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Virginia Premiere of “THE RIVER” opens January 20

December 12, 2022 – Live Arts Theater’s 2022/23 Transformations Season leaps into the new year with the Virginia premiere of Jez Butterworth’s hauntingly lyrical THE RIVER, directed by Robert Chapel. THE RIVER will have 16 performances in the Founders Theater, January 20 through February 11, 2023, at Live Arts Theater, 123 E. Water Street, Charlottesville. Tickets are $27 for adults or $24 for students and senior citizens and are available through the Box Office at, by phone at 434-977-4177 x123, or online at

Live Arts will host two special events for THE RIVER. An opening night reception will follow the performance on Friday, January 20 and a post-show audience talk-back will follow the performance on Thursday, February 2 (7:30pm curtain). Audiences are welcome to enjoy beverages and concessions one hour before and after every show.

“A magnetically eerie, luminously beautiful psychodrama.” – Time Out (London)

In his subtly crafted play, playwright Jez Butterworth sets the story in a remote cabin on a cliff beside a river. The Man has invited The Woman there, and he longs to share with her the ecstatic excitement of fishing for sea trout on a once-a-year moonless night. Amid darkness and the sound of the rushing river, the lights suddenly come up on The Man calling the police about a woman who has gone missing while fishing. He is interrupted by a door banging and The Other Woman enters, seemingly having exchanged places. Are we witnessing some kind of unnerving ritual unfold? Are we watching a ghost story, a thriller, or some sort of illusory memory?  

“A wonderful play, glinting and elusive as a fish.” – Financial Times

THE RIVER is directed by Robert Chapel and showcases three local talents: Steve Tharp as The Man, Christina Ball as The Woman, and Caitlin Reinhard as The Other Woman. The production also features a powerhouse creative team:  Linda Zuby (production stage manager); Carter Walker (assistant stage manager); Tom Bloom (scenic design); Steven Spera (lighting design); John Holdren (sound design); Tricia Emlet (costume design); Miriam Halpern (properties associate); and Tovah Close (dialects). 

Performance History

First produced by the Royal Court, London, in 2012, THE RIVER received its North American premiere at the Circle in the Square Theatre in New York in 2014, starring Hugh Jackman, Cush Jumbo, and Laura Donnelly.  

About The Playwright

Jez Butterworth is a playwright and screenwriter, actor, and film director. His stage plays include Mojo (1995; West End 2013); The Night Heron (2002) and Winterling (2006), both of which premiered at the Royal Court Theatre; Parlour Song (2008), which opened in New York in 2008; the multi-award-winning comedy, Jerusalem (2009; Broadway 2011), which starred Mark Rylance and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play; The River (2012); and The Ferryman (2017; Broadway, 2019 Tony Award Winner for Best Play). 

Among other awards, Butterworth has received two Olivier Awards, three Evening Standard Awards, four Writers’ Guild Awards, and three Critics Circle Awards. He wrote and directed the film adaptation of Mojo (1998) starring Ian Hart and Harold Pinter. Screenwriting credits include Night of the Golden Brain and Christmas (both written with his brother Tom Butterworth); Birthday Girl (2001), which starred Nicole Kidman; The Last Legion (2007); Fair Game, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts; Get On Up (2014); Edge of Tomorrow (2014); Black Mass (2015); and the James Bond film Spectre (2015). Most recently, he is the playwright and screenwriter of Mammals—a six-part series starring James Corden and Sally Hawkins.

About the Director 

Robert Chapel has directed more than 140 productions throughout his career, including: Russian premiere of Sweeney Todd in Moscow; She Stoops to Conquer in Australia; Genet’s The Balcony (Drama-Logue Award for Directing) in Los Angeles; Shubert Alley for Official Opening of Shubert Archive in New York; Bernstein’s Mass in Ann Arbor and Charlottesville; 55 productions for Heritage Theatre (producing artistic director); 24 productions for UVA Drama Department (professor and chair, 26 years); 12 productions for University of Michigan Department of Theatre including Playing for Time for official opening of the Arthur Miller Theatre; Le Tragedie de Carmen for Charlottesville Opera; and four productions for Live Arts. Awards and achievements include: Lifetime Achievement Award, Virginia Theatre Association; Raven Faculty Award, UVA; and Fulbright Grant and U.S. State Department Grant for trips to produce theater in Russia. He has directed at University of Alabama, NYU, Indiana University, Cal Arts, and San Diego State University. 

About Live Arts 

Live Arts is a volunteer-powered, nonprofit community theater in Downtown Charlottesville. Founded in 1990, Live Arts is celebrating 32 years of forging theater and community. The 2022/23 Transformations Season is made possible by season sponsors Elizabeth and Joe LeVaca, media sponsors C-VILLE Weekly and WTJU 91.1FM, pay-what-you-can sponsor Ting, education sponsor The Local, and IT partner PJ Networks Computer Services. Shows sponsors include Allison Partners, The Caplin Foundation, Chaski Global, Pamela Friedman and Ronald Bailey, Barbara and Jay Kessler, Latitude 38, The Madwoman Project at Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Panorama Consulting, Silverchair, Strauss Construction, Woodard Properties, George Worthington and Cameron Mowat, and philanthropic gifts by hundreds of theater lovers in the community.

Live Arts is supported by grants from Albemarle County, City of Charlottesville, the BamaWorks Fund of Dave Matthews Band at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, the DN Batten Foundation, Bank of America Foundation, and Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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