Philadelphia Artists’ Collective will conclude their 2017-2018 season with Maria Marten, or, The Murder in the Red Barn, by Anonymous, from June 6 to June 24, 2018, at The Louis Bluver Theatre at The Drake. A tale of love, revenge and murder with a village idiot and the epitome of all villains, this show will make you boo, hiss, guffaw and cheer. Dastardly deeds, family forgiveness and a Wanderer’s curse all lead to one blisteringly ridiculous climax in the highest style of the Victorian melodramas. Only the highest of the low for PAC, Co-Founders Dan Hodge and Damon Bonetti will trade the roles of the fool and the villain each performance for a truly outrageous night in the theatre. Which will play the villain on opening night? Audiences can cast their vote and help decide ahead of the show. Maria Marten will be directed by Charlotte Northeast. The role of Maria will be played by PAC newcomer Victoria Aaliyah Goins, who has appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice.
Previews for Maria Marten run June 6th and 7th, with opening night and press opening on June 8th. The show runs for a total of 13 performances through June 24, 2018. All shows are at8:00pm expect for Sunday Matinees at 3:00pm on June 17th and June 24th. Tickets are available by calling 267-521-2210 or visiting www.philartistscollective.org. This show is presented with support from Honorary Producer Louis Bluver.
Maria Marten, or, The Murder in the Red Barn, is a classic melodrama based on a real life murder that took place back in 1827 in Polstead, Suffolk, England. Maria Marten was a young woman who was thought to have been shot dead by her lover William Corder. After fleeing the scene following a rendezvous, Corder was tracked down in London, brought back to Suffolk and found guilty. He was hanged in front of thousands of people back in 1828. Corder’s much publicized trial received widespread attention. It is thought that a group of theatremakers and playwrights wrote the play in the 1860s to 1880s. The play went on to become a sensational, over-the-top hit throughout the mid-19th century and may have been the most performed play of the time. The fascination with the story continued into the 20th century with five film versions. Now, in their tradition of bringing classical long-forgotten works back to the stage, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective will bring this melodrama to the stage for your consideration. Booing, cheering, hissing – come ready, as it is all encouraged.
“Maria Marten and the classic melodrama is not the type of play most modern audiences have seen,” said Northeast. “My challenge in directing is to find how a modern audience will view the over-the-top notions in the script. I want to embrace that world and break the fourth wall to make the show accessible to the audience. But I want to also acknowledge the ridiculousness of the situations on stage. We will have a live piano player serve as the guide for the show and give the audience agency to boo, hiss and things audiences in the 1880s used to do naturally. Listen for the music to get fast or slow to add to the tension and enhance the drama.”
PAC and Northeast will add to the unsullied, hearty fun by featuring two actors, and PAC favorites, play the role of the villain and the fool. “Each night, we will have our two Co-Founding Artistic Directors Dan and Damon swap roles. While the rest of the cast will remain the same, look for surprises and different bits during the run. Audiences will really have to come out and see the show for both nights to get the complete theatrical experience.”
Northeast added, “Dan originally found this play and has been sitting on it for a while. I read the script and loved it – and I knew he wanted to play the villain. I then knew that Damon would want to play the villain. I couldn’t of course have our two founders audition for the role. The idea then came to me to have them both play the villain. They both would have to learn two roles – and this really gives them the opportunity to show off their talents. This is only the second time they have both been on stage together in the same play.”
While Northeast found a way to have both Bonetti and Hodge play the villains, there can only be one villain on opening night. PAC’s solution was to have a vote and competition through donations on Facebook and the PAC website. The audience will find out the winner on June 5 when the voting will close and the cast schedule will be released. “I sensed some competition for who would play the villain for the show’s opening. We thought we would have some fun with it and I liked the idea of involving the audience. It adds an added layer of engagement, mystery and fun,” said Northeast.
When asked what message she wants audiences to leave with, Northeast said, “While I want to punch up the ridiculousness of this play, I want audiences to realize we haven’t changed much. We think we are so advanced and have come a long way, but we aren’t much different than audiences back in the 1800s. We look up Kim Kardashian on our phones, watch reality TV, read tell-all books and idolize celebrities.\. We all still love salacious non-sense and gossip, and we forget that these are real people. Maria was a real person. Do we change? Will we change? We haven’t. We have just changed how we get our stories.”
Maria Marten, or, The Murder in the Red Barn, is directed by the Barrymore Award winner Northeast (Creditors and The Fair Maid of the West), and stars Hodge (PAC’s The White Devil¸ The Fair Maid of the West, Creditors, Changes of Heart, and created his one man The Rape of Lucrece) and Bonetti (PAC’s The Duchess of Malfi, Creditors and All’s Well That Ends Well) switching roles as William Corder/Tim Bobbin, Victoria Aaliyah Goins (EgoPo’s Lydie Breeze Trilogy, Temple’s For Colored Girls and The Colored Museum) making her PAC debut as Maria Marten, Monroe Barrick (PAC’s All’s Well That Ends Well) playing Mister Marten and Ishmael Lee, Sarah Knittel (Hedgerow, AntiGravity Theatre Project, Pig Iron, Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, and Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre) making her PAC debut as Anne, Devon Sinclair (Walnut Street Theatre, Theatre Horizon, Ritz Theatre) making his PAC debut playing Jacko/Pharos) and Trina Tjersland (Delaware Theatre Company’s Our Town, Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Wings) making her PAC debut playing Dame Marten/Flatcatcher.
The cast will be rounded out by Brian McCann who will play double duty. On-stage McCann will play Tobersloper/Mark and off-stage he will serve as Set Designer creating roll drops as background scenery.
The creative team is rounded out with Nicole Miller (Assistant Director), Robert Thorpe (Co-Lighting Designer), James Lewis (Co-Lighting Designer), Bridget Brennan (Costume Designer), Andrew Clotworthy (Composer/Musician), Michael Kortsarts (Props Master), Elizabeth Meisenzahl (Stage Manager) and Alexis Cabrera (Assistant Stage Manager).
Maria Marten, or, The Murder in the Red Barn, runs from June 6 to June 24, 2018. Preview tickets are $20 for general public, $10 for students and $10 for industry members. Tickets for general admission are $25, $15 for students and $15 for industry members. Tickets are available at philartistscollective.org or by phone at (267) 521-2210. Performances for this production will take place The Louis Bluver Theatre at The Drake (302 Hicks Street, Philadelphia, 19102). This production marks the first time Philadelphia Artists’ Collective will produce work at either of the theatres located at The Drake.