To coincide with the ongoing presidential campaign, the Huntington Theatre Company will stage the American premiere of Now or Later, Christopher Shinn's timely political drama about our freedoms. Drama Desk and Outer Critic's Circle Award winner Michael Wilson, who recently helmed the acclaimed Broadway production of Gore Vidal's presidential drama The Best Man, directs the new production.
"I am so thrilled to be directing Chris's play at this moment," says Wilson, "as it directly explores how Americans defend a core principle – freedom of expression – in the face of violence sparked by the mockery of another society's faith. As we begin rehearsals, I am profoundly struck by the recent tragic events in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen sparked by ridicule of Muhammad. The incendiary event of this play is perceived similarly – only the perpetrator in Now or Later is the son of the President-elect. Chris's play puts these events in a fuller context, affording our audience the opportunity to explore more fully what is at stake in these complex clashes of culture, government, and faith."
The play takes place in real time in a hotel room on election night as the returns are being announced. The gay son of the favored presidential candidate sends his father's team into crisis mode when controversial photos of him at a college party dressed as the prophet Muhammad and accompanied by a friend dressed as the ultra-conservative "Pastor Bob" spread over the internet, potentially sparking an international incident. Quickly, the son must wrestle to explain his motives and personal beliefs about freedoms of religion and expression to members of his father's campaign team, his mother, and ultimately his father.
"Experiencing Now or Later at the height of election season adds an extra twist to this provocative tale of political fiction," says Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. "I'm proud we are producing the US debut of this play that was such a success at London's Royal Court and that we're introducing Huntington audiences to the fine work of Christopher Shinn and Michael Wilson."
Shinn wrote Now or Later as a commission for London's Royal Court in 2008. The production was extended and became the American dramatist's biggest UK hit. "Now or Later was written at a very specific time, both for the world and in my life, and returning to it four years later is fascinating for me," says Shinn. "On the political level, seeing what has changed – both substantially and superficially – has strengthened my sense of what's timeless about the play's questions (and lack of answers). On the personal level, the characters' yearnings and maneuverings feel even murkier to me. To revisit the play is to face what I believed then, what I believe now, and what I suspect I might believe in the future."
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
· Michael Goldsmith (Matt, John's good friend): Clybourne Park (London's West End and Royal Court Theatre) and Six Degrees of Separation (The Old Vic);
· Ryan King (Marc, a campaign staffer): Eurydice (Second Stage Theatre), Goodbye New York, Goodbye Heart (HERE);
· Tom Nelis (John, Sr., a presidential candidate): Enron on Broadway, The Broken Heart (Theatre for a New Audience);
· Adriane Lenox (Tracy, a campaign staffer): Doubt (Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Featured Actress) and Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway;
· Grant MacDermott (John, Jr.): Emerson College graduate, Mister Roberts (New Repertory Theatre), The Great American Trailer Park Musical (SpeakEasy Stage Company); and
· Alexandra Neil (Jessica, John, Sr.'s wife): Rock 'n Roll and Match on Broadway