Press Release: EgoPo Classic Theater’s World Premiere of John Guare’s Lydie Breeze Trilogy Brings in 2018
EgoPo Classic Theater’s 25th Anniversary season devoted to John Guare is now in full swing. Coming up is the highlight of this season-long John Guare Festival: Guare’s Lydie Breeze Trilogy, to be presented in its entirety for the very first time. EgoPo is tackling this epic piece of theatre about an American family, set between the Civil War and the birth of 20th-century industrialism, with three separate production runs of each part of the trilogy, followed by two weeks of three-day marathons and four opportunities for full day marathons. EgoPo is collaborating with Guare to present all three plays, now titled Cold Harbor, Aipotu, and Home in a consecutive cycle, with music by Cynthia Hopkins and Jay Ansill. The trilogy kicks off on January 31 with Part I: Cold Harbor. This drama set during the Civil War runs January 31-February 11. Opening Night is Friday, February 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25-$35. All performances of the Lydie Breeze Trilogy will be held at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street. More information about the Trilogy, tickets, and information about the company can be found online at www.egopo.org
The Lydie Breeze Trilogy is the pinnacle work of TONY Award-winning playwright John Guare. EgoPo Classic Theater will present the world premiere of the full presentation of this trilogy. In development for 30 years, this will mark its premiere as the single theatrical experience Guare intended it to be. The trilogy begins with Lydie’s childhood in the age of American whaling on Nantucket, then moves through the Civil War and American Utopianism, before ending at the birth of 20th-century industrialism. EgoPo has assembled an ensemble of 24 actor/musicians to bring you this once-in-a-lifetime theatrical event.
John Guare and Director Lane Savadove have been working for 16 years to make this production a reality. Guare will be in residence throughout the process re-working the scripts as needed to make the trilogy a unified theatrical experience. To this end, each of the plays has gone through a name change in order to more clearly define the arc of the trilogy, while maintaining each show’s stand-alone integrity. Each of the plays has its own style, so as we move through American history we also move through the history of theatrical forms, including changing the arrangement of the audience in relation to the action.
Savadove met Guare in 1999, fresh out of graduate school, when he was hired as Associate Director for a new Guare work at the Guthrie Theater. While researching the American Master he discovered Lydie Breeze.
“I was fascinated by his theatrical voice, but it was when I came upon the Lydie Breeze plays that I felt like I had discovered a buried treasure. These plays all had separate productions in major theaters, but had never been done together, and had never been celebrated at the level they deserved. Together, they are a giant sweeping epic that joins a personal spiritual journey with the landscape of American history. They are heartfelt and vulnerable while containing soaring theatrical lyricism. It hit me that John had created a new American Expressionism that carried forward the legacy of Tennessee Williams and early Eugene O’Neill,” said Savadove.
Savadove then found himself working with Guare again, this time on rewrites of what would become Parts II and III of the Lydie Breeze Trilogy. Throughout this experience, Savadove strongly felt that the plays needed to be produced together.
He added, “By this time, I already considered John a mentor and dear friend. With young director chutzpah, I told John that I felt like his legacy would not be complete without the Lydieplays getting the attention they deserved, and that it was my dream to produce the whole trilogy. Unbelievably to me, even today, John responded: ‘if you can pull it off, the trilogy is yours.’”
As Cold Harbor begins, under the orders of Ulysses S. Grant, wave after wave of men charge to their death, 700 dead in 30 minutes. Names are put on the young soldiers’ backs to identify the dead, while Nurse Lydie Breeze collects their valuables to deliver back home to their loved ones. On the bloody battlefields, Lydie meets Amos, Dan, and Joshua, and together they seek a truce to stop the madness of General Grant. On their journey, they uncover whaling ship mutinies, talking pigs and buzzard gods, the Underground Railroad, and Lydie’s long buried family secrets. Out of the chaos of war, they forge a vision for a new life and a new America. Guare’s trilogy begins with this explosive adventure play.
The cast for Cold Harbor includes Melanie Julian as Lydie Breeze, Charlie DelMarcelle as Joshua Hickman, Ed Swidey as Amos Mason, and David Girard as Dan Grady. The ensemble members in Part I include: Andrew Carroll, Nathan Foley, Victoria Goins, Mark Knight, Shamus Hunter McCarty, Marcellus McQueen, Frank Nardi Jr., Amanda Jill Robinson, Kristy Joe Slough, Grant Struble, Jahzeer Terrell, Hannah Van Sciver, Clara Weishahn, Kylie Westerbeck, David Strattan White, and Philip Wilson.
Directed by Savadove, the trilogy also includes new music by Obie Award-winning composer Cynthia Hopkins and Music Director Jay Ansill. Marketa Fantova is designing all three sets. Marie Anne Chiment is the Costume Designer. Mike Inwood is the Lighting Designer. Joe Wozniak is the Props Master. Jamel Baker is the Stage Manager.
Cold Harbor is followed by Part II: Aipotu, March 7-18. Part III: Home runs April 11-22. Tickets to the full series start at $60. Three-Day Marathons run Wed. April 25, Thurs. April 26, Fri. April 27 at 7pm and Wed. May 2, Thurs. May 3, Fri. May 4 at 7pm. Tickets to the Three-Day Marathons cost $100. Audiences can also see the trilogy in One-Day Marathons. Tickets cost $150. One-Day Marathon dates are: Saturday, April 28, Sunday, April 29; Saturday, May 5, and Sunday, May 6. The performances for the One-Day Marathon run 1 pm-3 pm, 4:30 pm-6:30 pm, and 8 pm-10 pm.
John Guare’s plays include The House of Blue Leaves (NY Drama Critics Circle Award); Six Degrees of Separation (NY Drama Critics Circle Award; Olivier Award, Best Play); Landscape of the Body; Two Gentlemen of Verona (TONY Award); and A Free Man of Color (Pulitzer Prize finalist). He wrote the script for the film Atlantic City (Oscar nomination, Venice Film Festival Best Film). He is the recipient of the 2003 PEN Master Dramatist Award; the 2004 Gold Medal in Drama, American Academy of Arts and Letters; and the 2005 Obie Sustained Excellence. He has taught playwriting at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, NYU, and Juilliard. He is the co-editor of the Lincoln Center Theater Review.
Cynthia Hopkins is an internationally acclaimed composer and performance artist. Her honors include the Doris Duke Artist Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, and Alpert Award in Theater. Hopkins work has been seen at St. Anne’s Warehouse, BAM, The Walker Arts Center, and The Kitchen, and has been honored with a Bessie and Obie Award.
Jay Ansill is an accomplished Celtic and Folk composer and musician, and is a regular collaborator with Mabou Mines in New York City. His award-winning compositions and original scores have been performed throughout the country by symphonies, folk bands, string quartets, and theaters.
Major support for the Lydie Breeze Trilogy has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
About EgoPo Classic Theater
EgoPo is a Philadelphia theater company founded by Artistic Director Lane Savadove, known for bold, innovative versions of classic dramatic plays. Celebrating its 25th season, EgoPo, whose name derives from the French for “The Physical Self,” uses a dynamic vocal and physical style of acting to create immersive theatrical worlds. Winner of 2017 Barrymore Awards for Best Evolving Theater and Best Production for Chekhov’s The Seagull, EgoPo has staged over thirty productions nationally in New York,
Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago, and San Francisco; internationally in Indonesia and Croatia; and on National Public Radio.