Shakespeare & Company Presents American Premiere of Donald Freed’s "Devil’s Advocate"

Posted July 20, 2009

"Donald Freed is a writer of blazing imagination, courage and insight. His work is unique and fearless marriage of politics and art.”—Harold Pinter

Only ten performances!

“What’s past is prologue.” –William Shakespeare, The Tempest

{Lenox, Mass.}—Shakespeare & Company kicks off its ‘Life Laid Bare’ series of provocative new works at the new Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre this summer with the American premiere of Donald Freed’s award-winning tour de force, Devil’s Advocate. This taut, gripping two-hander imagines what might have happened during the long night then-Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega spent in the Vatican Embassy, seeking asylum before turning himself into the U.S. military forces barricaded outside. Devil’s Advocate won the prestigious 2006 PEN Award for Drama. Dee Evans of the Mercury Theatre Company (Colchester, England) and Clare Reidy direct. Devil’s Advocate plays in a limited run of ten performances at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre July 30 to August 16. Press opening is Saturday, August 1 at 8:30pm. To RSVP or to arrange interviews, contact Publicity Director Elizabeth Aspenlieder at (413) 637-1199 ext 110 or

The Bernstein is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. Performances in the evenings run at 8:30 p.m. and in the afternoons at 3:00 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $48. For a complete listing of productions and schedules, to inquire about the 40% Berkshire Resident Discount, Youth Rush tickets, or other discounts, or to receive a brochure, please call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit For custom-designed group visits including options for artist talkbacks and catered events, contact Group Sales Manager Victoria Vining at (413) 637-1199 ext. 132.

Following Devil’s Advocate in S&Co.’s series of cutting edge plays of social and political significance on the Bernstein stage is John Patrick Shanley’s The Dreamer Examines His Pillow (August 7—September 6) and J. T. Rogers’ White People (August 21—September 4).

Freed also brings his newest work, Hamlet in Rehearsal, for a special reading on Wednesday, August 5 at 1pm at S&Co.’s Production and Performing Arts Center, Studio 3, directed by Gina Kaufman. It will be followed by a talkback with the director and playwright. This reading is free and open to the public and members of the media, but is not open for review.

The time is Christmas Eve, 1989. A man who has grown used to absolute power is hovering on the brink of exile, imprisonment, or death. Outside the gates of his temporary sanctuary, the most powerful military force in the hemisphere lies in wait. Over the course of one unforgettable night, he and a holy man lock horns in a duel—intellectual, political, and spiritual—that strips away the popular image of a despot and gazes unblinkingly at the horrible realities behind true power, whether it’s wielded by a reviled Panamanian strongman…or the President of the United States.

Devil’s Advocate imagines what happened in the real-life encounter between Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and Archbishop Jose Sebastian Laboa, as Noriega sought political asylum in the Vatican embassy for one night, refusing to surrender to the American army outside. This American premiere features Shakespeare & Company’s Director of Training, Dennis Krausnick (also playing Polonius in Hamlet this summer), and two visiting artists from the Mercury Theatre of Colchester, England: director Dee Evans and Ignatius Anthony, who portrays Noriega. Evans and Anthony teamed up for the world premiere of this play in 2005 and brought it to the legendary Edinburgh Festival in 2006 before joining Krausnick for a special workshop performance at Shakespeare & Company in 2007.

“When the Anglo-American producer Barry Spikings, the American director Robert Altman, and I first met to discuss this project—the hunt and capture of the Panamanian ‘monster’ Manuel Noriega by the Vatican's ‘Devil’s Advocate’ and ‘Grand Inquisitor’ Archbishop LaBoa—I sensed that the play would have to take the audience down in to the Hell of modern, superpower colonialism. That has proved to be the case,” playwright Freed says.

Freed’s work has been celebrated for its unflinching look at the humanity behind the good and evil of political might, as it explodes preconceived notions about the nature of modern American political power. He calls Devil’s Advocate a “makeweight” to his The White Crow, which made its critically lauded world premiere at the Theatre Royal in York, England in May. Freed previously adapted his play Secret Honor, depicting a desperate but passionate Richard Nixon trying to make sense of the decisions that led him to political disgrace, for the 1984 film directed by Robert Altman.


Donald Freed (Playwright, Devil’s Advocate) Donald is a prize-winning playwright and historian of whom Harold Pinter has written, “Donald Freed is a writer of blazing imagination, courage and insight. His work is a unique and fearless marriage of politics and art.” Mr. Freed is an Artist in Residence at York Theatre Royal in the United Kingdom and at the Marymount Institute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Studs Terkel has called the author, “America’s most pertinent and political playwright.”

Dee Evans second season (Director of Devil’s Advocate) Dee is Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Mercury Theatre, Colchester England. She spent a year with Shakespeare & Company in the late 70’s supporting its development, and the experience inspired the formation of the Mercury Theatre Company (MTC) in 1998. She has directed a number of productions for that Company including Twelfth Night, The Tempest and Vanburgh’s The Provoked Wife. In 2007 she directed an all-female Julius Caesar for a Mercury Roman season in which Tina Packer directed an all-male Coriolanus, thus beginning collaboration with Shakespeare & Company of which Devil’s Advocate is a progression. She first directed Devil’s Advocate in 2005 and it went on to be performed at the 2006 Edinburgh festival to critical acclaim.

IGNATIUS ANTHONY* second season (Noriega in Devil’s Advocate) Ignatius has been a member of the Mercury Theatre Company for eight years featuring as Valene Connor in The Lonesome West, Long John in Dick Whittington and the Pi-rats of the Caribbean, Mr Murdstone in David Copperfield, Agamemnon in IPH… Mack in Sleeping Beauty, Aufidius in Coriolanus, Mars in Jack & the Beanstalk, Captain Arthur Phillip / Wisehammer in Our Country’s Good, General Noriega in Devil’s Advocate, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jerry in Betrayal, Trigorin in The Seagull, Ensemble in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Feste in Twelfth Night, Abanazar in Aladdin, Hermes in ION, Macduff in Macbeth, Salmonella in Cinderella, Oh What a Lovely War, Vershinin in Three Sisters, Brachiano in The White Devil, Eliot Chase in Private Lives, Alderman Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington, Starhemberg in The Europeans, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Azdak in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Morris in Present Laughter, Gustav in The Dance of Death, Captain Brazen in The Recruiting Officer, Caliban in The Tempest, Sergius in Arms and the Man, the Sheriff of Nottingham in Babes in the Wood, Lucky in Waiting for Godot, John Proctor in The Crucible, Ferdinand in The Duchess of Malfi, and Lord Rake in The Provoked Wife.

DENNIS KRAUSNICK* founding member, thirty-second season (Polonius in Hamlet; the Archbishop in The Devil’s Advocate; Director of Training; Board of Trustees; Faculty for The Summer Training Institute) Krausnick played the title role in Lear this past year at Wake Forest University and in the Bare Bard Series at Maryland Shakespeare Festival. He teaches and directs in theater programs across the country as well as designing and leading the actor-training programs for S&Co.

At A Glance

Production: Devil’s Advocate
Theatre: Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre
Written by: Donald Freed
Director: Dee Evans and Clare Reidy
set designer: Christian Schmitt
Lighting designer: Greg Solomon
Costume Designer: Jim Day
Sound Designer: Michael Pfeiffer
Cast: Ignatius Anthony, Dennis Krausnick
Dates: Tuesday through Sunday, in repertory
Previews: July 30, July 31
Opens: August 1
Closes: August 16
tickets: $12-$48
Phone: (413) 637-3353

Additional Production: Hamlet in Rehearsal
By Donald Freed
Directed by Gina Kaufman
Studio 3 at Shakespeare & Company
Free (Not open for review)
Cast: Stephen Anderson, Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Jason Asprey, Johnny Lee Davenport, Dana Harrison, Dennis Krausnick, Enrico Spada

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