Extreme Shakespeare: Pericles Actors at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Create Production Similar to the Way Shakespeare’s Company Would Have

July 16, 2015

Contact: Lisa Higgins
610.282.WILL, ext. 4

Center Valley, PA—Exotic adventures, dark mysteries, and enchanting love carry a handsome warrior around the Mediterranean Sea in Shakespeare’s romantic Pericles, which previews July 22 and 23, opens July 24 and continues through August 2 at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival on the Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

One of Shakespeare’s later plays, written in 1608, and popular in its day, Pericles is PSF’s fourth production in five years rehearsed the way Shakespeare’s company likely would have, with the actors taking control. The company of 18 actors arrives with their lines learned and open before an audience in a matter of days. There is no director—the position did not exist in Shakespeare’s time. And no designers, also a more recent invention. (PSF typically rehearses plays for 3.5 to 6 weeks.)

Actors costume themselves after a costume shop “raid,” and commandeer props and elements from other Festival productions to fulfill a production that is uniquely of their invention. (The production takes place on the set of Around the World in 80 Days, which ran June 17 – July 12 in the Festival’s intimate Schubert Theatre.)

“The goal is to bring the audience a bit closer to the ‘crackling now’ energy of an Elizabethan theatre and to showcase the extraordinary creative capacity of the actor,” says Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy. “We call it ‘extreme Shakespeare.’ Actors in Shakespeare’s time were believed to perform on short notice and present dozens of plays in the span of a few weeks.”

Pericles, played by Christopher Patrick Mullen, a long-time PSF actor, begins as a young man in love trying to solve a riddle to marry the daughter of a King—and ends as an old King so filled with grief from the loss of his beloved wife, Thaisa, played by Broadway veteran Gina Lamparella, and daughter, Marina, played by Emiley Kiser, he cannot speak. Before the audience gets to experience the happy restoration of his family, the hero faces epic trials and storms on a sea known for its chaos.

Prince Pericles is sailing around the Mediterranean to avoid assassination ordered by the King of Antioch, played by Richard Watson.

Watson is double cast as Cleon, who, along with Dionyza, Susan Riley Stevens, take care of Pericles’ daughter Marina after Pericles loses his wife at sea.

When Dionyza is threatened by Marina’s beauty, Marina ends up at a brothel owned by Pandar, Brad DePlanche, and his wife, a Bawd, Suzanne O’Donnell.

The cast also includes Broadway actor Spencer Plachy as Lysimachus, who falls in love with Marina, and Eric Hissom as Helicanus, who rules Tyre in Pericles’s absence.

The production is stage managed by Stacy Renee Norwood, a PSF veteran.

Production sponsors are Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, and co-sponsor is Keenan-Nagle Advertising, Inc.

Performances are Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday 2pm and 7:30pm. Single ticket prices start at $25. Prices vary based on performance day, time, seating location, and availability. To order tickets call 610.282.WILL [9455] or online at www.pashakespeare.org.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival continues with The Foreigner in repertory with Henry V (through August 2) on the Main Stage and Shakespeare for Kids (July 22 through August 1) and Rapunzel (through August 1). Also, Jeremiah James will perform a special concert, Choose Love, on Monday, July 27 at 7:30pm on the Main Stage. James recently played Javert in PSF’s record-breaking production of Les Misérables.

Amaranth Foundation is the 2015 season sponsor. Associate season sponsors are the Szarko Family, Harry C. Trexler Trust, Dr. James and Penny Pantano, and Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, a professional company in residence at DeSales University, is the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth and a professional, not-for-profit theatre company. An independent 501 c 3 organization, PSF receives support from DeSales University and relies on contributions from individuals, government agencies, corporations and foundations.

PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.

Principle Artist Bios

STACY RENEE NORWOOD (Stage Manager) 5th Season with PSF where she stage managed the repertory productions of Macbeth and Lend Me A Tenor last season as well as Measure for Measure and The Importance of Being Earnest in 2013. Other PSF: The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors.

BRAD DEPLANCHE (Fisherman/Cerimon/Pandar) portrayed Passepartout in PSF’s Around the World in 80 Days earlier this season. A stage veteran, he has performed at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Conservatory Theater, Syracuse Stage, Utah Shakespearean Festival and many others.

ERIC HISSOM (Helicanuas/Boult/et.al) has appeared at PSF in The Complete Work of William Shakespeare, A Man for All Seasons, The Tempest (twice) and Around the World in 80 Days (also twice). Recent: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Arena Stage, the world premiere of Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot at Cleveland Playhouse, Cyrano at the Arden Theatre, the national tour of The 39 Steps, and the world premiere of Aaron Posner’s Life Sucks at Theater J in Washington, D.C.

EMILEY KISER (Marina) 5th season with PSF, where she was last seen in Henry VIII. Recent: Our Town (Palm Beach Dramaworks), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Quintessence Theatre Group), and Pride and Prejudice (People’s Light and Theatre).

GINA LAMPARELLA (Thaisa) appeared on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera, A Little Night Music, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Fiddler on the Roof, Gypsy starring Bernadette Peters, Imaginary Friends, Jane Eyre, and the 10th anniversary company of Les Misérables. Gina’s work as a director includes PSF’s Beauty and the Beast, and PSF’s WillPower tours of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and Much Ado About Nothing.

CHRISTOPHER PATRICK MULLEN (Pericles) 24 productions with PSF (since 1992): Henry VIII, Dracula…, Charley’s Aunt, Hamlet, The Mystery of Irma Vep, and The Glass Menagerie. Others: West Side Story (1st National Tour); The Runner Stumbles (Off-Broadway); The Whaleship Essex (Vineyard Playhouse); When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? (Retro Productions); Macbeth, A Little Night Music, Candide, and Assassins, (Arden Theatre); Company member of People’s Light.TV: Law & Order.

SUZANNE O’DONNELL (Bawd) PSF: Maria, Lend Me a Tenor, Witch/Porter, Macbeth, Miss Prism, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Other regional: The Arden Theatre (Dancing at Lughnasa, Romeo and Juliet), The Folger Theatre (Arcadia, The Comedy of Errors) and 1812 Productions (Boston Marriage). Orlando Shakespeare Theatre credits include: Linda in the world premiere of Bad Dog, Emilia in Othello, Mrs. Henry Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and Annette in God of Carnage.

SPENCER PLACHY (Escanes/Lysimachus) PSF: 1776 (Jefferson), South Pacific (Cable), My Fair Lady (Freddy), Cyrano De Bergerac (Christian), The Two Noble Kinsmen, Antony and Cleopatra, Amadeus. Most recently: Bucks County Playhouse premiere of National Pastime (director Hunter Foster). Broadway: Romeo & Juliet (Apothecary/Mercutio u/s), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Jasper u/s). Off-Broadway: The Common Pursuit. Tours: Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof. Regional: The Alley Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Florida Rep.

SUSAN RILEY STEVENS (Dionyza) 8th season at PSF. Previous: Macbeth, Lend Me a Tenor, Henry VIII, King John, Hamlet, Pride & Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and Othello. Recent: Nora, Delaware Theatre Company, A New Brain, 11th Hour Theatre Company. Regional: 1812 Productions, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Walnut Street Theatre, Act 2 Playhouse, Arden Theatre, Peterborough Players, Bristol Riverside, Dallas Theatre Center, People’s Light, Portland Stage Co, Asolo Rep.

RICHARD B. WATSON (Antiochus) Favorite roles: John Adams, 1776, Dr. Carrasco, Man of La Mancha; Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady; Zach, A Chorus Line. Theaters: Orlando, Hampton, Georgia, and Milwaukee Shakespeare Companies, Arkansas Rep, Ensemble Studio Theater, Irish Rep, Asolo Rep, Pioneer, American Stage, and Disney World. Shakespeare: Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Henry VIII, Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, King John, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Winter’s Tale, Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing and Titus Andronicus. Film/TV: PS, I Love You; “Law & Order CI”; “Delocated”; “Onion Sports Network”; Art=(Love)²; and a pilot, “Powerless”, for FX. MFA from the Academy for Classical Acting.

PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director, PSF). Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s return to artistic excellence and financial stability, built the professional company of artists, oversaw the tripling of the endowment, and achieved increasing national recognition for the Festival. Further accomplishments include PSF’s first-ever awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and attracting a company of artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards to the Festival, growth in all income areas, a 75% increase in annual attendance, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season.

As a professional director, actor and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, and radio. Mulcahy has acted with Angela Bassett, Peter MacNicol, Hal Holbrook, Joan Cusack, Don Cheadle, Anne Meara, Milo O’Shea, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shaloub, Bradley Whitford, and others at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Roundabout Theatre Company, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, and the Walnut Street Theatre. He served as a fight director for Tom Hulse and Timothy Busfield in A Few Good Men on Broadway and for Off-Broadway productions starring John Savage, John Mahoney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Patrick Dempsey. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed Macbeth (2014), Hamlet (2011), Antony and Cleopatra (2009), The Winter’s Tale (2007), Henry IV, Part I (2005), The Tempest (1999), and acted in and served as fight director for The Taming of the Shrew (1998) and Julius Caesar (1997). Also head of acting at DeSales, Patrick holds an MFA from Syracuse University.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (Playwright) Our knowledge of William Shakespeare’s life is pieced together with information from limited primary sources: his own works, various legal and church documents, and references to him, his plays, and his genius in third-party letters. Here’s what we do know:

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on or about April 23, 1564. Records from Holy Trinity Church tell us he was baptized there on April 26, 1564. His father was John Shakespeare, a glove-maker, and his mother was Mary Arden, a land-owning heiress. William was the third of eight children, three of whom died in childhood. His father was fairly successful and was an alderman and a high-bailiff (mayor) of Stratford. It is assumed that he went to the free grammar school in Stratford, which was considered an excellent school. It seems certain that Shakespeare never went on to University.

The next documented event is Shakespeare’s marriage to Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582. They had three children: a daughter, Susanna, and twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet died at age 11.We lose track of Shakespeare for the next seven years. There are rumors that he was fond of poaching and had to flee Stratford after an incident with one of the gentry there. He began to make a name for himself in London by 1592, possibly earlier, as both an actor and a playwright. Unfortunately, the plague forced the closing of the theaters in 1592.

By 1594 the plague had abated, and Shakespeare was acting, writing, and performing the duties of a managing partner for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. This was a popular company, enjoyed by the commoners as well as royalty. It was around this time that Shakespeare and company made plans for the Globe Theater. The Globe was to be across the river from London, and was built around 1599. In total, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays that have survived (or 38 or 39, depending on the point of view of the particular scholar) and numerous sonnets and poems.

April 23, 1616 is the day that marks Shakespeare’s death (the same as his birthday!) though we are uncertain of that date’s precision. We know he was buried in Stratford, with services at the Holy Trinity Church on April 25, 1616. In his infamous will, he left his properties to his daughter Susanna, and to his wife his “second best bed.”