“It’s wanting to know that makes us matter,” says one of the characters in Arcadia, Tom Stoppard’s luminous comedy of ideas. In this profound, funny, moving, Olivier Award-winning masterpiece, Stoppard explores the great mysteries of science and art, and illuminates the very human desire for making connections – intellectual, romantic, and physical. Arcadia opens at Palm Beach Dramaworks on March 31 and continues through April 30, with specially priced previews on March 29 and 30.
Set in Sidley Park, Derbyshire, the stately home of the Coverlys,Arcadia begins in 1809 and travels between the early nineteenth century and the late twentieth century. At the start of the play, 13-year-old Thomasina Coverly, brilliant and precocious, is trying to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem, but is distracted by the sexual dalliances occurring on the grounds of the estate and eager to learn about “carnal embrace.” In the twentieth century, the characters try to solve the mystery of what took place at Sidley Park all those years ago. With great wit and elegance, Stoppard probes a range of ideas including romanticism vs. classicism, art vs. science, order and disorder, literature, landscape architecture, math, physics, and matters of the heart.
PBD’s production of Arcadia is directed by J. Barry Lewis and features Caitlin Cohn as Thomasina Coverly (PBD debut), Ryan Zachary Ward as Septimus Hodge (PBD debut), Cliff Burgess as Ezra Chater, Margery Lowe as Lady Croom, Gary Cadwallader as Captain Brice, Dan Leonard as Jellaby, James Andreassi as Richard Noakes (PBD debut), Vanessa Morosco as Hannah Jarvis (PBD debut), Arielle Fishman as Chloë Coverly (PBD debut), Peter Simon Hilton as Bernard Nightingale (PBD debut), Britt Michael Gordon as Valentine Coverly (PBD debut), and Casey Butler as Augustus Coverly and Gus Coverly. Scenic design is by Anne Mundell (PBD debut), costume design is by Brian O’Keefe, lighting design is by Donald Edmund Thomas, and sound design is by Steve Shapiro.
Arcadia premiered at London’s National Theatre on April 13, 1993, and was first staged in the United States in March, 1995 at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Both productions were directed by Trevor Nunn, but featured entirely different casts. The original American cast included Lisa Banes, Blair Brown, Billy Crudup, Victor Garber, Paul Giamatti, and Robert Sean Leonard.
Tom Stoppard, whose love of the English language and delicious wordplay is apparent in every play he’s written, spoke Czech before he spoke English. He was born Tomás Straüssler in 1937 in Zlin, Czechoslovakia, and fled with his family to Singapore on March 15,1939, the day the Nazis invaded his homeland. He left Singapore with his mother and brother prior to the Japanese occupation, while his father, a doctor, stayed behind to work as a British army volunteer and was subsequently killed. The family spent most of the war years in India, where his mother met and married British army major Kenneth Stoppard. They moved to England in 1946.
Rather than pursue a college education, Stoppard became a journalist and theatre critic. He began writing plays for radio and television in 1963, and his career took off in 1967, when the National Theatre staged Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which had premiered a year earlier at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Broadway production earned him his first Tony Award in 1968. Among his other best-known works are The Real Inspector Hound, Jumpers, Artist Descending a Staircase, Travesties (Tony Award), Night and Day, The Real Thing (Tony Award), Indian Ink, The Invention of Love, The Coast of Utopia (Tony Award), and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Stoppard was knighted in 1997.
Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Florida Professional Theatres Association, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.
The performance schedule of Arcadia is as follows: Evening performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8PM, and select Sundays at 7PM. Matinee performances are on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2PM. Post-performance discussions follow Wednesday matinee and Sunday evening performances. Individual tickets are $66, with specially priced preview tickets at $46 and Opening Night tickets at $81. Student tickets are available for $10; tickets for educators are half price with proper ID (other restrictions apply). Group rates for 20 or more and discounted season subscriptions are also available.
The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information contact the box office at (561) 514-4042, or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.
Palm Beach Dramaworks Presents Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. The production starts on March 31 and continues through April 30. Learn more about it here.