Saturday, March 8, 2014

Shakespeare Theatre Company to Present Kneehigh's Brief Encounter

From our friends at the Shakespeare Theatre Company...

Originally Commissioned and Produced by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Cineworld

The Shakespeare Theatre Company is proud to present the international hit Brief Encounter as a part of its STC Presentation Series.This U.K. production comes to Washington, D.C. from Cornish theatre company Kneehigh on its acclaimed international tour. Brief Encounter has riveted audiences with its innovative blending of theatre and film mediums in England, Australia and New York and earned nominations for two Tony Awards®: Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play and Best Sound Design of a Play. Adapted and directed by Kneehigh Joint Artistic Director and Deputy Chief Executive Emma Rice and originally commissioned and produced by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Cineworld, Brief Encounter will run from March 29-April 13 at the Lansburgh Theatre (450 7th Street NW).

Brief Encounter, a new creation based on the iconic 1945 movie and Noël Coward’s one-act play Still Life, switches seamlessly between live theatre and projected film footage, taking audiences to a bygone age of romance and the silver screen. The New York Times lauded the production’s ability to channel multiple art forms to convey powerful emotion: “Brief Encounter may be the most exquisite set of fan’s notes ever to take form on a stage. Through musical numbers, film projections and vaudeville jollity it spells out not only what the show’s doomed lovers are experiencing but also what we, who have known them for years, experience whenever we watch them on screen.”

When Laura, a married woman travelling into town to shop, gets a speck of coal dust in her eye, handsome Dr. Alec Harvey is quick to help her. From this chance encounter an irresistible passion sparks and grows. Set in a train station and using the words — some newly set to original music – and familiar songs of Noël Coward, the result is a breathtaking, funny and tear-inducing show in which live musicians play on stage and characters jump in and out of film screens. Brief Encounter is a bittersweet celebration of a cinema classic, staged in an immersive fashion that’s unlike anything an audience has experienced before.

Returning to the STC stage is Hannah Yelland in her Tony nominated role as Laura, previously seen on the STC stage as Hermione in The Winter’s Tale. Artistic Director Michael Kahn noted, “Last season was Hannah’s first production developed in the U.S. and her first professional Shakespeare production. We are so pleased to welcome her back to our stage; I’m excited to see her brilliant work come alive in the Lansburgh Theatre once again.”

This production of Brief Encounter is part of the STC Presentation Series which presents world class international productions to theatregoers in D.C. “Brief Encounter is a spellbinding theatrical experience,” declared Kahn. “This lush adaptation of an iconic film coming to life onstage is a stunning event, integrating projections, song and classic noir.”

Brief Encounter at the Shakespeare Theatre Company is generously sponsored by Dr. Paul and Mrs. Rose Carter with additional support by the British Council.

To purchase tickets or to learn more, patrons can call the box office at 202.547.1122 or visit

Hannah Yelland* returns to STC after a successful run in The Winter’s Tale last year and will reprise her Tony nominated role of Laura in Brief Encounter. Yelland and her father David toured London’s West End, the United Kingdom and Toronto with their production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. She has appeared in London in Daisy Pulls it Off and in Dublin at both the Gate Theatre in My Cousin Rachel and the Abbey Theatre in A Doll’s House and Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Yelland can be seen in the films Method and AKA and on the television shows Modern Love, Dinotopia, Poirot, The Secret and Ahead of the Class.

Jim Sturgeon will play Dr. Alec Harvey. Sturgeon has been fortunate enough to have performed in English theatres north and south of the border, including Dundee Repertory Theatre’s Equus and A Christmas Carol. Other notable credits include Hansel & Gretel, Beauty & The Beast and LIAR at the Citizens Theatre and Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre. His recent film credits include 71 and All You Need Is Kill, both of which will be out next year. Sturgeon trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, graduating in 2003 with a BA in Acting.

The cast of Brief Encounter also includes Joe Alessi as Fred/Albert, Dorothy Atkinson as Beryl, Damon Daunno* as Stanley and Annette McLaughlin as Myrtle. Dave Brown and James Gow serve as musicians for the production.

Kneehigh Joint Artistic Director and Deputy Chief Executive Emma Rice’s productions for Kneehigh include The Red Shoes, The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, Tristan & Yseult (2003-6; U.K./ U.S. tour 2013/14), Cymbeline (in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company), A Matter of Life and Death (Royal National Theatre in association with Kneehigh), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre), Brief Encounter (a David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Production in association with Kneehigh), Don John (in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Bristol Old Vic), Midnight’s Pumpkin, The Wild Bride, Wah! Wah! Girls (with Sadler's Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages) and Steptoe and Son. Emma’s other work includes the West End production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Oedipussy for Spymonkey, and Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Empress.

Emma Rice is joined by a strong creative team including Scenic and Costume Designer Neil Murray, Lighting Designer Malcolm Rippeth, Projection and Film Designers Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington, Associate Projection Designer Stephen Parkinson, Sound Designer Simon Baker,Associate Sound Designer Andy Graham, Puppet Designer and Maker Lyndie Wright and original music composed by Stu Barker. Rice was also assisted by Associate Director Simon Harvey and Ian Ross as the Musical Director. Brief Encounter’s unique incorporation of many mediums was orchestrated by Puppet Trainer Sarah Wright and Director of Underwater Filming Robin Kewell. Sam Jones wasresponsible for the casting and Paul Crewes is theproducer. The show was originally produced by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Cineworld.

*Members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.
Artists and dates are subject to change.

Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award®, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) has become one of the nation’s leading theatre companies. Today, STC is synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn and Managing Director Chris Jennings, STC’s innovative approach to Shakespeare and other classic playwrights has earned it the reputation as the nation’s premier classical theatre company. By focusing on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced, the Company’s artistic mission is unique among theatre companies: to present theatre of scope and size in an imaginative, skillful and accessible American style that honors the playwrights’ language and intentions while viewing their work through a 21st-century lens.

A leader in arts education, STC has a stable of initiatives that teach and excite learners of all ages, from school programs and acting classes to discussion series as well as accessible programs like the annual Free For All, one of STC’s most beloved annual traditions, allowing audiences to experience Shakespeare at no charge.

Located in our nation’s capital, STC performs in two theatres, the Lansburgh Theatre and Sidney Harman Hall in downtown Washington, D.C., creating a dynamic, cultural hub of activity that showcases STC as well as outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. STC moved into the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre in March 1992, after six years in residency in the Folger Library’s Elizabethan theatre. At that time the Penn Quarter neighborhood was not considered desirable by many; since then, STC has helped drive its revitalization. The 774-seat Sidney Harman Hall opened in October 2007.

Kneehigh are a U.K. based theatre company with a local, national and international profile. For over 30 years Kneehigh have created vigorous, popular and challenging theatre and perform with the joyful anarchy that audiences have come to expect from this ground-breaking company.

Kneehigh tell stories. Based in Cornwall in breath-taking barns on the south coast the company create theatre of humanity on an epic and tiny scale. They work with an ever-changing ensemble of performers, artists, technicians, administrators, makers and musicians and are passionate about their multi-disciplined creative process.

In 2010 Kneehigh launched The Asylum, a beautiful and flexible nomadic structure, which means the company now has a venue to call home as well as being one of the leading touring theatre companies in the UK. The company have now presented three seasons in The Asylum in Cornwall, and will continue to reinvent the space and explore new locations in future years.

Alongside their national and international touring and Asylum seasons, Kneehigh run their Rambles program aiming to engage creatively with communities in Cornwall and beyond through event and adventure.

Kneehigh productions include: Tristan & Yseult (Cornwall 2003, Royal National Theatre and U.K. Tour 2006, U.K. and U.S. Tour 2013/14); Steptoe and Son (Asylum & U.K. Tour 2012/13); A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings (in association with Little Angel Theatre, U.K. tour 2013); The Wild Bride (U.K. Tour, San Francisco, New York, New Zealand 2011/12/13); Midnight’s Pumpkin (The Asylum, Cornwall 2011, Battersea Arts Centre, 2012); The Red Shoes  (U.K. Tour 2001/2, Winner of TMA for Best Director 2002; U.K. Tour, U.S. and Australia 2010/11);  Hansel & Gretel (U.K. Tour 2010/11), Don John (U.K. Tour 2008/9); Brief Encounter (West End 2008, U.K. Tour and U.S. Tour 2009, Broadway 2010, Australia and U.S. tour 2013/14; nominated for four Olivier Awards and two Tony Awards);  A Matter of Life and Death (Royal National Theatre 2007);  Rapunzel (BAC, U.K. Tour and New York 2007/8); and  Cymbeline (U.K. and International Tour 2007/2008)

DATES: March 29-April 13, 2014              

LOCATION: Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th Street NW

TIMES: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

TICKETS: $30 - $75. Premium seating is available for all performances. Special discounts are available for military, students, seniors and patrons aged 35 and under. Contact the Box Office at 202.547.1122 or visit for more information.

PARKING: Paid parking is available at the PMI parking garage on D Street, between Eighth and Ninth streets, and the Colonial Parking Garage in the Lansburgh building (at 450 7th Street NW between D and E streets).

METRO: Archives-Navy Mem’l-Penn Quarter station (Yellow and Green Lines) is one and one-half blocks south of the Lansburgh Theatre. Gallery Pl-Chinatown station (Red, Yellow and Green Lines) is one block north of the Lansburgh Theatre at the Verizon Center. For further information, call Metro at 202.637.7000.