Written by Gary Graves A Central Works Method Play developed in collaboration with Lucas Hatton, Vanessa Ramos, Gregory Scharpen, Benjamin Stowe and Jan Zvaifler World Premiere #42
Directed by Jan Zvaifler
Produced in: 2014
A Central Works Method Play developed in collaboration with Lucas Hatton, Vanessa Ramos, Gregory Scharpen, Benjamin Stowe and Jan Zvaifler
World Premiere #42
We open the 2014 season with The Lion and the Fox, a prequel to Machiavelli’s The Prince, one of our most popular productions ever. This time we see Niccolo Machiavelli pair off against one of the greatest villains in history, Cesare Borgia. What really happened between the author of The Prince and the ideal subject of the little book that changed the world? — Machiavelli’s infamous “handbook for tyrants.”
The more Machiavelli learns about Cesare, the more he is impressed. Borgia seems gifted beyond all others; he has limitless wealth, he’s a brilliant military tactician, a magnificent warrior, he’s irresistibly handsome, utterly ruthless—and incredibly lucky. He even has the great Leonardo da Vinci in his service, as the “architect-engineer” of his magnificent war machine, which seems increasingly unstoppable as it storms through Italy.
But when Machiavelli learns of a plot against the life of Cesare, he must make a choice: will he be loyal to the sacred homeland of his birth, the Republic of Florence? Or will he give in to his growing conviction that Cesare Borgia may indeed be “the Son of Fortune,” the one ordained by God Himself to be the “Savior of all Italy”— the ideal Prince?
Written by company co-director, Gary Graves, and directed by company co-director, Jan Zvaifler. Featuring Benjamin Stowe as “Machiavelli,” and Lucas Hatton as “Cesare Borgia.” Sound design by Gregory Scharpen, costume design by Tammy Berlin, and stage management by Vanessa Ramos.
The play runs 110 minutes, including a 10 minute intermission.
Lucas Hatton: Cesare Borgia
Benjamin Stowe: Niccolo Machiavelli
Costume design: Tammy Berlin
Lighting design: Gary Graves
Sound design: Gregory Scharpen
Stage manager: Vanessa Ramos
“If you crave stripped-down, intellectually challenging theatre that burns with passion, intelligence, suspense and a bit of poison, this show is for you” – G. Heymont, myculturallandscape.com
“It’s a curious and fascinating confrontation” – K. Bullock, Berkeley Daily Planet
“If you’re excited by quality theater and you enjoy seeing new works, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to see this Central Works production” E. Warnimont, Benicia Herald
“a riveting history lesson … challenging and intellectually engaging … finely balanced prose, skillfully presented” – C. Kruger, TheatreStorm
Watch the trailer!
Take the quiz: How Machiavellian are you?
Learn more about the history and context of the plays:
Read The Lion and the Fox Blog
A note from the playwright:
In 2009, we embarked on a project called Machiavelli’s The Prince. That project was originally conceived as a play with three characters: Niccolo Machiavelli, Lorenzino de Medici (the new duke of Florence) and Cesare Borgia (the central figure in Machiavelli’s famous little book). After a fantastic trip to Italy, to see all the places where the play unfolds, and several months of developmental workshops, just a week before rehearsals were set to begin, I found myself in the unenviable position of having to inform the actors and the rest of the collaborative team, that we had no play. I was stymied. I could not figure out how to intertwine the two stories in the play, as I had intended. First, there was the story of the interaction between Machiavelli and the new duke of Florence, Lorenzino. This is the figure to whom Machiavelli presents the first copy of The Prince, as a gift, hoping to enter into his service. The other story was about Machiavelli’s encounter with Cesare Borgia, one of the most notorious villains in history. One of two actors was supposed to play both roles, Lorenzino and Cesare, as the play moved back and forth between the two stories. But it didn’t work. I just couldn’t figure it out. One week till rehearsals begin—and no script. Not good. Everyone was remarkably good natured about the disastrous position I had thrust us all into. We talked. We brainstormed. We came up with an idea: just tell the one story about Machiavelli and Lorenzino. And write it really quickly. In two weeks we were in rehearsal (one week late), and, astonishingly, the play turned out to be one of our most popular productions ever, thanks in no small part to the amazing team that put the show together (actors Richard Fredrick and Michael Navarra, sound designer Greg Scharpen, costume designer Tammy Berlin, and producer Jan Zvaifler). But Cesare wouldn’t leave me alone. His story, and his doings with Machiavelli, kept calling to me, gnawing at me, working on me. Finally, last year, I understood how the two stories work together: first Cesare’s story constitutes Part One, and then Lorenzino’s story follows as Part Two. So now, five years later, we’re opening Part One of Machiavelli and The Prince: The Lion and the Fox. –Gary Graves