Art Gallery Plays an Unconventional Role in "England"

The galleries of the Yale Center for British Art will serve as the stage for the production of an unconventional play that raises questions about art, wealth, culture and the value of human life.

Titled “England,” the two-act play is by British playwright Tim Crouch and premiered at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Written to be performed in an art gallery, the play begins with two actors playing docents who are guiding visitors through the exhibited works. The male and female actors (the former portrayed by the playwright) weave their commentary about the artwork into an autobiographical narrative about a heart transplant and the wealthy art-dealer boyfriend who will pay for it. The second act takes place in a theater of the art gallery with the audience now seated. There, the narrative continues, as the patient, having received the new heart, seeks out the family of the donor, and is confronted with the accusation that the donor, purportedly the victim of an accident, had actually been murdered.

The performance is co-sponsored by the World Performance Project (WPP) at Yale and the Yale Center for British Art with support from the British Council.

There will be four performances of “England.” Performances are at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28, and Thursday, Oct. 30. Reservations are limited; only 30 reservations per performance are available. Reservations can be made at www.yale.edu/wpp.

Crouch’s first play, “My Arm,” opened in Edinburgh in 2003 and has toured internationally with runs in New York and London. His second play, “An Oak Tree,” won a Glasgow Herald Angel Award when it premiered in 2005 and an Obie Award from its Off-Broadway run in 2006-2007. His play “Shopping for Shoes” won the 2007 Brian Way Award for children’s playwriting.

Before starting to write, Crouch was an actor with numerous stage credits to his name. As an associate artist at the Franklin Stage Company in New York, he has had leading roles in “Twelfth Night,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “The Tempest” and “Uncle Vanya.” His next play — to be staged in 2009 — is a commission for the Royal Court in London, and his work “I, Malvolio” is scheduled for the Singapore Arts Festival in 2010.

The WPP, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, promotes programs in performance studies across departments at Yale. It presents performances, workshops and lectures by artists and scholars working in dance, theater, music, performance art and cultural performance as it collaborates with departments and programs throughout the University seeking to enhance their curriculum through live performance. Affiliated with the Yale College Theater Studies Program and the Whitney Humanities Center, WPP is supported through funding provided by the Distinguished Achievement Award granted to Joseph Roach, the Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of Theater and English, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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