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Mon 26 Nov 2007

New Jerusalem at the Classic Stage Company

The Classic Stage Company (CSC) present Richard Easton and Jeremy Strong in the world premiere of David Ives's New Jerusalem, opening at the Classic Stage Company Theatre on 13 Jan 2008, following previews from 28 Dec 2007 and running through to 3 Feb 2008.

Also featured in the cast of New Jerusalem are Fyvush Finkel, David Garrison, Jenn Harris, Michael Izquierdo and Natalia Payne.

Focusing on the 1656 interrogation of the noted philosopher Baruch De Spinoza by the Jewish community of Amsterdam for his controversial ideas, New Jerusalem examines the clash between religion and modernity that Jews, Christians and Muslims are still, some 350 years later, struggling to reconcile.

Baruch de Spinoza, born 24 Nove 1632, was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. Today, he is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism. By virtue of his magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics, Spinoza is also considered one of Western philosophy's definitive ethicists, and has been called "the absolute philosopher.�

In his early 20s, he became known in the Jewish community in Amsterdam for positions contrary to Jewish belief. On 27 Jul 1656, a convocation of his temple board was called, and a writ of kherem (excommunication) issued against Spinoza. Although there is no record of what was said in the temple on that day, the precise terms of Spinoza's kherem have come down to us. The writ was severe, and never revoked. Following his excommunication, he adopted the name Benedictus, the Latin equivalent of Baruch; they both mean "blessed." Banished from Amsterdam, he earned his living as a lens grinder, and died at 44 on 21 Feb 1677.

The design team comprises John Lee Beatty (sets), Anita Yavich (costumes) and Ken Billington (lighting).

Richard Easton (Mortiera) appeared last season in the highly acclaimed, Tony Award-winning production of Tom Stoppard�s The Coast of Utopia (2006) at Lincoln Center Theater. In 2002, he received the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Play for his performance in Stoppard�s The Invention of Love.

Jeremy Strong (Spinoza) most recently appeared at Playwrights Horizons� in Richard Nelson�s 'Frank�s Home' and John Patrick Shanley�s 'Defiance' at Manhattan Theater Club.

David Garrison (Van Valkenburgh) was until July this year 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' in the musical Wicked (2003).

Fyvush Finkel (Ben Israel) is eighty-four years old and one of the legendary performers of the New York Yiddish theater movement. In 1970, he assumed the role of Tevye in the original Broadway production of Fiddler On The Roof (1964). Finkel received an Emmy Award in 1994 for his performance as attorney Douglas Wambaugh in the CBS series �Picket Fences."

David Ives (Playwright) plays include the popular collections of one-act comedies All in the Timing and Time Flies; Polish Joke; Canvas and Saint Freud. He is represented on Broadway this fall with his adaptation of Mark Twain�s Is He Dead?

Walter Bobbie (Director) received the Tony Award as Best Director of A Musical for the current revival of Chicago, now in its 11th year on Broadway.

(For tickets and more information click here)


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