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The Life of Galileo Begins Dawn of New Age for Cleveland Play House

August 29, 2011

The Life of Galileo opens the inaugural season of Cleveland Play House at its new home in a transformed Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. The Life of Galileo, written by Bertolt Brecht and translated by Tony and Olivier award-winning playwright David Edgar (The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby), is directed by Michael Donald Edwards, the producing artistic director of Asolo Rep. Fresh and contemporary, this Cleveland Play House (CPH) production of The Life of Galileo brings the epic story of Galileo to life in one of the most intimate new theatre venues, the 500-seat Allen Theatre. The Life of Galileo begins in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare on Friday, September 16 and runs through Sunday, October 9, 2011. Tickets are available at PlayhouseSquare ticket office by calling 216-241-6000 or online at www.clevelandplayhouse.com. The Life of Galileo is presented with support from John P. Murphy Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and the Ohio Arts Council.  

“I can think of no better way to open our new top-tier space than with this bold, contemporary production of the one of the great plays of the 20th century,” states Michael Bloom, CPH Artistic Director. “The interaction between the space and the show will go a long way toward illuminating our vision to be a top-tier contemporary theatre." 

“I know how meaningful it is to be opening this brand new theatre with CPH, the oldest professional resident theater company in the United States,” says Michael Donald Edwards. In speaking about the play, Edwards remarks, “It has been 401 years since Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens and discovered that the earth is round and not flat, that we are not the center of the universe, and that we are but a tiny speck in this vast distance of space. Back then, it was like he dropped the bomb. Today, The Life of Galileo could not be more timely, as Brecht’s superb play vividly reminds us that this great intersection of faith and reason, of science and morality, is directly connected to the future of us all.”  

ABOUT THE PLAY AND PLAYWRIGHT
David Edgar, a British playwright whose original work has been strongly influenced by Brecht, has written a laser-sharp translation that utilizes a vibrant and immediate vocabulary. The accessibility of Edgar’s script allows Brecht’s play to resonate with contemporary debates about science and faith.   In 2005 Edgar wrote in The Guardian, “…the character of my translation is informed, not by the thesaurus, but by the times.” Edgar continues, “Brecht’s Galileo – a play about a man who revolutionized science by the application of reason, but recanted his beliefs to save his skin – changes its meaning through the three versions Brecht worked on, and has continued to mutate ever since.”   Many view The Life of Galileo as Brecht’s most autobiographical work. He continued to revise the play over the course of many years in response to world events. After the detonation of the atomic bomb, Galileo’s final speech was rewritten to address the responsibility of scientists, saying, “I hold it that the only proper goal of science is to relieve the miseries of human existence. If scientists, cut off from the masses by selfish rulers, seek merely to heap up knowledge for its own sake, then science is a cripple and your new inventions will merely bring about new drudgeries.”   As Galileo’s ideas were a target for the church, Brecht’s plays became a target for the Nazis. Fleeing Germany the day after the German Parliament burned and fearing he was on a death list, Brecht remained in exile for nearly 15 years. He returned to a Communist state that required him to publicly support its violent suppression of a workers’ revolt in order to hold on to his theater. 
 
THE LIFE OF GALILEO Cast:  
A cast of 22 features renowned guest artist Paul Whitworth portraying Galileo Galilei; additional guest artists include Sheldon Best, Stephen Caffrey, Philip Goodwin, Alex Hernandez and Myra Lucretia Taylor.  The cast also features some of the finest professional actors from Northeast Ohio (Robert Ellis, Bob Goddard, Charles Kartali, Jeremy Kendall, Aric Floyd, Jeffrey Grover, Jonathan Ramos, Christian Prentice, Thomas Weil), in addition to the third-year graduate ensemble of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program (Eva Gill, Andrew Gorrell, Dan Hendrock, Michael Herbert, Kim Krane, Kelli Ruttle, Yan Tual).   For a complete list of actor bios and headshots, go online at http://www.clevelandplayhouse.com/main-stage/the-life-of-galileo.  

THE LIFE OF GALILEO Creative Team Bios:  
Bertolt Brecht:
(Playwright) was born in Augsberg, Bavaria in 1898. Before becoming a professional playwright and poet, he studied medicine and worked as an orderly in a Munich hospital during World War I. Munich saw performances of his earliest plays Baal and Drums in the Night (influenced by then-emerging German Expressionism). After the war, Brecht moved to Berlin, capital of the Weimar Republic, Germany’s post-war democratic government. He soon became involved in the city’s theatre community, founding an influential writers group and working with such directors as Erwin Piscator and Max Reinhardt. In the midst of other projects, Brecht quickly wrote The Treepenny Opera for the opening of a new theatre, enlisting avant-garde composer Kurt Weill to provide a jazzy music new to Berlin theatre. An immediate hit in 1928, this satire of bourgeois morals spawned several other Brecht/Weill musicals including Happy End and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Around this time Brecht discovered Marxism, which influenced much of his later writing. Brecht’s political sympathies put him at odds with the Nazi party, which came to power in the 1933 elections, and Brecht immediately left the country. He spent fifteen years in exile mostly in Scandinavia as the guest of several authors. He finally settled in Santa Monica, California, where he occasionally wrote for the film industry. At this time, Brecht wrote many of his most famous plays: Galileo, Mother Courage and her Children, The Private Lives of the Master Race, The Good Person of Szechuan and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. After being questioned by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Brecht returned to a partitioned Germany in 1948, briefly staying in Zurich before settling permanently in Soviet-controlled East Berlin in 1949. Here he founded the renowned Berliner Ensemble where he served as director with Helene Weigel, his second wife and the Ensemble’s principal actress, until his death in 1956 from heart attack following a prolonged lung infection.  

David Edgar (Translator) is one of England’s foremost political playwrights. He is the only living playwright to have had plays directed by the incumbent artistic directors of both the major British companies—Trevor Nunn, co-director of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Sir Peter Hall, who directed Edgar’s re-working of Entertaining Strangers for the National Theatre in 1987. “Black Tulips” is Edgar's contribution to The Great Game, The Tricycle Theatre’s cycle of short plays about Afghanistan which toured the USA in 2010 and included a command performance at the White House. His theatre credits include the following, among many others: Testing the Echo, Out of Joint (2008); Playing with Fire, NT (2005); The Continental Divide, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, (2003) and Birmingham Repertory Theatre/Barbican Centre, London (2004); The Prisoner’s Dilemma, RSC (2002); Albert Speer, NT (2000); Pentecost, RSC/Young Vic (1994-1995); and The Shape of the Table, NT (1990). He is recipient of numerous awards including Arts Council England’s John Whiting Award for Destiny; Society of West End Theatres and a New York Tony, Best Play Award for Nicholas Nickleby; the Plays and Players’ Best Play Award for Maydays; and the Evening Standard Best Play Award for Pentecost. His book How Plays Work is published by Nick Hern Books (2009).  

Michael Donald Edwards
(Director) is in his fifth season as producing artistic director of Asolo Repertory Theatre. Previously he was associate artistic director for Syracuse Stage and served as artistic director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz. A Garland Award and Drama Logue Award-winning director, Edwards has directed at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Syracuse Stage, The Shakespeare Theatre, San Jose Rep, Opera San Jose, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Old Globe of San Diego, Virginia Stage Company, Virginia Opera, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Opera Australia, Victoria State Opera (Australia), and The Metropolitan Opera. In previous seasons for Asolo Rep, Edwards directed The Smell of the Kill, Amadeus, Nobody Don’t Like Yogi, Darwin in Malibu, A Tale of Two Cities, Equus, The Winter’s Tale, Perfect Mendacity, The Life of Galileo, The Last Five Years and pieces in Asolo Rep’s first annual Unplugged festival of new plays. This year he is directing La Bête, Las Meninas and pieces in the second annual Unplugged.  

The design team for The Life of Galileo includes Clint Ramos (Scenic and Costume Design), Peter West (Lighting Design), Fabian Obispo (Sound Design), Dan Scully (Projection Designer), and Pandora Robertson (Choreography). Also on the team: stage manager John Godbout, assistant director Nathan Motta, and child wrangler Jamie Benetto. For a complete list of design team bios, go online at http://www.clevelandplayhouse.com/main-stage/the-life-of-galileo.  

Ticket Information  
Subscriptions include full 7-play series starting at $262; mini-packages are also available; for subscriptions, please call 216-795-7000 ext 4 or online at www.clevelandplayhouse.com. Single tickets are on sale now; prices range from $41 to $69. Tickets are $15 for all students under the age of 25. For single tickets, please contact the PlayhouseSquare ticket office at 216-241-6000 or online at www.clevelandplayhouse.com. Groups of 10+ save up to 50% off single ticket prices; call 216-795-7000 x180 or email cwheeler@clevelandplayhouse.com.   

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