Airmid Theatre Company presents THE EMPEROR OF THE MOON by Aphra Behn Adapted and Composed by John Franceschina Directed by Tricia McDermott; Music Direction by S. Cosmo Mallardi
(Long Island, N.Y.) Airmid Theatre Company opens its 2009 Summer Theatre Festival with the world premiere of THE EMPEROR OF THE MOON, adapted by John Franceschina from the play by Aphra Behn, with music and lyrics by John Franceschina. Directed by Airmid’s Founding Artistic Director Tricia McDermott, the production runs July 22 – August 9, 2009, outdoors at Nissequogue River State Park, 799 Saint Johnland Road in Kings Park, NY. The performance schedule is Wednesday – Saturday evenings at 7:00pm and Sunday afternoons at 3:00pm.
The story concerns the eccentric Dr. Baliardo, a royal scientist with a penchant for astronomical phenomena who, fearing for the virtue of his beautiful young daughter and her equally lovely cousin, locks them away from the world. With the help of some wily servants, the girls dupe their overprotective guardian into believing that two emissaries from the Court of the Moon (actually their suitors in disguise) have fallen in love with them. Mistaken identities, multiple disguises, narrow escapes, subterfuge, trickery, fights, and a few “men in the moon” add up to a wild, wonderful, sci-fi musical farce, perfect for an evening under the stars.
“Moon” was born out of a simple conversation between friends seeking an opportunity to work together. Various texts were proposed, when Franceschina, a Behn scholar, hit on the idea of returning “Moon,” which was a musical and ran for 90 years in its day, to the stage. McDermott commissioned composer John Franceschina to adapt the text and create a focused, small cast musical. To maintain the integrity of the text, Behn’s words were kept intact while new music to replace the original, which has been lost, was composed for this world premiere production.
The cast for The Emperor of the Moon includes Elyse Beyer, Michael Edwards, Antoine Jones, Junior Mendez, Elena Mercantini, Ellen Mittenthal, and Perryn Pomatto. The artistic team includes S. Cosmo Mallardi (Music Direction), Tymberley A. Whitesel (Set Design), and Olga Mills (Costume Design). Dramaturgy provided by Angie Balsamo.
About Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn (1640-1689), considered the first professional English woman author, was born Aphra Johnson near Canterbury. Widowed after only three years of marriage, she was employed as a spy at Antwerp for King Charles II in the war against the Dutch (1665-1667), providing political and naval information to the English government. She was paid very little or not at all for these services, and on her return to England was imprisoned briefly for debt.
Upon release from prison, she turned to writing poetry, novels, and plays to earn a living, becoming one of the most prolific dramatists of the Restoration. Her many plays, which include The Forced Marriage (1670), The Rover (1678), The Feigned Courtizans (1678), and The City Heiress (1682), were very successful and were performed under royal patronage by the Duke’s Theatre Company. In 1688, she published the novel, Oroonoko, or the History of the Royal Slave, considered by many to be the first English philosophical novel. She died in 1689 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. It was Virginia Woolf who wrote, “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”
About the Airmid 2009 Summer Theatre Festival
2009 marks the inaugural year for Airmid’s Summer Theatre Festival, which includes both the world premiere adaptation of Aphra Behn’s the emperor of the moon, and Constance D’Arcy MacKay’s The Silver Thread, part of the Airmid Family Series, which runs afternoons at 1 pm from July 28 – August 14, completing a family friendly season of FREE theatre and new music.
Audiences should provide their own seating, blankets on the grass, or chairs, and are encouraged to come to the park early to enjoy a picnic lunch or dinner in the park (not provided). Cancellation due to inclement weather will be announced 1 hour prior to performances. Call 631-704-2888 or check on Airmid’s Upcoming Events page for details. Parking fees maybe required based on time of arrival in the park.
Airmid’s Summer Theatre Festival is funded in part by Suffolk County under the auspices of the Office of Cultural Affairs, Steve Levy County Executive, and administered by the Smithtown Arts Council. Additionally, this program is made possible with funds from the JP Morgan Chase Regrant Program. On Long Island, the JP Morgan Chase Regrant Program is administered by the Huntington Arts Council. Funding support is also provided by New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright, and Suffolk County Legislator Wayne Horsley. Airmid Theatre Company’s Family Series is generously sponsored by Target.
As part of the festival and to encourage support for other local non-profits in our community, Airmid has created “Spotlight” nights. During 13 of the 15 evening performances, Airmid has invited other organizations to join us in the park to interact with our audiences and get the word out on their own vital work. Each Spotlight night is based on a theme, which will include: domestic violence, health and wellness, hunger relief, children, service organizations, animals, and the environment, to name a few. For a complete list of themes and participating groups, contact Mindy Ferrentino Wolfe at 516.431.7572.
About Airmid Theatre Company
The Airmid Theatre Company, founded in 2000, is the only theatre in the world whose mission is to recover, collect, and produce classic works by women. With these plays at the heart of its mission, the company creates a safe home for women theatre artists, and ignites broad public recognition of the essential contribution women have made to the worlds of theatre, dramatic literature, and society. By establishing the history of playwriting by women and professionally producing their work, we open the door to broader discussion on women’s roles today, and in the future. For more information about Airmid Theatre Company, please visit www.airmidtheatre.org.