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Shostakovich and the Black Monk - a Russian Fantasy

Shostakovich and the Black Monk - a Russian Fantasy


Seiji Ozawa Hall - Lenox, MA View Map

The Emerson String Quartet, accompanied by an ensemble of seven actors, weaves the tale of Dmitri Shostakovich's 50-year obsessive quest to create an opera from The Black Monk, Chekhov's theatrical chamber masterpiece about love, art, madness, and freedom.  Through music-including a complete performance of Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 14-supported by actors and multimedia projections, we see Shostakovich himself trying over decades to retell Chekhov's haunting and heroic story of a writer struggling for his sanity, only to be sidetracked again and again by the composer's own struggle to survive as an artist amid the ever-changing imperatives of Stalin's Soviet state. 

Featured Performers

James Glossman, writer and director
James Glossman, writer and director View biography in full page >

James Glossman has directed well over 200 plays, for professional theatres and educational programs across the United States, spanning works (among others) of Shakespeare, Shaw, Miller, Mamet, Beckett, Shepard, Pinter, Stoppard, Friel, Fugard, Sondheim, Goldman, Wilson, Williams, Wilde, and Wilder, as well as new plays by emerging and established playwrights. His productions of Bluff with John Astin have been seen across the United States; and his stagings of The Value of Names, starring Jack Klugman as a once-blacklisted actor, played in NY, NJ, and Los Angeles. His adaptation of Raymond Chandler's noir classic, Trouble Is My Business, received its world premiere in a sold-out run at Portland Stage, following an earlier benefit staging with David Strathairn at Shadowland Stages, NY, where he is Associate Director. He recently directed the first production in 50 years of Sheldon Harnick's "lost" musical comedy, Smiling, the Boy Fell Dead, with a cast led by Judy Kaye and Tony Roberts, at the York Theatre in Manhattan. A graduate of Northwestern University, The American Conservatory Theatre, the British American Drama Academy (at Balliol College Oxford), and The Yale School of Drama (MFA). He has been a member of the Theatre faculty at Philadelphia's University of the Arts and at St Ann's School in Brooklyn; and has taught and directed as a member of the Theatre Arts and Studies Program at Johns Hopkins for over a dozen years. Current professional theatre projects include: The Black Monk, a commission for a new music-theatre piece for string quartet and actors about Shostakovich, Stalin, and a fifty-year struggle for artistic freedom, for the multiple-Grammy-winning Emerson String Quartet, for summer of 2017; and a new stage adaptation of Carl Reiner's classic autobiographical coming-of-age novel, Enter Laughing, for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

James Glossman's Flying Crows is the latest in a series of collaborations with Jim Lehrer that began in 1995 with Glossman's adaptation of Lehrer's coming-of-age novel Kick the Can for the stage, followed by the harrowing WWII tale The Special Prisoner (with William Schallert), winner of the Southwestern Festival of New Plays; and his direction of Lehrer's play about White House skullduggery The Will and Bart Show (with casts including Edward Asner, John Astin, Frank Converse, Josef Sommer and Mason Adams). Other plays by Glossman include Behind the Scenes at the Museum (adapted from the Whitbread Award winner by Kate Atkinson, for which he was named Best Director of the Year); Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, Faulkner's The Hamlet; O. Henry's Compliments of the Season; F. Scott Fitzgerald's Family in the Wind, Out of Dublin by [James] Joyce; It's Only a Movie, Fragments of the War and Stephen Crane's The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky (later adapted for radio and produced by WGBH-Boston for NPR Playhouse). Glossman is also widely known as a director with acclaimed productions of Death of a Salesman (with an African-American Loman family led by Frankie Faison as Willy), Bluff (with John Astin), The Value of Names (with Jack Klugman), Mrs. Warren's Profession (with Paula Prentiss), the world premiere of Sheldon Harnick's Dragons, Boy Meets Girl (with John Astin), All My Sons (with Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss), The Gin Game (with William Schallert) and Circumference of a Squirrel (with Ames Adamson), as well as an award-winning production of Waiting for Godot and a recent workshop staging of Contact With the Enemy, featuring the once-in-a-lifetime pairing of Eli Wallach and Jack Klugman. Glossman has adapted, for Edward Asner, both a stage version of Edwin O'Connor's political classic, The Last Hurrah, and a screenplay of Kurt Vonnegut's Bluebeard. A graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., ACT, BADA-Oxford and Yale Drama School, Glossman is a member of The Dramatists Guild, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC) and Actors' Equity Association (AEA). He is currently a lecturer in Directing, and Performance of Shakespeare, at Johns Hopkins University.


James Glossman, writer and director David Strathairn, actor David Strathairn, actor
Jay O. Sanders, actor Jay O. Sanders, actor Ali Breneman, actor Ali Breneman, actor
Alex Glossman, actor Alex Glossman, actor Evelyn McGee Colbert, actor Evelyn McGee Colbert, actor
Linda Setzer, actor
Linda Setzer, actor View biography in full page >

Linda appeared in Futebol this August at the New York Fringe Festival directed by James Glossman. At Luna Stage, she recently appeared in Michael Frayn's Copenhagen, directed by James Glossman and will appear in Terrence McNally's A Perfect Ganesh Jan-Feb, 2015, also directed by Mr. Glossman. Other works directed by Mr. Glossman: Travesties, The Collection, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Under Glass, Transit of Venus (Bickford Theatre, Morristown, NJ), Bluff with John Astin at Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, NY, and the Boarshead Theatre in Lansing, MI. Other work: Rapture, Friends and Relations, property master and assistant set designer for True West. Staged readings: Endgame and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Linda Setzer, actor Paul Murphy, actor Paul Murphy, actor
Program Notes Audio