RED BULL THEATER presents PARADISE LOST by John Milton, adapted & directed by Michael Barakiva, presented in 2 parts: Mondays - April 12th & 26th
Last Edit: Official_Press_Release 06:18 pm EDT 04/01/21
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 06:10 pm EDT 04/01/21

by John Milton
Adapted & Directed by Michael Barakiva

Presented in Two Parts:
Mondays: April 12th & 26th at 7:30 PM EDT

Online Presentations - Performed LIVE

Today, Red Bull Theater (Jesse Berger, Founder and Artistic Director | Jim Bredeson, Managing Director) announced the first public presentation of a new dramatization of John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, adapted and directed by Michael Barakiva. Presented in two parts, this event will feature Jason Butler Harner (Broadway: Bernhardt/Hamlet, The Crucible, The Coast of Utopia; Cock - The Duke; Drama Desk nominations for The Village Bike and The Paris Letter) as Satan and Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Ruined - Manhattan Theatre Club: Obie and Lortel Awards; Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League nominations; Motherhood Out Loud - Primary Stages, A Streetcar Named Desire - NY Theatre Workshop; Broadway: Well) as God, along with Stephen Bel Davies (The Honest Whore for Red Bull Theater), Sheldon Best (The Hot Wing King - Signature Theatre; Sugar in Our Wounds - Manhattan Theatre Club; brownsville song (b-side for tray) - LCT3; The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - Atlantic Theater), Gisela Chípe (Quixote Nuevo - Hartford Stage, Huntington Theatre, Alley Theatre; Emancipation - Classical Theatre of Harlem), Robert Cuccioli (Broadway: Jekyll & Hyde - Tony Award nomination, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards; Les Miserables; Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark; Off-Broadway: The White Devil for Red Bull Theatre; Caesar & Cleopatra - Gingold Group), Carol Halstead (C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce - Theatre Row; The Screwtape Letters - National Tour), Gregory Linington (Bernhardt/Hamlet, The Winter's Tale, Blind Date - Goodman Theatre; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Ford's Theatre; The Little Foxes - Arena Stage), Daniel José Molina (Broadway: Fish in the Dark; Othello, Love's Labour's Lost, Henry V, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, Water by the Spoonful, A Streetcar Named Desire - Oregon Shakespeare), Sam Morales (Medea - BAM, Measure for Measure, The Skin of Our Teeth, Pericles - TFANA), Howard Overshown (Broadway: A Soldier's Play - Roundabout, Saint Joan - Manhattan Theatre Club, A Free Man of Color - Lincoln Center Theater, Julius Caesar; Outer Critics Circle nomination: Yellowman - Manhattan Theatre Club, Long Wharf, McCarter, Wilma, ACT), and Cherie Corinne Rice (The Woman Hater, The White Devil - Red Bull Theater).

With its exquisite language and Shakespearean scale, John Milton's epic poem explores the fundamental questions of the human experience: What is evil? If God is all-powerful, why did he allow evil to exist? Do humans have free will? Is our life predestined? Dubbed "an immorality play" by adapter/director Michael Barakiva, this new adaptation will be presented in two parts:

The Fall of Lucifer will premiere LIVE on Monday, April 12th. A recording of that livestream will be available until 7PM EST on Friday, April 16th - then it disappears.
Part 2, Eve and Adam will premiere LIVE on Monday, April 26th. A recording of that livestream will be available until 7PM EST on Friday, April 30th - then it disappears as well.

This two-part event is a benefit for Red Bull Theater. Tickets are Pay What You Can. Advance reservations are recommended. Reserve for April 12th and you will be registered for both events.

"John Milton -- by any measure one of the most extraordinary writers of all time -- is not known for his plays! However, he was clearly a great admirer of Shakespeare: penning the poem "On Shakespeare," as well as apparently making copious notes in his own copy of Shakespeare's Folio (recently rediscovered). At Red Bull, we last presented Milton on stage in a well-received Revelation Reading of Samson Agonistes. Director and adapter Michael Barakiva has had a decade-long relationship with Milton's greatest work, Paradise Lost, and when he proposed creating a new stage version for our reading series, I was thrilled for Red Bull to be able to support the development of the work and share it with our artists and audiences. Any chance you have to hear great actors bring Milton's words and characters to life is a rare treat. Audiences who love Milton or Shakespeare will be enthralled with this special two-part event," said Artistic Director Berger.

On Thursday April 29th at 7:30 PM EDT, there will be a free Bull Session: an interactive discussion with director/adaptor Michael Barakiva, scholar Kathleen Dimmick and members of the company.

David Scott Kastan of Yale University writes "Paradise Lost is a great poem-to my mind the greatest written in English, or possibly in any other language. In 1667, as the poem was still being printed in London, it was said that Sir John Denham, a member of Parliament and himself a fine poet, walked into the House of Commons waving a sheet from Paradise Lost, "still wet from the press." This, he excitedly proclaimed, was "part of the noblest poem that was ever wrote in any language or in any age." Certainly it is the most ambitious. Milton writes an epic -- the genre, as he says, "of highest hope and hardest attempting"-or, rather, he rewrites the epic, undermining its deepest logic and claiming the form as his own. Milton writes about God and about Satan, about Heaven and Hell, about the beginning of creation and about the end of time; and of course, he writes about warfare, but also about love, sex, food, music, prayer, anger, sadness, appetite, ambition, temptation, free will, and even farts. That is, he writes about almost everything that makes us human, created in the image of God but fallen, potentially noble but often falling (as one might say) so very short of that perfection. But the poem's "great argument," as Milton says, is nothing less than to "justify the ways of God to men." Suffering, death, inequality, and injustice are all too evident in the world to be accepted as the just results of the Fall. Certainly, Milton felt them powerfully and personally. If God is the creator of all things, how does He escape responsibility for the evil one sees around us? If God is good, where does evil come from? Evil in the poem, as so often in the world, seems every bit as real as good does. How could a God who was perfectly good allow the suffering and misery that is all around us? Why is it that evil here, and so often in the poem, seems to succeed only through the cooperation of God's "permissive will"? These are just some of the unsettling questions Milton asks, and that he makes us ask-and which do seem to demand that someone "justify the ways of God to men." Does Milton successfully do it? Well, readers of Paradise Lost must decide that for themselves. But whether he does or does not, he succeeds in making us feel the urgency of the questions he poses. He ensures that we are somewhat better prepared for our "wandering" by the very act of reading his great poem."

Born in 1608, John Milton stands as one of the three greatest poets in the history of the English language, together with Chaucer and Shakespeare. Milton's first published poem was, indeed, a brief poem about Shakespeare, included in the prefatory material to Shakespeare's Second Folio of 1632. Milton himself dabbled as a playwright in his youth, yet from a very early age, he aspired to join the ranks of England's greatest literary figures not as a playwright but as the author of an epic poem, the genre of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and of Virgil's Aeneid. Moreover, though he was perhaps the most accomplished English writer of Latin in his day, Milton aspired to do this in his own native language, thereby doing for English what Dante had done for Italian. He would come to fulfill this ambition and then some with Paradise Lost, first published in 1667.

Michael Barakiva was born in Haifa Israel to an Israeli father and Armenian mother. When he was five, his family moved to the suburbs of New Jersey, which were much scarier. He attended Vassar College, where he doubled in Drama and English. Upon graduation, his intention was to blind himself and wander the countryside reciting The Odyssey in Ancient Greek, but he didn't know Ancient Greek, so instead he attended Juilliard as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Directing. He has lived in over 35 apartments in New York City, directed off-Broadway and regionally, routinely cooked dinner for 100+, practiced Iyengar Yoga for almost a decade, and loves backgammon and his husband Rafael. His first novel, One Man Guy, was named to the Rainbow List, Equality Family Council Reading List, and spent over a year as Goodreads #1 LGBTQ YA Novel, and was named as one of Barnes and Noble's "Perfect Valentine's Day YA Novels 2017" list. The stand-alone sequel, Hold My Hand, was published in 2019, both with Macmillan (FSG). His third book, These Precious Stones, is due for publication in 2022. He is the founding Artistic Director of The Upstart Creatures, a not-for-profit theatre company based in New York City that presents (meta)physical feasts, feeding bodies and souls.

Red Bull Theater is committed to continuing connection during this historic time. Red Bull's online readings offer the unique opportunity to hear rarely-produced classic plays, and brand new plays in conversation with the classics, performed by the finest actors in New York. All of Red Bull Theater's current offerings are FREE, but advance reservations are recommended. Tax-deductible donations which support Red Bull and invest in the vitality of classical theater for a contemporary audience are encouraged and appreciated.

Since the start of the pandemic, Red Bull Theater has pivoted to free online offerings including livestreamed Benefit Readings and RemarkaBULL Podversations. These online projects cannot replace the live theater experience. There is simply no replacement for live theater. But, through these efforts Red Bull Theater strives to keep its community together and serve its mission to revitalize the classics until we can all gather safely once again to share in the singular Red Bull experience.

Red Bull Theater wishes to express its gratitude to the Performers' Unions: ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN GUILD OF MUSICAL ARTISTS, AMERICAN GUILD OF VARIETY ARTISTS, and SAG-AFTRA through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear on these programs.

Red Bull Theater, hailed as "the city's gutsiest classical theater" by Time Out New York, brings rarely seen classic plays to dynamic new life for contemporary audiences, uniting a respect for tradition with a modern sensibility. Named for the rowdy Jacobean playhouse that illegally performed plays in England during the years of Puritan rule, Red Bull Theater is New York City's home for dynamic performances of great plays that stand the test of time. With the Jacobean plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as its cornerstone, the company also produces new works that are in conversation with the classics. A home for artists, scholars and students, Red Bull Theater delights and engages the intellect and imagination of audiences, and strives to make its work accessible, diverse, and welcoming to all. Red Bull Theater believes in the power of great classic stories and plays of heightened language to deepen our understanding of the human condition, in the special ability of live theater to create unique, collective experiences, and the timeless capacity of classical theater to illuminate the events of our times. Variety agreed, hailing Red Bull's work as: "Proof that classical theater can still be surprising after hundreds of years."

Since its debut in 2003 with a production of Shakespeare's Pericles starring Daniel Breaker, Red Bull Theater has served adventurous theatergoers with Off-Broadway productions, Revelation Readings, and the annual Short New Play Festival. The company also offers outreach programs including Shakespeare in Schools bringing professional actors and teaching artists into public school classrooms; Bull Sessions, free post-play discussions with top scholars; and Classical Acting Intensives led by veteran theater professionals. In partnership with The Drama League, Red Bull Theater offers The Classical Directing Fellowship, which immerses a director in the life of a company working in the classical canon, and is designed to bring diverse voices into the productions and institutions dedicated to this work.

Red Bull Theater strives to be a home for all artists and theatergoers. Red Bull values and is dedicated to practicing inclusiveness on our stage, in our audience, on our staff, and within our leadership. We are committed to making antiracism a core value of our theater. We know that simply making these statements is not enough. We are committed to ongoing actions to increase racial justice and equal opportunity at our theater-doing our part to help realize a more racially and socially just theater community, city, and country.

"The classics-shaking Red Bull Theater," as Time Out NY has called it, has presented 20 Off-Broadway productions and nearly 200 Revelation Readings of rarely seen classics, serving a community of more than 5,000 artists and providing quality artistic programming to an audience of over 65,000. The company's unique programming has received ongoing critical acclaim, and has been recognized with Lortel, Drama Desk, Drama League, Callaway, Off Broadway Alliance, and OBIE nominations and Awards.

For more information visit www.redbulltheater.com.
Link http://www.redbulltheater.com

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