When October arrives in the Berkshires the annual fall foliage display gets some real competition from Barrington Stage Company when it presents a great work of literature on stage. In recent years we have seen The Crucible and To Kill a Mockingbird, and on October 3, 2012 the company will undertake its most difficult production to date, Lord of the Flies. Written by Nobel Prize winner William Golding, and adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams, it is a difficult work to do convincingly on stage because it is a story about boys, and best played by actors who approximate their age and appearance. That’s quite a challenge to pull off. But it appears that Barrington Stage has done it. Just look at the cast they have assembled.
Lord of the Flies will be directed by Giovanna Sardelli, who directed BSC’s summer production of The North Pool. One of a handful of rapidly rising young directors,with a contemporary sense of rhythm and pacing, I spoke to her at The North Pool opening, and she was already hard at work on planning out the structure of this production.
Lord of the Flies runs October 3 through 21 on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, 30 Union Street, Pittsfield. The press opening is Sunday, October 7 at 3pm.
In talking about the play with Julianne Boyd, artistic director of Barrington Stage Company, she has approached the problem in two ways: casting and direction. The early rehearsal images show she has chosen well, with three local high school students mixed in with the professionals. They are proven veterans of BSC’s Youth Theatre which acts as a superb training ground for aspiring actors here in the Berkshires.
The Lord of the Flies is not only good literature, it also has the makings for a great stage show and has also been the basis for several films and tv specials. The BSC production is true to its literary source, and yet holds the potential to “wow” Berkshire audiences, as have earlier choices. Certainly the local schools are already gearing up, with numerous student performances booked solid, and thousands of students about to see their first professional stage production. Many new theatre-goers will see their first show ever in October.
The Lord of the Flies tells a riveting story
William Golding’s great novel, a potent allegory about the loss of innocence and the decline of civilization, is brought to dramatic life in Nigel Williams’ adaptation. A plane crashes on a deserted island. The only survivors are a group of schoolboys. By day, it’s a tropical paradise of sun and sea; but each night, their dreams are inhabited by a terrifying beast. Thrust into a teenage version of ‘Survivor’, before long this well-behaved group turns into a bloodthirsty and murderous tribe. Myth and naturalism combine in a dynamic exploration of power, democracy, and the dichotomy of good and evil that is within us all. Lord of the Flies brings up many issues central to the lives of today’s adolescents – peer pressure, bullying, gang rivalry – in its depiction of reason versus chaos.
A timeless piece of work following the central theme of the journey from boyhood to manhood, William Golding described writing his novel as ‘like lamenting the lost childhood of the world’.
The Cast for Lord of the Flies
Barrington Stage’s production features 7 NY actors making their BSC debut: Will Bradley (Irish Rep’s Man and Superman) as Roger, Richard Dent as Ralph, Chris Dwan (Peter and I) as Simon, Eric Meyers as Henry, Matthew Minor (White People) as Piggy, John Evans Reese as Jack Merridew, and Christopher Sears as Maurice. Three Berkshire youths are also in the cast: John Aramis Buckley (BSC Youth Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast and All Shook Up) as Eric, Joey LaBrasca (BSC Youth Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast) as Percival, and Dane Shiner (BSC debut) as Sam.
The Design Team
The design team includes David Barber (sets), Scott Pinkney (lights), Amy Clark (costumes), and Anthony Mattana (original music and sound design), and Stephen Gabis (dialect coach). Renee Lutz is production stage manager.
Felix Ivanov is acting as fight choreographer, his first assignment at Barrington Stage Company, and early reports are that he is bringing stage combat to a new level of excitement in this production. It’s one of those things you watch on stage but never think about. His job is to make the acton realistic while keeping the actors safe from accidental injury. Watch those fights closely, they are as finely choreographed as a Balanchine ballet.
William Golding was born September, 19, 1911, in Cornwall, England and was educated at Marlborough Grammar School and at Brasenose College, Oxford. Apart from writing, his occupations included being a schoolmaster, a lecturer, an actor, a sailor and a musician. His father was a schoolmaster and his mother was a suffragette. He was brought up to be a scientist, but revolted. After two years at Oxford he read English literature instead and became devoted to Anglo-Saxon. He spent five years at Oxford and published a volume of poems in 1935. After serving in the Royal Navy during World War II, he returned to teaching and began to write again. Lord of the Flies, his first novel, was published in 1954. It was filmed by Peter Brook in 1963. In 1980 he won the Booker Prize for his novel Rites of Passage. He retired from teaching in 1962. After that, he lived in Wiltshire, listing his recreations as music, sailing, archaeology and classical Greek. William Golding died in 1993.
Playwright and novelist Nigel Williams’ stage adaptation of William Golding’s Lord of The Flies was first professionally produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon in July 1995. It was published by Faber & Faber (London) in 1996. The first ever performance was in 1992 at Kings’ College Junior School, Wimbledon, where Nigel’s son was at school. It was attended by William Golding himself, one year before his death in 1993. Nigel Williams was born in Cheshire in 1948, educated at Highgate School and Oriel College, Oxford. He is the author of TV and stage plays and several novels, including the best-selling Wimbledon Poisoner, They Came from SW19, East of Wimbledon and Scenes from a Poisoner’s Life. One of Nigel Williams’ best known plays is Class Enemy (1979). He wrote My Face for the National Theatre New Connections Festival 2008.
Giovanna Sardelli (Director) returns to BSC having directed The North Pool, and has collaborated with Rajiv Joseph on the world premieres of his plays The North Pool (TheatreWorks), Animals Out of Paper (Joe A. Callaway Award for Outstanding Director), All This Intimacy (both for Second Stage),The Leopard and The Fox (Alter Ego) and Huck & Holden (Cherry Lane). Her recent world premieres include Theresa Rebeck’s play Dead Accounts (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Somewhere by Matthew Lopez (Old Globe) and the West Coast Premiere of his play The Whipping Man (Old Globe, NAACP nomination Best Director). Ms. Sardelli spent two seasons as Director of the Shakespeare Sedona Institute. She received her MFA from the Grad Acting program at NYU and is a graduate of their Director’s Lab.
Performances and Tickets
Performances of Lord of the Flies will take place at Barrington Stage Company’s Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, 30 Union Street, Pittsfield, from October 3 through 21, 2012. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7pm, Friday and Saturday 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Wednesday matinees October 10 and 17 at 2pm. Additional matinees are scheduled for student groups. Tickets are $15-$40; with preview prices of $15 on October 3 and 4. Seniors: $25 all matinees. Youth 18 and under $15 all performances except Saturday evenings. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Barrington Stage Box Office at 413-236-8888 or visit www.barringtonstageco.org. The Box Office is located at 30 Union Street.
Special Post Show Talkback
October 11. Post-Show Discussion Lord of the Flies. Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, 30 Union Street, Pittsfield. Following the Thursday 7pm performance.
About Barrington Stage Company
Barrington Stage Company, a professional award-winning Equity regional theatre located in the heart of the Berkshires, in Pittsfield, MA, was co-founded in 1995 by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd. Barrington Stage’s mission is three-fold: to present top-notch, compelling work; to develop new plays and musicals; and to find fresh, bold ways to bringing new audiences into the theatre—especially young people. Barrington Stage garnered national attention in 2004 when it workshopped, and premiered William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s musical hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which later transferred to Broadway where it won two Tony Awards and played more than 1,000 performances. In 2009/2010 Barrington Stage produced the world premiere of Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session, which later moved Off-Broadway and 775 performances. Barrington Stage was voted “Best Live Theatre” by The Berkshire Eagle readers in 2011 and 2012 and was named “Best Theatre Company” in Metroland’s Best of the Capital Region 2009-2012.