In a tremendous coup for the biggest little theatre company in town, Shotgun Players has secured the rights to Tom Stoppard’s impressive trilogy. This season Shotgun is producing Part Two: Shipwreck, along with a few special performances of Part One: Voyage, in repertory. In Voyage, we met our young heroes in the first blushes of revolutionary thought and love. Now with Shipwreck we find them in their 30s. The optimism of their early years has hit the rocks of marital infidelity, social anarchy, and a Tsar that has no intention of stepping down. The stakes go up dramatically in this next great duel between the heart and mind. The Coast of Utopia begins performances March 20 and runs through May 5th at The Ashby Stage.
Stoppard’s riff on pre-revolutionary Russia begins on a family estate where fervent ideals and fraught expectations are the name of the game. In Voyage, the first part of the amazing Coast of Utopia trilogy, we meet a fervent group of artists, writers and young revolutionaries wrestling with broken hearts along with ideas of art and society: "If something true can be understood about art, something will be understood about liberty, too." Just on the horizon is the hope of revolution. With Shipwreck the story moves to Paris. A circle of Russian émigrés including Alexander and Natalie Herzen, Ivan Turgenev, and Michael Bakunin have relocated to France, seeking inspiration from this birthplace of revolution. Yet both personal and political ideals begin to unravel. What happens when everything you believed to be true turns out to be something else entirely? Hope staggers after each betrayal setting the stage for the final part of the trilogy, Salvage. Shotgun’s ambitious plan is to mount one play each year through 2014, when all three shows will run in repertory.
Founding Artistic Director Patrick Dooley writes: "Stoppard gets great attention for his spectacular wit and intellectual prowess but his greatest achievement is to gain access where we feel most vulnerable - our hearts." Shipwreck explores the failure of the 1848 revolution in France through the eyes of Alexander Herzen, one of the most influential political writers from Russia. Yet there is a revolution of the heart brewing between Alexander's wife Natalie and the German poet George Herwegh. Stoppard uses historical love letters written by Natalie to create an intimate portrait of a woman who asks: "how did this innocent world of my loving heart shatter to fragments?" Shipwreck features historical characters such as Karl Marx, Michael Bakunin, Ivan Turgenev, Nicholas Ogarev, Vissarion Belinksy and others who struggle to find answers in politics and art. Against this background of dissent and revolution Stoppard deftly explores the intricacies of the human heart.
The Coast of Utopia: Voyage & Shipwreck features Set Design by Nina Ball, Costume Design by Alexae Visel, Sound Design by Matt Stines, Light Design by Ray Oppenheimer, & Properties Design by Shaun Carroll.
The cast of The Coast of Utopia features Shotgun Company Members Zehra Berkman, John Mercer and Richard Reinholdt, as well as Monica Cappuccini, Christy Crowley, Kachi Gauthier, Patrick Jones*, Ben Landmesser, Caitlyn Louchard, Joe Lucas, Nick Medina, Sam Misner*, Sebastian Mora, Danielle O’Hare, Daniel Petzold, Nesbyth Rieman, Jonah Rotenberg, Joseph Salazar*, Dan Saski, Leanna Sharp, Alex Shafer, Sam Tillis, Kenny Toll, Megan Trout, Don Wood and Nathan Weltzein.
(*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.)