U.S. premiere of “Peace in Our Time”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Lucy Pollak
lucy@lucypr.com (818) 887-1499 (for media only)

U.S. premiere of
Peace in Our Time
by Noël Coward


Complacency or freedom: Which would you choose?
October 20 – December 11

Artwork: Mila Sterling

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA – September 15, 2011 – What would life be like if the Nazis had successfully invaded and occupied Britain? Antaeus, L.A.’s multiple award-winning classical theater company, presents the U.S. premiere of Noël Coward’s rarely produced anti-war drama, Peace In Our Time. Casey Stangl directs the fully double-cast production of a new adaptation, with music, by Barry Creyton. Four gala openings, two with each cast, take place on October 20, 21, 22 and 23, with performances continuing through December 11 at The Antaeus Company‘s interim North Hollywood home at Deaf West Theatre.

Set in a London pub during the 1940s, Peace In Our Time imagines English life under Nazi occupation. Complacency or freedom – which would you choose? Coward conceived the idea while in Paris shortly after the Liberation. He wrote, “I began to suspect that the physical effect of four years of intermittent bombing is far less damaging to the intrinsic character of a nation than the spiritual effect of four years of enemy occupation.”

“This play has a very different feel from the urbane amusements that come to mind when we think of Noël Coward,” suggests Stangl. “Like his other work, it’s provocative and has wonderfully funny moments, but it also reveals his deep sense of patriotism and unabashed love of country. The story of a great nation brought to its knees and finding its way back from that is very potent right now. All these years later we’re still talking about ‘peace in our time,’ but today it seems more elusive than ever.”

Creyton’s adaptation, which Stangl calls a “work of art,” adds emotional resonance to the original by adding nine of Coward’s lesser-known songs. Coward’s distinctive Music Hall style ditties with their incisive and wickedly ironic lyrics give the piece an authentic sensibility, at the same time offering audiences a deeper connection with the characters and their tribulations.

“When [former artistic director] Jeanie Hackett approached me about adapting Peace in Our Time to include music, a moment’s consideration was all I needed to agree,” says Creyton, who collaborated closely with both The Noël Coward Foundation and Antaeus. “Given that most London pubs of my youth contained a sturdy upright piano, there is a logic to weaving songs into the scenes to provide musical subtext for the action and relationships.”

Written in 1946, Peace in Our Time opened 63 years ago at the Theatre Royal, Brighton (July 15, 1947), moved to the Lyric Theatre, London on July 22, and finally to the Aldwych Theatre on September 29, where it ran for 167 performances. It has never before been performed in the United States – perhaps due to the fact that the cast includes 22 speaking roles. But it’s the large cast, together with the complexity of relationships among the characters, that makes Peace In Our Time an ideal choice for Antaeus with its 100-plus classically trained members and A2 Ensemble of young professionals.
“Part of the Antaeus mission is to train the next generation of classical actors,” notes co-artistic director John Sloan. “All Antaeus productions are fully double cast. This production in particular features a lot of our younger, A2 actors sharing roles with company members who have mentored them, so it will offer an unusually exciting opportunity to see how different the same play can be when performed by two equally excellent but extremely different sets of actors.”

The double-cast ensemble includes 46 actors sharing 22 speaking roles: Josh Clark and Steve Hofvendahl as Fred Shattock; Eve Gordon and Lily Knight as Nora Shattock; Danielle K. Jones and Abby Wilde as Doris Shattock; Jason Dechert and Brian Tichnell as Stevie Shattock; Bill Brochtrup and JD Cullum as Chorley Bannister; Karianne Flaathen and Zoe Perry as Lilly Blake; Drew Doyle and Buck Zachary as Alfie Blake; Emily Chase and Rebekah Tripp as Janet Braid; Anna Mathias and Amelia White as Mrs. Grainger; John Wallace Combs and Philip Proctor as Mr. Grainger; Graham Hamilton, John Francis O’Brien, and Adam Meyer sharing the role of Billy Grainger; Raleigh Holmes and Rebecca Mozo as Lyia Vivian; Daniel Bess and Christopher Guilmet as George Bourne; Jason Henning and Rob Nagle as Albrecht Richter; Mark Doerr and Peter Larney as Dr. Venning; Kendra Chell and Ann Noble as Alma Boughton; Joseph Fuhr and Patrick Wenk-Wolff as Kurt Foster; Etta Devine and Rosalyn Mitchell as Phyllis Mere; Belen Greene and Joanna Strapp as Gladys Mott; Jesse Sharp and Paul Culos as Bobby Paxton; Melinda Peterson and Susan Boyd Joyce as Mrs. Massiter; John Allee and Richard Levinson as Archie; and Chris Clowers as a soldier.

Musical direction for Peace In Our Time is by Richard Levinson; set design is by Tom Buderwitz; lighting design is by Jeremy Pivnick; costume design is by Jessica Olson; sound design is by John Zalewski; properties design is by Heather Ho; and the production stage manager is Cate Cundiff.

In addition to a multitude of stage, film and television credits as an actor (including the role of Hector Hulot in last season’s award-winning Antaeus production of Cousin Bette), Peace In Our Time adaptor Barry Creyton is an author, TV writer, director and playwright, a former BBC World Service broadcaster and recipient of the Kessell Memorial Award for contributions to Australian Theater as Actor, Playwright and Director. His devotion to the work of Noël Coward has lasted as long as his own extensive career in the theater; he has appeared in several of Coward’s plays and performed many of his songs in cabaret. Barry’s London doctor and good friend was Patrick Woodcock, Noël’s doctor, and Gladys Calthrop, Noël’s celebrated designer, was a friend and theater-going companion of his, so it seemed inevitable that he met the Master socially in 1970, just prior to his knighthood. “It was like meeting God,” he says solemnly, “except, I think, that Noël Coward had a better sense of construction.”

Casey Stangl has directed for theaters across the country including South Coast Repertory, The Guthrie Theater, Denver Center Theatre Company, Actors’ Theater of Louisville’s Humana Festival, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Portland Stage, HERE in New York, The Jungle Theater in Minneapolis and Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Casey was the founding artistic director of Eye of the Storm Theatre in Minneapolis, a company devoted to new work and for which she was named Minnesota Artist of the Year. She is now based in Los Angeles where her credits include numerous productions at the Falcon Theater, Chalk Repertory’s Flash Festival and the world premiere of Susan Johnston’s How Cissy Grew at the El Portal Theatre, named Best New Play at the 2009 LA Weekly Theater Awards.

The Antaeus Company strives to keep classical theater vibrantly alive by presenting professional productions with a top-flight ensemble company of actors. Taking their company name from the Titan who gained strength by touching the Earth, Antaeus members – many of whom are familiar to movie and television audiences – regain creative strength by returning to the wellspring of their craft: live theater performances of great classical plays. Members of the company and its board span a wide range of age, ethnicity and experience; they have performed on Broadway, at major regional theaters across the country, in film and television, and on local stages, and are the recipients of multiple accolades including Tony, Los Angeles and New York Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly, and Back Stage Garland nominations and awards.
Performances take place October 20 through December 11, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays @ 8 pm and on Sundays @ 2:30 pm except Sunday, October 23 which will be at 4 pm. There will be no performance, on Thursday, Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving). Tickets are $30 on Thursdays and Fridays and $34 on Saturdays and Sundays, except opening weekend performances, which are $40 (Oct. 20 & 21) and $75 (Oct. 22 & 23) and include pre- and post-show receptions. Preview performances take place Oct. 13-19 on the same schedule; tickets to previews are $15.

The Antaeus Company is located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd (inside Deaf West Theatre) in North Hollywood, CA 91601. Free parking is available in the uncovered Citibank lot on Lankershim Blvd. just south of Otsego St. The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call (818) 506-1983 or go to www.antaeus.org.

Details for Calendar Listings
Peace In Our Time

WHAT:
Peace In Our Time – The U.S. premiere of Noël Coward’s drama poses a most intriguing and terrifying question: What if the Nazis had successfully invaded and occupied Britain? Set in a London Pub during the 1940s, this new adaptation by Antaeus company member Barry Creyton incorporates 9 of Coward’s lesser-known songs.

WHO:
Written by Noël Coward
Adapted by Barry Creyton
Directed by Casey Stangl
Musical Direction by Richard Levinson

WHEN:
Previews: Oct. 13 -19
Performances: Oct. 20 – Dec. 11:
Tuesday @ 8 pm: Oct. 18 only (preview)
Wednesday @ 8 pm: Oct. 19 only (preview)
Thursdays @ 8 pm: Oct. 13 (preview), 20 (Press Opening), 27; Nov. 3, 10, 17; Dec. 1, 8 (dark Nov. 24)
Fridays
@ 8 pm: Oct. 14 (preview), 21 (Press Opening), 28; Nov. 4, 11, 18, 25; Dec. 2, 9
Saturdays
@ 8 pm: Oct. 15 (preview), 22 (Gala Opening), 29; Nov. 5, 12, 19, 26; Dec. 3, 10
Sundays
@ 2:30 pm: Oct. 16 (preview). 30; Nov. 6, 13, 20, 27; Dec. 4, 11 (no. 2:30 perf. on Oct. 23)
Sunday @ 4 pm: Oct. 23 only (Gala Opening)

WHERE:
THE ANTAEUS COMPANY@ Deaf West Theatre
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood CA 91601
(one block south of Magnolia; free parking available in Citibank lot on Lankershim Blvd. South of Otsego St.)

HOW:
(818) 506-1983 or www.Antaeus.org

TICKETS:
Thursdays and Fridays: $30
Saturdays and Sundays: $34
Press Openings (All press openings include a post-show reception with the actors):
Friends and Family Openings (October 20 & 21): $40
Gala Openings (October 22 & 23): $75
Previews: $15

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Antaeus Welcomes New Managing Director — Official Press Release

Managing Director, Michael Barker

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lucy Pollak (for media only)
(818) 887-1499 lucy@lucypr.com

MICHAEL BARKER JOINS THE ANTAEUS COMPANY AS MANAGING DIRECTOR.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA – August 17, 2010 – Michael Barker has been chosen to fill the position of Managing Director of The Antaeus Company, concluding a four-month search.  Mr. Barker comes to Antaeus from Yale Repertory Theatre, where he served as Associate Managing Director.

“Antaeus has a proven track record of consistently high artistic quality and aspiration, and a lot of forward momentum right now, says Barker. “I am very pleased to join Jeanie, the ensemble, and the board in taking a leadership role as the company continues to grow and make its mark on Los Angeles and the national Arts dialogue.”

Also at Yale, Mr. Barker was Managing Director of Yale Summer Cabaret, Company Manager at Yale Repertory Theatre, and produced the third annual Carlotta Festival of New Plays. He was the 2008 Managing Director Fellow at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Prior to graduate school, he was Associate Director of Marketing for Court Theatre, producing classics in residence at the University of Chicago. Also in Chicago, he worked with The Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, Sansculottes Theater Company, and The Playground Theater. He holds an MFA in theater management from Yale School of Drama and an MBA from Yale School of Management. He lives in North Hollywood with his fiancée Heidi Hanson, a costume designer working in television and film.

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What is an ensemble? Antaeus answers…….

The Antaeus experiment began in 1991 at Center Theater Group.  It was and is: to bring together some of the finest actors in America to collectively grapple with the challenges of the classics by creating a common vocabulary and value system, with a big emphasis on process over results.

Antaeans meet weekly over months and sometimes years to work on the challenging language and the earth-shattering ideas of classics great and small.  Sometimes we work towards presentation, sometimes we study for the sake of the workout itself.Double-casting makes for interesting photo calls!

We have developed an unique method to allow our work and productions to continue when key personnel may be called away to an “industry” job.  We double cast everything with two equally talented, skilled and appropriate actors.  This has, in addition to safeguarding projects, strengthened our ensemble.

Chekhov’s The Wood Demon, presented in 1993 at the Mark Taper Forum, marked the first public presentation of our big experiment of ENSEMBLE, with two to three actors versed in every role and casts changing nightly.

And does it work?  Here’s what our critics have to say about past productions:

“It takes a troupe with a deep appreciation of theatrical history and no lack of ambition to do the show justice, and the Antaeus Company has stepped up with an outstanding production.”  –Terry Morgan, VARIETY

“… there’s no better reason to go to the theater this month regardless of which cast performs, you are in for a great evening or afternoon of theater…..It’s a treat to be able to see how different actors approach the same characters and make parts their own.” –Steven Shanley, LASTAGESCENE.COM

Antaeus Diary: Dakin Matthews and The Bridge Project

I guess you could say we’re winding down her at the Bridge Project, though six more weeks is pretty much a standard run in any other theatre.  And the final week in Epidaurus is far from standard.

The Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard have settled down into a regular rotation schedule, so our days tend to be free—though there are the occasional put-in rehearsals for new musicians or understudies.  The weather for Wimbledon week was spectacular, as many of you probably saw on TV, but now it has reverted to its typical London will-it-or-won’t-it guessing game.

Anne has gone home, and family starts to come in for visits today, so I’ll probably do a bit more sightseeing with them.  British Museum, Tate (old and modern), National Gallery, that sort of thing.

Earlier this week we were treated to a tour of St Paul’s by Simon Russell Beale, who spent much of his childhood there

Photo by Dakin Matthews

Photo by Dakin Matthews

as a “Paul’s boy.”  The cathedral school was originally founded in the 16th century to train choirboys for the church, and, somewhat more interestingly, young actors for its theatre company, under the direction of John Lily.  Some of these boys went on to become adult actors with the major companies.  Simon was trained as a chorister and, remarkably, went on to become one of London’s most prestigious actors (while some of his classmates went on to the clergy). St. Paul’s, of course, is where booksellers set up their stalls and sold things like Shakespearean Quartos, and the central aisle was more like Main Street than a church in Shakespeare’s day.  The original church burnt to the ground in the Great Fire, and Christopher Wren rebuilt the current one somewhat on the model of St. Peter’s in Rome.  Most of the monuments inside are, surprisingly, military and political, and there is no large “Poet’s Corner”; but I did manage to pay a little homage at the graves of some pre-Raphaelite artists, along with John Donne, and my favorite, Sir Arthur Sullivan.

I do enjoy walking about Southwark—Shakespeare’s old stomping grounds—and retracing his steps to places where I know he must have been.  I’m planning at least one more visit to Shakespeare’s Globe—perhaps to see what they do with Troilus and Cressida—and I’ll try to see a matinee or two in the West End.  (I see the local Southwark Theartre (professional? amateur? in between?) is doing The Rover this week.)

Sundays—our days off–have tended to be busier that workdays, amazingly enough.  Two weeks ago it was an all day party at the country estate (and I do mean estate) of Sam Mendes and Kate Winslett in the Cotswolds.  It as a two hour drive there and three hours back, but in between there was swimming, badminton (on their private court), soccer (their private pitch) a whole hog on the spit, dessert in the Turkish tent, and a bonfire in their 40 acre meadow, being serenaded by Jeremy Irons and Ethan Hawke and their guitars.  And did I mention lots of alcohol.

Last Sunday was Wimbledon finals all day, then a birthday party all night on the rooftop apartments of the complex.  Then next Sunday is another trip out of town to an all-day party hosted by Sinead Cusack and Jeremy Irons at their house in Oxfordshire.

I’ve been trying to keep working on other projects while I’ve been here.  I just finished a new translation of Lope’s Romeo and Juliet play (called The Capulets and The Montagues) and had a reading with the company last week.  It went well enough that I’m considering producing it next year.  And right now I’m halfway through my newest project, a musical of Goldoni’s The Mistress of the Inn.  I did a translation some years ago, and revised it for another theatre last year; and at the time, I though it could make a terrific small musical (six roles).  So I’ve gotten a composer on board; and I cut the script and write lyrics in London and send them to him, and he composes music in LA and sends it to me.  So we’re writing in cyberspace.  We hope to have the first draft of book, lyrics, and music done by the end of August.

Which is when I’ll be seeing you all again.  And not a moment too soon.

Founding Artistic Director Dakin Matthews

Founding Artistic Director Dakin Matthews

Antaeus Diary: Jonathan Lynn mentors HAY FEVER

One of the wonderful ways we were able to utilize The Noel Coward Foundation’s grant in furthering the mission of The Antaeus Academy was by asking Noel Coward experts to act as mentors to the young directors taking on these readings.

Jonathan Lynn mentored Douglas Clayton’s direction of HAY FEVER, one of Coward’s most beloved plays. We asked Jonathan about Coward and his experience with Antaeus.

The Hay Fever Intensive at Antaeus

The Hay Fever Intensive at Antaeus



1. Where is Hay Fever ‘s place in the Coward canon?
Coward was prolific. However, there are four outstanding plays that are continually revived, stand the test of time and somehow seem to capture definitively both their period and what everyone thinks of as the Noel Coward style. They are Hay Fever, Private Lives, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit. Many of the other plays are excellent and well crafted, but these four have been consistently and continuously popular with the public.

2. Why would audiences today be interested in the story of Hay Fever?

It’s about a hilariously dysfunctional theatrical family, and their effect on the ‘civilians’ who come into contact with them. The four members of the Bliss family have no manners at all, and behave as many of us might like to but few of us would dare. Drama allows us to live vicariously, saying and doing what we secretly want to do or say. When we laugh we are, in fact, owning up. It’s a recognition that what we see enacted on the stage is true. That’s why we bark with recognition. Like the dogs do, when we come home.

If we don’t recognize some truth about ourselves, truth even if heightened or exaggerated for comic effect, we don’t find the comedy funny. We say it’s silly or stupid. But if we laugh we’re saying “I’ve said that, I’ve done that. I’ve thought that” or, more likely, “I wish I’d said that or done that”.

Four people from the real world go down to the Bliss’s country cottage for a weekend in the country and have an awful time. It’s not happening to us, so we love it.

Apart from that, all the characters are drawn with wit and insight, and the writing is an object lesson in farcical comedy. The most galling thing about the play is that Coward wrote it in three days at the age of 24. He was, of course, a genius.

3. What would younger audiences find interesting or appealing about Noel Coward and his plays?

I think I’ve answered that. Younger audiences are no so unlike older audiences. They’ll like it because its funny.

4. What kind of training or experience do you think emerging actors need before they step into a Coward piece?

All good comedy, and Coward’s plays are no exception, require precision above all else. Ap[art from that, they require things that can’t be taught – immaculate timing and an eye for the ridiculous.

5. How did you work with the director and actors during the Intensive?

We sat around the table and worked meticulously through the play, stopping to consider what Coward might have intended with every moment and looking to find the comic rather than the dramatic choice.

6. Do you have any advice for the actors in this reading before they embark on their own?

The same advice I have for all actors in a comedy: no characters should ever know they are funny.

Jonathan Lynn

Filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist Jonathan Lynn’s prolific career spans nearly four decades and includes directing, writing, producing and acting in motion pictures, television and theatre as well as authoring best-selling books.

Prior to that, Lynn directed the “screwball noir” movie THE WHOLE NINE YARDS (2000), a critical and audience favorite that featured Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet, and dominated the US box-office for three weeks. Lynn wrote and directed his first feature film CLUE (1985), a comedy/mystery based on the popular board game with an all-star cast. Lynn solved the complex who-done-it with three different endings, all of which were screened at different theaters and are now on the DVD/video. Lynn then directed his own screenplay NUNS ON THE RUN (1990), which starred Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane, and the acerbic comedy MY COUSIN VINNY (1992), which launched Marisa Tomei’s career and earned her an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. Lynn’s THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN, starring Eddie Murphy, was released in 1992. He followed with GREEDY (1994) featuring Michael J. Fox and Kirk Douglas; SGT. BILKO (1996) with Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd; and TRIAL AND ERROR (1997) starring Michael Richards and Charlize Theron.

It was the 1980’s BBC phenomena YES, MINISTER and YES, PRIME MINISTER that initially propelled Lynn to fame in his native Great Britain.

From 1977 to 1981 Lynn served as Artistic Director of The Cambridge Theatre Company, where he produced more than forty plays, twenty of which he directed. The company’s production of Macbeth featuring Brian Cox toured the United Kingdom and India and staged a special performance for then Prime Minister Mrs Ghandi. Lynn went on to direct one of the companies at the National Theatre of Great Britain, which performed his Society of West End Theatres award-winning production of Three Men on a Horse (1987).

Lynn directed numerous plays that appeared throughout London beginning in the mid 1970s. They include: The Glass Menagerie (1977), working with Tennessee Williams; Songbook (1979), which won the Society of West End Theatres Award, the Ivor Novello Award and the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical; Anna Christie (1979-80), at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and London; A Little Hotel on the Side by Georges Feydeau, adapted by John Mortimer at the National Theatre; Pass the Butler (1982), written by Eric Idle and staged at the Globe Theatre; and Joe Orton’s Loot (1984) starring Leonard Rossiter, staged first at the Ambassadors and Lyric Theatres.

Lynn just completed work on his new film WILD TARGET starring Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint and Rupert Everett. His screenplay The Prenup, has recently been optioned by producer Dan Keston.

Jonathan Lynn received an MA in Law from Cambridge University, an Honorary MA from the University of Sheffield and an Honorary PhD from the American Behavioral Studies Institute. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

A Note From Artistic Associate Cindy Marie Jenkins

When we received the grant from the Noel Coward Foundation, completely new opportunities opened up to The Antaeus Academy. Building the playground for learning The Master as well as fostering a love of Coward in younger audiences were two goals we knew would enrich Antaeus’s mission and invigorate us as we leapt into our first full season. The Antaeus Academy studies Coward among the British Classics, but rarely are able to involve its members in such an immersion. When Jeanie Hackett, Artistic Director of both the Company and Academy, hatched the idea to expand the scope of the grant by creating a mentorship for young directors as well, the project took on a new energy. I personally have the privilege of experiencing a mentorship simply by working at Antaeus and assisting the moderators in our Academy classes, but many new directors are left on their own.

In addition, the grant allowed us rare opportunities to experiment with outreach and programming around plays that we knew would reach beyond generations. Each play in The Young Idea hinges on one specific conflict: how can younger people’s ideals evolve & prosper when they are caught in the very world which suffocates their parents? Sorel and Simon Bliss play out their frustration within the very games their parents created; Dora & Stevie Shattock must deceive their parents to save all their lives; and John Whittaker melts into a little boy in full view of his wordly wife after being with his parents for barely a month.

In this time of online, open communication, Noel Coward clearly proves that accepting new ideas and valuing the old is the best road forward. We thank the Noel Coward Foundation for the chance to infuse our contemporary voice into his classical themes and hope you will join us in celebrating The Master, Noel Coward, during the weekend of The Young Idea!

-Cindy Marie Jenkins, Artistic Associate of The Antaeus Company

Abby’s Wilde Idea: Part 2 – The Crooner

Abby’s Wilde Idea: Part 2 – The Crooner

In which Ms. Abby Wilde describes her obsession with Harry Groener and how the Antaeus Company is 3 degrees of Joss Whedon.