Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is set to present Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of Bill Cain's Equivocation in the first collaboration between Arena Stage and OSF. Directed by OSF's Artistic Director Bill Rauch, Equivocation reunites the original cast and creative team from the 2009 world-premiere production for this D.C. premiere. Equivocation runs November 18, 2011-January 1, 2012 in the Kreeger Theater.
"As a national center dedicated to American theater, Arena Stage is committed to presenting the best work from artists across the country," says Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. "I am so proud to introduce D.C. audiences to Bill Cain's brilliant play, which achieved great success at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of the most important companies in America. With Bill Rauch's dynamic direction, Equivocation comes to life in this imaginative story about Shakespeare and a conspiracy that rocked London and changed history."
In 1605 London, the worlds of King James and the Gunpowder Plot collide with William "Shagspeare" and his theatrical troupe in a startling cat-and-mouse game of politics and art. This high-stakes political thriller reveals the complexities of the truth and the terrible consequences of compromise in "one of the most bracingly intelligent, sizzlingly theatrical American plays in a decade" (Variety). Follow Shakespeare and his acting company as they create one of his most magnificent masterpieces.
The cast of Equivocation features longtime OSF resident actors including Tony Award nominee Anthony Heald as Shag, Jonathan Haugen as Cecil, John Tufts as Sharpe, Richard Elmore as Richard, Gregory Linington as Armin and Christine Albright as Judith. OSF supports one of the largest resident acting companies remaining in the United States.
Director Bill Rauch, who last worked at Arena Stage 18 years ago on A Community Carol, says, "Equivocation is one of only a handful of times in my life as a director when I have read a new play where my heart started to pump faster, and I become obsessed with serving the playwright's vision by directing the play. Bill Cain chronicles a historical episode, but his play is completely contemporary in its language and its exploration of the intersection of politics, religion and art."
"What I know about history, I learned from Shakespeare," says Cain, who wrote Equivocation in the wake of September 11, 2001. "And that's dangerous because this man who has shaped our understanding of history was on the government payroll creating instant history to match a political agenda. ‘Speaking truth to power' was not his goal. But mustn't he-late at night-have yearned to? Given his extraordinary skills-how might he have changed history-and our understanding of it-if he had?"
Critical acclaim for Oregon Shakespeare Festival's and Seattle Repertory Theatre's productions of Equivocation:
Variety: "One of the most bracingly intelligent, sizzlingly theatrical American plays in a decade."
The Seattle Times: "Fascinating... Bill Cain fashions one of the most thoughtful, provocative and entertaining speculations about Shakespeare in relation to his era - and ours."
The Oregonian: "A rich, thought-provoking and multifaceted work... Equivocation works so well on so many levels - as political thriller, as speculative history, as ethical inquiry, as family drama, as theater about theater."
Willamette Week: "Dramatically gripping... darkly funny... an absolute must-see for anyone who cares about history and theater... a major new contribution to American drama."
Bill Cain (Playwright). This season Bill's play How to Write a New Book for the Bible was seen at Berkeley Rep and will open at Seattle Rep in January 2012. His last two plays, Equivocation and 9 Circles, both received the American Theatre Critics' Association Steinberg Award, the first time ever that an author received the award in consecutive years. After its OSF debut, Equivocation was seen around the country at the Geffen Playhouse, Seattle Rep, Marin Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club. 9 Circles debuted at the Marin Theater and since played in Boston, Los Angeles and San Jose with productions scheduled in Denver and Santa Clara. His play Stand-Up Tragedy was awarded best production honors in Los Angeles and Washington (at Arena Stage) and the Joe A. Callaway Award for its Broadway production. Bill's work for TV (including the ABC-TV series Nothing Sacred) has been honored with the George Foster Peabody, Humanitas and Writers' Guild awards.
Bill Rauch (Director) returns to Arena Stage after last directing A Community Carol in 1993, and he won a Helen Hayes Award for The Video Store Owner's Significant Other at the former American Playwrights' Theatre in D.C. Rauch became OSF's artistic director in 2007 and was previously co-founder and artistic director (1986-2006) of Cornerstone Theater. Bill directed the world premieres of Equivocation and By the Waters of Babylon (OSF), The Clean House (Yale Rep), Living Out and For Here or to Go? (Mark Taper Forum), and My Wandering Boy and The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler (South Coast Rep). Other work includes productions at Guthrie Theater, Lincoln Center and others. Bill has been a board member for TCG (1992-98) and professor at UC Irvine (2005-07). Honors include TCG's Visionary Leadership Award (2010); Margo Jones Award (2009); Los Angeles Weekly, Garland, Connecticut Critics Circle, Drama-Logue and Helen Hayes awards for direction; and Emmy and Ovation noms. Bill attended Harvard College.