About BeDLAM

by Emilia LaPenta, Literary Director

Small Company, Big Ambition

Tom O’Keefe, Edmund Lewis, Eric Tucker and Andrus Nichols in Hamlet. Photo by Jenny Anderson.
Andrus Nichols, Tom O’Keefe, Edmund Lewis, and Eric Tucker in Hamlet. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

This January, Bedlam will be in residence at McCarter Theatre. That’s Bedlam with a capital –B, the name of the bourgeoning and critically acclaimed theater company based in New York City. Only four years old, Bedlam has already produced a number of hits off-Broadway, including the repertory productions of Hamlet and Saint Joan. These titles may be classic, but Bedlam’s pared down aesthetic is anything but: this is Shakespeare and Shaw like you’ve never seen them before. With a company of only four actors, Bedlam has a hyper focus on storytelling, innovatively using space and relying on actor transformation to bring new clarity to familiar plots.

We had the opportunity to connect with Bedlam co-founder and Artistic Director Eric Tucker in advance of their Princeton run. If you’re interested in learning more about the company you can read the brief interview below, visit their website, and find feature articles on our Additional Reading page.

-  Shaw’s Saint Joan was the first play you produced as a company—why did you choose it?
Eric Tucker: Saint Joan was a play I worked on as an actor years ago at Trinity Rep where I fell in love with it and was witness to the power it can have on an audience.  I directed a 3 person version in Los Angeles years later and when I moved back to NYC and formed [Bedlam] I thought Joan would be a great first play because it hadn’t been done in the city in many years.  

- Do you have a shorthand for describing your process?
Eric: I’ve directed many small cast Shakespeare productions and often start the process knowing how I’m dividing the roles.  Sometimes I like to take several days and read the play many different ways before deciding on the casting.  After a few days it becomes apparent which way feels best or more organic.  I like a lot of collaboration in the room and I like to give everyone their artistic license.  

- Bedlam is “committed to the immediacy of the relationship between the actor and the audience” – how does that value manifest itself in performance?
Eric: Bedlam’s commitment to the audience relationship manifests in many ways.  Most notably is the proximity to the audience and the kinds of spaces we search out to get that close proximity.  We often break the fourth wall even in plays that might not call for that particular style of acting.  I always want the audience to feel that they’re in the same room with us.

Opening Night of
Hamlet/Saint Joan
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