Location and Dates
About this commission
A World Premiere Shed Commission
Norma Jeane Baker of Troy is a partly spoken, partly sung performance piece by poet, essayist, and scholar Anne Carson (Eros the Bittersweet: An Essay; Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse; Nox; Float), intimately and powerfully staged by Katie Mitchell, who The Guardian calls “Britain’s greatest living theater director,” in The Shed’s 500-seat theater. Actor Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, The Crucible on Broadway, Mary Poppins Returns, A Very English Scandal) and soprano Renée Fleming (performances in international concert halls and opera houses; Carousel on Broadway; soundtracks for The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) star in an exploration of the lives and myths of Marilyn Monroe and Helen of Troy-iconic beauties who lived millenia apart.
Renée Fleming is one of the most highly-acclaimed singers of our time, performing on the stages of the world’s greatest opera houses, theaters, and concert halls. In 2013, President Obama awarded her the US National Medal of Arts. Winner of four Grammy awards, Fleming has sung for momentous occasions ranging from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to the Diamond Jubilee Concert for HM Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
Fleming earned a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the 2018 Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. Her new album Renée Fleming: Broadway was released in September by Decca. She is heard on the soundtracks of the 2018 Best Picture Oscar winner The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and she provided Julianne Moore’s singing voice for the film Bel Canto.
As artistic advisor to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Fleming spearheads a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health focused on music, health, and neuroscience. Among her awards are the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Award, Germany’s Cross of the Order of Merit, France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music.
Award-winning actor Ben Whishaw’s film credits include My Brother Tom (Most Promising Newcomer, British Independent Film Awards) and I’m Not There (The Independent Spirit Awards’s prestigious Robert Altman Award). He starred as Grenouille in the critically acclaimed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Other film credits include Enduring Love, Layer Cake, Stoned, The Tempest, Brideshead Revisited, Bright Star, The International, Suffragette, The Lobster, The Zero Theorem, In the Heart of the Sea, Lilting, Cloud Atlas, The Danish Girl, and the role of Q in the latest James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre. Ben also voiced the title role of Paddington Bear in Paddington and Paddington 2.
Whishaw’s television performances include A Very English Scandal (2019 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television; Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Limited Series), Criminal Justice (2009 Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor and the Royal Television Society, UK [RTS] Award for Best Male Actor), in addition to a BAFTA TV Award nomination. Further credits include ITV’s The Booze Cruise, Nathan Barley, BBC’s The Hour, Richard II (BAFTA Winner for Best Leading Actor), London Spy, and A Very British Scandal.
For stage, Whishaw received an Olivier Award nomination for his performance in His Dark Materials (Old Vic, following transfer from National Theatre). Other theater credits include Mojo (Harold Pinter Theatre), Peter and Alice (Noel Coward Theatre), The Pride (Lucille Lortel Theatre), Cock (Royal Court Theatre), Some Trace of Her and The Seagull (National Theatre), Leaves of Glass (Soho Theatre), Hamlet (Old Vic), Bakkhai and Against (Almeida Theatre), Julius Caesar (The Bridge Theatre), and The Crucible on Broadway.
Whishaw appears as Michael Banks opposite Emily Blunt and Emily Mortimer in the much-anticipated sequel to Disney’s Mary Poppins, titled Mary Poppins Returns, and has since completed filming Armando Lanmucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield.
Katie Mitchell has directed over 100 productions in a career spanning 28 years. She has directed 74 theater productions including in London, Amsterdam, Milan, Berlin, Stockholm, Cologne, Vienna, Salzburg and Hamburg. She has directed 28 operas in the UK, Holland, France, Germany, and Denmark. In the UK, she has directed nine productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, 19 for the National Theatre, and 12 for the Royal Court Theatre. She has been an associate director at all three organizations.
Mitchell is currently resident artist at the Royal Court Theatre (London), the Schaubuhne Theatre (Berlin), and the Deutsches Schauspielhaus (Hamburg). She has just finished a seven-year artist residency at the Aix-en-Provence Opera Festival (France). In 2015, the Stadsschouwburg Theatre in Amsterdam held a retrospective of her opera and theater work, presenting eight productions from across Europe.
In 2005, Mitchell directed a stage adaptation of Virginia’s Woolf’s novel The Waves, bringing theater and cinema together in a new art form called live cinema. She has subsequently directed over 15 live cinema productions, many of which have toured worldwide. These groundbreaking productions have changed the way in which video is used in theater.
Mitchell is a climate change activist and an outspoken feminist, advocating for equal pay for women in theater and opera. As an associate director at the National Theatre, she was the first director to persuade the management to make a professional production for children under five.
Katie Mitchell has won numerous awards for her work. In 2009, she was presented with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to theater.
Paul Clark is co-artistic director of the London-based performance company CLOD ENSEMBLE and has written scores for all its productions to date—ranging from totally acoustic works to multi-speaker installations. Recent performances include Silver Swan (Tate Modern, Turbine Hall) for seven singers; Under Glass (Sadler’s Wells), a surround-sound installation; An Anatomie (Sadler’s Wells) for electronics, live orchestra, and a rock band; and Must (Public Theater, New York, with Peggy Shaw) for a jazz trio.
Clark has written music for and with a hugely diverse range of musicians from Opera North, Manchester Camerata, Österreichisches Ensemble für Neue Musik, and Welsh National Opera to Dangermouse, Yukihiro Isso, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, and Mark E Smith (The Fall). He has created numerous cross-disciplinary works in galleries, concert halls, and theaters.
Clark has written dozens of scores for theater in the UK and internationally. He has a longstanding collaboration with Katie Mitchell, for whom he has written over 20 scores, and with Gare St Lazare, with whom he created Here All Night (Lincoln Center, New York, and The Abbey, Dublin), an acclaimed words-and-music piece using texts by Samuel Beckett.
- Running time: 75 minutes
- No intermission
- No late seating