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Heartbreak House: Tom Fulton, Paula Duesing, and Dana Hart

Friday, June 27, 2014

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In a rare treat for Northeast Ohio theatre audiences, nine local members of Actors’ Equity Association have banded together to self-produce under the union’s Members’ Project Code, George Bernard Shaw’s World War I masterpiece Heartbreak House.

Heartbreak House
By George Bernard Shaw
June 12 to 29, 2014
Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30PM
Sundays at 2:30
Pilgrim Church, 2592 W 14th Street in Historic Tremont

The ensemble features prominent artists among Cleveland’s professional theatre community, including some members of the famed Cleveland PlayHouse acting company - which included some of Cleveland audiences’ favorite actors.

Heartbreak House is directed by Bernadette Clemens, Co-Artistic Director of Mamaí Theatre Company, which has generously hosted the production’s performance space.

Heartbreak House: A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes is a play written by George Bernard Shaw, first published in 1919 and first played at the New York’s Garrick Theatre in 1920. The work argues that “cultured, leisured Europe” was drifting toward destruction, and that “Those in a position to guide Europe to safety failed to learn their proper business of political navigation”. (A.C. Ward)

PLOT SUMMARY
On the eve of World War I, Ellie Dunn, her father, and her fiancé are invited to one of Hesione Hushabye’s infamous dinner parties. Unfortunately, her fiancé is a scoundrel, her father’s a bumbling prig, and she’s actually in love with Hector, Hesione’s husband. This bold mix of farce and tragedy lampoons British society as it blithely sinks towards disaster.

HISTORY
Heartbreak House is not often performed due to its complex structure; however it is argued that the genius of the play cannot be fully appreciated without seeing it in performance. Its subject-matter is the ignorance and indifference exhibited by the upper and upper-middle classes to the First World War and its consequences. The self-indulgence and lack of understanding of the high-class characters are central issues in British society at the time that the play illuminates.

A major Broadway revival was mounted in 1984, with an all star cast headed by Sir Rex Harrison as Shotover (a role for which he was nominated for a Tony), and featuring Amy Irving, Rosemary Harris, Dana Ivey, George N. Martin, and Tom Aldredge.

The play was performed at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada in summer 2011. It also formed part of Chichester Festival Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2012 and cast Derek Jacobi as Captain Shotover.

The Denver Center Theatre Company staged it for a run March 30-April 29, 2012.It is available on VHS based on the 1985 television version directed by Anthony Page, with Rex Harrison as Shotover, Amy Irving as Ellie, and Rosemary Harris as Hesione.

In 1977, a version of the play was directed by Cedric Messina, with John Gielgud as Shotover, Lesley-Anne Down as Ellie, and Siân Phillips as Hesione.

Tom Fulton is a director, actor, and teacher.  He served as Artistic Director for:
--CENTER REPERTORY THEATRE (Playhouse Square)
--PHOENIX THEATRE ENSEMBLE
--CAIN PARK SUMMER THEATRE
--CLEVELAND THEATRE COMPANY
--FAIRMOUNT THEATRE FOR THE ARTS

He was a company member (actor and director) of The Cleveland Play House for 5 years. He has played such roles as King Lear, Dr. Astrov, Tevye, Don Quixote, Tartuffe, Scrooge, and well over 50 others in theatres across the region. He currently works as Director of THE ACADEMY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS - a magnet school that draws from 10 school districts housed in two beautiful theatres in the Chagrin Falls Performing Arts Center. His work as a teacher of acting is well-known in Northeast Ohio. In addition to teaching at The Cleveland Play House, The Cleveland Ballet, and many theatres around Northeast Ohio, he has served as adjunct Professor of Theatre at Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, and Case Western Reserve University.

With his duties at the Academy taking a great deal of his time - and his love of the family tree farm and maple sugar bush in Trumbull county --Heartbreak House will be his first professional appearance in seven years. He holds a B.F.A from Southern Methodist University and an M.A. from Kent State University, which he received just last year at the ripe age of sixty-one. (Talk about teaching old dogs...) He is delighted to be reunited with so many colleagues - especially Paula Duesing, who was Martha to his George, and Golde to his Tevye. Also Laura Perotta who was, of all things, Edmund to his Lear. Delighted to be reversing roles with colleague Bernadette Clemens whom he directed as Nina in THE SEAGULL a few years back, and joyfully acting again with his long-time friend and colleague Mitchell Fields, who has been actor, director, student and teacher - and not the least of which, Gloucester to his old, mad king.

Dana Hart received critical honors for his solo performance in Conor McPhearson’s ST. NICHOLAS which will reprise next season with Ensemble Theatre.  Recent local work includes:  Cesear’s Forum; ELEGY FOR A LADY and MARRIAGE PLAY, TruNorth Cultural Arts; BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR, BIG RIVER and THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Cleveland Public Theatre in ANTEBELLUM, TITUS ANDRONICUS: A GRAND AND GORY ROCK MUSICAL, and STANDING ON CEREMONY: THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS. Cleveland Play House: EMMA, THE FAGIN EFFECT, Great Lakes Theater: TWELFTH NIGHT, THE WILD DUCK, MACBETH, Ensemble Theatre: THE ICEMAN COMETH, Oberlin Summer Theater; THE CRADLE WILL ROCK, Beck Center for the Arts: 33 VARIATIONS, THE PITMAN PAINTERS, ANNIE, OLEANNA, ROMEO AND JULIET, BENT, THE HISTORY BOYS, THE FARNSWORTH INVENTION, MY FAIR LADY, BY JEEVES, JEKYLL AND HYDE, Actors’ Summit: ARMS AND THE MAN, ROMEO AND JULIET, THE WORLD GOES ROUND, SANDERS FAMILY CHRISTMAS, WOODY GUTHRIE’S AMERICAN SONG, RING OF FIRE. Mr. Hart appeared Off-Broadway in GOLY GHOSTS, THE MOUSETRAP, MOLLY BLOOM, and with regional theatres from Alaska to Zimbabwe including Milwaukee Repertory Theater; Alaska Repertory Theatre; San Diego Repertory Theatre and Center Stage in Baltimore. He apprenticed with the Cleveland Play House and holds degrees from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Paula Duesing earned her Equity card at the Cleveland Play House after receiving herdegree from Boston University. She performed in the first Cleveland Members’ ProjectCode production, CANTERBURY TALES as soon as Actor’s Equity expanded the opportunity to include Equity members out side of New York. It’s a wonderful vehicle for actors towork on challenging material with talented colleagues. She’s delighted to be working on this Project Code production which reunites her with another original participant, Tom Fulton, and even happier to have the opportunity to work again with some of her favorite actors: Laura from shows at Great Lakes, Mitchell from HAMLET, George from THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, and Dana from ROMEO AND JULIET, as well as finally getting to do a show with actors she’s enjoyed seeing on stage but has never had the chance to work with. Many thanks to Mamai Theatre for their support in making this event happen.

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