PRINCETON, NJ: McCarter Theatre Center is starting the New Year with a fresh look at two of literature’s most enigmatic and dynamic characters. From January 13 – February 12, the celebrated New York theater company, Bedlam, makes its McCarter Theatre Center debut with their critically-acclaimed stripped down productions of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, in rotating repertory.
Known for their innovative, site-specific stagings, Bedlam’s Hamlet and Saint Joan are performed by four actors playing all roles; ensemble members Eric Tucker, Andrus Nichols, Edmund Lewis, and Tom O’Keefe rocket from character to character at a lightning-bolt’s pace. Bedlam’s kinetic performances will bring these classics to life in McCarter’s Berlind Theatre where stage and audience will shift from
show to show, and from act to act. In addition to traditional house seating, patrons have the opportunity to purchase seats on stage for a closer, more intimate relationship to the action.
As Bedlam Artistic Director, Ensemble member, and Director of both Hamlet and St. Joan describes, “For us, it’s about making the audience know they're part of the play. Their own placement feeds the energy of the story. As the audience gets moved around, they're sharing the space with us. There's no ‘this is your area, this is our area.’ This is at the heart of what we do.”
ABOUT BEDLAM’s HAMLET AND SAINT JOAN
Eric Tucker and Andrus Nichols co-founded Bedlam in 2012, presenting George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan on a shoestring budget with only four actors playing over 25 characters. The show received instant recognition and was extended four times. Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal was an early admirer, describing it as “Thrilling! An unforgettable show! The most exciting George Bernard Shaw revival I’ve ever seen, bar none.”
In 2013, Bedlam produced William Shakespeare’s Hamlet with the same four actors, again playing over 25 characters amongst themselves. Hamlet ran in repertory with Saint Joan and both productions were then transferred for a commercial Off-Broadway run at The Lynn Redgrave Theater in the winter of 2013/2014. Ben Brantley, the head theatre critic of The New York Times wrote, “Every member of Bedlam hears voices. Not of God and his saints, but of Shaw (who probably would have said that’s the same thing) and Shakespeare. And I mean they believe they hear these playwrights, in all their sonority, telling them what to do…anyone who listens to the eminently sane and persuasive voices of Bedlam is destined to become a convert.”
Bedlam’s shows have been noted as Ben Brantley’s “Critics’ Picks” for The New York Times six times, noted on The New York Times “Top Ten Best Show Lists” two times, as well as those of The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine respectively. The Wall Street Journal also noted Eric Tucker as “Director of the Year” in 2014. Bedlam has won two Irne Awards, two Off Broadway Alliance Awards and an Obie Grant. Bedlam has also been nominated for two Lucille Lortel awards, a Drama League award, and four Elliot Norton awards, winning for Best Visiting Production and Best Ensemble for Saint Joan.
ABOUT THE CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM
Edmund Lewis (Polonius/Horatio and others in Hamlet; Dauphin/John de Stogumber and others in Saint Joan) was seen most recently in Bedlam’s acclaimed off-Broadway hit Sense & Sensibility. Prior to that, he played various characters in New York Animals (written by Steven Sater) and appeared as Malvolio in Bedlam’s one play/two ways repertory of Twelfth Night and What You Will. A founding member of the company, Edmund acted in the original award-winning runs of Saint Joan and Hamlet, first at the Access Theater and then off-Broadway at the Lynn Redgrave Theater. Other roles include Sebastian in The Tempest (A.R.T., co-directed by Aaron Posner and Teller); Sackville and Mr. Harris in The Lbertine (Fools’ Theatre, directed by Eric Tucker); Mark in The Philadelphia, Kafka in Words, Words, Words, and Sir Richard Attenborough in Time Flies (Bang Theatre Collective).
Andrus Nichols (Gertrude/Ophelia and others in Hamlet; Joan in Saint Joan) was most recently seen in Ivo Van Hove’s A View From The Bridge at The Kennedy Center in D.C. and The Ahmanson Theatre in L.A. Off-Broadway: Sense & Sensibility (Bedlam; Drama League nom., Best Revival; Off-Broadway Alliance Award winner), Hamlet, Saint Joan (Bedlam; Lucille Lortel nom., Outstanding Lead Actress; Off Broadway Alliance Award, Best Revival). New York: Sense & Sensibility, The Seagull, Twelfth Night, What You Will (Bedlam); Hello From Bertha (Pooks Hill); Hamlet (Shakespeare Forum); The Libertine (Fools’ Theater). Regional: Hamlet, Saint Joan (Bedlam/Olney Theater Center/Central Square Theater; Helen Hayes and Elliot Norton noms, Outstanding Lead Actress; IRNE Award, Outstanding Visiting Performer); Hamlet (title role), Iphigenia and Other Daughters (We Players/Alcatraz Island); Julius Ceasar; The Rainmaker; The Importance of Being Earnest; others. Andrus cofounded Bedlam with Eric Tucker in 2012. www.andrus-nichols.com
Tom O’Keefe (Claudius/Rosencrantz and others in Hamlet; Cauchon/Poulengey and others in Saint Joan) Off Broadway: Tamburlaine the Great, Bedlam’s Hamlet and Saint Joan. Other New York: Dead Dog Park, Bedlam's Twelfth Night and What You Will, The Best of Everything, A Hard Wall at High Speed, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, The Libertine. Regional: Outside Mullingar, Richard II, The Taster, Measure for Measure, From Orchids to Octopi, Humble Boy, Questa. TV: Shades of Blue, The Path, CSI, Criminal Minds, E.R., The Shield, Rules of Engagement, Drake & Josh. Film: A New Tomorrow, Avenging Angel, CrashN’Burn, Fill Your Heart with French Fries (short). BA, Pennsylvania State University. JD, Boston University School of Law. Proud member of SAG/AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association. Tom-OKeefe.com
Eric Tucker (Director/Hamlet in Hamlet; Dunois/Warwick and others in Saint Joan) Wall Street Journal Director of the Year 2014. Off-Broadway: Bedlam’s Sense & Sensibility (off-Broadway Alliance Award; Lortel nom., Best Director; Drama League nom., Best Revival); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Drama League nom. Best Revival; WSJ Best Classical Production 2015; New York Times Critics’ Pick); Bedlam’s Saint Joan (New York Times/Time Magazine top 10, Off-Broadway Alliance Best Revival 2014); Bedlam’s Hamlet (New York Times top 10, Time Out NY and Backstage Critics’ Pick); Tina Packer’s Women of Will; The Belle of Belfast. For Bedlam: Dead Dog Park, New York Animals (world premiere by Steven Sater/Burt Bacharach), Twelfth Night, What You Will (New York Times Critics’ Picks), The Seagull (WSJ Best Classical Production 2014), Sense & Sensibility (New York Times top 10; New York Times /WSJ/Time Out Critics’ Pick), Saint Joan, and Hamlet (NYC and Tour, Elliott Norton Outstanding Visiting Production and Outstanding Ensemble, Boston Globe Top 10). Other: Sense & Sensibility (Folger); Copenhagen (Central Square Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (HVSF); The Libertine (IRNE nomination, Best Director); Hamlet (with William Hurt); Mate (The Actors’ Gang), Macbeth (Best Overall Production and Best Director noms L.A. Weekly). Eric received his MFA from the Trinity Rep Conservatory. He resides in New York City where he is Artistic Director of Bedlam.
Next up, McCarter Theatre Center’s 2017 Theatre Series continues with Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (world premiere), and Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel.
Top Photo: Bedlam’s Hamlet, featuring (l-r) Tom O’Keefe, Andrus Nichols, Eric Tucker, and Edmund Lewis.Photo: Jenny Anderson.