A.C.T.'s War Music Takes Flight with Groundbreaking Fusion of Language, Music, and Movement
World Premiere Must-See Event Continues A.C.T.'s Commitment to the Development of Large-Scale Fusion Work for the American Theater.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, February 24, 2009—American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) presents the world premiere of a visionary work of epic proportions, War Music, adapted and directed by Lillian Groag (A.C.T.'s The Rivals) based on Christopher Logue's ravishing translation of the Iliad. In a wildly theatrical, totally modern interpretation of one of the mightiest conflicts of all time, Groag reignites the wrath of Greek warrior Achilles against his archrival, Agamemnon. With movement by award-winning opera, theater, and ballet choreographer Daniel Pelzig and featuring original music composed by John Glover alongside an eclectic selection of rock and pop music, War Music cements A.C.T.'s position as the Bay Area home of unique fusion works in the vein of such groundbreaking pieces as The Overcoat and The Black Rider. War Music plays at A.C.T. March 26 through April 26, 2009. Opening night is Wednesday, April 1, 2009, at 8 p.m. Tickets—starting at $14—are available by calling A.C.T. Ticket Services at 415.749.2228, or at www.act-sf.org.
"What inspired me the most about Christopher Logue's version of the Iliad is that it is visceral, immediate, and truly funny, without ever minimizing the monumental thrust of the story," says Groag, who has worked at the highest level as an actor, writer, and director, and whose adaptations of Lorca, Musset, Marivaux, and Molnar are produced throughout the country. About the excitement of adapting one of the greatest stories ever told for the stage, she adds: "This is astonishing language that lifts off the page and dances and sings. It has been a wonderfully challenging and exciting process to develop such an ambitious piece with the support of the A.C.T. family, and I cannot imagine premiering this production in a better space than the beautiful A.C.T. stage to a more sophisticated audience."
Christopher Logue's translation of the Iliad was a project spanning 45 years and has been hailed internationally as an outstanding example of English adaptation of Greek poetry. Meticulously crafted by Logue, who is a celebrated poet, playwright, and screenwriter in his own right, the final result brims with modern imagery and language to tell a story that is at once ancient and contemporary, and has been called "brilliantly original, consummately crafted . . . poetry that shines with greatness" by the Los Angeles Times. Logue's modern translation forms the essential foundation for the imaginative production that will breathe life into this ancient tale.
Groag's directing work, rooted in both opera and theater, is visceral and known for its unexpected use of music, movement, and language. An impressive list of artists working on War Music adds to the mix of styles and disciplines for this unique production. Choreographer Daniel Pelzig has an extensive background in opera (Lucia di Lammermoor at The Metropolitan Opera with Mary Zimmerman), theater (A Year with Frog and Toad on Broadway and Sweeney Todd for The Kennedy Center's Sondheim celebration), and ballet (Nine Lives: Songs of Lyle Lovett and Resurrection with cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the Boston Ballet). Up-and-coming composer John Glover, who is under commission to write pieces for the Baltimore Opera Company, Glimmerglass Opera, the Dueck Three piano trio, and People's Light and Theatre, will set the tone of the production with his eclectic musical compositions, which will be heard in juxtaposition to an unexpected selection of rock and pop music. Groag's vision for War Music will take full advantage of the American Conservatory Theater stage's great scope with a stunning set design by Daniel Ostling, who frequently collaborates with Mary Zimmerman (most recently on Argonautika).
A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff speaks to the immediacy of this production: "As a country engaged in several wars of attrition simultaneously, we are desperate to understand how we got into the mess we are in. War Music is the perfect catalyst for conversation on these difficult questions and promises to be bold, ambitious, and unforgettable." The world premiere production of War Music is one of the high-profile culminations of A.C.T.'s new plays program, having received developmental support from the company for three years, including public presentations of the work-in-progress at the Zeum Theater and at Stanford University. "A.C.T. has been deeply engaged with creating this remarkable new piece," adds Artistic Director Carey Perloff. "It utilizes all that is unique about A.C.T.: our remarkable core acting company, our thrilling young M.F.A. Program actors, our love of original music and masterful choreography, and our desire to find metaphors for the world around us."
Continuing A.C.T.'s commitment to creating further synergy between the producing arm of the organization with its acclaimed conservatory, the cast for the world premiere production features A.C.T. core acting company members René Augesen, Anthony Fusco, Gregory Wallace, Jud Williford, and Jack Willis; veteran actors Charles Dean, Lee Ernst, Sharon Lockwood, David A. Moss, and Andy Murray; alongside A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2009 members Nicholas Pelczar, Christopher S. Tocco, and Erin Michelle Washington.
Along with Daniel Ostling's scenic design, War Music features the work of some of the most celebrated designers in the Bay Area, including costume designer Beaver Bauer (A.C.T.'s A Christmas Carol and Teatro ZinZanni), lighting designer Russell H. Champa (Waiting for Godot at A.C.T. and Eurydice at Berkeley Rep), and sound designer Jeff Mockus (The Rainmaker and The Circle at A.C.T.).
A.C.T.'s production of War Music is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fund for New Works, an endowed fund of The Next Generation Campaign. Major support for A.C.T.'s new play productions has been provided by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. The James Irvine Foundation has provided major support to A.C.T.'s core acting company this season. A.C.T. would also like to acknowledge executive producers Priscilla and Keith Geeslin, Joan S. Lane, Nancy Livingston & Fred Levin, The Shenson Foundation, Mrs. Albert J. Moorman; and producers Lesley Ann Clement and Doron Dreksler, Heather M. Kitchen, Dr. and Mrs. Joseph K. Perloff, and David ibnAle and Mollie Ricker. A.C.T.'s company sponsors include Roberta B. Bialek, Rena Bransten, Priscilla and Keith Geeslin, Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Kathleen Scutchfield, Jeff and Laurie Ubben, and Ms. Susan Van Wagner.
Tickets for War Music can be purchased by visiting A.C.T. Ticket Services, located at 405 Geary Street, by calling 415.749.2228, or via the A.C.T. website at www.act-sf.org. Groups of 15 or more people are eligible for discounts; please call Edward Budworth at 415.439.2473.
Sponsored by Bank of the West, a Bring What You Can/Pay What You Wish performance will be held on Thursday, April 2, 2009, at 8 p.m. Patrons will be allowed to pay any amount for tickets when they bring a donation of children's books, diapers, or coffee beans to benefit Raphael House, a shelter and support program for homeless families in San Francisco's Tenderloin District. Patrons are limited to one ticket per donated item, one ticket per person. Tickets go on sale at 6 p.m. the day of the performance.
PHOTO EDITORS, please note: Images of the artists involved with A.C.T.'s production of War Music are available in the press photo section of the PRESS ROOM of A.C.T.'s website at http://www.act-sf.org/press.
Adapted and directed by Lillian Groag
Based on the book by Christopher Logue
Choreography by Daniel Pelzig
Renowned writer and director Lillian Groag (A.C.T.'s The Rivals) reignites the wrath of Greek warrior Achilles against his archrival, Agamemnon, in a wildly theatrical, totally modern interpretation of one of the mightiest conflicts of all time. Adapted from lauded contemporary poet Christopher Logue's ravishing translation of the Iliad that was 45 years in the making, War Music is a groundbreaking fusion of language, music, and movement as only A.C.T. can create.
Cast: René Augesen (Ensemble/Aphrodite), Charles Dean (Ensemble/Homer 2), Lee Ernst (Ensemble/Agamemnon), Anthony Fusco (Ensemble/Homer), Sharon Lockwood (Ensemble/Hera), David A. Moss (Ensemble/Priam), Andy Murray (Ensemble/Foot soldier), Nicholas Pelczar* (Ensemble/Menelaus), Christopher S. Tocco* (Ensemble/Patroclus), Gregory Wallace (Ensemble/Hector), Erin Michelle Washington* (Ensemble/Athena), Jud Williford (Ensemble/Achilles), Jack Willis (Ensemble/Zeus)
* Member of A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2009
Creative Team: Beaver Bauer (costume designer), Russell H. Champa (lighting designer), John Glover (composer), Jeff Mockus (sound designer), Daniel Ostling (scenic designer)
Previews: Thursday, March 26, at 8 p.m.
Friday, March 27, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 28, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 31, at 8 p.m.
Opening Night: Wednesday, April 1, at 8 p.m.
Last Performance: Sunday, April 26, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $14–$57 previews; $17–$71 Tue.–Fri. & Sun. evenings; $22–$82 Sat. evenings and weekend matinees. Tickets are available through A.C.T. Ticket Services, 405 Geary Street at Mason, 415.749.2228, and online at www.act-sf.org.
Performance Times: Tuesdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Additional 2 p.m. matinee performances on Wednesdays, April 8 and April 15
Additional 7 p.m. performance on Sunday, April 5
Tuesday, April 7, performance is at 7 p.m.
InterACT Events—Free of charge!
KORET PROLOGUE featuring Lillian Groag
Tuesday, March 31, 2009, at 5:30 p.m.
American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco)
Get inside the artistic process. Join us for this half-hour discussion with adaptor and director Lillian Groag introducing the production. FREE and open to the public (no tickets required).
KORET AUDIENCE EXCHANGES
Tuesday, April 7, 2009, at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at 2 p.m.
Sunday, April 19, 2009, at 2 p.m.
Join us for a lively Q&A session with the actors and A.C.T. artistic staff members after these performances.
OUT WITH A.C.T.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at 8 p.m.
A dynamic series for LGBT theater lovers that includes a catered afterparty with complimentary wine and desserts and a cast meet and greet. Visit www.act-sf.org/out for more information about how to subscribe to OUT nights.
LILLIAN GROAG (Adaptor, Director) works in the theater as an actress, writer, and director. Her acting credits include work on and off Broadway, at the Mark Taper Forum, and at regional theaters across the United States. An associate artist of The Old Globe, she has directed numerous productions at this country's leading theater and opera venues, including The Rivals at A.C.T. Her plays The Ladies of the Camellias, The White Rose (AT&T: OnStage® Award for new American plays), The Magic Fire (The Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays), Menocchio, and Midons have been produced widely throughout North America and Germany and in Tokyo and Mexico City. She has written translations and adaptations of Lorca, Feydeau, Musset, Marivaux, and Molnar. The Ladies of the Camellias, Blood Wedding, The White Rose, and The Magic Fire have been published by Dramatists Play Service.
DANIEL PELZIG (Choreographer) has choreographed for theater, ballet, and opera around the country. Broadway credits include choreography for 33 Variations and A Year with Frog and Toad. Off-Broadway credits include Regrets Only and Newyorkers, Valhalla, The New Moon, and Privates on Parade. Regionally, he has choreographed productions of Romeo and Juliet (Helen Hayes Award nomination), Dog in the Manger, Twelfth Night, Edward II (The Shakespeare Theatre Company); Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (The Kennedy Center's Sondheim celebration); several productions for the Huntington Theatre Company; and productions for Goodman Theatre, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, McCarter Theatre Center, The Old Globe, Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Alliance Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, and Pioneer Theatre Company. Opera credits include La Sonnambula, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Iphigénie en Tauride for The Metropolitan Opera, as well as productions for Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, LA Opera, and Chicago Opera Theater. Pelzig earned his degree in cellular biology at Columbia University.
JOHN GLOVER (Composer) is a multiple grant- and award-winning composer. Prior commissions for the Baltimore Opera Company, Glimmerglass Opera, People's Light & Theatre, and Dueck Three, have distinguished him as an emerging voice in contemporary music. He received his undergraduate training in composition with a focus in saxophone performance from Indiana University and his master's degree in composition from the University of Southern California. Glover is also the operations manager for American Composers Orchestra.