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Milwaukee Shakespeare Tackles Titus Andronicus

Milwaukee Shakespeare, a non-profit, professional theatre company devoted to the presentation of the works of William Shakespeare, concludes its 2003-2004 partnership season with the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a production of TITUS ANDRONICUS. The rarely-performed play, directed by Alec Wild, opens April 23 and runs through May 9, 2004. All performances take place in the Mainstage Theatre, 2400 East Kenwood Boulevard, on the UWM campus. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Peck School of the Arts Box Office at (414) 229-4308. (Please see attached Fact Sheet for details.) The opening night performance, which coincides with William Shakespeare’s birthday, will be followed by an informal reception. Birthday cake and a cash bar will be available. Artistic Director Paula Suozzi has assembled a strong cast forTITUS ANDRONICUS. David Cecsarini will play Titus, and Kim Martin-Cotten will play Tamora, Queen of the Goths. Cecsarini, artistic director of Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee, has performed with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, The Guthrie Theatre, Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and spent several seasons at American Players Theatre where he appeared as Aaron the Moor in an earlier production of TITUS ANDRONICUS. Martin-Cotten’s credits include Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, the Humana Festival of New American Plays, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespearean Festival, and Kansas City Shakespeare. Julian Rozzell, Jr. is Aaron in this production and he is joined by Richard B. Watson (Saturninus), and Christopher Gerson (Marcus). Returning Milwaukee Shakespeare actors include Joe Foust (Lucius), Michael DiPadova (Bassianus/Nurse/Publius) and Mic Matarrese (Chiron/Emilius). New to Milwaukee Shakespeare audiences are two UWM students, Lindsey Fitzgerald (Lavinia) and Eric Cherney (Alarbus) as well as Kern McFadden (Demetrius/Goth), Marcus Truschinski (Quintus//Mutius/Caius), and Benjamin Eggebrecht (Young Lucius). Although TITUS ANDRONICUS was the single most popular play in Shakespeare’s theatre during his lifetime, directing it in 2004 presents something of a challenge as director Alec Wild is quick to point out. It’s nearly impossible to find a literary critic with something nice to say about TITUS ANDRONICUS. Contemporary critics dismiss TITUS or excuse it as the work of a young and not quite competent Shakespeare. Wild notes that T.S. Eliot called it “the stupidest and most uninspired play ever written,” and Harold Bloom, arguably America’s most influential Shakespeare scholar, can concede no intrinsic value’ in TITUS – indeed, he vows never to see another production unless it’s directed by Mel Brooks! Rife with violence and brutality, from murder, rape and dismemberment to live burial, feigned insanity and the feeding of a pie made up of the bodies of her dead sons to a mother, TITUS has gained a reputation as an overly graphic account of the revenge that ensues when Titus Andronicus, a Roman general recently returned from ten years of war, sacrificesaccording to traditional Roman practice–the eldest son of his captive Tamora, Queen of the Goths. (The play is not recommended for children under 13.) Yet according to Wild what makes TITUS a great play is not its plot, its violence, its horror – although these are magnificent in their realization. What moves us is Shakespeare’s unfailingly accurate portrayal of human beings responding to extraordinary situations. For all of the atrocities committed in the play, we are far more engaged by the characters’ efforts to come to terms with the emotional effects of the cruelty – and this they do with Shakespeare’s passionate, active, soaring language. Thus, Wild’s TITUS is a production that balances beauty and barbarity, humanity and atrocity. Wild, the founder and artistic director of the critically acclaimed, award-winning Folio Theatre in Chicago, is directing his first play in Milwaukee. His work as a director and assistant director has been seen at Bailiwick Repertory, The Old Globe, Yale Repertory, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. As the recipient of a 1997 Fox Fellowship, Mr. Wild traveled to Saint Petersburg, Russia, to work as the Assistant Director of The Revizor Project, an international, cross-cultural effort to examine the work of Vsevolod Meyerhold, and to re-create his seminal 1926 production of Gogol’s The Inspector General. He recently received the Drama League Director’s Project Fellowship to work on a production at the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York. He holds an M.F.A. in Directing from the Yale School of Drama, and a B.F.A. in Acting from the Goodman School of Drama. Shakespeare has been a major focus of Wild’s work. Among his directing credits are Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Hamlet, and Henry IV, part 1. Wild was also a guest lecturer on Shakespeare at New York University and currently teaches Shakespeare at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The production team for TITUS ANDRONICUS includes Evan Alexander (scenic and property design), Jenny Mannis (costume design), Marcus Doshi (lighting design), Kathy Koenig (stage manager), Robin McFarquhar (fight choreography), and Leslie Brott (text coach). Please see attached Fact Sheet. For electronic files of photos, please contact Ellen Ash at (414) 229-5714. MILWAUKEE SHAKESPEARE 2003-2004 SEASON FACT SHEET LOCATION: All performances take place at the UWM Peck School of the Arts Mainstage Theatre, 2400 East Kenwood Boulevard, on the UWM campus. There is ample parking in the adjacent underground structure, and the theatre is accessible. (Patrons with accessibility questions should contact the Peck School of the Arts Box Office at (414) 229-4308.) TICKET INFORMATION: Season subscriptions are $50/$45 for seniors/$30 for students. Single tickets are $20 (weekend evenings); $18 (weeknights and Sunday matinees); $16 for seniors (all performances) and $12 for students (all performances). Group rates available. For tickets, please call the UWM Peck School of the Arts Box Office at (414) 229-4308. Box office hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 AM-5 PM. The Box Office is located in the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, 2419 East Kenwood Blvd. It opens one hour prior to each performance in its satellite location in the lobby of the Mainstage Theatre. TITUS ANDRONICUS By William Shakespeare April 23-May 9, 2004 Directed by Alec Wild UWM Mainstage Theatre Performances Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 PM Invited Dress Rehearsal Friday, April 23 at 8 PM Opening Night; Shakespeare Birthday Party follows Saturday, April 24 at 8 PM Monday, April 26 at 7:30 PM Pay What You Can Thursday, April 29 at 7:30 PM Friday, April 30 at 8 PM Saturday, May 1 at 8 PM Sunday, May 2 at 2 PM Thursday, May 6 at 7:30 PM Friday, May 7at 8 PM Saturday, May 8 at 8 PM Sunday, May 9 at 2 PM Closing