National Geographic Live to Kick Off 2013-14 Season with ‘BELL,’ One-Man Play on Alexander Graham Bell, National Geographic’s Second President
Written by Veteran Journalist Jim Lehrer and Starring Washington Actor Rick Foucheux
WASHINGTON — The 2013-2014 National Geographic Live series will kick off with the premiere of “BELL,” a one-man play revealing the extraordinary life of inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Bell was also the second president of the National Geographic Society, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The play, written by journalist Jim Lehrer and directed by Jeremy Skidmore, will open in Washington on Thursday, Sept. 12, at National Geographic’s Grosvenor Auditorium. Celebrated Washington actor Rick Foucheux will star as Bell. The show will close Saturday, Sept. 21, with eight performances during its 10-day run.
“BELL” exposes the many dimensions of the famous scientist and innovator, who was best known as the inventor of the telephone. A deeply committed family man, teacher of the deaf, holder of 47 patents, rival of Thomas Edison and National Geographic Society president from 1898 to 1903, Bell’s legacy extends far beyond the telephone. As National Geographic marks its 125th anniversary, “BELL” is a fitting tribute to one of the Society’s early leaders who embodied the spirit of exploration with his never-ending curiosity about the world and all that is in it.
“Alexander Graham Bell has a deep and personal connection with National Geographic, starting with his beloved wife, Mabel, who was the daughter of our first president and founder Gardiner Greene Hubbard,” said Gregory McGruder, vice president for Public Programs at National Geographic. “So, when Rick Foucheux and his wife approached me with this idea, I realized it would be the perfect way to tell National Geographic’s story, through one of the most recognizable names in our 125-year history. Of course, it didn’t hurt that one of the most talented actors in Washington would be portraying Bell.”
Playwright is the lesser known of Jim Lehrer’s many roles, which include award-winning journalist, author, frequent presidential debate moderator and executive director and former news anchor for PBS “Newshour.” Besides “BELL,” Lehrer has written three plays, including “Chili Queen,”’ his first foray into the theater world, which debuted at the Kennedy Center in 1987. In addition to his plays, Lehrer is the author of 20 novels, two memoirs and a nonfiction work about the presidential debates titled “Tension City.” His latest novel, “Top Down,” focuses on the Kennedy assassination and will be published this fall.
Foucheux is a prominent fixture in the Washington theater world. He has graced the stage in many acclaimed roles, including Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman” at Arena Stage, Sir Toby Belch in “Twelfth Night” at the Shakespeare Theatre, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Olney Theatre Center, Claudius in “Hamlet” at the Folger Theatre and Erie Smith in “Hughie” at the Washington Stage Guild. In 2000, he received the prestigious Helen Hayes Outstanding Lead Actor Award for the title role in “Edmund” at the Source Theatre. He received the honor again in 2006 for the role of Mason Marzac in “Take Me Out” at the Studio Theatre. As a resident artist at Theater J, he took on the role of another complex man as the title character in “Imagining Madoff.” Foucheux is also a company member at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.
“BELL,” Nat Geo Live’s first venture into the theater world, will be directed by acclaimed director Jeremy Skidmore. Skidmore has directed at many of the area’s premier theaters, including Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, Theater J, Olney Theatre Center for the Arts and Everyman Theatre. Outside of Washington, Skidmore has directed, produced or taught all over North Carolina and in Delaware, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, London, Oslo, Galway, Kilimanjaro, Tokyo, Macau and Taipei. As artistic director of Theater Alliance, he produced 22 productions in five years, which garnered 22 Helen Hayes nominations.
“BELL” tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by phone at (202) 857-7700 or online at nglive.org/bell.
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National Geographic Live is the live events division of the National Geographic Society, responsible for multimedia presentations, performances and film screenings for the general public, school audiences and sponsoring organizations around the world. For more information, visit nglive.org.
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