ROUNDABOUT BLOG

From Todd Haimes

 

Kristin Miller is a character of monumental will. The central figure of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s Apologia, Kristin has spent years protesting war, championing women, combatting oppression, and, most consequentially, pioneering her own way into the male-dominated field of art history. While many of those who once stood by her side as fellow demonstrators in the 1960s abandoned their progressivist roots as they grew older, Kristin never lapsed in her work as an activist and a radical, committing herself for decades to upending the status quo. Uncompromising in her beliefs and unflinching in her willingness to fight for them, Kristin has won the admiration of her peers and the respect of her generation.

But with every victory comes a price. On Kristin’s birthday in 2009, her two sons are boiling over at the recent publication of her memoir, which chronicles her many achievements as an activist and art historian. To her sons, Kristin’s preoccupation with her work throughout their childhood left them neglected as they came of age. In her constant battle for social good, has Kristin failed the two people she loves the most? Or has she merely rejected a conventional family lifestyle in exchange for something much bigger? With searing honesty and unrelenting humor, Alexi Kaye Campbell’s magnificent play paints a rich and complicated portrait of one maverick trailblazer, exploring the many folds of responsibility that underlie her dual roles as activist and parent. In the process, Apologia pits society against family, idealism against compromise, and generation against generation. What is the greater motherhood – preparing one’s children for an unjust world, or fighting to leave them a better one to inherit?

I am so excited to present the New York premiere of Apologia with the legendary Stockard Channing, whose long relationship with Roundabout extends all the way back to our 1984 revival of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. That production, in addition to earning both Stockard and Roundabout our first-ever Tony Awards®, also featured Stockard’s Apologia costar John Tillinger, who himself has worked with Roundabout time and time again. I am thrilled to be collaborating for the first time with the great Hugh Dancy, and I warmly welcome back to Roundabout director Daniel Aukin, returning for his fourth production with us after having most recently directed Joshua Harmon’s Skintight in the Laura Pels Theatre this very summer. Alexi Kaye Campbell is himself making his Roundabout debut with Apologia, which responds so powerfully to our present American moment. As historic numbers of Americans today dedicate time and energy to their own social and political causes, Apologia’s investigation of the triumphs and sacrifices of social progress asks just how far we are willing to go – and just what we are willing to lose – to defend what we believe in most.

As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts, so please continue to email me at ArtisticOffice@roundabouttheatre.org with your reactions. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

 

Sincerely,

Todd Haimes

Artistic Director/CEO


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2018-2019 Season, Apologia, From Todd Haimes


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From the Artistic Director/CEO Todd Haimes: Bernhardt/Hamlet

Posted on: August 23rd, 2018 by Roundy Bout

 

How much must one person risk to break down a barrier? Perhaps everything. In 1897, a small revolution has begun in a theatre in France. The most famous stage actress in the world has announced that she will be playing the most famous character in the world, and the theatergoing elite are ill at ease. The actress is Sarah Bernhardt, whose ingenious and wildly popular portrayals of some of the canon’s greatest heroines and ingénues in the preceding decades has made her into the world’s first-ever international superstar. The character is Hamlet, who, with his enigmatic machinations and relentless soliloquies, has been the undoing of so many actors throughout history. Bernhardt, for all her immense and seemingly unstoppable talent, might just be no exception.

The story of Sarah Bernhardt’s star turn in Hamlet is a true one. Sarah Bernhardt really was the world’s foremost stage actress at the turn of the 20th century, and she really did play Hamlet in a legendary production that ultimately premiered in 1899. Yet despite her unparalleled celebrity and renown, she initially faced a hostile audience, one skeptical of her gender-bending defiance of tradition and ready to pounce at the slightest hint of weakness. A single slip, then, could disintegrate the entirety of Bernhardt’s career – her reputation, her livelihood, her name. This crossroads between personal risk and social progress is what playwright Theresa Rebeck, one of Roundabout’s esteemed Associate Artists, explores so meticulously in Bernhardt/Hamlet. Through her fierce and vivid storytelling, Theresa leads us into the mind of an expert actress pursuing artistic excellence even as the world waits for her to fail. Under this pressure, rehearsals become wildfires, collaborations become duels, performances become odysseys – and a romance, especially one between artists, becomes a whirlpool of creative energy, a vortex of mutual strength and vulnerability. Theresa’s ingenious writing, brought to fiery life by our incomparable star Janet McTeer, captures Bernhardt’s unparalleled drive and boundless ambition, keen wit and intense humanity, painting an intricate portrait of a luminary who resists any conventional frame.

I am proud to say that Bernhardt/Hamlet, a completely new play from Theresa, marks a landmark moment in Roundabout’s New Play Initiative as the first-ever commissioned original work that Roundabout has mounted on Broadway. In collaboration with Roundabout, Bernhardt/Hamlet has been developed over the past several years from a seed of an idea into the phenomenal production that you will see in the coming week. What has compelled me most about this piece from the outset is not just its powerful exploration of one woman’s courage in the face of overwhelming doubt, but also its implicit spotlight on those frontiers that even today remain to be conquered. A woman playing Hamlet in 2018 wouldn’t stoke the ire of critics and audiences as it did 120 years ago, but so many other shattered ceilings still could, and do. Why attempt to break a barrier that might break you? For the present and future Sarah Bernhardts of the world, I hope that Theresa Rebeck’s magnificent play provides an answer.

I am so excited for you to experience Theresa Rebeck’s wonderful work with this exceptional cast and under the direction of the extraordinary Moritz von Stuelpnagel. As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts, so please continue to email me at ArtisticOffice@roundabouttheatre.org with your reactions. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Sincerely,

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director/CEO


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2018-2019 Season, Bernhardt/Hamlet, From Todd Haimes


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Dear Audience Members and Supporters,

I’m happy to share that last week Roundabout’s Board of Directors adopted a refreshed mission statement, core values and a commitment to improve in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion.

In recent years, Roundabout’s education programs and investments in new play development have grown dramatically. Both programs have expanded to the point that our board and staff felt it important to highlight these areas along with our founding mission of producing classics.

Additionally, while I know the culture at Roundabout like the back of my hand, we have never outwardly expressed our values until now. I am proud to share the guiding principles for every decision made by our artists, staff and leadership.

And, as diversity in all its forms becomes an overdue priority throughout the entertainment industry, Roundabout is making a long-term commitment to progress in this area and to create more inclusive experiences in our offices, classrooms and theaters.

Sincerely,

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director/CEO


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From Todd Haimes, Roundabout News


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