SCHOOL PRODUCTION SPOTLIGHT: MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL
Students at Atlantic Acting School not only have the opportunity to train with industry professionals, but they also work directly with them on school productions. Moritz von Stuelpnagel, director of Hand To God which comes to Broadway next year, has been working with our Atlantic/NYU Studio third year students on Molière’s The Learned Ladies. The production opens Wednesday, November 19 and runs through Saturday, November 22 at Atlantic Stage 2, 330 West 16th Street. Tickets are $5 cash at the box office and can be reserved online.
Here’s what Moritz had to say about working with our students: “I’ve worked at a number of professional training programs, but I have to say that directing at the Atlantic is a particular pleasure. The students are well versed in analyzing text, speaking with clarity and rich point of view, and being front-footed in playing actions. By putting storytelling at the forefront of their work, they have great fluidity and wit. But also, the company building within each class has brought great ease and familiarity to the ensemble. They love to play together. These students are excited to work, and that enthusiasm has made them tirelessly creative. Not only that, but I think the positive spirit has allowed the comedy in this production to flourish, even without compromising the integrity of their characters.”
And a few notes about the production: “When Moliere originally wrote The Learned Ladies, he was out to lambast the French salon. But of course, that kind of cultural phenomenon is a little antiquated to a contemporary audience. So we’ve chosen to modernize the play by setting it in present day Orange County, California. The original emphasis on philosophy and rising above the physical plane translates to modern day fixations on new age spirituality. Meditation, yoga, pretentious book clubs, juice cleanses, metaphysics. Not that any of these things are without their good qualities, but I suspect we all know people who take them way too seriously and consequently fall into a sense of superiority. These are the new signifiers of erudition for today’s leisure class. That, to me, make them worthy fodder for satire. And I have to say, the cast has whole heartedly embraced this concept and taken particular joy in ridiculing it, even when they may have sometimes participated in the above activities themselves. Plus, forgoing period dress, including corsets and the like, has allowed this to be a distinctly physical and fast-paced production. It’s accessible, sly fun.”
More about Moritz: Moritz von Stuelpnagel is the Artistic Director of Studio 42, New York’s producer of “unproducible” plays. His production of Robert Askins’ Hand to God received acclaimed runs at MCC Theater and Ensemble Studio Theatre, and will transfer to Broadway in March. The show was named one of the best productions of the year by New York Magazine, Time Out, and the Huffington Post, and earned four Lortel Award nominations (including Outstanding Director), an SDC Joe A. Callaway nomination for directing, and won the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for best new play. Other recent New York productions include Mike Lew’s Bike America at Ma-Yi Theatre, Nick Jones’ Trevor at Lesser America, Robert Askins’ Love Song of the Albanian Sous Chef and Daniel Reitz’s Turnabout both at EST, Mel & El: Show & Tell at Ars Nova, Gary Sunshine’s Best Sex Ever at Rising Phoenix Rep, and Adam Szymkowicz’sMy Base and Scurvy Heart, Michael Mitnick’s Spacebar, Timothy Charles Browne’s The Most Lamentable and Tragical Historie of the Barber-Surgeons, and Clay McLeod Chapman’s friendly fireall at Studio 42. Regionally, his work has been seen at the Alliance, Williamstown, Kennedy Center, Millbrook Playhouse, American Stage Festival, Red Barn, Allentown Shakespeare, and Boston Playwrights. He has helped develop new plays at the Lark, Lincoln Center, MTC, NYTW, Playwrights Horizons, Roundabout, Vineyard, Williamstown, Huntington, Primary Stages, EST, Page 73, Dramatists Guild, Ars Nova, Ma-Yi, New River Dramatists, Partial Comfort, 2G, Apothetae, TBTB, APAC, Goethe Institute, Southampton Writers Conference, Studio 42, TerraNOVA Collective, and Young Playwrights. He has served as a guest director at more than a dozen universities, including Juilliard, Rutgers, Fordham, Strasberg Institute, Boston University, and the University of Rochester. Coming up: All Is Calm (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), Verité (Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3), Hand to God (Broadway’s Booth Theatre). www.moritzvs.com