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Critically Acclaimed Director Returns for One-Night Staged Reading at Darien Arts Center

posted Feb 11, 2016, 1:31 PM by Darien Arts Center   [ updated Feb 11, 2016, 1:39 PM ]
In recognition of the 400-year legacy of Shakespeare’s work, critically acclaimed director Mark Graham returns to the Darien Arts Center to portray a stunning tale of intrigue based on real political events involving Shakespeare in a plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I. Shakespeare and the Heart’s Desire, written by Mary Jane Schaefer is being produced for the first time by DAC Stage and marks the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death. The one-night staged reading takes place on February 27 at 8 p.m.

Mark Graham has received glowing reviews from critics and audiences, as well as a nomination for Best Director of a Play in the On Stage Critic Awards, for the recent DAC Stage production of God of Carnage. He has directed over 100 plays and musicals, has an MFA in directing from the University of Connecticut, and has extensive experience directing in both Manhattan and throughout the country. He has partnered with Schaefer over the years, developing characterization and plot structure in her Shakespearean plays. “It is very gratifying to direct this exciting work. It is full of surprises and romance, while capturing the political climate of the time. And, it gives us an inside look at an unknown side of Shakespeare, his life and his loves,” said Graham.

Graham has served on the boards of Playhouse on the Green and the Westport Country Playhouse, and is a former president and board member of The Theatre Artists Workshop. He was long-time producing partner of the late Tony Award-winning producer Lester Osterman, and was general manager of Lucille Lortel's White Barn Theater in Westport, CT. He is also one of the founding members of the Downtown Cabaret Theater in Bridgeport.

Shakespeare and the Heart’s Desire, the third part of a trilogy by Schaefer, explores the little known life of Shakespeare, the man, his love and his politics. It uncovers his political side and tells of an amazing and true event: his dangerous involvement in a plot to overthrow the Throne of England. We get a peek at the power and magic hidden in his plays, which were strong enough to shake the foundations of the British Monarchy, to incite riots and inspire a revolution. Schaefer’s previous works in the trilogy have received critical acclaim with the first of the series honored by the New American Playwrights Project and produced at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 2014. Both were performed at Manhattan's prestigious National Arts Club.

Regional veteran actors join the stellar cast of the DAC production: Larry Reina, John O’Hern, Damien Langan, Tom Zingarelli, Allan Zeller, Joe Maker, Richard Weidlich, Scott Bruno, Betty Jinnette, Emilie Roberts and Marca Leigh. Reservations are not necessary for the performance, which has a suggested donation of $10. The DAC is located at 2 Renshaw Road, behind the Darien Town Hall. For more information call (203) 655-8683.