Bedlam at McCarter: ‘Hamlet’ and ‘St. Joan’ take over Berlind stage

Eric Tucker (left) and Edmund Lewis in a scene from Bedlam's "St. Joan,' by George Bernard Shaw. (PHOTO: A.R. Sinclair)
Eric Tucker (left) and Edmund Lewis in a scene from Bedlam’s “St. Joan,’ by George Bernard Shaw. (PHOTO: A.R. Sinclair)

I’ve seen “Hamlet” at least two dozen times. A benefit of being a critic. So I’m eager to see Bedlam’s “Hamlet” — 4 actors playing over 25 roles —  at McCarter because I crave new ways to look at old shows, even if it was conceived this way due to a shoestring budget.

Throughout 47 years of theatergoing (before you do the math, I started young … real young), some of my best experiences were at low-budget, off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway theaters that didn’t recognize a fourth wall, depended on brains, creativity, hard work, devotion to craft, enthusiasm, family, friends, donors and thrill-seeking audiences willing to take risks — just like the actors.

From Jan. 13 through Feb. 12, the NYC-based company Bedlam makes its McCarter Theatre Center debut with its critically
acclaimed stripped-down productions of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan” in  repertory. It’s booked into the center’s 360-seat Berlind Theatre.

And audiences don’t have to worry about paying $25 to $74 per ticket for unknown products. These shows have been done before successfully by a company known for being innovative, site-specific, and kinetic. One even can buy tickets to sit on the stage to be closer to the action. (On stage seats are moved around during intermission.)

In other words, a perfect opportunity to take someone who doesn’t like or has never seen Shakespeare and/or Shaw — worse yet, saw those plays not well done — and knock their socks off. Me? I’ve got a few teens and Millennials in mind to introduce to the theater experience and get them off social media for 3 hours, 10 minutes of “Hamlet” and 3 hours for “St. Joan.”

Scene from Bedlam theater's "Hamlet." (bedlam.org)
Scene from Bedlam theater’s “Hamlet.” (bedlam.org)

The ensemble includes Eric Tucker, Andrus Nichols, Edmund Lewis, and Tom O’Keefe who “rocket from character to character at a lightning-bolt’s pace,” according to the press release.”

“For us, it’s about making the audience know they’re part of the play. Their own placement feeds the energy of the story. As the audience gets moved around, they’re sharing the space with us. There’s no ‘this is your area, this is our area.’ This is at the heart of what we do.”

ABOUT BEDLAM’s ‘HAMLET,’ ‘SAINT JOAN’

Tucker and Andrus Nichols co-founded Bedlam in 2012, presenting George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan on a shoestring budget with only four actors playing over 25 characters. The show received instant recognition and was extended four times. Terry Teachout of “The Wall Street Journal” was an early admirer, describing it as “Thrilling! An unforgettable show! The most exciting George Bernard Shaw revival I’ve ever seen, bar none.”

In 2013, Bedlam produced Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” with the same four actors, again playing over 25 characters amongst themselves. “Hamlet” ran in repertory with Saint Joan and both productions were
then transferred for a commercial Off-Broadway run at The Lynn Redgrave Theater in the winter of 2013/2014.

Ben Brantley, the head theatre critic of “The New York Times” wrote, “Every member of Bedlam hears voices.
Not of God and his saints, but of Shaw (who probably would have said that’s the same thing) and Shakespeare. And I mean they believe they hear these playwrights, in all their sonority, telling them what to do … anyone who listens to the eminently sane and persuasive voices of Bedlam is destined to become a convert.”

Bedlam’s shows have been noted as Ben Brantley’s “Critics’ Picks” for NYTimes six times, noted on NYTimes “Top Ten Best Show Lists” two times, as well as those of “The Wall Street Journal” and “Time”magazine respectively. “The Wall Street Journal” also noted Tucker as “Director of the Year” in 2014.

Poster for joint productions of "Hamlet" and "St. Joan." (PHOTO: bedlam.com)
Poster for joint productions of “Hamlet” and “St. Joan.” (PHOTOS: bedlam.com)

ABOUT THE CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM

Edmund Lewis (Polonius/Horatio and others in Hamlet; Dauphin/John de Stogumber and others in Saint Joan)
was seen most recently in Bedlam’s acclaimed off-Broadway hit “Sense & Sensibility.” Prior to that, he played
various characters in “New York Animals” (written by Steven Sater) and appeared as Malvolio in Bedlam’s one
play/two ways repertory of “Twelfth Night” and “What You Will.”  A founding member of the company, Lewis acted in the original award-winning runs of “Saint Joan” and “Hamlet,” first at the Access Theater and then off-Broadway at the Lynn Redgrave Theater. Other roles include Sebastian in “The Tempest” (A.R.T., co-directed
by Aaron Posner and Teller); Sackville and Mr. Harris in “The Libertine”  (Fools’ Theatre, directed by Eric Tucker); Mark in “The Philadelphia,” Kafka in “Words, Words, Words”, and Sir Richard Attenborough in “Time Flies” (Bang
Theatre Collective).

Andrus Nichols (Gertrude/Ophelia and others in “Hamlet”; Joan in “Saint Joan”) was most recently seen in Ivo Van Hove’s “A View From The Bridge” at The Kennedy Center in D.C. and The Ahmanson Theatre in L.A. Off-Broadway: “Sense & Sensibility” (Bedlam; Drama League nom., Best Revival; Off-Broadway Alliance Award
winner), “Hamlet,” “Saint Joan” (Bedlam; Lucille Lortel nom., Outstanding Lead Actress; Off Broadway Alliance
Award, Best Revival). New York: “Sense & Sensibility,” “The Seagull,” “Twelfth Night,” “What You Will” (Bedlam); “Hello From Bertha” (Pooks Hill); “Hamlet” (Shakespeare Forum); “The Libertine” (Fools’ Theater). Regional: “Hamlet,” “Saint Joan” (Bedlam/Olney Theater Center/Central Square Theater; Helen Hayes and Elliot Norton noms, Outstanding Lead Actress; IRNE Award, Outstanding Visiting Performer); “Hamlet” (title role), “Iphigenia and Other Daughters” (We Players/Alcatraz Island); “Julius Ceasar”; “The Rainmaker”; “The Importance of Being Earnest”; others. Andrus cofounded Bedlam with Eric Tucker in 2012. www.andrus-nichols.com

Tom O’Keefe (Claudius/Rosencrantz and others in “Hamlet;” Cauchon/Poulengey and others in “Saint Joan”)  Off Broadway: “Tamburlaine the Great,” Bedlam’s “Hamlet” and “Saint Joan.” Other New York: “Dead Dog Park,” Bedlam’s “Twelfth Night” and “What You Will,” “The Best of Everything,” “A Hard Wall at High Speed,” “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” “The Libertine.”  Regional: “Outside Mullingar,” “Richard II,” “The Taster,” “Measure for Measure,” “From
Orchids to Octopi,” “Humble Boy
,” “Questa.” TV: “Shades of Blue,” “The Path,” “CSI, Criminal Minds,” “E.R.,” “The Shield,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Drake & Josh.” Film: “A New Tomorrow,” “Avenging Angel,” “CrashN’Burn,” “Fill Your Heart with French Fries” (short). BA, Pennsylvania State University. JD, Boston University School of Law. Proud member of SAG/AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association. Tom-OKeefe.com

Eric Tucker (Director/Hamlet in Hamlet; Dunois/Warwick and others in Saint Joan) “Wall Street Journal.” Director of the Year 2014Off-Broadway: Bedlam’s Sense & Sensibility (off-Broadway Alliance Award; Lortel nom., Best Director; Drama League nom., Best Revival); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Drama League nom.
Best Revival; WSJ Best Classical Production 2015; New York Times Critics’ Pick); Bedlam’s Saint Joan (New York Times/Time Magazine top 10, Off-Broadway Alliance Best Revival 2014); Bedlam’s Hamlet (New York Times top 10, Time Out NY and Backstage Critics’ Pick); Tina Packer’s Women of Will; The Belle of Belfast.
For Bedlam: Dead Dog Park, New York Animals (world premiere by Steven Sater/Burt Bacharach), TwelfthNight, What You Will (New York Times Critics’ Picks), The Seagull (WSJ Best Classical Production 2014), Sense & Sensibility (New York Times top 10; New York Times /WSJ/Time Out Critics’ Pick), Saint Joan, and Hamlet (NYC and Tour, Elliott Norton Outstanding Visiting Production and Outstanding Ensemble, Boston Globe Top 10). Other: Sense & Sensibility (Folger); Copenhagen (Central Square Theatre); A Midsummer
Night’s Dream, The Two Gentlemen of Verona
 (HVSF); The Libertine (IRNE nomination, Best Director); Hamlet (with William Hurt); Mate (The Actors’ Gang), Macbeth (Best Overall Production and Best Director noms L.A. Weekly). Eric received his MFA from the Trinity Rep Conservatory. He resides in New York City
where he is Artistic Director of Bedlam.

John McDermott (Set Design) Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival: MacbethMeasure For MeasureAs You  Like ItThe Winter’s TaleA Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Arabian Nights. Shakespeare and Company: Red VelvetThe Comedy of ErrorsAn Unexpected ManSotto VoceThe TamingUgly Lies the Bone. Folger: As You Like ItSense & Sensibility. Off-Broadway: The Singing Forest (New York Shakespeare Festival); Play Yourself (New York Theater Workshop); This Thing of DarknessWhite People (Atlantic Theater Company); HamletSaint JoanNew York AnimalsSense & SensibilityThe SeagullDead Dog Park (Bedlam); Dry LandEverything is OursFish Eye (Colt Coeur). Rattlestick Playwrights Theater: 25 designs including 3CLadyThe
Undeniable Sound of Right Now
The RevisionistSaved or Destroyed. Assistant Professor, Adelphi University.

Les Dickert (Lighting Design) designs for a diverse range of live performance, spanning contemporary and  Shakespearean theater, modern dance, classical ballet, and international performance art. Previous collaborations with Bedlam include Sense & SensibilityThe Seagull, and New York Animals. Broadway: Wrong Mountain (Assistant), High Society (Assistant). Off-Broadway: Atlantic Theater, Rattlestick Theater, P73, Theater Row, Ensemble Studio Theater, In Violet Rep, others. Regional: Shakespeare and Company,
Great Lakes Theater Festival, Geva Theater, Perseverance Theater, Syracuse Stage, Triad Stage, Arden Theater, others. Dance: White Oak Dance Project, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Joffrey Ballet. International: Centre Pompidou; La Scala; and the National Ballets of England, Denmark, Australia, Belgium, Canada, and Russia. Les is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

Trampas Thompson (Fight Director) is thrilled to be collaborating again with his friends from Bedlam. In addition to choreographing the original critically acclaimed run of Bedlam’s Hamlet, his theatrical work includes Women of Will for Tina Packer and Richard III for Shakespeare Dallas. Trampas has been a professional stuntman and stunt coordinator in film and television for over 20 years. His 100 + credits include four Pirates of the Caribbean films, National Treasure, and Zombieland, among many others. Trampas
was Michael Keaton’s stunt double in the film Birdman and recently joined Mr. Keaton again as his stunt double on Spider-Man: Homecoming, due in theaters next summer.  He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild of America. Complete credits can be found on IMDb.

 

Exterior shot of McCarterTheater in Princeton.
Exterior shot of McCarterTheater in Princeton.

About McCarter Theatre Center

Led by Artistic Director/Resident Playwright Emily Mann and Managing Director Timothy J. Shields, McCarter
Theatre Center is a leading destination for playwrights, actors, and directors to collaborate on ambitious world premieres, re-imagined classics, adaptations, and developmental workshops. Awarded the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, McCarter has evolved into a nationally and internationally acclaimed
theatre recognized for its first-rate productions, daring world premieres, and lasting contributions to the
American theatrical canon.  The theatre is celebrated for its emphasis on the creation and development of
new work, marked especially by an on-going program of commissions, an annual artists retreat, and the
fostering of long term relationships with emerging and established playwrights.

Among the noteworthy dramatists whose work has received world premieres, developmental productions,
and workshops at McCarter are: Edward Albee, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Sarah Treem, Marina Carr, Lydia
Diamond, John Guare, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Regina Taylor, Beth Henley, Danai Gurira, and Athol Fugard. Many, including EclipsedVanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (2013 Tony Award for Best Play), Having Our SayAnna in the TropicsCrownsValley Song, and Yellowman, received original workshops at McCarter before moving on to Broadway and/or become some of the most frequently produced plays in the American theater.

McCarter is equally recognized for its investigations of the classic canon including Fiasco Theater’s reimagined production of Into the Woods, Stephen Wadsworth’s acclaimed adaptations
of the Marivaux Trilogy and Beaumarchais’ Figaro plays, Brian Friel’s Translations, and Emily Mann’s adaptations of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba.

Next up, McCarter Theatre Center’s 2017 Theatre Series continues with Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” (world premiere), and Lynn

CAST 

Eric Tucker: Hamlet in Hamlet Dunois/Warwick and others in Saint Joan

Andrus Nichols: Gertrude/Ophelia and others in Hamlet Joan in Saint Joan

Edmund Lewis: Polonius/Horatio and others in Hamlet Dauphin/John de Stogumber and others in Saint Joan

Tom O’Keefe:  Claudius/Rosencrantz and others in Hamlet 
Cauchon/Poulengey and others in Saint Joan

The Actors and Stage Manager in this production are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.

McCarter is supported by Princeton University, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and
over 3,000 individuals, corporations, and foundations. McCarter Theatre is located at 91 University
Place in Princeton, NJ. For more information, please visit www.mccarter.org

Hamlet and Saint Joan are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the

Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds
from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Saint Joan is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Opening Night sponsored by Novo Nordisk.

Tickets, Performance Schedule
Tickets: $25 – $74; at mccarter.org, (609) 258-2787, or at McCarter
Theatre Ticket Office,  91 University Place, Princeton.

PERFORMANCE SKED

Hamlet runs 3 hours and 10 minutes, including two intermissions.
Saint Joan runs 3 hours, including two intermissions.
Friday                    January 13                           8 p.m.                   SAINT JOAN
Saturday              January 14                           8 p.m.                   HAMLET
Sunday                 January 15                           2 p.m.                   SAINT JOAN

Tuesday               January 17                           7:30 p.m.             HAMLET
Wednesday        January 18                           7:30 p.m.             SAINT JOAN
Thursday             January 19                           7:30 p.m.             HAMLET
Friday                    January 20                           8 p.m.                   SAINT JOAN
Saturday              January 21                           3 p.m.                   HAMLET
Saturday              January 21                           8 p.m.                   SAINT JOAN
Sunday                 January 22                           2 p.m.                   HAMLET               Dialogue on Drama

Tuesday               January 24                           7:30 p.m.             SAINT JOAN
Wednesday        January 25                           7:30 p.m.             HAMLET               Post-show Discussion
Thursday             January 26                           7:30 p.m.             SAINT JOAN       Pride Night
Friday                    January 27                           8 p.m.                   HAMLET
Saturday              January 28                           3 p.m.                   SAINT JOAN
Saturday              January 28                           8 p.m.                   HAMLET
Sunday                 January 29                           2 p.m.                   HAMLET               Post-show Discussion
Sunday                 January 29                           7:30 p.m.             SAINT JOAN

Wednesday        February 1                          7:30 p.m.             SAINT JOAN
Thursday             February 2                          7:30 p.m.             HAMLET
Friday                    February 3                          8 p.m.                   SAINT JOAN
Saturday              February 4                          3 p.m.                   HAMLET               Open Captioned
Saturday              February 4                          8 p.m.                   SAINT JOAN
Sunday                 February 5                          2 p.m.                   HAMLET

Tuesday               February 7                          7:30 p.m.             HAMLET
Wednesday        February 8                          7:30 p.m.             HAMLET               Audio Described
Thursday             February 9                          7:30 p.m.             SAINT JOAN
Friday                    February 10                        8 p.m.                   HAMLET
Saturday              February 11                        3 p.m.                   SAINT JOAN       ASL Interpreted
Saturday              February 11                        8 p.m.                   HAMLET
Sunday                 February 12                        2 p.m.                   SAINT JOAN
Sunday                 February 12                        7:30 p.m.             HAMLET

 

Seating Options

“Traditional Seating” OR “OnStage Seating.” ONSTAGE TICKET option:  See the play while sitting on stage from multiple perspectives during each performance. Seating is reconfigured during intermission. TRADITIONAL TICKET option: Patrons are assigned to a seat inside the theater stay in the same assigned seat throughout the play.*


Special Events and Engagement Programs

Dialogue on Drama
Post-show discussion with director Eric Tucker and Andrus Nichols (co-founders of Bedlam) after the 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, January 22. This is a free event, no RSVP req.

Post-Show Discussions
Post-show discussions are highly interactive audience-based conversations facilitated by a member
of McCarter’s artistic staff, often featuring cast members. Post-show discussions occur directly following the 7:30 p.m. performance on Wednesday, January 25 and
following the 2 p.m. performance on Sunday, January 29.

Inside Story
Join us 45 minutes before any performance for a talk led by a member of McCarter’s artistic staff. Hear about what
inspired the play, its unique creation and style, and more. All Inside Story talks will take place in the Berlind Theatre unless otherwise noted in the lobby upon arrival.

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