The Paramount Theater is welcoming back the acclaimed New York City theater company Bedlam for two off-site shows this weekend.
Bedlam won raves in 2012 when it performed George Bernard Shaw’s, “Saint Joan,” with a tiny budget and just four actors playing more than 25 roles.
The play tells the story of 15th century French military hero, Joan of Arc, a peasant girl who rises to power after claiming to hear voices from God, but who is ultimately burned at the stake on charges of heresy.
Eric Tucker, the group’s artistic director, says they’re reworking the play for an upcoming national tour. Audiences will be able to see a special workshop performance 7:30 Friday evening at the Burnham Hollow Orchard Barn in Middletown Springs.
“What’s beautiful about it is it’s a big play,” says Tucker. “It’s usually done with a huge cast, pageantry, lots of costumes and armor and things like that. And you rarely get to see a show like this in a tiny, tiny setting where we’re all in the same room and you’re just listening to this text.”
Previously, Tucker says they performed "Saint Joan" with three men and one woman. While he and Edmund Lewis will reprise their roles, he says they’re experimenting with how to cast the national tour and this weekend's show will add two new female actors, Susannah Millonzi and Zuzanna Szadkowski to the performance.
Millonzi plays Joan and Szadkowski plays a number of roles, which Szadkowski calls wonderfully challenging.
“I’m all over the place,” she laughs. “So one of the things here is in this quick process not only cracking the text and going over the scene work, but trying to discover who these various people are in a very short amount of time.”
Szadkowski says playing opposite Tucker and Lewis, who’ve performed the play so often, is both exciting and scary.
“I almost feel like the before to their after,” she says. “But I think that it’s going to be cool for an audience because they’re seeing someone who’s just in the beginning stages of developing the work, while also watching actors who’ve had much more time to develop their characters.”
Szadkowski says the wonderful thing about acting is holding the pages of a script and figuring the nuances out. “These kind of classic texts, these big stories that people know, and really looking at the moments and thinking about who are the human beings inside, and how are they talking to each other, and what are they talking about.”
Standing inside the barn where the actors have been rehearsing this past week and will perform this weekend, she says it’s a treat to work in such an intimate setting.
“And as an actor you don’t get away with anything, and that’s cool. I’m going to be extra vulnerable and that’s exciting.”
Besides "Saint Joan," Bedlam will perform a Sunday matinee workshop performance of “Kind Man Man Kind,” at 4 p.m.
It’s a work currently being developed by Kimberly Pau, the group’s managing director, about four older men and four younger men embarking on a rite of passage in rural Texas.
Tucker says it’s never been performed before and he believes it's particularly timely considering the climate the country is in right now. “There are a lot of themes about masculinity and what it is to be a man and be a leader and how to balance your inner feminine and masculine and fear of the other.”
While the Paramount Threatre is sponsoring both shows, performances will be off-site in Middletown Springs at the Burnham Hollow Orchard Barn. Seating is limited to 80 and will be given on a first come first serve basis.
Paramount Director Bruce Bouchard says because of the language and sexual situations portrayed, "Kind Man Man Kind", is not suitable for children.