Lyric Explores Chilling Possibilities in
Caryl Churchill's "A Number"

Next up at Lyric Stage Company is "A Number," the provocative new play written by Caryl Churchill and directed by Spiro Veloudos. Performances are October 21 - November 19.
Churchill’s brilliantly conceived and tightly-wound 65-minute play is described as both a stark and unsettling journey into the nature versus nurture debate and an exploration of the complex relationships between father and sons.  

In Churchill's story, Salter loves his son Bernard, but is desperate for a second chance at being a better parent.  As an adult, Bernard learns that not only did his father have him cloned when he was a child, but that he has “a number” of genetically-identical brothers. Churchill’s work navigates the murky waters of the ethics of cloning, and asks whether genetics or environment play a larger role in shaping who we are. 

"A Number" caused a sensation in two high-profile productions in London and New York. The world premiere at the Royal Court in London, starring Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig, was called an “astonishing event” and “the first true play of the 21st century” by The London Evening Standard.  The sold-out New York Theatre Workshop production featured Sam Shepard in a rare stage appearance.  American Theatre Magazine recently named "A Number" one of the top ten shows to be produced this season in the United States.
Hailed by Tony Kushner as “the greatest living English-language playwright,” Churchill has long been seen as one of Britain's most important writers -- always political, unafraid to experiment with style, and deeply concerned with language.  She began as a radio playwright for the BBC in the 1960s, and later became the first female resident dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre. She has been associated with two feminist theatre companies, Monstrous Regiment and the Joint Stock Theatre Group, and it was while affiliated with the latter that she wrote the groundbreaking, gender-bending "Cloud Nine."  She is the recipient of three OBIE Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and an Olivier Award. Among her twenty-four plays are "Top Girls," "Mad Forest," "Serious Money" and "Far Away."

For the Lyric production, Steve McConnell plays Salter, and Lewis D. Wheeler portrays Bernard and additional roles. 
McConnell last appeared at the Lyric Stage Company as Oscar Wilde in "The Judas Kiss," for which he received the 2000 Independent Reviewers Best Actor of the Year Award.  Previous roles for the Lyric include Creon in "Antigone," Oedipus in "Oedipus Rex," Peter in "Good Evening," Sassoon in "The Unexpected Man," and Carr in "Travesties."  He has appeared at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Publick Theatre, Gloucester Stage and the New Rep

Wheeler played the Gentleman Caller in "The Glass Menagerie" at the Lyric last season.  This summer he appeared in "Arcadia" and "Comedy of Errors " at Publick Theatre.  He has also performed at Stoneham Theatre, Shakespeare Now!, The Huntington Theatre Company, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Theatre at Old South and Vineyard Playhouse. This winter he will appear in several episodes of the Showtime series, "Brotherhood."  

Lyric Stage has scheduled the following special events and activities in association with "A Number":
Sunday Talkbacks:
Audience members can meet the actors and share their thoughts with their fellow theatregoers immediately following the 3 PM performance on October 23, 30, November 6 and 13.
Thursday Night Forum Series: 
Audience members are invited to participate in a lively discussion on a topic related to the issues explored in A Number . Each discussion will led by panelists who are experts in their fields. 

The Nature vs. Nurture Debate
Thursday, November 3, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
Panelists scheduled to appear include Steven Pinker, the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and author of How the Mind Works and Blank Slate.
Caryl Churchill’s Methods and Meanings
Thursday, November 10, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
Panelists scheduled to appear include Churchill scholars Janet Gardner, assistant professor of English at UMass-Dartmouth, and Elizabeth Lyman, assistant professor of English at Harvard University.
The Science and Ethics of Human Cloning
Thursday, November 17, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
Panelists scheduled to appear include Kevin Egging, assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University. 

For tickets and information, call 617-437-7172 or visit

-- OnStage Boston


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