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Red Bull Theater continues its 20th Anniversary Festival with THE ROVER featuring Tony winner Santino Fontana, Kelley Curran, Andy Grotelueschen, more
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 06:23 pm EDT 04/18/24


Continues Its

20th Anniversary Festival



by Aphra Behn

Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch

Featuring Amara James Aja, Isabel Arraiza, Francois Battiste, Kelley Curran, Santino Fontana, Rebecca S'Manga Frank, Andy Grotelueschen, Lauren Karaman, Will Rogers, and Jon Norman Schneider

Three Performances:

April 26 at 7:30pm & April 27 at 2pm and 7:30pm

Sheen Center Shiner Theatre

RED BULL THEATER (Jesse Berger, Founder and Artistic Director; Martin Giannini, Executive Director) today announced details for the next presentation of its 20th Anniversary Festival, The Rover by Aphra Behn, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch.

The cast will feature Amara James Aja (for Red Bull Theater: The White Devil; Macbeth, Love's Labor's Lost, Richard II, Hamlet - Old Globe); Isabel Arraiza (RBT: Antony & Cleopatra; The Merchant of Venice - TFANA, Julius Caesar - Public Theater/Delacorte), Francois Battiste (World Premiere of Sondheim's Here We Are; A Raisin in the Sun, The Merchant of Venice, The Winter's Tale, The Good Negro [Obie Award, Lortel Award nomination] - Public Theater; Broke-ology, Epiphany - Lincoln Center Theater); Kelley Curran (for Red Bull: ‘Tis Pity She's a Whore - Actors Equity Joe A. Callaway Award, The Duchess of Malfi; TV: "The Gilded Age;" Broadway: Present Laughter; Off-Broadway: The Half-God of Rainfall - New York Theatre Workshop/American Repertory Theater; The Winter's Tale - Theatre for a New Audience; Angels in America - Signature Theatre; The Dingdong - Drama League nomination), Santino Fontana (RBT: Your Own Thing; Tootsie — Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League nomination; Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella — Tony, Outer Critics Circle nominations; Sons of the Prophet —Lortel Award; Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League Award nominations; The Importance of Being Earnest — Actors Equity/Clarence Derwent Award; Brighton Beach Memoirs — Drama Desk Award, most recently: I Can Get It for You Wholesale); Rebecca S'Manga Frank (Red Bull Theater: Coriolanus; At the Wedding - Lincoln Center Theater); Andy Grotelueschen (Broadway: The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, Tootsie [Tony Award nomination], Cyrano de Bergerac; Assassins - Classic Stage Company; Twelfth Night, The Imaginary Invalid, Measure for Measure, Cymbeline, Into the Woods [Lortel Award nomination], Two Gentlemen of Verona, Pericles - Fiasco Theater); Lauren Karaman (Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, Romeo and Juliet - Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival); Will Rogers (At The Wedding, When the Rain Stops Falling - Lincoln Center Theater; Golden Age, From Up Here - Manhattan Theatre Club; As You Like It - Public Theater; The Submission - MCC Theater; Unnatural Acts [Drama Desk nomination] - Classic Stage Company; 100 Saints You Should Know - Playwrights Horizons; columbinus - NY Theatre Workshop); and Jon Norman Schneider (Poor Yella Rednecks - Manhattan Theatre Club. The Coast Starlight, The Oldest Boy - Lincoln Center Theater; Catch as Catch Can - Playwrights Horizons; The Chinese Lady - Ma-Yi/Public Theater; Queens Boulevard (The Musical) - Signature Theatre; What If If Only, Henry VI, Awake and Sing!, A Play on War, Blind Mouth Singing – NAATCO; Durango - Public Theater/Long Wharf Theatre).

This three performance workshop at Sheen Center Shiner Theatre will take place April 26th at 7:30pm and April 27th at 2pm & 7:30pm. For tickets, and more information. visit https://www.redbulltheater.com/the-rover-2024

It's Spain, during carnival, and anything can and does happen. Two Spanish sisters don masks and take to the streets, one to reunite with her true love, the other to find a man and evade her fate at the nunnery. Enter a trio of English rakes looking for kicks, and we get raucous and raunchy Restoration comedy at its best. From the pen of the first professional female playwright comes a play that challenges 17th-century notions of marriage, while asking timeless questions of sexual politics. How far will women go, to follow their hearts' desire? And just how badly can men behave, before they have to put a ring on it?

"Red Bull Theater – named for the first theater to reopen in the Restoration – is the natural home for Aphra Behn's The Rover. One of the greatest and most ribald Restoration Comedies ever written, this play so popular in its own time that Ms. Behn had to write a sequel to please eager audiences. At Red Bull, we have produced three readings of it to riotous applause over the past 20 years. With this two-week workshop led by the wonderful director Gaye Taylor Upchurch and her collaborators, we take a deeper dive into the work than a one-day reading can allow for, offering the artists two weeks to explore, and audiences three performances to join in the exploration – I can't wait to see what GT and her team come up with, and hope to see you there!" said founder and artistic director Jesse Berger.

Aphra Behn (1640-89), the first professional female playwright, led a tumultuous and colorful life, both in and out of the theater. She left England soon after the restoration of Charles II for the South American colony of Surinam, which provided the setting for her novel, Oronooko; or, The Royal Slave, which in turn was adapted for the stage and remained popular throughout the 18th century. Returning to England, she may have entered into a fictitious marriage with someone named Behn, but by the mid-1660s she was serving the crown as a spy in Antwerp during the Dutch invasion of Surinam. On her return to England she was thrown into debtors' prison and appealed to the government for her back wages. After 1670, however, she emerged as a famous and influential poet and playwright, part of the elite milieu surrounding the court. Her best known plays are The Rover, The City Heiress, and The Feigned Courtesans, which was dedicated to her friend (and the King's mistress) the actress Nell Gwynn. Behn was re-discovered, in a sense, by Virginia Woolf's famous 1918 essay "A Room of One's Own:" "… all women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds."

Gaye Taylor Upchurch is a freelance director with a background in dance. She has directed several world premieres including Clare Lizzimore's Animal (Atlantic Theater & Studio Theatre); Lauren Gunderson's Half-Life of Marie Curie (Audible at Minetta Lane); Anna Ziegler's The Last Match (Old Globe); Melissa Ross's Of Good Stock (South Coast Rep); Laura Marks's Bethany (Women's Project). Other Off-Broadway: Simon Stephens's Harper Regan and Bluebird (Atlantic); Lucy Thurber's Stay (Rattlestick). Regional work includes: Member of the Wedding (Williamstown); Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival: An Iliad (toured to West Point) and As You Like It (International Falstaff Award for Best Production, toured to The Folger in DC). GT has developed new work at NY Stage & Film, NYTW, The Vineyard, EST, P73, New Dramatists, and Space on Ryder Farm and is a Drama League alum and a graduate of University of NC School of the Arts.

Award-winning playwright Kate Walat will be in residence for the workshop. For Red Bull Theater she co-adapted the acclaimed production of Arden of Faversham (with Jeffrey Hatcher) – Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Adaptation. Her other plays include Creation - Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center/National Playwrights Conference, Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena (LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award); Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen – Off-Broadway at Women's Project; Bleeding Kansas - Hangar Theatre (Ithaca), Francesca Primus Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association); See Bat Fly (Kilroy's List 2014; Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep), Ancient Gods of the Backwoods (New Georges' Germ Project, NYC), Know Dog (Salvage Vanguard Theater, Austin). Opera libretti include Paul's Case, adapted from the Willa Cather story with composer Gregory Spears - UrbanArias, PROTOTYPE Festival, Pittsburgh Opera; its recording was named among the "5 Best New Works" by Opera News; Jason and the Argonauts - Lyric Opera of Chicago; The Echo Drift - the PROTOTYPE Festival in New York.

Red Bull Theater is New York City's destination for dynamic performances of great plays that stand the test of time as well as new works that are in conversation with the classics. A home for artists, scholars and students, With the Jacobean plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as its cornerstone, Red Bull Theater strives to make work that is accessible, diverse, and welcoming to all theater-goers while keeping a rich and vital tradition thriving. 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 in the limitless capacity of classical theater to illuminate the events of our times.

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. We value and practice inclusiveness, equity, and diversity in all of our activities, and are committed to antiracist action. 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 in 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. During the pandemic, Red Bull created several new and ongoing programs to serve audiences and artists with our mission: the Red Bull Theater Podcast, Online Readings, Seminars, and more.

"The classics-shaking Red Bull Theater," as Time Out NY has called it, has produced 24 Off-Broadway productions and over 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 about the 20th Anniversary Festival, or any of Red Bull Theater's programs, visit www.redbulltheater.com.

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