Pitmen Painters

Art for the 99%

Miners redefine their lives by becoming artists in the Pittsburgh Premiere of Lee Hall’s The Pitmen Painters

Media Contact: Michelle Belan

Marketing Director

Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre


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Pittsburgh, PA – May 10, 2012. PICT continues its season with the Pittsburgh premiere of The Pitmen Painters, by Billy Elliot author Lee Hall. The production features Brad Heberlee as Robert Lyon, Simon Bradbury as Oliver Kilbourn, Alan Stanford as Harry Wilson, Daryll Heysham as Jimmy Floyd, Larry John Meyers as George Brown, Bernard Balbot as Young Lad, Linda Kimbrough as Helen Sutherland, Rachel McKeon as Susan Parks, and Sean Sears as Ben Nicholson. PICT Producing Artistic Director Andrew S. Paul directs The Pitmen Painters, which runs May 31st through June 23 in the intimate Henry Heymann Theatre.

Winner of London’s 2009 Olivier Award for Best Play, this true story about an inspiring group of miners touched the hearts of audiences around the world. In 1934, a group of miners and a dental mechanic from Ashington, a coal-mining town in northeast England, hired a professor from Newcastle University to teach an evening Art Appreciation class. Unable to understand each other at first, they embarked on one of the most unusual experiments in British art, as the pitmen learned to become painters. Within a few years the most avant-garde artists became their friends, their work was taken for prestigious collections and they were celebrated throughout the British art world; but every day they worked, as before, down the mine.

Playwright Lee Hall has enjoyed success writing for film, television, stage and radio. His screenwriting credits include Billy Elliot (Oscar-nominated for Best Original Screenplay) and War Horse, (directed by Steven Spielberg). For stage: Billy Elliot the Musical (with Elton John, winning 10 of 15 Tony nominations); Olivier-nominated Cooking with Elvis; Spoonface Steinberg, and adaptations for stage including The Barber of Seville, The Good Hope, Pinocchio, Mother Courage, and Servant to Two Masters. For television: The Wind in the Willows, Spoonface Steinberg and The Student Prince. His radio play I Love You, Jimmy Spud won the Sony Award for Best Writing on the Radio. He is currently working on a play about composer Messiaen.

When asked to write a play to mark the reopening of the Live Theatre in Newcastle, England, Lee Hall came across a second-hand book, Pitmen Painters: The Ashington Group, by William Feavers. Before he was halfway through the book, he knew he had found the inspiration for a new play. Hall writes, “Quite clearly, the working classes of the early part of last century were aspirational about high art. They not only felt entitled, but felt a duty to take part in the best that life has to offer in terms of art and culture.” These miners made art a part of their lives rather than leaving it to the upper classes. Art was not a commodity for commercial benefit but an integral part of daily living. Painting was not a commercial enterprise for the Ashington Group, but was simply about painting life as they knew it. A compelling, hilarious salute to the power of individual expression and the collective spirit, The Pitmen Painters is a deeply moving and timely look at art, class and politics.

Alan Stanford is the PICT 2012 Artist-in-Residence.  Stanford made his PICT directorial debut in 2007 with the acclaimed production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome. Since then, his PICT directing credits have included In the Next Room or the vibrator play, as well as Betrayal and Celebration in the 2010 Pinter Celebration, and last season’s record-breaking production of The Mask of Moriarty. Stanford has a long association with Dublin’s famed Gate Theatre, where he has directed numerous productions including Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, and God of Carnage. He has toured the world over the past decade as Pozzo in the Gate Theatre production of Waiting for Godot. Stanford is also a company member in PICT’s Chekhov Celebration, directing Brian Friel’s Afterplay and The Yalta Game, and starring as Count Shabelsky in Ivanov and Svetlovidov in Swan Song.

Brad Heberlee recently appeared as Dr. Givings in PICT’s In the Next Room or the vibrator play. Linda Kimbrough previously appeared at PICT as Mrs. Lintott in The History Boys. She has originated roles in four of David Mamet’s plays: Edmond, Reunion, The Water Engine, Squirrels, and as Charlotta in his adaptation of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Daryll Heysham returns to PICT after playing Inspector Lestrade in last December’s box-office hit The Mask of Moriarty. Simon Bradbury was last seen on the PICT stage in 2010 Hobson’s Choice; his performance as Will Mossop earned him a Performer of the Year nod by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Larry John Meyers is in his eleventh season with PICT, most recently performing in Othello as well as The Hothouse and The Room during PICT’s Pinter Celebration

Scenic design is by Gianni Downs, lighting by Jim French, costumes by Rachel Parent, and sound design by Chris Rummel. The Pitmen Painters performs May 31 through June 23 in the Henry Heymann Theatre.

The 2012 Media Sponsors are WYEP and Essential Public Radio. Single tickets are available now through PICT’s new online ticketing system at www.picttheatre.org. A range of options are available for money-saving season subscriptions, and can be purchased on the PICT website at www.picttheatre.org.

PICT receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as funding from the Allegheny County Regional Assets District.

The Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre was founded in 1996 to diversify the region’s theatrical offerings by providing Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania audiences with high-quality, text-driven, affordable productions of classical theatre and the works of classical and contemporary Irish playwrights and to significantly improve employment opportunities for local talent in all facets of theatrical presentation and production.  PICT is a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) affiliated with Actors’ Equity Association, and a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. PICT is the Professional Theatre in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh and PICT productions at The Charity Randall and Henry Heymann Theatres are presented in cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh – Department of Theatre Arts.


FACT SHEET –  The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall

Pittsburgh Premiere
Directed by Andrew S. Paul
The Henry Heymann in the Stephen Foster Memorial
4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Cast: Bernard Balbot, Simon Bradbury, Brad Heberlee, Daryll Heysham, Linda Kimbrough, Rachel McKeon, Larry John Meyers, Alan Stanford

Design Team: Gianni Downs (scenic design); Rachel Parent (costume design); Jim French (lighting design); Chris Rummel (sound design); George DeShetler (properties)

First Week: Thursday – Friday, May 31-June 1, Previews, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 2, Opening, 8:00 p.m. (followed by reception)
Sunday, June 3, 2:00 p.m. (followed by talk-back with Artist-in-Residence Alan Stanford)

Second Week: Tuesday, June 5, 7:00 p.m. (Professional Tuesday performance)
Wednesday – Saturday, June 6-9, 8:00 p.m.*
Sunday, June 10, 2:00 p.m.
*preshow lectures Wednesday and Thursday, June and 6 and 7, 7:00 p.m. Free.

Third Week: Tuesday, June 12, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday – Saturday, June 13 – 16, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 17, 2:00 p.m.

Fourth Week: Tuesday, June 19, 7:00 pm
Wednesday – Friday, June 20 – 22, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 23, 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

PICT Special Events   (All Free of Charge)
Preshow Lecture Series
Wednesday, June 6, 7:00 p.m.
Subject – TBA

Thursday, June 7, 7:00 p.m.
Behind the Scenes with The Pitmen Painters
Gianni Downs, Scenic Designer/Production Manager

PICT Special Events, cont’d.

Talk Back Series
Sunday, April 22, following the 2:00 p.m. matinee
Featuring Alan Stanford, Artist-in-Residence, portraying Harry Wilson in the production

Panel Discussion Series
Sunday, June 17, 2012, 12 noon
Art for the 99%

John Carson, Regina and Marlin Miller Professor and Head of the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University
Allyson Holtz, Artistic Director, Operation Valor Arts: a Veteran’s Initiative
Barbara McCloskey, Associate Professor, Department of History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh

Subscriptions: $224 – $252 (10 packages and Flex Plans available)
Single Tickets: starting at $25 ($20 under 26 with valid ID)


Pick, purchase and print your tickets online at www.picttheatre.org,

PICT – Great Stories. Well Told.