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Ron Menzel as Galileo in the Morehead Planetarium dome, as an image of Jupiter looms behind him.
Ron Menzel stars as Galileo Galilei in “The Life of Galileo.” (photo by HuthPhoto)

PlayMakers Repertory Company presents the theatrical event of the 2018/19 season, Bertolt Brecht’s “Life of Galileo,” adapted by Joseph Discher. PlayMakers’ Producing Artistic Director, Vivienne Benesch, directs the production, which runs from February 27 to March 17, 2019.

The tale of Galileo Galilei is as much a study of one man’s dogged determination, as it is the battle between science, reason, and faith. When his chance discovery leads to evidence of a seismic shift in scientific thinking, Galileo sparks a dangerous dispute with authority. To challenge the idea that the earth is the center of the universe is to challenge the all-powerful Roman Catholic Church. In this powerful adaptation of a classic tale, we are asked to confront our responsibility to the “truth” in the digital age, where truth feels malleable and no longer a fixed point.

Ron Menzel as Galileo with a telescope“Over the last two years, I have found myself drawn again and again to the story of Galileo, and the notion that ‘truth’ is a negotiating point between factions, not something rooted in science, or history,” said Benesch. “Brecht wrote the original ‘Life of Galileo’ in 1938, and another version just after the atom bomb drop in 1945. In 2019, the themes he grappled with resound with eerie clarity for yet another set of critical circumstances. Jim Findlay has designed a visually arresting, immersive set that, combined with haunting original music by Justin Ellington, puts the audience unexpectedly inside the tortured, impassioned world of the father of modern science. Our cast and creative team have really pulled out all the stops for this production, and I hope audiences will leave the theatre having been both entertained and inspired by the story of one of history’s original ground shifters.”

Life of Galileo features Ron Menzel as Galileo, in his PlayMakers debut (Broadway credits include Les Liaisons Dangereueses and Parisian Woman). Also featuring David Adamson as Federzoni (“She Loves Me”, “Bewilderness”), Geoffrey Culbertson as Ludovico (“Bewilderness,” “Sense and Sensibility”), Rishan Dhamija as Little Monk (“Tartuffe,” “Dot”), Ray Dooley as Cardinal Inquisitor (“Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “My Fair Lady”), Samuel Ray Gates as Bellarmin (“Skeleton Crew,” “Leaving Eden”), Alex Givens as Andrea (“The Christians,” “Skeleton Crew”), Brandon Haynes as Cosimo de Medici (“Tartuffe,” PlayMakers Mobile “Macbeth”), Ashlei Hefferman as Clavius (PlayMakers debut), Kathryn Hunter-Williams as Sagredo (“Trouble in Mind,” “Into the Woods”), Sarah Elizabeth Keyes as Virginia (“She Loves Me,” “Sense and Sensibility”), Anna Longenecker as Guiseppe (PlayMakers debut), Christine Mirzayan as Ballad Singer’s Wife (“The Cake,” “The Christians”), Sarita Ocón as Sarti (“The Crucible,” “Leaving Eden”), Tristan Parks as Ballad Singer (“Leaving Eden,” “My Fair Lady”), and Dan Wilson as Mucius (“Illegal Helpers,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at Stockholm’s Stadsteater).

The Creative Team of “Life of Galileo” includes: Vivienne Benesch (Director), Jim Findlay (Scenic & Projections Designer), Tracy Bersley (Choreographer), Grier Coleman (Costume Designer), Kate McGee (Lighting Designer), Justin Ellington (Composer & Sound Designer), Adam Versenyí (Dramaturg), Christopher Combermale (Assistant Director), Tara Elliott (Assistant Director), and Charles K. Bayang (Stage Manager).

For information and to purchase tickets, call 919.962.7529 or visit www.playmakersrep.org. Individual ticket prices start at $15.

Performance and Special Event Schedule:

  • February 27–March 1, 7:30 p.m. — Preview performances
  • February 28, 6:00 p.m. — “The Vision Series—Professionals In Process,” a behind-the-scenes preview with members of the creative team before the evening’s performance, at the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art. Free and open to the public.
  • March 2, 7:30 p.m. — Opening Performance & Press Opening, with post-show Opening Night Celebration.
  • March 5, 7:30 p.m. — Community Night. General admission seating, with all tickets $15.
  • March 5, 7:30 p.m. — All-access performance for attendees with special needs, with sign language interpretation and audio description.
  • March 6 and 10 — Free post-show discussions with members of the creative team, cast and community members.
  • March 9, 2:00 p.m. — Family matinee, with pre-show activities by Morehead Planetarium & Science Center.
  • March 9, 2:00 p.m. — Open captioned performance, with dialog, stage direction, and sound effects communicated on a “universal access” live caption unit.
  • March 17, 2:00 p.m. — “Mindplay,” a free post-show psychoanalytic reading of our production in partnership with the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society.
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