NT Live's "All's Well That Ends Well" at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts - Live on October 1


Image: All's WellShakespeare's "All's Well That Ends Well," Marianne Elliott's "wonderfully rich and rewarding" (Daily Telegraph) production, will be transmitted live via satellite from the National Theatre, London on Thursday, Oct. 1 and exhibited live at 2 p.m. (EDT) at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University. The Quick Center will rebroadcast the performance in the evening of Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.

The program includes pre-show interviews and the theatre opens one half hour prior to the start of the play to compliment the full live experience. Tickets for reserved seating are $22 for adults, $18 for Quick Center members, $20 for seniors and $15 for students and children.

"All's Well That Ends Well" is the second play in the pilot season of NT Live, the National's new initiative that launched in June with the hugely successful broadcast of "Phèdre" with Helen Mirren, which was seen by 50,000 people in 19 countries around the globe. "Phèdre" was broadcast at the Quick Center for the Arts in July. "All's Well That Ends Well" will be the first play broadcast from the largest of the National's three theatres, the Olivier, with its fan-shaped auditorium and open stage.

Set against a background of sexism, snobbery and a battle between the generations, "All's Well That Ends Well" turns fairytale logic on its head in a wondrous, bittersweet story.

The feisty but lowly Helena falls in love with Bertram, a haughty count. To gain his hand she is set a string of impossible tasks. Even if accomplished, they can hardly guarantee his love. He refuses to bed her and yet says he'll only be hers if she bears his child; and he lusts after another. Nevertheless, our heroine, whether wisely or no, refuses to give him up.

The cast is led by Oliver Ford Davies (the King of France), Clare Higgins (the Countess of Rossillion), Conleth Hill (Parolles), George Rainsford (Bertram) and Michelle Terry (Helena).
"I chose to direct 'All's Well That Ends Well' partly because it's quite rarely done and I'd never seen it," says director Elliott, who also co-directed the National's smash hit "War Horse" (now in London's West End). "It's often referred to as one of Shakespeare's 'problem plays,' but I think Helena is a very modern heroine in many ways; here is a girl who's relentlessly pursuing a boy who just isn't interested in her. It really divides audiences; everybody has a different opinion about whose side they are on."

Elliott and the designer Rae Smith created a fairytale setting with echoes of Jan Pienkowski's silhouette illustrations and Mervyn Peake's fantastical drawings for "Gormenghast," the popular BBC television fantasy series.

"All's Well That Ends Well" begins like a fairy-tale; somebody goes on a quest, cures a king and should earn their spouse and a "happy-ever-after" ending," says Elliott.

"But unfortunately that person is a girl and the man she chooses does not want to marry her; that's where our fairytale starts getting complicated. The story comes from an archetypal world with characters we all understand, but Shakespeare keeps twisting the plot, fleshing out the characters and making them more complex and human. He's constantly juxtapositioning harsh reality against a conventional fairytale background."

The next NT Live play in the series, "Nation," is adapted by Mark Ravenhill from the novel by Terry Pratchett and is a world premiere. It will be broadcast live to the Quick Center on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010. The final play in the NT Live pilot series, Tony Award winner ("The History Boys") Alan Bennett's new play, "The Habit of Art" with Michael Gambon, Alex Jennings and Frances de la Tour, will be broadcast live to the Quick Center on Thursday, April 22 with an encore performance on Thursday, April 29.

Tickets are available at fairfield.edu/quick or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 877-ARTS-396. Visit the website for more information, fairfield.edu/quick.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 2, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 44