Tina Packer and Elizabeth Aspenlieder Face Off in Dark Irish Comedy at Shakespeare & Co.

David Sedgwick and Elizabeth Aspenlieder and Tina Packer (photo Kevin Sprague)

David Sedgwick and Elizabeth Aspenlieder and Tina Packer (photo Kevin Sprague)

(LENOX, Mass.) – The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh, starring Shakespeare & Company founder Tina Packer and critically acclaimed company actor Elizabeth Aspenlieder, runs in the Bernstein Theatre from Thursday, August 8 through September 15, 2013. Directed by Matthew Penn, making his company debut, The Beauty Queen of Leenane tracks the dysfunctional relationship between a mother and daughter who are locked in a dance of mutual loathing, which may prove more durable than any love.

Matthew Penn, a veteran director of stage and screen, joins the artistic team for his first production at Shakespeare & Company, taking on this award-winning and heartbreaking play. Irish writer Martin McDonagh has become one of the most powerful voices writing for stage and screen, and his critically acclaimed career began with a Tony Award-winning debut, The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

“McDonagh is such a smart writer,” says Penn. “He inspires our imaginations in an almost Pinteresque way. He says as much with silence as he does with his dialogue. “The play is filled with despair and darkness living side by side with humor and hope,” he continues. “It is written with such a raw veracity that it almost leaves you breathless. This is a play of passion, connection, love, hatred, suffocation and escape. I am honored to take this journey with such brave artists – all of whom I’ve asked to embrace this extraordinary dramatic work.”

The Wall Street Journal describes The Beauty Queen of Leenane as “the cleverest, most cunningly constructed and assured play in years.” The Tony Award-nominated play received rave reviews in the 2012 Studio Series, an annual event that introduces new works to the Company during weekly play readings. Plays from the Studio Series that resonate with Shakespeare & Company’s artistic character are often selected for full productions in the coming seasons.

Elizabeth Aspenlieder and Tina Packer (photo Kevin Sprague)

Elizabeth Aspenlieder and Tina Packer (photo Kevin Sprague)

“I think McDonough is gifted in building funny, violent scenarios in a Tarantino kind of way,” says Packer. “He mixes a paucity of language and imagination in the characters he draws with a dramatic through-line, which is both funny and horrifying. I was a bit leery when asked to play Mag, but it’s the kind of play that is fascinating yet repulsive at the same time — two women trapped by circumstance and fear, and seemingly the fates. I am relieved to have a wonderful director working with us in Matt Penn, and having Elizabeth Aspenlieder onstage is a pleasure. I’ve directed her several times over the years but we’ve never been in a show together. After my recent run of Women of Will in New York, I am happy to be back onstage again, at home with Shakespeare & Company. And like Shakespeare, this play will certainly challenge the audience—and us actors, but we are ready to roll up our sleeves and dig in.”

Tickets are $10-$50, and Shakespeare & Company offers a wide range of discount options, including: group, student, senior citizen, military, teacher and our very popular 40% Berkshire Resident Discount. To view a complete schedule, receive a brochure, or inquire about discounts, please call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit Shakespeare & Company.



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