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Marcia Gay Harden and Brian J. Smith to Fly to Chichester Festival for “SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH”

Full casting has been announced for Tennessee WilliamsSWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, directed by Jonathan Kent, running at Chichester Festival Theatre from 2 – 24 June, with a press night on Friday 9 June.

The company is headed by two of America’s leading stage and screen actors: celebrated Oscar and Tony Award-winning actor Marcia Gay Harden makes her UK theatre debut as Alexandra, and Brian J. Smith plays Chance.

Joining them are: Emma Amos, Hester Arden, Matthew Barker, Victoria Bewick, Alex Bhat, Ray Emmet Brown, Graham Butler, Richard Cordery (as ‘Boss’ Finley), Ingrid Craigie, Joy Cruickshank, Tim Francis, Kurt Kansley, Rob Ostlere, Sam Phillips, Daniel Tuite and EwArt James Walters.

1956, a hotel on the Gulf of Mexico. Alexandra del Lago, a fading Hollywood legend, has fled the ridicule that greeted the premiere of her come-back movie. Desperate for anonymity and forgetfulness, she is holed up in a small seaside town on the Gulf of Mexico. With her is Chance Wayne – a young hustler, trying to lend his wasted, disreputable life some meaning and now returning home to reclaim his childhood love from her ruthless father, the corrupt politician ‘Boss’ Finley.

In perhaps his most searing and personal of plays, Tennessee Williams examines failed ambition, lost youth and love, and the corruption and bigotry that lurks beneath the American Dream. As the present-day United States faces uncertainty and momentous change, Sweet Bird of Youth is a portrayal of the degradation of American values and the corrosive lure of celebrity.

Academy and Tony Award-winning actor Marcia Gay Harden, whose work embraces independent and studio films, television and theatre, plays Alexandra. Her many film roles include the artist Lee Krasner in Pollock, for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress; Celeste in Mystic River, for which she received another Oscar nomination; Miller’s Crossing, The First Wives Club, Meet Joe Black, Mona Lisa Smile, The Hoax, Used People, Grandma, Into the Wild, American Gun, Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker. She stars in the CBS drama Code Black, while earlier television work includes The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler and Law and Order: SVU, for both of which she received Emmy Award nominations, and the critically acclaimed HBO series The Newsroom.

Marcia Gay Harden made her Broadway debut in Tony Kushner‘s Angels in America, for which she received a Tony Award nomination as well as Drama Desk and Theatre World awards. She won the Tony Award and Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actress in 2009 for Yasmina Reza‘s God of Carnage, a role she reprised in Los Angeles in 2011 with the original Broadway cast.

Brian J. Smith, who plays Chance, earned Olivier and Tony Award nominations for his role as the Gentleman Caller in Tennessee Williams‘ The Glass Menagerie, a role he first played on Broadway and is currently reprising in the West End. His screen work includes Trey in the independent film Hate Crime; Matthew Scott in the TV series Stargate Universe; and Will Gorski in Netflix’s Sense8, of which a new series starts in May.

Director Jonathan Kent returns to Chichester following his hugely successful productions of the Young Chekhov Trilogy (Evening Standard Award for Best Revival), Gypsy and Sweeney Todd (both of which won Olivier Awards for Best Musical Revival) and Private Lives, all of which transferred to London. He was Joint Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre from 1990 – 2002.

The production will be designed by Anthony Ward, with lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Debbie Wiseman, sound by Paul Groothuis and video by Andrzej Goulding.


Pre-Show Talk with Jonathan Kent
Wednesday 7 June, 5.45pm
Free but booking essential
Late with Kate & Marcia Gay Harden Thursday 15 June, Post-Show. Marcia Gay Harden joins Kate Mosse to talk about her extraordinary film career and Tony Award-winning work in theatre. Free.

Post-Show Talk
Monday 19 June
Stay after the performance to ask questions, meet company members and discover more. Free.

The Trump Effect
Saturday 24 June, 11am, Steven Pimlott Building
Alongside Caroline, Or Change and Sweet Bird of Youth, a panel of history students and academics from the University of Chichester examine some of the most dramatic periods in American history – times of political and social change. Tickets £5.

Digital Drafts Saturday
15 July – Saturday 12 August
Listen to a series of new short plays through sound installation boxes in the Festival Theatre Foyer. Using themes from Sweet Bird of Youth as a stimulus, young playwrights will work together to craft their short pieces, which will be recorded in radio play style by members of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre. Free.

For tickets and more information, contact the Box Office at 01243 781312 or go online at Tickets from £10. Prologue tickets for 16 – 25 year olds for £5.