Axial Theatre to Produce Awake and Sing!
Odets’ Depression-era drama is Company’s first-ever Revival
Previews Oct. 18th and 19th; runs Oct. 20th through Nov. 4th
Pleasantville, NY Axial Theatre in Pleasantville will open its 14th season with an ensemble production of Clifford Odets’ classic Depression-era drama, Awake and Sing! It is the first time in the theatre company’s 14-year history that it will be staging a classic Broadway drama in its entirety, according to Axial founder and artistic director Howard Meyer.
Previews are October 18th and 19th, opening night is October 20th, followed by a wine and cheese and talk back with the creative team. The show will run Thursdays through Sundays until November 4th.
On Sunday, October 28th, the eve of the historic Black Monday of 1929, the director and cast will engage in a post-performance discussion with the audience led by a leading specialist on gauging the pre-Presidential election pulse and mood of Wall Street.
When Awake and Sing! was revived in a Lincoln Center Theater production in 2006, starring Ben Gazzara, Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Wanamaker, it won Tony and Drama Desk Awards for best Revival and Outstanding Revival, respectively.
Awake and Sing! was originally performed in 1935 under the direction of Harold Clurman by the Group Theatre in New York, a legendary ensemble company formed with the intent of having no “stars”. But in addition to launching Odets’ career, it helped make the careers of such actors as Harry Morgan and Lee J. Cobb.
“A powerful spirit emerges in an ensemble production,” said Howard Meyer. “Existing relationships that have been cultivated over years allow the actors to go deeper and take more risks once rehearsal begins. There is reciprocity of trust. The same dynamic that was the foundation of the Group Theatre is at work here.”
Francesco Campari, the play’s director, noted, “Odets set the play in 1933, the peak of the Great Depression. Unfortunately, the issues that the play’s characters are struggling with – a depressed economy, businesses failing, high unemployment, home foreclosures, multi-generations of families financially forced to live together, as well as unresolved matters of the heart that know no difference between good or bad financial times – are as relevant and contemporary today.”
Despite his dark summary of the major themes, Campari said audience members should view the play with optimism. “Speak to almost any survivor of the Great Depression and they’ll tell you that the financial turmoil of the 21st Century pales by comparison.”
Meyer said he embraces a biblical interpretation of “awake and sing”, the prophetic call found in the Book of Isaiah. “’It’s a message of encouragement and promise for a better tomorrow. For the playwright, Awake and Sing! was a model for a hopeful society and new beginnings, particularly after trying times.
Director Francesco Campari trained with The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and graduated from the Lincoln Center Theatre’s Director’s Lab Class of 2011. (Strasberg was one of the founders of the Group Theatre which first produced Odets’ play.) Campari also studied at Accademia del Teatro alla Scala and Centro Teatro Attivo, both in his native Milan, Italy. In addition to performances with Axial Theatre, as both an actor and director, his work has been seen Off-Broadway.
Axial Theatre is located at 18 Sunnyside Avenue, Pleasantville, New York.The curtain is at 8:00 PM on Thursdays through Saturdays and 4:00 pm on Sundays. Tickets are $20; $15 for students and seniors. All tickets are $35 on opening night, October 20. For reservations and group sales visit www.brownpapertickets.com. For further information call Jaki Silver at 516 984 4515.