Aquila gets Equity waiver to bring ‘Lear’ & ‘Iliad’ to N.Y.

Mixed citizenship troupe to play Clark Studio Theater

The touring Aquila Theater Co. will make a stop in Gotham late this year to perform two classic plays in repertory at Lincoln Center’s Clark Studio Theater.

Productions of “King Lear” and “The Iliad,” with a new American translation by Stanley Lombardo, will alternate between Nov. 29 and Jan. 6.

Started in the U.K. in 1991 by producing artistic director Peter Meineck, troupe has a mixed composition of British and American actors, an unusual trait given Equity’s strict rules against noncelebrity foreign talent performing in American productions.

Rare union agreement

Under Aquila’s rare union agreement, the company may perform using 50% American and 50% British talent for one year, after which the British content must be reduced to 40% for the second year and 25% for the third year.

This makes Aquila the first ongoing company of mixed-citizenship actors, according to Equity business rep Flora Stamatiades, who negotiated the agreement.

The British actors must pay into Equity’s retirement fund while working and, after three years, the company will be subject to the normal guild requirement that companies use only resident actors.

Exchange of cultures

In the meantime, Aquila will relish the cultural cross-fertilization. “We’ve always had a history of hiring people with diverse backgrounds” Meineck told Daily Variety. “The spirit of the company is the unification of American and British theater.”

Dates for “The Iliad” are Nov. 23-24, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, Dec. 6-7 and Jan. 7-8; “King Lear” runs Nov. 26-28, Dec. 2-5 and Jan. 4-6.

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