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Staged reading of The Physicists by Friedrich Dürrenmatt at STNJ

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The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, one of the nation’s leading classic theatres, will present a staged reading of The Physicists by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, translated by James Kirkup, and directed by Brian B. Crowe as part of the Lend Us Your Ears Reading Series on September 22 at 7 p.m. The play explores the notion that the quest for new discoveries and knowledge often comes at a dear cost, with high stake responsibilities and consequences. The Reading Series offers audiences the opportunity to join Shakespeare Theatre directors, actors, and artistic staff as they explore diverse and compelling plays. Single tickets to each reading are $18 for adults and $10 for students. For more information about Lend Us Your Ears, visit ShakespeareNJ.org or call the Box Office at 973-408-5600.

The Physicists provokes reflection on the social responsibility of science and technology with the assertion, “What was once thought can never be unthought.” The play places historical figures from different eras into one place and time, in this case, a mental sanatorium, with men who believe they are Albert Einstein, Sir Issac Newton, and August Möbius, the German mathematician and astronomer.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt was a Swiss author, playwright, and leading figure of European “Epic Theatre” movement. Rising from the rubble of World War II, “Epic Theatre” reacted against the constructed naturalism of Stanislavski’s acting style as well as the elevated emotion and action of earlier melodrama. The theatrical work of this period was quite political in nature and sought to avoid “the engendering of illusion” (Brecht on Theatre). The figurehead of the movement was famed playwright and director Bertolt Brecht; in fact, “epic theatre” is often known synonymously as “Brechtian theatre.”

Dürrenmatt’s combination of historical fact and literary fiction reflects the premise of the Theatre’s upcoming Main Stage production of Wittenberg, a witty and provocative play that manipulates time and space to unite Hamlet, Martin Luther, and Doctor Faustus in a collegiate environment of pre-Reformation Germany. The production, beginning September 10, marks the New Jersey premiere of playwright David Davalos’s award-winning play.

The 2014 Reading Series concludes with A Tender Thing, a contemporary remix of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by Royal Shakespeare Company member Ben Power. Power literally rearranged the familiar tale into an arresting new take on the undying passion of these timeless characters. A Tender Thing will be read on November 10 at 7 p.m.

“This season’s reading series is particularly exciting as the three selections are all relatively contemporary—we get to time travel a lot more!” says Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte. The script-in-hand readings by members of The Shakespeare Theatre’s esteemed company of actors are followed by a talk-back discussion with the director and cast, a chance for the audience to provide feedback and discuss the play’s potential for future production.

Single tickets to each reading are $18 for adults and $10 for students. For more information about Lend Us Your Ears, visit ShakespeareNJ.org or call the Box Office at 973-408-5600. One of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the nation, serving 100,000 adults and children annually, The Shakespeare Theatre is New Jersey’s largest professional theatre company dedicated solely to Shakespeare’s canon and other world classics. Through its distinguished productions and education programs, the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance of the classics for contemporary audiences.

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