Highly Recommended Theater: ULYSSES (Elevator Repair Service at The Fisher Center at Bard, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)

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by Tony Frankel on February 13, 2024

in Theater-New York,Theater-Regional

(JUNE 20 – AUGUST 18, 2024)

Elevator Repair Service (ERS) has mastered the art of staging modernist literature with their highly-acclaimed productions Gatz (see Stage and Cinema’s review), The Sound and the Fury (review), and The Select (The Sun Also Rises). Building on a rich history of staging modernist works, their latest work is of the most daunting masterpieces of the Western Canon: Ulysses, James Joyce’s epic approach to the quotidian, Dublin-traversing journey of Leopold Bloom. Directed by John Collins, with co-direction and dramaturgy by Scott Shepherd, ERS’s Ulysses (June 20 – July 14) was presented in two preview performances in Fall 2023 but was halted when COVID interrupted the production. Now, as a centerpiece of SummerScape, Ulysses receives a much longer run than originally programmed for 2023. All photos on this page from ERS’s 2023 Ulysses are by Marika Kent.

Scott Shepherd, Maggie Hoffman, Vin Knight, Stephanie Weeks

Ulysses has fascinated, perplexed, scandalized, and/or defeated readers for over a century. ERS takes on this Mount Everest of twentieth-century literature in their Fisher Center debut. Seven performers sit down for a sober reading but soon find themselves guzzling pints, getting in brawls, and committing debaucheries as they careen on a fast-forward tour through Joyce’s funhouse of styles. With madcap antics and a densely layered sound design, ERS presents an eclectic sampling from Joyce’s life-affirming masterpiece. The ensemble is Dee Beasnael, Kate Benson, Maggie Hoffman, Vin Knight, Scott Shepherd, Christopher Rashee Stevenson and Stephanie Weeks.

The Cast

Artistic Director of the Fisher Center Gideon Lester wrote, “We got so excited by what ERS had developed and by the way audiences responded in those two preview performances that we really wanted to give it a bigger platform. This ensemble work is a loving response to Joyce and his sense of invention, fun, and bawdiness. It is wild, imaginative, highly theatrical, and feels like taking a bath in Joyce’s language. The disappointment of that initial postponement has actually led to a major opportunity: to continue to offer ERS time and resources to develop the work, and to put much more of a spotlight on it in the Festival this summer.”

Stephanie Weeks, Christopher Rashee Stevenson

An opening night pre-show event will take place on Saturday, June 22; on Wednesday, June 26, there will be a talk immediately following the performance; on Sunday, July 14, at 1 pm, there will be a pre-performance talk. Round-trip transportation from New York City will be available for the July 14 performance.

Stephanie Weeks, Scott Shepherd, Dee Beasnael, Vin Knight,
Kate Benson, Maggie Hoffman, Christopher Rashee Stevenson

Ulysses is part of Summerscape at Bard College. Every production at SummerScape has been commissioned, developed, and is premiering at the Fisher Center, giving audiences an opportunity to catch pivotal works in the idyllic setting where they originate. This is where Daniel Fish’s reenvisioning of Oklahoma! premiered.

The Cast

Early ticket access to Fisher Center patrons begins February 20. Fisher Center Member access begins February 27. Tickets go on sale to the general public on March 6. The season also includes listings below. For full calendar, visit Fisher Center at Bard where you can also buy tickets, or call Bard’s box office at (845) 758-7900.

  • SCAT!, Urban Bush Women’s New Jazz Club Spectacular Is a Journey from the Great Migration to Kansas City, to the Present, Conceived, Directed, and Choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar in Her Final Production with the Company, with Original Music Composed and Performed by Craig Harris, June 28–30
  • A Rare, Fully-Staged Production of Le prophète by Giacomo Meyerbeer, with a Libretto by Eugène Scribe and Émile Deschamps—Director Christian Räth’s Third Opera Production for SummerScape, with the American Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Leon Botstein, July 26 – August 4
  • The 34th Bard Music Festival Berlioz and His World, Surrounding the Romantic Composer’s Musical Thinking and Innovations, August 9–18
  • The Return of the Spiegeltent, June 28 – August 17, with Programming Curated by Caleb Hammons to Be Announced

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