The award-winning actor Peter Francis James ("Stuff Happens") has joined the cast of PROPHECY, Karen Malpede's play which will begin previews Off-Broadway on May 29 prior to an official press opening on June 8 at the East Fourth Street Theatre (83 E. 4 St.) in Manhattan.
Mr. James joins the cast featuring Kathleen Chalfant, George Bartenieff, BRENDAN DONALDSON and Najla Said. Mr. James replaces Andre De Shields, whose commitment to a role in a film with a shooting schedule that conflicts with performances of PROPHECY precipitates his need to leave the production.
Directed by Karen Malpede, PROPHECY is presented Off-Broadway by TheatreThree Collaborative, winner of two Obie Awards in 2001 for its production of "I Will Bear Witness."
Peter Francis James earned Obie, Lortel and Drama Desk Awards for his performance in 'Stuff Happens" at The Public Theatre. He starred opposite Dame Maggie Smith in Albee's "The Lady from Dubuque" in London, and on Broadway in "On Golden Pond," "Judgment at Nuremberg," and "Drowning Crow." Other stage credits include "Gem of the Ocean" at Mark Taper Forum, "Venus" at The Public Theatre, and "The Maids," for which he received an Obie. His numerous film and TV credits include "The Rosa Parks Story," "Oz," "Law and Order" and as Thurgood Marshall in "Simple Justice." Mr. James teaches acting at Yale School of Drama.
PROPHECY comes to New York, having premiered in 2008 in London, where it received four stars in Time Out London. Two members of the Off-Broadway cast of PROPHECY -- Mr. Bartenieff and Ms. Said - were featured in the London production and earned critical praise for their performances.
A play about the far-reaching effects of both the Iraq and Vietnam wars on those who served on the battlefield and those who served in protests, PROPHECY is also the story of a marriage: Alan Golden, a Jew whose past includes an affair with an Arab co-worker that results in the birth of a child, and his wife Sarah, an actress and acting teacher, whose intense bond with one of her students -- a talented and vulnerable Iraq War veteran -- triggers memories of a young man from her past.
Tickets are on sale now to PROPHECY, which was previously presented to considerable acclaim in London in 2008 and where its fans include Vanessa Redgrave, David Hare and film producer Barbara Stone. For tickets: www.smarttix.com or call 212 868 4444.
PROPHECY is one of seven plays that will be published (Northwestern University Press) in an upcoming book entitled, "Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays," including works by David Hare ("The Vertical Hour"), Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo ("Guantanamo"), Bill Cain ("9 Circles"), Simon Stephens ("A Canopy of Stars"), Lydia Stryk ("American Tet") and Naomi Wallace ("No Such Cold Things").
As well, TheatreThree Collaborative has announced a series of post-performance "Talk Backs" at PROPHECY, with special guests including the internationally-renowned scholar and political activist NOAM CHOMSKY on June 8, and also featuring author and activist DAVID SWANSON on June 2, journalist and host of GRIT-TV LAURA FLANDERS on June 3, and journalist and former New York Times foreign correspondent CHRIS HEDGES on June 4.
A series of Talk Backs were also held for the London production of PROPHECY: featured guests there included the Oxford historian Ilan Pappe, Oxford jurist Karma Nablusi and writer Lynn Segal.
The roles in PROPHECY portrayed by Ms. Chalfant, Mr. Bartenieff and Ms. Said were written specifically for them, according to Ms. Malpede, who notes that the play was conceived over tea at Ms. Chalfant's home a few years ago.
Prior to its debut in London, PROPHECY had various readings in New York, including at the Public and Cherry Lane Theaters, and at New York Theater Workshop; as well as in Washington, DC at The Kennedy Center, and in Berlin.
In London, the critics wrote of PROPHECY:
"PROPHECY offers its audience a compelling tale of the tragedies of war and the ongoing physical and emotional effects it has on both The Civilians and combatants caught up in man's inhumanity to his fellow man. There is evident humour peppered throughout. A well written and executed piece of drama that makes for intelligent theatre." - Islington Gazette
"Jeremy's plight - he is traumatized by memories of Iraq - is deeply felt, as is the play's exploration of the profound ruptures between old and young, west and east." - Time Out London, 4-star review
The beloved actress Kathleen Chalfant created roles in ANGELS IN AMERICA, for which she was nominated for the Tony Award, and WIT, winning numerous awards, including the first of her two Obie Awards, as well as the Drama Desk Award.
George Bartenieff is a four time Obie Award-winning actor and one of the
founders of Theater for the New City. He was featured last summer in The New York Shakespeare Festival's production of THE BACCHAE in Central Park, and appeared Off-Broadway in the Cherry Lane Theatre revivals of Edward Albee's AMERICAN DREAM and THE SANDBOX, directed by the playwright.
Najla Said recently completed a sold-out engagement of her solo play PALESTINE Off-Broadway. Brendan Donaldson appeared in 2005 remake of "The Amityville Horror."
PROPHECY has set design by Maxine Willi Klein, costume design by Sally Ann Parsons, lighting design by Tony Giovannetti and music by Arthur Rosen.
Karen Malpede is the author of 15 plays in the theater of witness tradition. Her recent plays include ANOTHER LIFE which will be published in THE KENYON REVIEW, Fall 2010 and given a staged reading in New York also in the fall; I WILL BEAR WITNESS, a stage adaptation of the Victor Klemperer diaries which she also directed. The production won two Obie Awards and toured internationally; THE BEEKEEPER'S DAUGHTER, which she directed in Italy also had productions in Australia, and Off Broadway, and is currently under development in Europe as a motion picture entitled "End of the Century." She has written essays published in anthologies and journals in the US and UK about the theater of witness. Her earlier contributions to theater history include one of the first books on women in theater, "Women in Theatre: Compassion & Hope."
Ms. Malpede is co-founder with George Bartenieff of TheaterThree Collaborative, created in 1995 with a mission to produce political, poetic, character-driven dramas in the theater of witness tradition, whose origins reach back to classical Greek tragedy. TheatreThree Collaborative embraces plays that run counter to the theatrical status-quo. www.theatrethreecollaborative.com.
Scheduled through June 20, PROPHECY will perform Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30 pm with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $40 and can be reserved by calling Smarttix at 212 868 4444 or online at www.smarttix.com.