Maulik Pancholy

Maulik Pancholy, Peter Gadiot, André De Shields, Telly Leung and More Set for Ed Sylvanus Iskandar Helmed THE TAMING OF THE SHREW at Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC), May 17 – June 26

Stage and screen actors Maulik Pancholy (Broadway: It’s Only A Play“Weeds,” “30 Rock”) and Peter Gadiot (“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”) lead the cast as Katherina and Petruchio respectively in Ed Sylvanus Iskandar’s bold new interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC). Iskandar, known for his striking and immersive directorial style, completes STC’s 2015–2016 season with this production, playing in Sidney Harman Hall from May 17 to June 26, 2016.

The Taming of the Shrew begins preview performances on May 17, celebrates Opening Night on Tuesday, May 24, and continues through June 26 at STC’s Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street NW). To purchase tickets or to learn more, patrons can call the box office at 202.547.1122 or visit ShakespeareTheatre.org.

The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s notorious comedy about courtship, marriage and individuality, last seen on STC stages in the 2007–2008 Season, also includes two-time Tony nominee André De Shields (Broadway: Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Wiz, The Full Monty, Play On!, STC’s Ghosts) as Gremio/Curtis/Vincentio; Oliver Thornton (West End: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the 40th anniversary production of The Rocky Horror Show, Children of EdenRentThe Phantom of the OperaLes Miserables and Chicago) as Bianca; Drew Foster (Broadway: Doctor Zhivago,  National tour of West Side Story) as Biondello; Rick Hammerly (a participant in STC’s 2015–2016 Directors’ Studio and last seen in Volpone) as Widow; Telly Leung (Broadway: AllegianceGodspellRentPacific Overture and Flower Drum Song) as Lucentio; Gregory Linington (STC’s OthelloThe Tempest and Tartuffeas Grumio; Matthew Russell as Tranio; STC Affiliated Artist Tom Story who has appeared in numerous STC productions, most recently in the Free For All remount of The Winter’s Tale as HortensioBernard White as Baptista; with James CrichtonStephen Elrod (STC’s Othello), Jamison ForemanJackson Knight Pierce (STC’s Othello), Brian Reisman (STC’s Othello) and Nicholas Yenson rounding out the Ensemble.

Spilling from the stage into the lobbies and the street, director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar’s production presents a provocative new approach to The Taming of the Shrew and an utterly unique audience experience. Iskandar will use an all-male cast to examine the fluidity of identity, the authenticity of self-performance and the economics of love in one of Shakespeare’s most notorious texts. Set in the arena of high fashion with influences from both Renaissance and 1950s Italy, Iskandar is working to craft a spectacular world for STC audiences.

Founding Artistic Director of the theatre collective Exit, Pursued by a Bear and an emerging artist noted for his innovative interpretation of classic texts, Iskandar creates performances that shift beyond the proscenium, reconnecting audiences and artists and working to establish a thriving social community within the theatre. Iskandar’s previous projects include the 2014 Drama Desk Award-winners The Golden Dragon and The Mysteries—a collaboration with 50 playwrights that reimagined the stories of The Bible over six hours—as well as These Seven Sicknesses, a five-hour adaptation of all seven of Sophocles’ plays, and Restoration Comedy, both Drama Desk Award-nominated.

Speaking about his concept for Shrew, Iskandar explains, “Shakespeare’s central narrative is about Kate, an ‘other’ who chooses to transform and rejoin society on her own terms. I want to create a world in which otherness can manifest in as visible a way as possible. I am interested in using a widely diverse canvas to express universality: the world will be specific, but the story no less universal.” Regarding his all-male cast, Iskandar continues, “With an all-male cast, we are attempting to shift the focus from the war of the sexes to the war within the self. The Public Theater has just announced an all-female production of Shrew in the Park with exactly the same running date as ours, which I can’t wait to see.” He concludes, “It seems a single-gender cast allows us to unlock this play in an important new way.”

Noted for his epic and immersive style, Iskandar will extend the world of the production beyond the stage, creating a deeply engaging experience for audience members. In line with this vision, STC will invoke the atmosphere of an Italian piazza (the Piazza d’Amore) in the Harman lobbies and will offer audience and community members the opportunity to engage with the performers of The Taming of the Shrew off-stage. Supporting Iskandar’s desire to create a community with theatre, STC has also invited local artists, makers and restaurants to lead a series of make-and-take workshops, life-hack seminars and tastings and demonstrations in STC lobbies during the run of the show. The workshop series, called The Padua Finishing School, is open to the public and can serve as a standalone event or can accompany a ticket to The Taming of the Shrew. Workshop fees range from $12–$65.

The exciting off-stage elements of this production echo Iskandar’s distinctive artistic approach to Shakespeare’s comedy. This production includes a musical intermezzo and will incorporate movement and contemporary pop music to complete the world. “I use three major elements to tell the story, of which text is the primary one;” Iskandar explains, “music and dance will also play major roles to create a richer world where each character in the show is treated as an individual with a full dramatic arc.”

Iskandar joins STC as the first director in the Clarice Smith Series: New Directors for the Classics, having been invited by STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn after Kahn saw Iskandar’s production of The Mysteries (The Flea, NYC). “I found his style appealing, profound and very moving,” Kahn explains. “His artistic choices, paired with STC’s engagement and outreach activities, will further humanize the characters on stage for our audiences—and I also believe his choices will create a dialogue about authenticity and identity, something which is particularly relevant in our times.”

Maulik Pancholy (Katherina) makes makes his STC debut, having recently starred opposite Martin Short and Matthew Broderick in the Broadway hit It’s Only a Play, directed by Jack O’Brien. Pancholy is best known for playing Jonathan on the Golden Globe® and Screen Actors Guild® Award-winning NBC comedy 30 Rock and for playing Sanjay on Showtime’s award-winning dramedy Weeds, in addition to many other voiceover, television, film and theatre credits.

Peter Gadiot (Petruchio) has appeared in the films The Forbidden GirlNight Wolf and 13 Hours. He plays Cyrus on television show Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and has also appeared in many other television and stage productions. Gadiot will soon star in the highly-anticipated new television show USA Network’s Queen of the South, set to air in the summer of 2016.

Ed Sylvanus Iskandar (Director) joins STC as the first in the Clarice Smith Series: New Directors for the Classics. Iskandar’s previous projects include the 2014 Drama Desk Award-winner The Mysteries, a collaboration with over 50 playwrights that reimagined the stories of The Bible over six hours. The Founding Artistic Director of theatre collective Exit, Pursued by a Bear, Iskandar has also hosted a series of labs and salons in his New York loft, featuring intimate performances and meals cooked by Iskandar himself. Combining theatre with food and community, Exit, Pursued by a Bear has become the talk of the New York theatre scene, utilizing a performance model as old as Homer and as radical as anything on stage today. While in New York, he has directed shows at myriad theatres including the Playwrights Realm, the National Asian American Theatre Company, The Flea Theater and The Play Company, as well as at his own collective. He is the winner of multiple awards including the Drama Desk Special Award for conception and direction of The Mysteries at The Flea Theater (in collaboration with 50+ playwrights) and The Golden Dragon at The Play Company, the National Theatre Conservatory Emerging Professional Award, the New York Theatre Workshop Emerging Artist Fellowship and the Drama League Directing Fellowship.

THE DESIGNERS
Iskandar brings a new and talented creative team to STC with Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood, Costume Designer Loren Shaw, Lighting Designer Seth Reiser, Sound Designer Jeremy S. Bloom, Choreography by Chase Brock, Music Supervisor/Arranger David Dabbon and Music Director Jody Schum.

THE ARTISTIC TEAM
The production team also includes Associate Costume DesignerDana Burkart and Assistant Lighting Designer Jimmy Lawlor. Iskandar is supported by Voice and Text Coaches Gary Logan andEllen O’Brien, and assisted by Production Stage Manager Joseph Smelser and Assistant Stage Manager Robyn M. Zalewski. Craig Baldwin serves as Immersive Designer and Iskandar’s Assistant Director.

ABOUT THE SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY
Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award®, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) is the nation’s leading premier classical theatre company. Today, STC is synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible to audiences in and around the nation’s capital.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn and Executive Director Chris Jennings, STC’s innovative productions inspire dialogue that connects classic works to the modern human experience. The Company focuses on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced in order to preserve and promote classic theatre—ambitious, enduring plays with universal themes—for all audiences.

A leader in arts education, STC has a stable of initiatives that teach and excite learners of all ages, from school programs and adult acting classes to accessible community programming like play-relevant discussion series and the Free For All. For the past 25 years the Free For All program has offered an annual remount of a popular production completely free of charge to all audience members.

Located in downtown Washington, D.C., STC performs in two theatres, the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre and the 774-seat Sidney Harman Hall. In addition to STC productions appearing year-round, these spaces also accommodate presentations from outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. The Company has been a fixture in the vibrant Penn Quarter neighborhood since 1992.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF produces promotional videos for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers and musicians. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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