Nine Actors Set to Take on Shakespeare, Calderon, and Camus in Dreams and Madness Repertory March 25-May 17
Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia’s professional classic repertory theatre, closes out its 10th Anniversary season with its first-ever three show repertory. From March 25-May 17, 2020 the company is presenting the Dreams and Madness Repertory. Each of these three plays explores the danger of love, the difference between dreams and madness, and the destructive power of authority and government. The repertory begins with William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Opening Night, Friday April 3 at 7:30 p.m.). Pedro Calderón’s Life is a Dream follows (Opening Night, Thursday April 9 at 7:30 p.m.). The rep concludes with Albert Camus’ Caligula (Opening Night, Friday April 24 at 7:30 p.m.). Each play features the same cast of nine and is directed by Quintessence’s Artistic Director Alexander Burns. All performances are at the Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave., Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, 19119. Single tickets and discounted repertory passes are available, visit www.QTGrep.org or call 215.987.4450 to purchase.
“In today’s charged environment, these plays feel extremely relevant,” says Burns, “They’re about authority versus tyranny, how we perceive ourselves versus reality. We’ve tried to give the audience a true Jacobean experience, where the actors are right in your face and the viewer is fully immersed. All of these plays are passionate and intense in their own ways, and you feel that in the way we’re staging it.”
“Lord, what fools these mortals be.” The Dreams and Madness Rep begins with William Shakespeare’s classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Four young Athenians are in trouble with the law for falling in love without their parents’ consent. Escaping the authorities, they run away into the woods, where they stumble upon the fairy kingdom in turmoil over a marriage spat between the fairy king and queen. A group of rude mechanicals secretly rehearsing a play also wander unwittingly into the chaos. Shakespeare’s most beloved comedy is full of romance, fantasy, and midsummer-night revelry. Performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream run March 25-May 16.
Next is a Spanish Golden Age existential political thriller that explores the nature versus nurture paradigm and the connection between reality and our hopes and dreams. In Pedro Calderón’s Life is a Dream, an omen predicts that Prince Segismundo will grow up to become a tyrant and overthrow the kingdom. The fearful king locks his child in a mountain cave, but decades later becomes convinced that he has made a mistake and tests the prophecy by placing his grown son on the throne. What results for the unprepared Segismundo and his kingdom is havoc and bloodshed, but is fate or free will at fault? Performances of this classic work run March 26-May 17.
Part of his Cycle of the Absurd, Caligula is French-Algerian playwright Albert Camus’ humorous and philosophically explosive exposé of political science and the dangers of absolute power.
In this final play in the Dreams and Madness Rep, Emperor Caligula comes to see the world as absurd and meaningless after the death of his sister and mistress, Drusilla. Desirous to share this new understanding with his people, he uses his absolute power to undermine all systems of government and social order. Caligula mandates a desire to own the moon, to experience pure happiness, and to guarantee eternal life. To achieve these impossible tasks, he establishes a regime of hedonism and violence. Full of intensity and biting satire, Caligula begins April 15 and close May 16.
Quintessence’s Artistic Director Alexander Burns directs all three shows. The cast includes: Eunice Akinola, who returns to QTG after appearing in this season’s The Playboy of the Western World and The Synge Triptych and last season’s King Lear; Rachel Brodeur, who was Barrymore nominated for Inis Nua’s Box Clever, returns to Quintessence after appearing in The Three Musketeers; Jeffrey Carlson, a Broadway and television veteran, who earned acclaim on the long-running soap opera All My Children; QTG Artistic Associate Lee Cortopassi, who just directed The Wizard of Oz at the theatre; Paul Hebron, who returns to Quintessence after last appearing in One Man, Two Guvnors; Anita Holland, who last appeared at Quintessence in King Lear and is currently in the World Premiere of Babel at Theatre Exile; Joseph Langham who was in The Playboy of the Western World and The Synge Triptych this season at Quintessence; Rakeem Lawrence from Quintessence’s extraordinary production of My Fair Lady and Jake Lowenthal, who returns to Quintessence after appearing in King Lear last season.
“For nine actors to take on three plays takes a kind of madness,” says Burns. “The speed at which they have to switch gears in rehearsal is truly acrobatic. We’ve wanted to do a three-show rep for a long time, I’m so glad we got this amazing cast to take the leap with us.”
Lighting for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Life is a Dream will be designed by internationally renowned lighting designer Solomon Weisbard. Caligula lighting will be designed by Philadelphia designer Jojo Glodek. Summer Lee Jack will return to design costumes for Life is a Dream, and Resident Costume Designer Jane Casanave will design Caligula.
Founded in 2009, award-winning Quintessence Theatre Group uses the classics to explore the fundamental question of what it is to be human in today’s world. Through intimate, visceral, and innovative productions of epic theatre, Quintessence pursues its vision to become the Delaware Valley’s center for progressive humanism and an engine for radical empathy through the classics.
Celebrating its 10th season, Quintessence’s home is the historic Sedgwick Theater, an Art Deco movie palace designed in 1928 by William Lee and located in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION & PARKING: The Sedgwick Theater is readily accessible via SEPTA Regional Rail to either the Allen Lane Station (Chestnut Hill West) or the Sedgwick Station (Chestnut Hill East). The SEPTA 23/45 Bus also services the Sedgwick Theater, connecting South Philadelphia to Chestnut Hill. Free parking is available behind the theatre and in the municipal parking lot across Germantown Avenue.
General Admission tickets are $35-$55.
Youth tickets (21 and under) are $20.
Tickets for active military are $25.
Seniors receive $5 off the ticket price.
Upgrade to premium seats for an additional $19 per ticket.
REPERTORY PASSES: Discounted packages are available to all three shows in the repertory. Passholder may exchange tickets up to 24 hours before the performance and will receive discounts for additional ticket purchases. To purchase a pass, visit www.QTGrep.org or call 215.987.4450, Ext. 1.
GROUP SALES & STUDENT MATINEES: Group rates and special weekday student matinees are available. For information on group sales, please call 215.987.4450, Ext. 1, or email BoxOffice@QTGrep.org.
RUSH TICKETS: $10 rush tickets are available at 9am on the day of the performance on the TodayTix app. Rush tickets are also available for industry professionals and students with ID at the box office, subject to availability.
QUINTESSENCE THEATRE GROUP
7058 Germantown Avenue, Suite 202, Philadelphia, PA 19119