For Immediate Release
For interviews and features contact:
Phil Elman, General Manager
Two men debated, The nation divided.
October 3 to 21, 2012
By Norman Corwin
Directed by Laura Margolis
Previews: October 3-4, 2012
Opens: October 5, 2012
Closes: October 21, 2012
September 25, 2012 — Stageworks/Hudson presents the electrifying political drama The Rivalry by Norman Corwin. The show makes its regional premiere at Stageworks/Hudson's Max and Lillian Katzman Theater, 41 Cross Street, Hudson, New York. The Rivalry opens on Friday, October 5 and runs Wednesdays through Sundays through October 21. Preview performances are October 3 and 4.
The regional premiere of The Rivalry is directed by Laura Margolis and features veteran actors Kurt Rhoads, Stephen Paul Johnson and Susannah Jones.
With the 2012 elections weeks away, Stageworks Hudson continues its Mainstage season with The Rivalry, Norman Corwin's electrifying, highly lauded play based on the real life Lincoln-Douglas debates of the 1858 Illinois Senate race. The play artfully documents an exhilarating time in American history as the country, verged on an impending civil war, remained strictly at odds on the hot-button issues of slavery, equality, freedom, states' rights and the future of America.
It was a time before social media and widespread mass communication, a time when the press was solely responsible for how these men were portrayed. In October, 1858, the New York Evening Post said the Lincoln Douglas debates, “have not only been published in nearly all the journals in this state, but they have attracted the attention of the whole country. They have been next in importance and interest to some of the great senatorial debates, when the whole nation has stood still to listen to the voice of its greatest men.”
Using transcripts of the speeches, The Rivalry recreates the famous debates between Lincoln, an up and coming Illinois legislator and abolitionist candidate of the freshly minted Republican Party, and Senator Stephen A. Douglas, the Democratic incumbent and proponent of popular sovereignty. Told through the memories of Douglas' young wife, Adele, The Rivalry highlights the conflict between the rights of states and the rights of human beings: a dynamic still with us today.
Though Douglas prevailed victorious in the senatorial elections, the debates thrust Lincoln into the national consciousness, and paved his way to becoming the 16th president. While the senatorial race was localized in the state of Illinois, the topics of these orations expanded to that of a country so passionately divided it would lead to civil war.
“With drastically disparate ideals and representing opposite political parties, these two men managed to share a common goal in preserving the union at any cost,” says director, Laura Margolis. “This is a stark contrast to the bipartisan politicians of today. While over 150 years have passed since Lincoln and Douglas clashed on the important issues of their day, we still feel the effects of a political great divide -- hopefully, Norman Corwin’s great play reminds us that we too can put aside our differences for the good of our society.”
One hundred and fifty years after these two giants blazed the Senate campaign trail, their words and themes echo through the political landscape. While the world has changed, the manifest fears that precipitated our own Civil War still resonate with us today.
Frank Scheck of the NY Post says, “The Rivalry is a powerful reminder that politics matter.”
Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe remarks “The Rivalry is an important piece of history, if only because it reminds us that as much as Lincoln and Douglas were rivals, they were Americans.”
Playwright, Norman Corwin is considered one of the greatest writers in the English language. Named America's “poet laureate of radio,” during the 1930's and 40's, he wrote and produced many of the most powerful and influential programs created for the media. Writing in many genres — history, biography, fantasy, fiction, poetry and drama, he was among the first to regularly use entertainment, even light entertainment, to tackle serious social issues. His stage plays, The Rivalry and The World of Carl Sandburg were produced on Broadway to great acclaim. His books include “Trivializing America,” and “Holes In A Stained Glass Window,” as well as his collected correspondence, and many books of his scripts and poetry. His screen adaptation of “Lust for Life,” Irving Stone’s biography of Van Gogh, won him an Oscar nomination. Norman Corwin won the One World Award, two Peabody Medals, an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a duPont-Columbia Award. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.
Appearing as Abraham Lincoln, veteran actor Kurt Rhoads just finished Merry Wives of Windsor at The Shakespeare Theatre where he has also played Clarence in Richard III and Antony in both Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. He appeared on Broadway in Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington and has performed extensively in regional theaters including Arena Stage, Old Globe, Trinity Rep and Dallas Theater Center among numerous others. Kurt has acted and directed for 16 seasons at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.
Appearing as Stephen Douglas, Stephen Paul Johnson is a veteran of fourteen seasons with New York's Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival where favorite roles have included Shylock, Prospero, Titus Andronicus, and Pericles. Other regional credits include Good (with William Hurt, American Conservatory Theatre); Henry V and Richard II (The Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C.); A Skull in Connemara (Denver Center Theatre Company); The Comedy of Errors (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Julius Caesar and Much Ado About Nothing (Alabama Shakespeare Festival) and Art (Capital Repertory Theatre). His television appearances include “Law and Order” and “Law and Order: SVU.”
Susannah Jones, who plays the role of Adele Douglas, has performed in the New York productions of Phantomwise at NYC Fringe, 7:32 at the NY Musical Theater Festival, and Death for Sydney Black at New Georges. Her most recent regional appearances included The Taming of the Shrew and Ernest in Love at The Texas Shakespeare Festival and Outloud! at the Blueberry Pond Ensemble.
Talk-backs with the cast, director and playwright will occur directly after the performances on October 11 and 18. For ticket information and purchase, call 518-822-9667, or visit www.stageworkshudson.org.
Stageworks’ 2012 season is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Ernest O’Reaugh Fund and the Shubert Foundation.
FACT SHEET - About the Artists
NORMAN CORWIN (Playwright)
Norman Corwin (1910 - 2011) is considered one of the greatest writers in the English language. Named America's “poet laureate of radio,” during the 1930's and 40's, he wrote and produced many of the most powerful and influential programs created for the media. Writing in many genres — history, biography, fantasy, fiction, poetry and drama, he was among the first to regularly use entertainment, even light entertainment, to tackle serious social issues. In this area he was a peer of Orson Welles and William N. Robson, and an inspiration to other later radio/TV writers such as Rod Serling, Gene Roddenberry, and Norman Lear.
Norman Corwin's stage plays, The Rivalry and The World of Carl Sandburg were produced on Broadway to great acclaim. His books include “Trivializing America,” and “Holes In A Stained Glass Window,” as well as his collected correspondence, and many books of his scripts and poetry. His screen adaptation of “Lust for Life,” Irving Stone’s biography of Van Gogh, won him an Oscar nomination. His television credits include his 1971 series “Norman Corwin Presents.” In the 1990s, he returned to radio with a series of new programs written and directed for National Public Radio. Now considered audio theater classics, the programs featured veteran actors William Shatner, Jack Lemmon, Charles Kuralt, Martin Landau, Hume Cronyn, Charles Durning, Samantha Eggar and many others.
Norman Corwin won the One World Award, two Peabody Medals, an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a duPont-Columbia Award. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1993. He had been an active faculty member at the University of Southern California where he had taught for 37 years until his death in 2011.
KURT RHOADS (Abraham Lincoln)
Kurt has just finished Merry Wives of Windsor at The Shakespeare Theatre. At The Shakespeare Theatre he has also appeared as Clarence in Richard III and Antony in both Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. Other regional credits: Arena Stage: How I Learned to Drive, Agamemnon and his Daughters; Old Globe Theatre: Dinner With Friends, Fiction; Dallas Theater Center: title role in Henry IV, pts. 1 & 2, Scrooge in Christmas Carol, Lewis in Dividing the Estate; Arvada Center for the Arts: Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons; Hudson Stage: Love Song. Other theatres: Pearl Theatre, Blue Heron, Arizona Theatre Co, Syracuse Stage, Denver Center, Playmakers’ Rep, Trinity Rep, San Jose Rep, Capitol Rep., 16 seasons acting and directing at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Broadway: Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington.
STEPHEN PAUL JOHNSON (Stephen Douglas)
Stephen is a veteran of fourteen seasons with New York's Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, where favorite roles have included Shylock, Prospero, Titus Andronicus, and Pericles, and where he first met and began working with Kurt Rhoads (Abraham Linclon). Other regional credits include Good (with William Hurt, American Conservatory Theatre); Henry V and Richard II (The Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C.); A Skull in Connemara (Denver Center Theatre Company); The Comedy of Errors (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Julius Caesar and Much Ado About Nothing (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); Art (Capital Repertory Theatre); The Taming of the Shrew (Pioneer Theatre Company); and a 9-month season with Florida's Asolo Theatre; as well as six years as artist-in-residence at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, Santa Maria, California. From 2003 to 2008 he appeared as Lt. Schrank in two different world tours of West Side Story. Television appearances include “Law and Order” and “Law and Order: SVU.”
SUSANNAH JONES (Adele Douglas)
Susannah’s NYC credits include Phantomwise at NYC Fringe, 7:32 at the NY Musical Theater Festival, and Death for Sydney Black at New Georges. Her most recent regional appearances included The Taming of the Shrew and Ernest in Love at The Texas Shakespeare Festival and Outloud! at the Blueberry Pond Ensemble. Other favorite roles include Rose in Enchanted April, and Claire in Boston Marriage. Susannah received a BFA in theater from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
LAURA MARGOLIS (Director)
Laura Margolis (Director) is the founder and Artistic Director of Stageworks/Hudson. Her directing credits for Stageworks include: Tomorrow In The Battle, Tennis In Nablus, The Amish Project, Imagining Madoff (premiere), Nowhere On The Border (world premiere), Car Talk (world premiere), Falling: A Wake (American premiere), A Wedding Story (American premiere), Dog Stories (world premiere) and many regional premieres such as Omnium Gatherum, Lebensraum, Gutenberg! The Musical!, Brutal Imagination and Wit. Highlighting her career are the plays she has directed for Stageworks' annual Play By Play festival of original one-acts. Regionally, she has directed at Capital Rep, Proctors, SUNY/Albany, among others. Laura has received the Certificate of Recognition from the Columbia County Board of Supervisors for providing original and creative opportunities to the community and the Columbia County Arts Award for Artist “for excellence in developing and fostering the arts in Columbia County.” She attended Brooklyn College's MFA in Arts Administration program and has taught as an adjunct professor of theater at SUNY/Albany.
The design team includes: Byron Nilsson, Sound Designer, Moe Schell, Costume Designer
Rita Carver, Set and Lighting Designer, Phillip Elman, Technical Director. The stage manager is Jennifer Schilansky.
Stageworks has established a reputation for its ambitious programming and adventurous productions. The company is especially known for producing the bold, risk-taking work of new dramatic voices. Central to its vision is Futures, an integrative program designed to move Stageworks to the forefront of new play development. Stageworks is both the experiment and the resource to infuse the whole life of the theater with a creative process that produces new ways of expressing, interpreting and sharing the human experience.
Stageworks is a member of Theatre Communications Group, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and Perform Columbia. It is the recipient of a Proctors Regional Arts Award inaugurated by Proctors Theatre in 2008 to honor the outstanding work of performing arts organizations. For four consecutive years, Stageworks was distinguished in Metroland Magazine as “Best Theater Company.” Stageworks is recipient of the Crystal Apple Award from the Chamber of Commerce for providing a positive effect both culturally and economically on the quality of life in our community.
Plays are for everyone, whether written by students, established authors or emerging dramatists. Theater illuminates expresses and interprets the human experience and profoundly serves as a global stage for social exchange and enrichment. Stageworks complements its main season with a series of programs to encourage and engage young people, traditional theatergoers and new audiences. Stageworks continues to actively take a leadership role in establishing the Hudson Valley as a cultural destination by exploring and expanding its reputation for developing new theatrical works, forms and programs.
Calendar of Events
Previews: October 3 and 4.
Opening: Friday, October 5
Closing: Sunday, October 21
Wednesday at 7:30 pm: October 3, October 10, October 17
Thursday at 7:30 pm: October 4, October 11, October 18
Friday at 8:00 pm: October 5, October 12, October 19
Saturday at 8:00 pm: October 6, October 13, October 20
Saturday Matinee at 2:00 pm: October 20
Sunday Matinee at 2:00 pm: October 7, October 14, October 21
Talk Backs with the cast post-performance: Thursdays October 11 and 18.
KURT RHOADS Abraham Lincoln
STEPHEN PAUL JOHNSON Stephen Douglas
SUSANNAH JONES Adele Douglas
with Everett Goldner, Molly Mermelstein, Dean Temple and Courtney Ward
Laura Margolis, Director, Artistic Director
Byron Nilsson, Sound Designer
Moe Schell, Costume Designer
Rita Carver, Set and Lighting Designer
Phillip Elman, Technical Director
Jennifer Schilansky, Stage Manager
For tickets or information, contact Stageworks by mail at 41-A Cross Street, Hudson, NY 12534 or call the box office at (518) 822-9667. For further information, visit the website at www.stageworkshudson.org.
Single ticket prices are:
$18 for preview performances
$24 for Weekdays, Matinees and Sundays
$29 for Friday and Saturday evening performances.
Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more and there are special rates for students and seniors.
Visit Stageworks' home page for more details at www.stageworkshudson.org.