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Huntington Theatre Company's American Premiere of Christopher Shinn's Timely Political Drama Now Or Later Echoes Current Presidential Campaign

(BOSTON) – To coincide with the ongoing presidential campaign, the Huntington Theatre Company will stage the American premiere of Now or LaterChristopher Shinn’s timely political drama about our freedomsDrama Desk and Outer Critic’s Circle Award winner Michael Wilson, who recently helmed the acclaimed Broadway production of Gore Vidal’s presidential drama The Best Man, directs the new production.

"I am so thrilled to be directing Chris's play at this moment,” says Wilson, “as it directly explores how Americans defend a core principle – freedom of expression – in the face of violence sparked by the mockery of another society's faith. As we begin rehearsals, I am profoundly struck by the recent tragic events in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen sparked by ridicule of Muhammad. The incendiary event of this play is perceived similarly – only the perpetrator in Now or Later is the son of the President-elect. Chris’s play puts these events in a fuller context, affording our audience the opportunity to explore more fully what is at stake in these complex clashes of culture, government, and faith.”

Called, “riveting, urgent, and unmissable” by The Times of London, the play takes place in real time in a hotel room on election night as the returns are being announced. The gay son of the favored presidential candidate sends his father’s team into crisis mode when controversial photos of him at a college party dressed as the prophet Muhammad and accompanied by a friend dressed as the ultra-conservative “Pastor Bob” spread over the internet, potentially sparking an international incident. Quickly, the son must wrestle to explain his motives and personal beliefs about freedoms of religion and expression to members of his father’s campaign team, his mother, and ultimately his father. The Telegraph calls Now or Later,“The play we have been waiting for – a gripping, daring work that examines the Western response to Islamic fundamentalism and the consequent threat to freedom of speech.”

“Experiencing Now or Later at the height of election season adds an extra twist to this provocative tale of political fiction,” says Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. “I'm proud we are producing the US debut of this play that was such a success at London's Royal Court and that we're introducing Huntington audiences to the fine work of Christopher Shinn and Michael Wilson.”

Shinn wrote Now or Later as a commission for London’s Royal Court in 2008. The production was extended and became the American dramatist’s biggest UK hit. “Now or Later was written at a very specific time, both for the world and in my life, and returning to it four years later is fascinating for me,” says Shinn. “On the political level, seeing what has changed – both substantially and superficially – has strengthened my sense of what’s timeless about the play’s questions (and lack of answers). On the personal level, the characters’ yearnings and maneuverings feel even murkier to me. To revisit the play is to face what I believed then, what I believe now, and what I suspect I might believe in the future.”

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

The cast includes:

  • Michael Goldsmith (Matt, John’s good friend): Clybourne Park (London’s West End and Royal Court Theatre) and Six Degrees of Separation (The Old Vic);
  • Ryan King (Marc, a campaign staffer): Eurydice (Second Stage Theatre), Goodbye New York, Goodbye Heart (HERE);
  • Tom Nelis (John, Sr., a presidential candidate): Enron on Broadway, The Broken Heart (Theatre for a New Audience);
  • Adriane Lenox (Tracy, a campaign staffer): Doubt (Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Featured Actress) and Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway;
  • Grant MacDermott (John, Jr.): Emerson College graduate, Mister Roberts (New Repertory Theatre), The Great American Trailer Park Musical (SpeakEasy Stage Company); and
  • Alexandra Neil (Jessica, John, Sr.’s wife): Rock ’n Roll and Match on Broadway

Christopher Shinn (playwright) was born in Hartford, Connecticut and lives in New York. His plays have premiered at the Royal Court, Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Vineyard Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and South Coast Rep. His plays include Picked, Dying City, On the Mountain, Four, What Didn’t Happen and others. His adaptation of Hedda Gabler for the Roundabout appeared on Broadway in 2009. He is a winner of an Obie Award in Playwriting and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and short-listed for the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play. He teaches playwriting at the New School for Drama.

Michael Wilson (director) makes his Huntington debut. His Broadway credits include the Tony Award-nominated The Best Man, Dividing the Estate, and Enchanted April, as well as Old Acquaintance. His Off Broadway credits include Defying Gravity, Necessary Targets, The Carpetbagger’s Children, Chasing Manet, The Red Devil Battery Sign, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, and Picked and What Didn’t Happen (both by Christopher Shinn). He directed Angels in America, Parts 1 & 2 at the Venice Biennale, and has directed regionally at American Repertory Theater (Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Visiting Production for The Glass Menagerie), Alley Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, The Old Globe, and Hartford Stage, where as Artistic Director from 1998 to 2011, he oversaw the commissioning and development of many new plays, including Quiara Hudes’ 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner, Water By the Spoonful. Wilson received 2010 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his commissioning and direction of Horton Foote’s three-part, nine-hour version of his epic The Orphans’ Home Cycle.

Scenic design by Jeff Cowie (The Carpetbaggers Children at Lincoln Center Theater and What Didn’t Happen at Playwrights Horizons); costume design by David C. Woolard (Dividing the Estate and West Side Story on Broadway); lighting design by Russell H. Champa (Captors at the Huntington Theatre Company and Completeness at Playwrights Horizons); sound design and original composition by David Remedios (The Luck of the Irish and Before I Leave You at the Huntington). Production stage manager is Carola Morrone Lacoste. Stage manager is Candace D. Mongellow.

SPONSORS

  • Grand Patron: Boston University
  • Season Sponsors: Carol G. Deane, J. David Wimberly
  • Production Co-Sponsors: Carol Langer, Mary Wolfson & Bob Rosenberg

ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON

Since its founding in 1982, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston’s leading theatre company. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current. Led by Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington creates award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington is in residence at Boston University. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.


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