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Mark Rylance in the 2013 production of "Nice Fish" at the Guthrie Theater. (Photo by Richard Termine)

Guthrie, ART Announce Mark Rylance Co-Commission

‘Steel’ will be a multi-part cycle exploring stories of labor and industry from America’s age of steel.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS., and MINNEAPOLIS: The Guthrie Theater and American Repertory Theater at Harvard University have announced the co-commission and co-development of Steel, a new play cycle by Mark Rylance and Peter Reder.

Steel will be a six-part American history cycle, with this co-commission developing the first two parts. The cycle will bring to life the time between the Civil War and World War I, focusing on the lives of those around Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company. Steel will be directed by Claire van Kampen, who directed Nice Fish for both the Guthrie (2013) and the A.R.T. (2016).

Central to Steel is the 1892 Battle of Homestead (Pennsylvania), where conflict between workers at Carnegie Steel and privately hired security guards during a lockout resulted in numerous deaths.

At the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Homestead at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library Music Hall in 2017, Rylance said this is “a story worthy of Shakespeare. We should never forget the role of labor and industry and what it’s done for a nation. This story is essential to American culture. It shaped where we are now.”

Rylance, who began reading about the Homestead strike in 2003, is a Tony, Olivier, BAFTA, and Academy Award winner known for his work as an actor, director, and playwright. Rylance has a long working relationship with both ART and the Guthrie. He appeared in Hamlet and The Seagull at ART in 1991 and in Twelfth Night at the Guthrie in 2003. Rylance was also the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London from 1995 to 2005. Reder is trained as a classical pianist as well as an actor with Jacques Lecoq in Paris who has created original works around the world.

“Mark Rylance is an extraordinary actor, playwright, and theatremaker,” said Guthrie artistic director Joseph Haj in a statement. “It is a privilege and a pleasure to partner with ART and allow Mark the opportunity to explore this important time in our country’s history and development.”

ART executive producer Diane Borger echoed the sentiments in her statement, adding that this project will “explore the stories of these complex men, whose actions left indelible marks on the United States.”

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