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Wittenberg

Wittenberg

by David Davalos

April 30 – May 19, 2013 

Trouble brews in the hallowed halls of Wittenberg University as professors Martin Luther and Doctor Faustus duel for the allegiance of their pupil – Prince Hamlet. From tennis and beer to soliloquies over skulls, Davalos’ imaginative comedy of 16th century college life mixes slapstick and wordplay with a philosophical exploration of reason versus faith, played out in a zany spin on classic characters – real and imaginary!

Estimated Run Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes including a 15 minute intermission

Tickets pricing: Previews $34; Weekdays $39; Weekends $44
Discounts are available for Seniors, Students and Groups.
All advertised prices include a $3 per ticket fee, when purchased by internet, phone or in person. 

 

 
April 30, 2013 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
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thenewmainetimesDilettante: A fun night in 'Wittenberg'

Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2013 in Culture | by Jan Brennan

There's nothing funny about eternal damnation.

Or is there? Maybe if we layer it with some lighter topics, say, the existence of God, science vs. faith, an Oedipal complex ... and have these ideas debated by some of the most unfunny characters in Western culture - Hamlet, Martin Luther and Faustus (plus the Virgin Mary in a cameo appearance) - we'd have the making of a hilarious comedy.

Such was the thinking of playwright David Davalos when he wrote "Wittenberg" a few years ago. Amazingly, it worked. Now, combining his witty script with the talents of the company at Portland Stage, the resulting alchemical reaction is an explosion of laughter.

Davalos came up with the idea for the play when he was acting in "Hamlet" and noticed Shakespeare's references to the doomed prince's German university, Wittenberg. He learned that about a century before Shakespeare wrote his play, Wittenberg was the real-life school of Martin Luther; Luther received his doctorate in theology from that university in 1511, then stayed on to teach and serve as its parish priest. He unwittingly kicked off the Protestant Reformation when he supposedly nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg's church on Oct. 31, 1517.

"Wittenberg" takes place in the days leading up to that fateful Halloween. Luther is seething about the church's sale of indulgences, but he hasn't yet taken any action against it. His university colleague Dr. Faustus takes a dim view of his religious fervor, but is preoccupied with his own problems: lack of money and the loss of his lover (he hasn't yet made his successful pact with the devil). Their student Hamlet, whose dad in Denmark is still alive and well, is starting his senior year but is still undecided (of course!) about his major.

The young prince has just returned from his study-abroad semester in Poland, where he read Copernicus's revolutionary theory challenging the church's view of the Earth as center of the universe. This so shatters his own world view that he's plagued by bad dreams, which Faustus tries to cure with pre-pre-Freudian dream analysis and word association. Faustus, though a doctor of philosophy, is also treating Luther for constipation, using a newly imported "magic bean": coffee.

Hall Hunsinger as Luther is a delight to watch as, jazzed up on java, he transforms from whiny monk to energized reformer. With twinkling eyes he downs beer after beer with Faustus at the Oktoberfest, making the Protestant Reformation seem a lot more fun than it probably was. Who knew heresy was such a hoot?

Michael Hammond shines in the plum role of Dr. Faustus, the aging, liberal professor who knows it all yet wonders what's the point. He also gets to show off his musical talents, playing guitar and nicely singing in his "usual gig" at the local beer hall ("Two-stein minimum, and don't forget to tip your wenches.")

Rob McFadyen as Hamlet is appropriately earnest and angst-y, and handles his flowery Shakespearean language with ease. Indeed the entire cast was most impressive at delivering the dense, fast-flowing dialog with nary a slip of the tongue.

The lone female in the cast, Caley Milliken as The Eternal Feminine, has the fun of playing a barmaid, a high-class prostitute and the Mother of God. As both virgin and whore, she sparkles.

Anita Stewart's set design, Hugh Hanson's lush costumes and sound designer Seth Asa Sengel's recorded chants beautifully recreate an early-Renaissance ambiance. Andrew Hungerford's lighting was especially lovely when it evoked the shadows of Gothic-window tracery falling on floor and walls. Into this elegant, churchy atmosphere co-directors Ron Botting and Merry Conway somehow seamlessly incorporate anachronisms like an electric rock band that are fun rather than jarring.

"Wittenberg," which premiered in Philadelphia in 2008, is quickly becoming popular in both America and Europe. It combines serious issues with belly laughs, intersperses Shakespearean allusions with puns and bawdy jokes, and gives us a totally new look at characters we thought we knew. For a fun night out, go to "Wittenberg."

 





'Wittenberg' timely but lacking in some areas

Created on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 20:51 Written by Harold Withee

WITTENBERG is the last main stage production for Portland Stage this season and a play I knew nothing about, yet with the characters of Prince Hamlet, Martin Luther and Dr. Faustus, I was eager to be introduced to this comedy.

The script is by David Davalos, exploring the questions of religion and free will. I found the message extremely pertinent in the political atmosphere of our modern society of expressing free thought and speech, as we are under attack from the far right and far left to our First Amendment freedoms. The right feels justified by infusing biblical morality in controlling the populace, while the left is engaging in political correctness Orwellian manipulation of the language, both attacking the true spirit of our constitution to silence critics, always easier than actually engaging in the free debate of ideas.

This is a gem of a script, exploring large, universal questions, yet easily understood and written with the intent of a rollicking laugh fest. Unfortunately, this production is very uneven and an Equity cast largely disappointing.

The cast is small with four actors, saving grace is the magnificent performance provided by Michael Hammond as Faustus. This was an actor who inhabited every nuance of his character with electrifying energy and vocal qualities. Mr. Hammond is a master of comic timing and line interpretation, quickly cementing the role of pace setter for this play. Faustus has my favorite line as he speaks of idle passivity to challenge authority, "great men always go too far, that is what makes them great."

Caley Milliken as The Eternal Feminine was also a joy, yet didn't have the stage time to truly be a force to counter the performances of Rob McFadyen (Hamlet) or Hall Hunsinger (Martin Luther). Mr. Hunsinger seemed unsure of himself and never acquired the skill of setting up the joke or executing a punch line to full fruition. Vocally he lacked the punch to orally fill the theater and was always overshadowed by the extraordinary Mr. Hammond. Mr. McFadyen brought nothing of value to the plate and reminded me of community performances. Never once did he reach into his gut for breath control and always felt his lines were about how quickly he could get them out of his mouth instead of any interpretation or knowledge of what he was saying. Also, every utterance was paired with a hand gesture, I guess just in case we didn't hear him say moon or drink, he would show. By the end of the play I started to believe he was dueling also as the ASL interpreter.


This production has many outstanding attributes when discussing the technical aspects. Hugh Hanson has created a feast for the eyes with his costumes. Shortcuts or throwing in modern twists is rejected and an exquisite, meticulous parade of 16th century frocks becomes an integral component of the storytelling. Set Designer Anita Stewart has created a delightful playing space, from the large front doors of the church steps, the intimate feeling of Faustus' apothecary inner sanctum with the carved wooden detail and cross, to the suspended pulpit of Martin Luther. I loved the large doors center stage which swung open at times,as doors do, or magically slid into the recesses of the wall to reveal a special scene display. A large grey wall inhabited stage right though, which in my opinion sucks energy out of the space.


Andrew Hungerford's lighting created the darker world of the mid Renaissance world while also creating a few wonderful effects. Sound was a major contributing factor in this production and Seth Asa Sengel was up to the challenge. I'm sure it was the director's call, but pub noise underlying the action on stage was at times a distraction, simply because certain actors could not vocally rise above to overcompensate.


This production had two directors, which could explain weak blocking choices as well as forced or unnatural blocking decisions.


One glaring choice was bringing Faustus off the stage into the audience as he speaks, as if we were in his lecture hall. The move greatly weakened the actor and scene as well as leaving many of us twisting our heads and bodies to keep him in our eyesight.



 




Thoughtful laughs in Wittenberg
Hamlet's salad days

By MEGAN GRUMBLING | May 9, 2013

Much has been made of Prince Hamlet's exhausting philosophical indecision. To be or not? To kill or not? He has a hell of a time figuring it out, when he should be happily ensconced in college life back in Wittenberg. Many of us have studied Hamlet's inner turmoil in his rotten home state. But did you ever wonder what the guy was like in college? Playwright David Davalos proposes that Hamlet (Rob McFayden) is trying to decide whether to major in theology or philosophy, and that he is studying with no less than Martin Luther (Hall Hunsinger) and the fictional John Faustus (Michael Hammond). All three men are on the brink of the upheavals that will make them famous - Luther's denouncement of the Catholic Church in his 95 Theses, Faustus's sale of his soul to the devil for the sake of knowledge and pleasure, and Hamlet's notorious indecision - in Wittenberg, a witty and fanciful philosophical romp. It receives a rich, empathetic, and very funny production under the direction of Ron Botting and Merry Conway, at Portland Stage.

It's late October 1517, and Hamlet is energized by the life of the mind and this hip, intellectual, beer-loving college town. He hangs out with his two favorite professors, listening them espouse very different views of life, death, science, and God. Luther lives with monastic forbearance, self-flagellates, and is devoted to the principles of Christianity. Bon vivant Faustus drinks, smokes, and fornicates, plays the guitar during open-mic night at the Bunghole, and considers the Bible "a great novel" and the devil "a state of mind." Hunsinger's sensitive Luther is composed and cautious, though he's also given to bursts of spiritual love, and can easily share a laugh at his own expense or Faustus's. Faustus, in Hammond's marvelous hands, is Dionysian and impulsive, a dynamo who would have been at home on a 1960s campus.

Their relationship is the heart and soul of the play. Luther's realm is the altar, while Faustus's is a study lined with books, vials, and curiosities (fine set design by Anita Stewart), but they meet in the pub. They're close friends, despite their oppositions; each has a strong respect for the other's intellect, they debate with spirit, and to watch the rapport drawn by Hunsinger and Hammond, both excellent, is an utter pleasure. They chide, tease, console, and rage at each other - over God, heliocentrism, and Faustus's all-encompassing love for a "fallen woman" (Caley Milliken, dynamically) - with the candor and the sheer enjoyment of true intimates.

Hamlet spends much of his time absorbing his professors' wisdom, along the way picking up plenty of one-liners that he'll soon be pronouncing back in Denmark (a running joke). McFayden makes the prince an amiable, eager, energetic acolyte with only a touch of angst - just enough to suggest the despair that will later engulf him. McFayden does well relating Hamlet's ominous, father-centered dreams (which are analyzed by Faustus in proto-talk therapy), and he has a fantastic scene of playing tennis against an angry Frenchman - a witty foreshadowing of his fateful swordfight with Laertes.

Davalos's script, which proceeds from such a whimsical conceit, likewise plays it out with lots of imaginative disregard for historical purity. Anachronistic allusions abound, from Faustus's credo "Turn in, turn down, turn off" to a kind of Elizabethan proto-punk band's act in the Bunghole. Wittenberg impressively manages to incorporate the history of Luther's Theses and other philosophical revolutions without being bookish about it. Both script and acting make the philosophies feel, as they should, like the fervid lifeblood of Luther and Faustus. In fact, they are both so passionate, so convincing, and so entertaining, it's easy to see why Hamlet couldn't decide.

 


Talking Broadway
Maine (Midcoast) Regional Reviews

 

Wittenberg | Portland Stage

"Go not to Wittenberg," Gertrude implores Hamlet in Shakespeare's tragedy. And in attendance at Portland Stage on May 5, 2013, one could truly understand her motherly concern, for the Wittenberg of David Davalos' wickedly funny play is a place of irreverence and insurrection, a university where doubt battles faith, and the world stands poised on the brink of revolution. Yet, judging from the delighted response to this erudite, witty, often bawdy historical comedy, the audience seemed glad – as was this critic – to make that journey.

The award-winning Wittenberg, which first premiered in 2008 at Philadelphia's Arden Theatre Company, has enjoyed more than twenty productions at American regional theatres and abroad. Davalos, who specializes in historical and literary based dramas and who names his mentors as Shakespeare, Shaw and Stoppard, has set his play in Germany in 1517 at the University of Wittenberg, a crucible of "modern learning," where the faculty boasts the likes of Martin Luther, still an Augustinian monk, and John Faustus, renowned doctor of philosophy, as well as their prize pupil, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, who as a senior is faced with declaring his major – divinity or philosophy – a choice which mirrors the ideological struggle that engages all three men.

"To believe or not to believe," Luther characterizes the conflict; "to be or not to be" – that is to choose to live fully or not to – is Faustus' take on the challenge. "Question everything," Faustus urges Hamlet, and Davalos' characters do, indeed, seek answers to the big riddles of life in 16th century Europe. They ponder God's role in creation, the meaning of love and lust, the order and infinite possibilities of a Copernican universe.

Not yet the grand heroes of tragedy, Luther stands poised to post his 95 Theses; Faustus has not yet sealed his bargain with Mephistopheles, and Hamlet has not inherited his fateful kingship. Stripped of their mythic stature, Luther, Faustus and Hamlet wear only their words as armor. Davalos' play relies on a keen, fast-paced verbal humor, both erudite and mundane – a plethora of literary puns, allusions, double entendres – to tell his tale. The dialogue consists largely of quick repartee requiring impeccable diction and timing.

Happily, the Portland Stage ensemble is up to the challenge. As Faustus, Michael Hammond strikes just the right blend of swagger, skepticism, and down-to-earth humanity. He brings a strong vocal range to the part, proving himself capable of the philosopher's ranting lectures as well as his incongruously amusing stints as a coffee house singer.

Hall Hunsinger chooses to portray Luther as a more vulnerable man rather than the firebrand often depicted in history or on the stage (think John Osborne's Luther). In the context of Wittenberg, this works, however, because Davalos' Luther is a reluctant rebel, tricked into his break with Rome by Faustus' deviousness. Hunsinger's down-to-earth, gentle manner serves as a fine foil to Faustus' wiliness.

As Hamlet, Rob McFadyen gives an appropriately understated, yet riotously funny and touching performance which captures the prince's moral confusion and self-doubt. Given many of the most recognizable literary quotations, McFadyen manages to deliver the Elizabethan language with a deadpan naturalness that preserves Davalos' irony. McFadyen also possesses a strong physical presence that makes the most of scenes like the tennis match or the ghost's apparition.

Rounding out the cast is Caley Milliken as The Eternal Feminine, who delineates her various incarnations from pub waitress to a sluttish Helen of Troy to the Virgin Mary with alluring panache.

Ron Botting and Merry Conway's co-direction is sprightly and economical. The strength of their staging is the momentum they create. In a play built primarily on words, they help the actors encase these in a fluid pace and movement.

Anita Stewart's compact set is an attractive, serviceable, modular construction in subdued hues. Hugh Hanson's richly detailed, historically accurate costumes are standouts. Andrew Hungerford's lighting design contributes effectively to the flow of action, while Seth Asa Sengel's sound design evokes the medieval milieu, amusingly and anachronistically punctuated by folk-rock coffee house songs.

Portland Stage's Wittenberg reinforces David Davalos' reputation as a playwright of intelligence, wit, and nimble humor, while proving that clever, literary and literate theatre, when given a stylish production such as this one, will find an appreciative audience.

Wittenberg is the company's last production of the 2012-2013 season and runs through May 19, 2013. For ticketing and other information, visit www.portlandstage.org. The company will launch their 2013-2014 season on September 24 with August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

The Portland Stage Company, 25 Forest Ave, Portland, Maine, 04101. An Actors Equity affiliated professional, not-for-profit company Anita Stewart, Executive Director.


--Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold

 



 

Review: 'Wittenberg' mixes substance and parody
By STEVE FEENEY

Grabbing characters from classic literature or figures out of history to populate a new play is not an uncommon practice for playwrights of a certain bent. But a question often arises as to whether the author is borrowing gravitas rather than creating his or her own.

"Wittenberg," the season finale from the Portland Stage Company, is a bit of a contraption. But it nonetheless carries enough of its own weight to make for an entertaining and thought-provoking night at the theater.

Author David Davalos calls his play "A Tragical-Comical-Historical in Two Acts." It's all that, as characters Martin Luther, John Faustus and Hamlet confront the burning questions of the year 1517 in a German university setting. Along the way, they also go for some quick laughs with humor you wouldn't expect from such legendarily solemn fellows. Add some folk-rock songs and you've got something for just about everyone, at least everyone with a taste for both sophisticated dialogue and a naughty joke or two.

Luther, played by Hall Hunsinger, and Faustus, played by Michael Hammond, spend the majority of the play arguing lofty themes with each other and/or trying to convince young student Hamlet, played by Rob McFadyen, of the correct path to a good life. The discussions get rather thick, particularly in the second act of the two hour-plus play, as the protagonists debate the relative value of faith and reason. Clever allusions to source material and the introduction of some out-of-period ideas keep a certain twinkle alive, if you will, in the eye in the script. Overall, the play mixes substance and parody very well.

At Friday's opening, Hammond was a primal force as his Faustus vigorously defends a worldview free from religious constraints. He commanded attention in nearly every scene. He also got to sing a couple of tunes which, though amusing, seemed tacked on to the body of the play.

Hunsinger was a sweet, jovial Luther who smiled perhaps a touch too often when challenged by Faustus. But he was able to convey the personal struggle of his character to "unclench," yet stay within, his initially Rome-based faith.

McFadyen's young Hamlet was full of a spirit not yet melancholy as he seeks to make a choice between the divergent exhortations of his professors.

Caley Milliken added sensuality in a number of roles under the generic title "The Eternal Feminine." Whether serving steins of good German beer or making sure her Helen remains clear of the matrimonial advances of Faust, she was a welcome presence in the man's world of the play.

Co-directing the production are Ron Botting and Merry Conway and, judging from the multiple levels of meaning and shifting dramatic modes employed within this show, two is not too many.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

 


 

Young Hamlet at Portland Stage
'Wittenberg' wittily imagines Shakespeare's prince as a university student.

By Bob Keyes 
Staff Writer

David Davalos had a distinct advantage when he set out to write the play that became "Wittenberg."

He knew how it would end before he began writing.

The witty comedy, which opens this week at Portland Stage to close out the season, tells the story of a dispute between two of the most esteemed thinkers in academics: Dr. Faustus and Martin Luther. Their dispute involves how to deal with their brilliant pupil, Prince Hamlet.

As young Hamlet enters his senior year at Wittenberg University, he has yet to declare a major. Faustus wants him to study philosophy. Luther, of course, implores him to study religion.

The play ends when Hamlet is called home with the news of his father's death. The rest of the story, as told in Shakespeare's "Hamlet," is well known. Davalos wrote "Wittenberg" as a sort of prequel to Shakespeare's play.

"I ended the play where the stories that we know of these other guys begin," said Davalos, who lives in Colorado and will be in Portland for Friday's opening.

Ron Botting and Merry Conway co-direct the production, which is the final show of the 2012-13 performance season at Portland Stage. The play gets its final preview Thursday night, and opens Friday for a two-week run.

It has a cast of four: Michael Hammond as Dr. Faustus, Hall Hunsinger as Martin Luther, Rob McFadyen as Hamlet and Caley Miliken as the Eternal Feminine.

"Wittenberg" premiered in Philadelphia in 2008, and had its New York and overseas premieres in 2011. It's won many awards.

An actor with a background in Shakespeare, Davalos has long been curious about the role of Wittenberg in Hamlet's life. Shakespeare emphasized the university, but always referred to it as "Wittenberg" and not "university."

The proper name has taken on mythical proportions in Shakespearean circles, and Davalos thought it would be fun to explore why the place was so important to Hamlet.

He got the idea while acting in "Hamlet." Davalos played Rosencrantz, one of the prince's courtiers. Along with his pal Guildenstern, Rosencrantz is a minor character in "Hamlet," which meant Davalos had a lot of downtime backstage.

"I spent a lot of time with (the actor who played) Guildenstern playing cribbage, listening to the play over and over again," he said. "Certain turns of phrase would stick out, and one of them involved the dialogue around Wittenberg.

"Hamlet was always going back to 'Wittenberg,' and not 'university' or 'school.' I wanted to find out why it was so important to Shakespeare to say 'Wittenberg.' "

Certainly, the task of writing about characters so well known was daunting. Davalos had to get each man just right or the play would not work.

"It's quite a juggling act, to keep three bowling balls in the air. But it seems I have suckered enough people into thinking that it works," the playwright said with a laugh, noting that "Wittenberg" has been translated into German and been produced worldwide.

Davalos did a fair amount of research for this play, but "Wittenberg" is pure imagination. It satirizes academia and college life while dropping choice references to literature and philosophy.

It's unusual for a playwright to attend a play so long after the opening. Playwrights routinely attend productions of their plays when they are new, so they can answer questions of directors and actors and make revisions if necessary. But once a play has been published and widely produced, they generally do not make a point of seeing the show.

Davalos is an exception to that norm. He has seen about 20 productions of the play, from Alaska to Florida.

He will be in Portland this weekend, in part because he loves Maine. He has acted several times at the Public Theatre in Lewiston, but has never seen a show at Portland Stage. This seemed a perfect opportunity to check out Maine's largest professional theater while also catching the show.

"I like going in and being surprised by what each production does, either by the interpretation or the design standpoint. I always get new information about the play that I didn't have before," he said.

"So it's a selfish reason that I go to see these shows. I love to sit in the back of the house and see how it plays to the audience. I like to hear the audience laugh when they are supposed to laugh, and gasp when they are supposed to gasp. It's very gratifying."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes

 

 

 

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

David Davalos is an actor and playwright born in Auburn, Alabama and raised in Texas. He worked in New York as an actor, director and writer in the 1990s before relocating to Colorado to focus on playwriting. Davalos’s works include: Darkfall, a modern sequel to Paradise Lost, which premiered in New York in 1999; Daedalus, a fantasia of Leonardo da Vinci's time as a military engineer, which premiered in Philadelphia in 2002; and numerous Shakespeare parodies, although Wittenberg (2008) is his most successful play to-date. Davalos’s acting credits include Master Harold…and the Boys at the Cleveland Play House, and Seascape, Red Herring, and Rough Crossing at The Public Theatre in Lewiston, Maine, where he also directed Marvin’s Room.

ABOUT THE CAST

Michael Hammond (John Faustus) is an actor, director, teacher, and playwright. He was a member of Shakespeare & Company for many years, last serving as associate artistic director. Shakespeare acting credits at Shakespeare & Company include Iago in Othello, Master Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Porter in Macbeth, Prospero in The Tempest, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, and Leontes in The Winter's Tale. Additional acting credits at Shakespeare & Company include Martin in J. T. Rogers' White People, Sir Simon de Canterville in a stage adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost, Peter Woodburn in Joan Ackermann's Ice Glen, and Ludwig Wittgenstein in David Egan's The Fly-Bottle. Michael has also appeared on Broadway, and at various regional theaters, including the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, where he appeared as Dr. Boyle in Craig Lucas's Prelude to a Kiss, and James in Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation. Directing credits include Antony and Cleopatra, A Tanglewood Tale, and The Vienna Project at Shakespeare & Company, A Girl's War and Scenes from a Bordello at Boston Playwrights' Theatre, and most recently Holiday Memories at New Repertory Theatre, also in Boston. Michael has taught at Emerson College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is currently an instructor in the School of Theatre at Boston University. Originally from Iowa, he resides in Boston.

Hall Hunsinger (Martin Luther) Hall Hunsinger has appeared in New York Theatre at The Culture Project in Soho, The Kitchen, PS 122, The Vineyard Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Dag Hammarskjold Theatre at the UN, the Guggenheim Museum in Soho, St. Clement's Church, and the HB Playwright's Foundation Theatre; regionally he has appeared at Studio Arena Theatre-Buffalo, Nassau Repertory Theatre, Adelphi Festival Theatre, & Atlanta Civic Opera as well as touring with Circus Flora, after opening at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston. He co-wrote and acted in a short film, Caroline of Virginia. Hall studied with Uta Hagen, Kristin Linklater, Di Trevis, Merry Conway, Michael Howard, and Philippe Gaulier, and received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University. He taught BFA students, with Merry Conway, at the Experimental Theatre Wing at NYU, and has taught workshops at The Linklater Center, and at Columbia University. He is delighted to be working with his friends and colleagues, Merry Conway, Ron Botting, and Michael Hammond.

Rob McFadyen (Hamlet) is delighted to be appearing at Portland Stage for the first time. Recent credits include performances with the Mettawee River Theatre Company regionally and in New York City. He has performed at the Berkshire Theatre Festival (Macbeth, Candide, A Christmas Carol), Primary Stages NYC (Little Monsters, staged reading), Brandeis Theatre Company (Everything in the Garden, Love's Labours Lost, Three Sisters), The Michigan Shakespeare Festival (Julius Caesar, All's Well that Ends Well, Henry V), The Performance Network Theatre (Candida), and The Planet Ant (Dr. Seward's Dracula) among others. Rob holds an MFA from Brandeis University and is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.

Caley Miliken (The Eternal Feminine) Off-Broadway: The Dick and the Rose (Cherry Lane Theatre/NY Fringe Festival 2012). Regional credits include: Constellation Theatre Company: Women Beware Women; Tennessee Shakespeare Company: The Tempest, Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream; Shakespeare & Company: Othello, Cindy Bella, The Ladies Man, A Midsummer Night's Dream; Corning Classics: Much Ado About Nothing, Antigone. Caley also appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011 in Outcast Cafe Theatrix's World Premiere of The Dick and the Rose. A classically trained dancer and choreographer, Caley's choreography credits include: Imagination Stage, Tennessee Shakespeare Company, KaTet Theatre, Purdue University, Skidmore College and Shakespeare & Company. Caley has also worked as a Visiting Professor of Theatre at Purdue University and has served as Training Programs Manager at Shakespeare & Company. Caley holds an MFA from the PATP at Purdue University.

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION TEAM

Ron Botting (Director) In 1978 while teaching for Jack Romano at Stage Door Manor, Ron Botting began working with the amazingly talented composers Keith Levenson and Jeanine Tesori on The City Suite produced in New York at the Westside Arts Theatre and continued to collaborate with them on several musicals produced by Shami McCormick at The Depot Theatre in Westport, NY.  In NYC, Ron has acted at the Obie Award winning Jean Cocteau Rep, Ohio Theatre, Tiny Mythic Theatre, HERE, St. Clements Theatre, Primary Stages, and in new play readings for the New York Theatre Workshop. Since 1996 Ron has been an Affiliate Artist at Portland Stage where he had the great good fortune to work with Tony Award winning director Bart Sher on productions of Romeo & Juliet and Scapin and has most recently appeared in Portland Stage's productions of Raymond Chandler's Trouble Is My Business and The Sisters Rosensweig.  At Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass., Ron studied acting with Artistic Director Tina Packer, became a devoted student of Master Voice Teacher Kristin Linklater, and was most deeply influenced by his work with movement teacher, choreographer Susan Dibble.  Ron thanks his directing collaborator on Wittenberg, Merry Conway and her partner Noni Pratt for their other worldly generosity and the life altering gifts he received working with them over the years on Conway & Pratt Projects, Inc.

Merry Conway (Director) has been creating and directing original devised work since 1984.  In New York: In Praise of Folly (culminating an NEA grant researching clowns and fools in Shakespeare), Towards Trickster and Elements of Rare Earth. With Noni Pratt as Conway & Pratt Projects, Inc., between 1986 - 2001 Merry directed, performed and produced six large-scale performance/installations:  eccentric museum environments created in site-specific locations. Each work brought our performed images, installation and film, together with the stories and artifacts of hundreds of local community members, all relating to the themes of the project -- death and letting-go of life, complex relationships between daughters and fathers, and the nature of women's work. These projects were located in New York, New Bedford, West Philadelphia and Boston. www.conwayandprattprojects.org Merry moves between many areas of the performance process: she is a consultant (Clownmaster at Shakespeare & Company and Warden of Wit there this summer in Lisa Wolpe's Love's Labors Lost); she teaches (Movement for Actors, Embodied Humours,Wit and Wordplay, Fool, Clown,) coaches (actors and devisers; working with Anna Deavere Smith for 10 years,) and performs (in her own work, Dibbledance, Circus Flora.). www.merryconway.com She is delighted to join up again with Ron Botting, with whom she has worked for over 15 years, in this production at Portland Stage Company.

Anita Stewart (Set Designer) has worked as a set and costume designer at leading theaters across the country, including: The Guthrie, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Canadian Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, A.R.T., Steppenwolf, Hartford Stage, Dallas Theater Center, Long Wharf Theatre, New York Theater Workshop, Boise Contemporary Theater, New Jersey Shakespeare, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Portland Stage. Anita's desire to play a meaningful role as an artist in a specific community brought her to Portland Stage in Maine as Artistic Director, a company for which she had previously done significant freelance design.

Hugh Hanson (Costume Designer) is in his third season at Portland Stage, previously having designed A Song at Twilight, Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh, Heroes and The Center of Gravity. His selected credits include The Colorado Shakespeare Festival (CO) Richard III, Treasure Island, Comedy of Errors, The Shakespeare Theatre (NJ) Trelawny of the Wells, Hamlet, A Streetcar Named Desire, As You Like It, Richard II, A Christmas Carol, George Street Playhouse (NJ) Lend Me A Tenor, Pan-Asian Rep (NY) Eating Chicken Feet, Diamond Head Theatre (HI), Victor/Victoria and O'hia Productions (HI) On Dragonfly Wings. Hugh is a milliner and draper at Carelli Costumes NY. He is a tenor with the St. Bart's Singers, St. Bart's Episcopal, NY

Andrew Hungerford (Lighting Designer) is delighted to be returning to Portland Stage, having lit A Song at Twilight earlier this season. Other credits include: The Liar, Oliver Twist, Timon of Athens at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; the remount of These Seven Sicknesses at the Flea Theater in NYC; K2, Amadeus, The Piano Lesson at Performance Network Theatre; G.O.Neat Need Theater; Creation at the Theatre @ Boston Court; The Second City Does Cincinnati at Cincinnati Playhouse. International credits include: Le Nozze di Figaro in Lucca, Italy; Of People and Not Things at the Edinburgh Fringe. Andrew has spent three seasons with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and six seasons with Know Theatre of Cincinnati as those companies' resident scenic and lighting designer. Cincinnati credits include: Bloody Bloody Andrew JacksonHenry VIII; Richard II; Angels in America (Parts 1 and 2)Gruesome Playground Injuries; When the Rain Stops Falling. Andrew's lighting was exhibited at the 2007 Prague Quadrennial. He holds degrees in Theatre and Astrophysics from Michigan State University, and his MFA from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. More at: www.andrewhungerford.com

Seth Asa Sengel (Sound Designer) is a singer-songwriter from Parsonsfield, Maine. He began his career working for Children's Theatre of Maine while attending Waynflete School ('93) and interning for WBLM. He has since collaborated with arts organizations across the country as both an audio specialist and live musician. Seth Asa has been seen and heard at Cortland Repertory Theatre, FullStop Collective, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Contemporary Theater, The College of Idaho, Boise State University, Great Lakes Theatre Festival and Open Waters Theatre Arts here in Maine. Seth's past designs at Portland Stage include A Song at Twilight, Heroes, Collected Stories, and I Am My Own Wife. Portland Stage is where Seth saw his first live Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night (‘90). For more information on Seth Asa, visit www.linkedin.com/in/sethasa.

Myles C. Hatch (Stage Manager) is currently enjoying his 13th season stage-managing with Portland Stage. During the past twenty two years, Myles has worked in stage management with such diversified theatres as The Freeport Shakespeare Festival (ME), Maine State Music Theatre (ME), The Theater at Monmouth (ME), Arden Theatre Company (PA), Baltimore Shakespeare Festival (MD), Everyman Theatre (MD), Rep Stage (MD), Horse Cave Theatre (KY), New Stage Theatre (MS), Round House Theatre (MD), Source Theatre Company (D.C.), Washington Stage Guild (D.C.), Washington Jewish Theatre (D.C.), Asolo Theatre Company (FL), Westport Country Playhouse (CT), and the YALE Summer Cabaret (CT). Myles is a member of the Actors' Equity Association


2013-2014
SEASON

 

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
by August Wilson
SEP 24 - OCT 20, 2013


Vigil
by Morris Panych
OCT 29 - NOV 17, 2013


Santaland Diaries
by David Sedaris
Dec 3 - DEC 22, 2013
In the Studio Theater

A Christmas Carol
by Hans Christian Andersen
NOV 29 - DEC 22, 2013


Trouble Is My Business

by Joseph Vass
JAN 21 - FEB 16, 2014

Veils
WORLD PREMIERE
by Tom Coash

FEB 25 - MAR 16, 2014


Tribes
by Nina Raine
MAR 25 - APR 13, 2014

The Savannah Disputation
by Evan Smith
APR 22 - MAY 18, 2014