Richard Hamburger

Why this “Anarchist” has two lives

By Mark Lowry / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Aside from winning a regional theater Tony Award or having a production transfer to Broadway or off-Broadway, there’s a great way to have your theater recognized outside your back yard: co-produce something with another regional theater.

The Dallas Theater Center has long realized that. In the past decade, it has worked with the likes of Houston’s Alley Theatre; Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Washington, D.C.’s, Arena Stage; Milwaukee Repertory Theater; Arizona Theatre Company; and Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theater Festival, to name a few.

Its next collaboration is with Pittsburgh Public Theatre on the world premiere of a new version of Nobel Laureate Dario Fo’s masterful farce Accidental Death of an Anarchist, starring Stage West co-founder Jerry Russell. Translated by Ron Jenkins and directed by DTC’s artistic director, Richard Hamburger, Anarchist begins previews in Texas this week and moves to Pittsburgh in March.

For Hamburger, doing co-productions with other companies makes sense for many reasons, the obvious being that two theaters can split costs and pool resources.

“It makes things easier for both theaters,” says Hamburger, “especially on the theater that’s receiving it. They have longer to work on it. It also gets the work seen in more places, and the run is longer for the actors.”

The fact that actors get more work is crucial, considering that Actor’s Equity recently doubled the minimum number of weeks its actors must work each year in order to qualify for health benefits (from 10 to 20).

But co-productions are important for more than fiscal reasons.

“It opens up fresh ideas to each theater in terms of different styles of working,” says Hamburger. “The actors will also get to work on two different kinds of stages, ours [a proscenium] and then on a thrust stage [in Pittsburgh.]”

The Pittsburgh Public Theatre has also done a few co-productions before this, including the 1999 world premiere of August Wilson’s King Hedley II with Seattle Repertory Theatre. The show transferred to off-Broadway and was a Pulitzer finalist.

Ted Pappas, PPT’s artist director, admits that with Anarchist he had an ulterior motive: to work with Hamburger.

“He’s a director I’ve always admired,” Pappas says. “It was one way of a busy artistic director being able to travel outside of his sphere.”

© Richard Hamburger, Theater Director      Site design and maintenance by Amy Lacy.