Carnegie Mellon University
Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

April 18: School of Drama Collaborates With Renowned British Actor To Create Production About Frick and Carnegie


Eric Sloss

Carnegie Mellon School of Drama Collaborates With Renowned
British Actor To Create Production About Frick and Carnegie

PITTSBURGH—The Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama has announced the upcoming residency of master Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance during March and April 2008. Rylance will work with senior actors to develop a play about the relationship between Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick titled "The Divine Comedy of Carnegie, Frick and Goldman Incorporated." This is the third project executed by the school's International Artist Residency program, created by School of Drama Head Elizabeth Bradley.     

"We cannot imagine a more accomplished theater artist than Mark Rylance to enrich the education of our gifted students," Bradley said. "Not only will he work alongside them in creating this uniquely Pittsburgh story, but he will also conduct master classes and workshops in the playing of Shakespeare. His time with us is a great gift."   

Rylance will be joined by director Tim Carroll, the former "master of the play" with the Globe Theater in London; and music director and composer Claire Rylance.    

"My collaborators and I are delighted to continue the development of this very specific Pittsburgh story at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama," Rylance said. "I am well aware of the sterling international reputation of the School of Drama and had the opportunity to work briefly with student actors during my last visit to the city. Research universities play a significant role in new work creation in many fields, and Carnegie Mellon is to be congratulated for extending this mandate to the arts."    

When performing in Pittsburgh in 2002, Rylance visited Frick's restored home, Clayton, which is now a museum. He became fascinated by the complex and troubled relationship between Frick and Carnegie, a relationship that Rylance describes as one of Shakespearian proportions. He became convinced that the story of these two men had an enormous impact on the way we live now — creating the basis for runaway capitalism on a global scale, but also bringing about the birth of philanthropy.     

"The Divine Comedy of Carnegie, Frick and Goldman Incorporated" was given a previous workshop at the Royal National Theatre. Rylance has now taken over shaping the material as a writer, and plans to eventually play Frick. Rylance describes his concept of the material as a "Brecht cabaret," a combination of a play and music. He will workshop the next phase of the production at Carnegie Mellon, with a presentation of the work-in-progress in the Philip Chosky Theater in April 2008. Plans are also under way for a fully mounted professional production in the 2008-2009 theater season, followed by an international tour. The School of Drama will be credited as contributing to the creation of this new work.    

"The more I read about it, the more the last 250 years of Pittsburgh's history intrigues and moves me," Rylance said. "I hope to eventually share this history with people who live far away from where the three rivers meet. But now, the opportunity to manifest and share some of this ongoing drama of Pittsburgh people with students, advisors and friends in Pittsburgh is very, very much appreciated, particularly during such a historic year."