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Bard SummerScape 2014 premieres Booker Prize-winner Banville’s “Love in the Wars”

Bard SummerScape festival in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, is thrilled to present the world premiere of Love in the Wars, an adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist’s romantic drama Penthesilea by the Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville. Starring Obie Award-winner Birgit Huppuch and One Life to Live’s Chris Stack, Bard’s premiere production is by Ken Rus Schmoll, the Obie Award-winning director “whose name attached to a show most warms us with optimism” (Village Voice). Representing a fresh, playful, and earthy take on Kleist’s original, Love in the Wars will be presented in ten performances between July 10 and 20 (with the official opening on July 12) in Theater Two of the Fisher Center, designed by Frank Gehry and celebrated since its opening as a major architectural landmark, on Bard’s glorious Hudson Valley campus.

As in previous years, SummerScape is keyed to the theme of the Bard Music Festival, now celebrating its 25th anniversary season with an exploration of “Schubert and His World.” The German poet, dramatist and novelist Heinrich von Kleist (1777–1811) – Schubert’s close contemporary – is now recognized as “by far the most important North German dramatist of the Romantic movement” (Encyclopedia Brittanica), yet his work was all but forgotten until its early 20th-century rehabilitation by such luminaries as Rilke, Kafka, and Thomas Mann. Kleist’s undisputed masterpiece is Penthesilea, drawn loosely from Homer, which recounts the meeting between its eponymous heroine, the Queen of the Amazons, and the Greek hero Achilles; the ferocity of her passion collides with his stubborn will, setting in motion a tragicomedy of love and misunderstanding that threatens to derail the course of history.

Receiving its world premiere at Bard, Love in the Wars offers a fresh take on Penthesilea at the hand of esteemed author John Banville, whose numerous honors include the 2005 Man Booker Prize for his 14th novel, The Sea, as well as the 1989 Guinness Peat Aviation award, the 2011 Franz Kafka Prize, the 2013 Irish PEN Award, and the 2013 Austrian State Prize for European Literature. Banville is also the creator of eight “lovely and luminous” (New York Times) best-selling mystery novels written under the pseudonym Benjamin Black. Kleist’s lucid prose has long exerted a profound influence on the Irish novelist, who is considered “one of the great stylists writing in English today” (Boston Globe). A production of Banville’s adaptation of another Kleist play, The Broken Jug, prompted Theatre Journal to conclude: “While the illumination certainly has at its core Kleist’s own genius, he is served with tremendous flourish by his adapter.

Bard’s world premiere presentation of Love in the Wars is the creation of two-time Obie Award-winner Ken Rus Schmoll – hailed as “adventurous” and “inventive” by the New York Times – who makes his SummerScape debut after a string of recent Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway successes. Birgit Huppuch, a “bona fide tour de force” (New York Times), whose previous collaborations with the director include her Obie Award-winning Off-Broadway turn in Telephone, stars as the Amazon queen Penthesilea. Opposite her, as her prisoner-of-war Achilles, is Chris Stack, best-known as Dr. Michael McBain on ABC’s One Life to Live and for his recent stage work at Soho Rep and Playwrights Horizons. Jeffrey Binder, now appearing on TV’s Damages and recently in Broadway’s Tony Award-winning The Lion King, portrays Greek general Odysseus, alongside Chad Goodridge, a breakout talent in Broadway’s Passing Strange, as Greek warrior Diomedes, and “acting standout” (Broadway World) KeiLyn Durrel Jones as their leader, Agamemnon. Karen Pittman, as seen on TV’s House of Cards and The Americans, plays the queen’s confidante, Prothoe, with “the always suberb” (Village Voice) Karen Kandel – fresh from Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information at New York Theatre Workshop – as the Amazon High Priestess. Opportunities to meet the artists for post-performance discussion will be provided after the matinees on July 13 and 16 .

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SummerScape’s theatrical track record is a stellar one. Last season, when the festival premiered an original stage adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s seminal novel The Master and Margarita from visionary Hungarian director János Szász, Time Out New York pronounced it “a radically re-imagined stage version of the Bulgakov classic,” which successfully captured “the dark electricity that emanates from the classic itself, the tingle of being an innocent reader trapped between two magnetic poles.”

Theater at Bard SummerScape 2014

World premiere of Love in the Wars (2005)
Adaptation by John Banville (b.1945)
after Penthesilea (1808) by Heinrich von Kleist (1777–1811)
Penthesilea: Birgit Huppuch
Achilles: Chris Stack
Odysseus: Jeffrey Binder
Diomedes: Chad Goodridge
Agamemnon: KeiLyn Jones
High Priestess: Karen Kandel
Prothoe: Karen Pittman
Antilochus: Michael Schantz
Asteria: Stacey Yen
Greeks:        Harrison Beer (Bard College, Class of 2014)
Antonio Irizarry (Bard College, Class of 2016)
Amazons:    Hannah Mitchell (Bard College, Class of 2013)
Claire Thompson (Bard College, Class of 2014)
Artistic team:
Director: Ken Rus Schmoll
Set designer: Marsha Ginsberg
Costume designer: Oana Botez
Lighting designer: Tyler Micoleau
Sound designer: Leah Gelpe
Fight director: Thomas Schall

Thursday, July 10 at 7:30pm (Preview)
Friday, July 11 at 7:30pm (Preview)
Saturday, July 12 at 7:30pm (Official Opening)*
Sunday, July 13 at 2pm *
Wednesday, July 16 at 2pm
Thursday, July 17 at 7:30pm
Friday, July 18 at 7:30pm
Saturday, July 19 at 2pm
Saturday, July 19 at 7:30pm
Sunday, July 20 at 2pm *

(Tickets: $25–$50)
* Round-trip bus service from Manhattan is provided exclusively to ticket-holders for the performances on July 12, 13, & 20. A reservation is required, and may be made by calling the box office at 845-758-7900 or by selecting this option when purchasing tickets. The new, lower round-trip fare is $20, and the bus departs from Lincoln Center at 4pm (July 12) and 10:30am (July 13 & 20). Visit for more information.

SummerScape theater performances are held in Theater Two in Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and celebrated since its opening as a major architectural landmark in the region.

SummerScape 2014: other key performance dates by genre

Bard Music Festival, Weekend One: “The Making of a Romantic Legend” (Aug 8–10)
Bard Music Festival, Weekend Two: “A New Aesthetics of Music” (Aug 15–17)
* Round-trip transportation from Manhattan to Bard is available for certain performances on August 8, 10, 15, and 17. The round-trip fare is $20 and reservations are required; see further details below.

Carl Maria von Weber: Euryanthe
Sosnoff Theater
July 25* and Aug 1 at 7pm
July 27, 30, and Aug 3 at 2pm
Tickets start at $25

Franz Schubert: Die Verschworenen
Franz von Suppé: Franz Schubert (1864)
Sosnoff Theater
Aug 10 at 5:30pm* (BMF Program 6)
Tickets start at $25
Franz Schubert: Fierrabras
Sosnoff Theater
Aug 17 at 4:30pm* (BMF Program 12)
Tickets start at $25

“Schubert and the Long 19th Century”
Thursdays and Sundays July 3 to August 3 at 7pm
Ottaway Film Center
Tickets: $10

Live Music, Cabaret, Festival Dining, and After Hours salon
Dates, Times, and Prices vary

SummerScape opera, theater, and dance performances and most Bard Music Festival programs are held in the Sosnoff Theater or Theater Two in Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and celebrated since its opening as a major architectural landmark in the region. Some chamber programs and other BMF events are in Olin Hall. The Spiegeltent has its own schedule of events, in addition to serving as a restaurant, café, and bar before and after performances. Film Series screenings are at the Jim Ottaway Jr. Film Center in the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Center.

New York City Round-Trip Bus Transportation:
To make a reservation on the round-trip SummerScape coach provided exclusively to ticket holders for specific performances indicated by * in the listings above, call the box office at 845-758-7900 or select this option when purchasing tickets. The new, lower round-trip fare is $20 and reservations are required. The coach departs from behind Lincoln Center, on Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Street. Bus departure time will be included on the ticket order receipt, or visit

Bard SummerScape Ticket Information

For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit Fisher Center members receive priority access to the best seats in advance, and those who join the Center’s email list receive advance booking opportunities as well as regular news and updates.

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