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THE NEW YORKER – Rebecca Hall made her New York stage début, in 2005, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, playing Rosalind in “As You Like It,” and if you were lucky enough to see her in the role it is unlikely that you have forgotten the experience. Hall, who was twenty-three at the time, exquisitely conveyed the sometimes tremulous combination of knowingness and naïveté that characterizes Rosalind, Shakespeare’s most winning comic heroine. Hall’s performance felt perfectly naturalistic—her Rosalind was absolutely real and present—and, at the same time, her delivery showed an adept grasp of Shakespearean verse: if you knew and loved Rosalind’s lines, it was thrilling to hear the subtlety with which Hall delivered them. It also did not hurt that Hall looked perfect for the part: like Rosalind, Hall is “more than common tall,” which meant that she was able to stand eye to eye and equal to equal with Orlando, her eventual beloved, played by a promising newcomer named Dan Stevens.

The production also showed the mastery of its director, Sir Peter Hall, the founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the former head of London’s National Theatre, and Rebecca Hall’s father. Given Shakespeare’s dramatic fascination with the relations between fathers and their offspring, and with the complicated questions of lineage and inheritance, the casting choice looked less like nepotism and more like a fruitful artistic convergence. “My father was a real Shakespearean fascist, in that he had a view about how it should be done, in terms of how you speak the verse,” Hall recalled recently. “But, at the same time, he taught me that, instead of being restrictive, understanding how to play the verse gives up the meaning. Like, if you have a breath at the end of a line and the sentence isn’t complete, then you’ve got to find a reason why there’s a pause for thought there. And your reason is what gives you interpretation. So within those parameters, he gave me complete freedom.” Hall’s key to unlocking the character of Rosalind was in identifying the character’s trepidation—the fear experienced by someone who is cognizant of the demands entailed by the complexity of adult love, and finds herself on the brink of it for the first time. “Isn’t that, on some level, the experience of first love, and isn’t that what the whole play is about—how terrifying it all is?” Hall said.

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Labels: Animal, Articles and Interviews, Projects

PLAYBILL – The New York premiere of Clare Lizzimore’s play Animal begins performances May 24 at Atlantic Theater Company Off-Broadway. Gaye Taylor Upchurch directs a cast led Machinal star and Golden Globe nominee Rebecca Hall.

Animal will officially open June 6, and is scheduled to play through June 25 at Atlantic Stage 2, located at 330 West 16th Street, New York.

In Lizzimore’s dark comedy, Hall plays Rachel, a woman who has it all: marriage, a house, and her career. Until she suddenly has a creeping feeling, and then the visions begin. Animal is about “the underside of domesticity, the complexity of the brain in chaos, and the thin line between sinking and survival,” read production notes from the Atlantic.

Rounding out the cast are Kristin Griffith (Bottom of the World), Greg Keller (Our Mother’s Brief Affair), David Pegram (War Horse), Morgan Spector (A View from the Bridge), and Fina Strazza (Matilda the Musical).

Playwright Lizzimore’s first play Mint was produced at the Royal Court in London and long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize. As a director, her production of Mike Bartlett’s Bull at The Young Vic received the 2015 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, and transferred Off-Broadway to 59E59 Theaters.

Animal features scenic design by Rachel Hauck, costume design by Sarah J. Holden, lighting design by Bradley King, sound design by Stowe Nelson, original music by Daniel Kluger, and casting by Caparelliotis Casting: David Caparelliotis, CSA and Lauren Port, CSA and Joseph Gery.

Labels: Animal, Projects