This preview has been provided by Burning Coal Theatre Company.

Burning Coal Theatre Company, a small professional theatre based in Raleigh, North Carolina announces its upcoming production of the American premiere of The Shape of the Table by playwright David Edgar, directed by Jerome Davis. The production will run April 7 – 24, 2011 at the Murphey School, 224 Polk Street, Raleigh. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. 

Tickets are $20 or $15 for students, seniors and active military. Thursday night tickets are $10 apiece. Student rush tickets are available at every performance for $5 apiece, availability pending.

Sunday, April 10th at 2 p.m. is our “Pay What You Can” performance, and it will be audio described for the visually impaired.

On Thursday, April 7th at 6:00 pm, our ongoing “Lobby Lecture” series will feature an informal discussion with the playwright David Edgar. Tickets to this lecture/performance will be $5 available only at the door. The event will be free to those holding a valid ticket to any performance of The Shape of the Table.

For tickets and information, please call 919.834.4001 or visit our website at

AboutThe Shape of the Table

A country is in turmoil. Its people have taken to the streets, declaring “we are fed up” with the government. They are demanding change! Does this sound like tomorrow’s headlines? It does indeed. But it was written 21 years ago by playwright David Edgar (Pentecost, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, Nicholas Nickleby). Mr. Edgar began writing the play on November 10, 1989, the day after the Berlin Wall fell. Shape premiered at London’s Royal National Theatre one year later, in 1990. It was the first play in what became Edgar’s “Iron Curtain Trilogy”, about the political and social turmoil that swept through Eastern Europe with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of Communism in that part of the world. 

Shape details the struggle for power inside the walls of a small, unnamed Soviet satellite country as tens of thousands of its citizens march in the street and western media looks on bemusedly. It tells the story of a group of men who knew their time was up, but struggled until the last minute to hang on to some form of power … and dignity. It also tells of another group of men and women, flushed with the enthusiasm of the moment, who had to figure out how to turn a popular uprising into a functioning government.

About the Playwright

David Edgar was born in 1948 into a theatre family. After a period in journalism, he took up writing full time in 1972. In 1989, he founded Britain’s first graduate playwriting course, at the University of Birmingham, of which he was director for ten years. He was appointed as Britain’s first Professor of Playwriting in 1995. 

His original stage plays include Death Story (Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 1972), Entertaining Strangers (Dorchester Community Play, 1985, then National Theatre 1987), That Summer (Hampstead Theatre, London, 1987) and Playing with Fire (National Theatre, 2005). His stage adaptations include Albie Sachs’ Jail Diary (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1978, produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1979), Mary Barnes and Joe Berke’s Mary Barnes (Birmingham Rep then Royal Court, London, 1978-9, produced at the Long Wharf, New Haven, in 1980), a Tony and Emmy award-winning version of Dickens’Nicholas Nickleby (Royal Shakespeare Company in London and New York, 1980-1, subsequently Channel 4 Television), Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1991, and recently produced in Cleveland and Salt Lake City and at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), and Gitta Sereny’s Albert Speer (National Theatre, 2000). He has written a version of Brecht’s Galileo (Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 2005). His most recent play, Testing the Echo, was presented by Max Stafford-Clark’s Out of Joint in London at the Tricycle and his adaptation of Julian Barnes’ Arthur & George opened at Birmingham Rep in 2008.

His original plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company include Destiny (1976), Maydays (1983) and Pentecost (1994-5), which has been produced at Yale Rep, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, the Old Globe in San Diego, and by the Barrow Group (New York), as well as – twice – by Burning Coal. The Prisoner’s Dilemma is the final of a series of plays about Eastern Europe after the Cold War, following Pentecost (RSC, 1995) and The Shape of the Table (National Theatre 1990). His two plays about an American governor’s election (Daughters of the Revolution and Mothers Against, jointly titled Continental Divide) were co-produced by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Berkeley Rep at their own theatres and in Birmingham and London, England, and La Jolla, California, in 2003-4.

In addition to several adaptations of his stage plays David Edgar’s television work includes both serials and single plays and he has written extensively for radio (his new radio play Something Wrong about the Mouth is broadcast in tandem with a radio version of Playing with Fire by the BBC this January). He also wrote the screenplay for Trevor Nunn’s film Lady Jane (Paramount, 1986).

About the Cast

Tony Award winning actor Nick Berg Barnes (a member of the cast of Journey’s End on Broadway), who last appeared with Burning  Coal in The Taming of the Shrew in 2006, will appear as Josef Lutz, chairman of the communist party. Raleigh-based actor James Anderson will play jailed dissident Pavel Prus. James last appeared with Burning Coal as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. New York based union actor Peter Tedeschi will play the Prime Minister of the country. Durham’s John Allore will play Minister of Communications Petr Vladislav and Raleigh’s John Honeycutt will play Labor Union Chairman Jan Milev. Raleigh’s Julie Oliver will play Vera Rousova and Durham-based Equity actor Tom McCleister will play ousted party chair Victor Spassov. The remainder of the cast includes Raleigh’s Tamara Kraus as Monica Freie, PJ Maske as Victoria Brodskaya, David McSweeney as Jan Matkovic and Stephen LeTrent as student leader Andre Zietek. The cast also includes Raleigh’s Samantha Corey and Fred Corlett.

About the Director

Jerome Davis founded Burning Coal Theatre with his wife, Simmie Kastner, in 1995. For Burning Coal:  Rat in the Skull, Pentecost (twice), Windingthe Ball, Steward of Christendom, Night and Day, Company, Juno & the Paycock, The Weir, Road to Mecca, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Inherit the Wind, the American Premiere of David Edgar’s The Prisoner’s Dilemma, Hysteria, 1960 and The Seafarer.  Jerry is a member of the 2010/11 Burning Coal company.  Elsewhere, he has directed Twelfth Night, Of Mice and Men, Keely & Du, The Elephant Man and The Time of Your Life.  He will direct Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for Opera NC in May, 2011. He has acted or studied with Uta Hagen, Horton Foote, Adrian Hall, Richard Jenkins, Oliver Platt, Hope Davis, Steve Harris, Ralph Waite, Nikos Psacharapolous, Julie Bovasso, Ben Gazzarra, and Amanda Peet.

For further information, please contact Burning Coal’s managing director, Simmie Kastner, at 919.834.4001 or visit our website at

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Burning Coal Theatre Company is Raleigh’s small, professional theatre.  Burning Coal is an incorporated, non-profit [501 (c)(3)] organization. Burning Coal’s mission is to produce literate, visceral, affecting theatre that is experienced, not simply seen. Burning Coal produces explosive reexaminations of overlooked classic and modern plays, as well as new plays, whose themes and issues are of immediate concern to our audience, using the best local, national and international artists available. We work toward a theatre of high-energy performances and minimalist production values. The emphasis is on literate works that are felt and experienced viscerally, unlike more traditional linear plays, at which audiences are most often asked to observe without participating. Race and gender non-specific casting is an integral component of our perspective, as well as an international viewpoint.