Long Wharf Theatre will present Split Knuckle Theatre’s production of Endurance to begin its 2014 Summer Season.
The performances will take place June 17-29, 2014 on Long Wharf Theatre’s Stage II. Tickets are $55 with student discounts available.
The piece was devised and performed by Jason Bohon, Andrew Grusetskie, Michael Toomey, and Greg Webster. The creative team includes Nick Ryan (collaborating writer), Ken Clark (musical composition), Dan Rousseau (lighting), and Carmen Torres (stage manager.)
The year is 1914. Trapped in Antarctica with no hope of rescue, the great British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton kept 27 men alive for two years in the most inhospitable climate on Earth. Ninety-five years later, in the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression, Hartford insurance man Walter Spivey, struggling to justify his recent promotion and save his employees’ jobs, relives Shackleton’s story. Can one of the greatest leaders in human history inspire Walter to save his men ? The internationally acclaimed Split Knuckle Theatre Company presents this funny, physical and moving exploration of how the human spirit can conquer any obstacle with wit, humor, and invention.
Endurance continues to travel the world and tour to great acclaim. When performed at Shakespeare and Company in the Berkshires in 2012, Berkshire on Stage said “people should not hesitate to go and be entertained. And enlightened. And amazed.” Curtain Up said “The members of the phenomenal quartet … have created this poignantly and hilarious, sometimes bordering on zany, examination of what it means to overcome life’s obstacles no matter the time period.
Split Knuckle Theatre formed in 2005 in London England, beginning with an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, which received a 5-Star review from The Scotsman at Edinburgh Festival. Since that time they have traveled and performed in 19 different counties and across the United States.
Greg Webster, a New Haven resident and University of Connecticut professor in Movement Theatre, said the ensemble are all trained in method of collaboration and creation of the French theatrical artist Jacques Lecoq, whose physical techniques inspired works like Sleep No More and War Horse. Endurance was inspired by two things, Webster said: a dream in which he saw a business man being swallowed by a photocopier, and his long admiration of the unique heroics of explorer Ernest Shackleton. These two ideas taken in tandem prompted a series of improvisations and exploration that resulted in the play.
Working at a residency at UConn in 2008, Webster encouraged actors, musicians and writers to all be together in the rehearsal room at the same time, exploring different ideas using their respective disciplines. They would then improvise based on a theme, and writers would then create scenes based on their improvisations. The end results went through a rigorous editing process “Theatre has to do something different from television and film,” Webster said. “It has to engage the imagination.”
Webster said that Split Knuckle is planning to make its permanent home here in New Haven and the company is currently at work creating two new devised pieces, which will be released in the spring of 2015.
For more information about Split Knuckle Theatre, visit www.splitknuckletheatre.org.
— Steve Scarpa