Media Contact:
Connie Di Grazie, mdigraz@artist.uncsa.edu, 336/770-1240


UNCSA Drama Dean Gerald Freedman To Direct Psychodrama
About Acting Dynasty

WINSTON-SALEM – Booth, Austin Pendleton’s searing play about the legendary theatrical dynasty of the great tragedian Junius Booth, will open next week on the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) campus.

The play will be presented at 8 p.m. April 15-17 and April 21-24, and at 2 p.m. April 18 and 24 in the Catawba Theatre of Performance Place on the UNCSA campus, 1533 South Main St., Winston-Salem. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Call the UNCSA Box Office at 336-721-1945 for reservations, or to purchase tickets online, visit: www.uncsa.edu/performances.

Hailed as a great Shakespearean actor in his native England (yet in the shadow of Edmund Kean), Booth in 1821 left his family for America, where he built his new career on bringing Shakespeare to the new nation. He fathered several children with his mistress, including Edwin and John Wilkes (the eventual and infamous assassin to Abraham Lincoln).

Junius Booth (Alex Hoeffler, left) teaches his son Edwin (Brandon Harris) the art of acting in BOOTH, directed by Gerald Freedman, running April 15-24 at UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. Photo by A. Aycock

Pendleton’s psychodrama focuses on the alcoholic and increasingly eccentric Junius Booth, a star in the last years of his career, and son Edwin, a star on the rise. As the story unfolds, Edwin develops his own theories about their shared craft, and the tale moves into a much darker Oedipal struggle between father and son. In the end, Edwin wins supremacy of the 19th century American stage, marking a monumental shift in the style of acting – from formalism to naturalism.

School of Drama Dean Gerald Freedman will direct college seniors (Studio IV) through the shadowy journey of Junius Booth’s troubled existence.  Freedman has staged more than two dozen of Shakespeare’s plays along with dozens of other world classics. He has served as a leading director and artistic director of Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival, artistic director of the American Shakespeare Theatre, co-artistic director of John Houseman’s The Acting Company, and artistic director of the Great Lakes Theater Festival. He was the first American director invited to direct at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

Best known as an actor and director, Austin Pendleton debuted as a playwright in the early 1990s with Booth, followed by Uncle Bob and Orson’s Shadow. He has been seen on Broadway in The Diary of Anne Frank , Fiddler on the Roof and Grand Hotel; in films including WHAT’S UP DOC?, THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES, GUARDING TESS, CATCH 22 and FINDING NEMO; and in television including Frasier, The West Wing, and St. Elsewhere. For the Broadway stage, he directed The Runner Stumbles, Spoils of War, and Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes.

Pendleton will be at UNCSA for the performance of his play. He and Dean Freedman are friends, having met during the run (1962-63) of Oh Dad, Poor Dad… at the Phoenix Theatre in New York. Pendleton was in the production, which was directed by Jerome Robbins and assistant directed by Gerald Freedman.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of the Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from middle school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. UNCSA is located at 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.