politician and philosopher:

  • Focused on universal human rights, religious equality, and education.
  • Fathered six children with his slave, Sally Hemmings.
  • Famous work: Declaration of Independence.

Charles Dickens at the age of 47, by William Powell Frith. London, England, 1859

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was a British author, critic, and commentator:

  • Focused on poverty and social class.
  • The first modern literary celebrity.
  • Famous works: Oliver TwistA Christmas Carol, and Great Expectations.

Tolstoy

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910) was a Russian writer, thinker, and social reformer:

  • Focused on morality and faith.
  • Born an aristocrat and revered the peasant class.
  • Famous works: War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

Performances of The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord by Scott Carter run September 19 – October 22, 2017 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Click here for tickets and more information.

Scott Carter’s The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Suggested Reading

In hopes of shining a light on the weighty life questions put center stage in Scott Carter’s The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy, we’ve put together the following resources for further exploration of their relationships to legacy, philosophy, and religion. From lesser known works by the men themselves to sweeping adaptations of beloved stories, there’s hardly a medium that Dickens, Jefferson, or Tolstoy did not influence.

Books

  • A Confession and Other Religious Writings by Leo Tolstoy: Tolstoy is best known for his novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but this collection of his personal writings—on the likes of faith, freedom, and morality—is further testimony to the tireless mind of a man lauded as one of the greatest authors in history.
  • Jefferson’s Extracts from the Gospels by Dickinson W. Adams: Thomas Jefferson was unsatisfied with the authors of the four Gospels and the trustworthiness of their accounts, so he took it upon himself to literally extract the offending passages from his own copies of the New Testament. This volume is a compilation of Adams’ research into Jefferson’s Bible, and the definitive presentation of the president’s religious beliefs.
  • The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens: Written exclusively for his children, Dickens forbade the publication of this book so long as he or any of his children lived. Published 64 years after his death, Dickens’ The Life of Our Lord is a simple and endearing retelling of Jesus Christ’s life and became a bestseller in its first year of publication (1934).   

Film & TV

  • A Christmas Carol (1984): If you’ve ever wrinkled your nose at the holiday season, you’re likely to have been called a “Scrooge.” We have Dickens to thank for coining the term with his iconic Ebenezer Scrooge and the timeless (and oft adapted) story of a miser transformed by visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
  • War and Peace (1966): Adaptations of Tolstoy’s epic have taken liberties with their sprawling source material, but Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1969 Academy Award-winning undertaking—some 7 hours on 3 discs—is as close to visualizing the text as you can get.

Documentaries

  • Thomas Jefferson (1997) by Ken Burns: The 3 part documentary by American filmmaker Ken Burns is an overview of both the public and the private face of the once president (and also writer, inventor, and architect). Academics and political figures discuss his life and legacy, as well as his relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings.
  • The Trouble with Tolstoy (2011) by Alan Yentob: Originally aired in two installments on the BBC, Alan Yentob’s documentary takes the viewer on a train ride through Tolstoy’s Russia. Featuring contributions from the author’s great great grandson and distinguished Russian commentators, it is a comprehensive overview of a singular and mercurial man.
  • Uncovering the Real Dickens (2003) by Peter Ackroyd: Presented by Peter Ackroyd for the BBC, this 3-disc set explores the best of times and the worst of times of the author, with the help of dramatic reconstruction. The additional material includes the 1999 adaptation of David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol as performed by Anton Lesser.

Articles

  • “Charles Dickens: Six Things He Gave the Modern World” by Alex Hudson: From shaping the portrayal of modern Christmas in our culture to his influence on cinema, Dickens’ work has a reach that transcends the page.
  • “Leo Tolstoy’s Poignant Letter to Gandhi on the Laws of Love” by Nathan Gelgud: It’s easy to overlook the fact that history’s most towering figures lived alongside equally formidable contemporaries and didn’t just exist in a vacuum by themselves. Take Tolstoy’s writings to Gandhi in the last years of the former’s life, where he expounds on his belief in love triumphing over force: “any employment of force is incompatible with love as the highest law of life, and that as soon as the use of force appears permissible even in a single case, the law itself is immediately negatived.” The letters in their entirety can be read here.
  • “Charlottesville: Why Jefferson Matters” by Annette Gordon-Reed: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, Annette Gordon-Reed, writes on Jefferson’s aspirations and paradoxes, and how they continue to underline the fragility of the American experiment.

The Primary Stages production of The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord runs until October 22, 2017 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.

ESPA Drills presents: All My Love, Kate by Joe Breen

Primary Stages ESPA Drills is an annual new play development program providing extensive workshopping, a public presentation, and advocacy within the theater community for four new plays written at least in part at Primary Stages ESPA. A staged reading of All My Love, Kate by Joe Breen will be held on Tuesday, October 3 at 6:30pm.

Joseph Breen

What is your play about?

For years, Jack and Danny have lived quietly and privately; keeping their life together separate from the world outside their door. But after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the couple find themselves separated by an ocean, a War, and a world that would rather pretend they didn’t exist. Thrust into this new reality, they must find a way to stay as strong apart as they ever were together.

What inspired your play? How did you go about the research process?

The initial idea for my play came from a photo (below) that I found online. After that I began researching the experiences of gay Americans during WW2 and came across a book (and subsequent documentary) by Allan Berube called “Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two”. More than anything I was inspired by the idea of the countless “Gold Star” widows that went unacknowledged during the war because gay soldiers couldn’t speak of the loves they had waiting at home for them.

During the writing of this play I’ve been inundating myself with photos from the period, magazine advertisements, War Posters, etc. Also the music of the 1940’s—especially Vera Lynn, Artie Shaw, and Glen Miller—because the music from that period is so specific to the experiences of a world at war, that it truly does help set a scene and provide me with a certain mood to write in.


Primary Stages ESPA Drills will be held on October 2 and 3, 2017 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. All readings are free and open to the public. Visit our website for a full list of readings and to RSVP.

ESPA Drills presents: Carl’s Not Here by Daniel Loeser

Primary Stages ESPA Drills is an annual new play development program providing extensive workshopping, a public presentation, and advocacy within the theater community for four new plays written at least in part at Primary Stages ESPA. A staged reading of Carl’s Not Here by Daniel Loeser will be held on Tuesday, October 3 at 2:00pm.

Daniel Loeser

What is your play about?

In a small Texas border town, Roger doesn’t have much left to lose except the family bar, and now he’s about to lose that. What Roger does have, however, is super-powers, and his nemesis has arrived from a most unlikely place. Carl’s Not Here is a dark comedy about a man who believes he can save the world, even if he can’t save himself.

What inspired your play? How did you go about the research process?

I suppose what initially inspired me to begin this play was the time we lose when we’ve had too much. The idea that in that window between the painful morning and the previous night’s last memory, there’s a version of you out in the world that you’ve had little control over. I think it’s generally agreed upon that that version of ourselves is not our best, so I started to examine the possibility of that person being an even better version of ourselves. Someone that is benevolent and mighty and out for the greater good, but the only present after passing through an intoxicating, dangerous, weak, and ultimately, selfish act.

At least that’s where I began with Carl’s Not Here. It’s been through my classes at ESPA and now looking ahead to continued work in Drills that the play has taken a shape that I hadn’t imagined, and I’m very excited to expand it even further.


Primary Stages ESPA Drills will be held on October 2 and 3, 2017 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. All readings are free and open to the public. Visit our website for a full list of readings and to RSVP.