Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Faran Tahir Returns to Shakespeare Theatre Company to Play Othello at Free For All

From our friends at the Shakespeare Theatre Company...

Screen Star Faran Tahir Returns to Play Othello at Shakespeare Theatre Company's Free For All

The Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) Free For All, one of the capital’s most beloved annual traditions offering free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the general public each summer, will return next month with the Company’s 2016 production of William Shakespeare’s Othello. Helmed by internationally acclaimed director Ron Daniels and starring screen actor Faran Tahir in the titular role, the production will run at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street, NW) from August 15–27, offering more than 12,000 people the chance to see the play free of charge.

Written at the height of Shakespeare’s creativity, Othello is a gripping tale of jealousy, prejudice, revenge and destruction. It tells the story of the newly married Moorish general who finds himself the pawn in manipulative games of his right-hand man, Iago, who is consumed by hate. As his imagination is poisoned, Othello begins to doubt his loyal bride, Desdemona. Turning on her and his loyal lieutenant Cassio, Othello rapidly spirals from hero to villain in one of Shakespeare’s most haunting tragedies.

“The play is about an extraordinary, highly civilized man who, like all of Shakespeare’s great tragic heroes, suffers fatally from an excess of imagination,” said Daniels. “Othello starts as a man admired by all - and hated by some. His imagination becomes poisoned and distorted by Iago’s vicious racism and his subtle, hateful misogyny. And we watch the great man fall apart - even his language disintegrates - until he cannot recognize himself. Worse, he can no longer recognize the purity and faithfulness of his adored and adoring wife - he can only see her through Iago's perverted eyes.”

“I am incredibly excited to return to STC to play Othello again,” said Tahir. “The play is a magnificent tragedy. When Iago says ‘I hate the Moor,’ it’s not just about the man, it’s about everything the man represents. It’s an acutely relevant exploration of racial and religious hatred.”

Since its inception in 1991, STC has brought free productions of Shakespeare to 689,494 people thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, donors and friends.

STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn added: “My vision for Free For All has always been to make the works of Shakespeare accessible to everyone so they can experience how a play written 400 years ago can still resonate. I’m delighted to welcome Ron Daniels back to STC with his wonderful production of Othello to take part in this great tradition.”

Information about how to receive free tickets is available at

Free For All is presented by Leadership support is provided by Ameriprise Financial, Erkiletian, The Free For All Community Partners, Friends of Free For All, the Philip L. Graham Fund, ICF International and Westfield LLC. Exclusive media support provided by The Washington Post. Additional support provided by The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation.

Ron Daniels was born and raised in Brazil, where he was a founding member of the renowned Teatro Oficina in São Paulo. He is a former Artistic Director of The Other Place Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s experimental theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and after 15 years with the company he was named an Honorary Associate Director of the RSC. From 1991 to 1996 he was the Associate Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Memorable productions include Long Day's Journey Into Night, Henry V and Hamlet. Recently, he directed Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at the Opera Philadelphia, Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star at the Cincinnati Opera, and the hip hop musical Kingdom, about Latino street gangs, at the Old Globe in San Diego. Daniels' first feature film titled The War Boys had its premiere at the HBO Latino Film Festival in New York in 2009. His international credits include: São Paulo, Brazil (co-translated into Portuguese by Ron Daniels): Macbeth, Measure for Measure, Hamlet, King Lear; Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary. Opera credits include, Opera Philadelphia: Charlie Parker’s Yardbird (which was also seen in New York at the Apollo Theatre, in Madison, in Chicago and in London at the ENO, Hackney Empire); Cincinnati Opera: Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star; Opera Theatre of St. Louis: La Bohème; Santa Fe Opera: Don Giovanni and Lucia di Lammermoor; Michigan Opera Theatre: Carmen; LA Opera: Carmen (upcoming) and Opera Theatre of St. Louis Orpheus and Eurydice (upcoming).

Faran Tahir (Othello) has established a successful television career with shows such as American Crime, 24 and How to Get Away with Murder, as well as films including Iron Man, Star Trek and Charlie Wilson’s War. His New York credits include: Off-Broadway: Manhattan Theatre Club: Arabian Nights. Regional work includes: Goodman Theatre: Mirror of the Invisible World; American Repertory Theater: Macbeth, The LA Plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Actors Theatre of Louisville: Beast on the Moon, Perfect Ganesh; Berkeley Repertory Theatre: Phaedo; Commonwealth Shakespeare Company: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other film credits include Mad Genius Project, Space Command, Elysium, and Escape Plan. Additional television credits include Satisfaction, Dallas, Warehouse 13, Supergirl, Blacklist, Criminal Minds, Elementary, Supernatural, Lost, NYPD Blue and Grey’s Anatomy.

Jay Whittaker will join the Free For All cast to play Iago. His previous work for STC includes Edward II and Tamburlaine. Most recently he was seen at The Old Globe in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Richard III, Mozart in Amadeus, King Lear, and The Madness Of King George III. His New York credits include Playwrights Horizons: Frank’s Home; and Rose Rage at The Duke on 42nd Street. His regional theatre work includes Steppenwolf Theatre Company: Old Masters, Mother Courage and David Copperfield; Northlight Theatre: Sense and Sensibility; Chicago Shakespeare Theatre: A Number at Next Theatre, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, The Merchant Of Venice, Rose Rage, Measure for Measure, Julius Caesar, Love's Labour's Lost, The Tempest and All’s Well That Ends Well; The Goodman Theatre: Measure for Measure, and Shining City.

Madeleine Rogers will play the role of Desdemona.

Pilar Witherspoon will play Emilia. She returns to STC after performing in Michael Kahn’s Henry V and Macbeth, as well as The Father on Broadway and numerous other New York and regional credits including Signature Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, Clubbed Thumb, The Mint Theatre, The Drama League, Cherry Lane Theatre, New Dramatists, Lark Play Development. Regional credits include: The Kennedy Center, The Guthrie Theatre, The Sundance Theatre Lab, Centerstage, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Playmakers Repertory Theatre, Barrington Stage, and Indiana Repertory Theatre.

Patrick Vaill returns to reprise his role as Cassio. Vaill’s many STC credits include Othello; Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2; Henry V; Richard II; As You Like It; Mrs. Warren’s Profession. New York credits include: Broadway: Lincoln Center Theater: Macbeth; Off-Broadway: Edward The Second; Red Bull Theater: Don’t Fuck With Love; Examined Man: When In Disgrace; York Theater Company; Theater For the New City; NY Fringe; Fringe Encores; The Brick. He also performed in the national tour of Cabaret.

Ben Diskant returns to play Roderigo. New York: Off-Broadway: Barrow Street Theatre: Hit the Wall; Classic Stage Company: The Cherry Orchard. Regional credits include productions at The Old Globe, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Two River Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alley Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, TheaterWorks Hartford, Studio Theatre.

Rounding out the cast is STC Affiliated Artist Ted van Griethuysen (Duke of Venice). His numerous STC credits include Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2; The Winter’s Tale; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; All’s Well That Ends Well; Strange Interlude; Mrs. Warren’s Profession; Twelfth Night; Major Barbara; Love’s Labor’s Lost; Don Carlos; King Lear; The Tempest. A veteran D.C. actor, van Griethuysen recently starred in The Father at Studio Theatre.

David Bishins (Brabantio/Lodovico) will join the Free For All Othello cast after recent STC roles in Macbeth and The Tempest. Additional credits include: Off-Broadway: Clurman Theatre: The Glass House; SPF at The Public: We Declare You a Terrorist. He has performed regionally at Mark Taper Forum, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Barrington Stage, Old Globe, Intiman Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre and more. Film and television credits include A Cure for Wellness, SALT, The Adjustment Bureau, House of Cards, Homeland and Blue Bloods.

Gregory Linington (Montano) returns to STC following roles in The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2015 Free for All), The Tempest and Tartuffe. New York credits include: Brooklyn Academy of Music: Throne of Blood; The Public: The Unfortunates. Regional work includes Arena Stage: Equivocation; The Kennedy Center: Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter; Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles: Romeo and Juliet. He was a 12-year Company Member of Oregon Shakespeare Festival and five-year Company Member of Misery Loves Company (Prague, CZ). Film credits include, Innocent Sleep, Persuasion, Harrison’s Flowers. Television work on Grey’s Anatomy, Shameless, Major Crimes and The West Wing.

Veronica del Cerro (Bianca) has appeared locally in productions at GALA Hispanic Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Theatre J and Studio Theatre.

Gregory Wooddell (Senator) recently starred in STC’s The School for Lies and has appeared in many STC productions, including Romeo & Juliet, As You Like It, The Importance of Being Earnest, and An Ideal Husband. Select additional credits include: Broadway: The Lyons, Cymbeline; Off-Broadway: Vineyard Theatre: Nicky Silver’s The Lyons (World Premiere); Encores! at City Center: Girl Crazy; Red Bull Theater: Volpone; Clurman Theatre: Splitting Infinity. Regional: Arena Stage / McCarter Theatre Center: Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (Sherlock Holmes; World Premiere); Philadelphia Theatre Company: Terrence McNally’s Some Men (World Premiere); Signature Theatre: Cabaret; Round House Theatre: Stage Kiss, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Robbie Gay (Senator) New York: Off-Broadway credits include Lincoln Center Theater with Psittacus Productions: A Tale Told by an Idiot. Regional: Folger Theatre: Julius Caesar, The Gaming Table; Round House Theatre: Double Indemnity, Pride and Prejudice; Adventure Theatre MTC: A Little House Christmas, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse; Theatre Raleigh: The 39 Steps, Barefoot in the Park, Sylvia; Farmers Alley Theatre: The 39 Steps; Cape Fear Regional Theatre: Rumors, A View from the Bridge.

Kevin Woods and Brendan Edward Kennedy will join the Ensemble, along with returning cast members Brian Reitman and Jackson Knight Pierce.

Othello’s striking setting was originally created by a talented team of artists, including Scenic Designer Riccardo Hernandez (STC’s Cymbeline, Twelfth Night, Henry VI and Much Ado about Nothing), Costume Designer Emily Rebholz (Broadway: If/Then, Vanya, Sonia, Masha, and Spike, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson), Lighting Designer Christopher Akerlind (STC’s The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, Cymbeline, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and The Silent Woman), and Sound Designer/Composer Fitz Patton (STC’s Wallenstein, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Strange Interlude). Lighting Adapter Elizabeth A. Coco and Sound Adapter Joel Abbott will join the team for the Free For All production. Original fight choreography by Robb Hunter, with fights restaged by Cliff Williams III. Additional artistic team members include Head of Voice and Text Lisa Beley, Casting Director Carter Wooddell, Original Casting Director Laura Stanczyk, CSA, Literary Manager/Dramaturg Drew Lichtenberg, Assistant Director Craig Baldwin, Production Stage Manager Cynthia Cahill and Assistant Stage Manager Rebecca Shipman.

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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, DC, 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.