Austin Shakespeare will present the New York premiere of the new stage adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel Anthem. The production directed by Ann Ciccolella originated in Austin at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in 2011, where Austin Shakespeare is a resident company. Previews are to begin September 25at the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Jerome Robbins Theater in New York City – opening October 4and running for a ten week run through December 1, 2013.
Adapted for the stage by Jeff Britting, composer and curator of the Ayn Rand Archives, Anthem is the story of a young man, EQUALITY 7-2521, who is born into a future world that has banished all individuality. Not satisfied with a world lighted by candles, EQUALITY fosters his love of discovery in an abandoned subway, a relic of the past. In solitude, EQUALITY rediscovers electricity and a new source of light. Above ground he meets and falls in love with LIBERTY 5-3000, committing a further “sin of preference.”
This production also brings to the New York stage Austin Shakespeare’s resident designer, Jason Amato who has won numerous Critics Table and Payne Awards in Austin. Artistic Director, Ann Ciccolella said, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring our work to a national audience, and especially to feature the imaginative creative lighting that framed the show in such an innovative design. Amato’s work has been seen on Broadway for the Flaming Idiots at the New Victory Theater.
When The Austin Shakespeare theatre company produced Anthem in 2011, the show generated sold-out and added performances. Austin audiences participated in lively post-show discussions, and theatergoers came from other parts of the U.S. and abroad. Austin Shakespeare looks forward to the transfer engagement off-Broadway at the Baryshnikov Arts Center.
Originally conceived as a play while Rand was a Soviet university student, Anthem the book was written in the summer of 1937, during a break Rand took from the writing of her novel The Fountainhead. Anthem was written in America and published in England in 1938. Since its full American publication in 1961, the work has sold more than 5 million copies. As reported in 2011, Anthem was the most popular adult novel checked out of the New York Public Library system. The novel remains a favorite among youth and is the subject of the most popular high school essay contest in the world with more than 30,000 entries annually. Anthem’s Off-Broadway staging coincides with the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the novel’s publication.
The principle ethical issue in Anthem—and of our time—is individualism versus collectivism.
Is the individual the primary element of society, or is the group the basis of society? And poses the questions: do individuals have the right to think and choose their own goals in life—and pursue their own happiness? Or do the wishes of society determine the goals of individual lives—and is service to others the primary moral obligation among men?
Austin Shakespeare is the only professional classical theater company in Central Texas. A non-profit professional theater company, Austin Shakespeare operates under an Actors Equity Small Professional Theater contract. A Resident Company of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin Shakespeare presents a season of plays by Shakespeare and other playwrights. This season includes The Belle of Amherst, based on the life of Emily Dickinson, and Shakespeare’s Othello.
ANTHEM starts previews September 25 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Jerome Robbins Theatre in New York City. Opening on October 4 Anthem will run through December 1, 2013. Tickets are available through: www.AnthemthePlay.com or by phone at 212-352-3101. The Baryshnikov Arts Center is located at 450 W 37th Street between 9th & 10th Avenues. Ticket prices range from $50-$69.