PITTSFIELD -- The American premiere of Canadian playwright Evelyne de la Chenelière's "Bashir Lazhar" begins performances tonight at Barrington Stage Company's St. Germain Stage in the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden St., where it is scheduled to run through June 8.

Press opening is Sunday afternoon at 3.

Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30, Saturday afternoons at 4 and Sunday afternoons at 3. There is an added matinee Thursday, June 6 at 4.

There will be a post-performance discussion on Tuesday.

Shakina Nayfack. is directing Morwyn Brebner's translation of Chenelière's play about a French-Algerian political refugee who is hurriedly hired as the teacher at an elementary school in Montreal for a class of distressed students. His unorthodox teaching methods draw him into surprisingly explosive territory.

"Bashir Lazhar" was adapted for the screen under the title "Monseiur Lazhar" and was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Barrington Stage presented a staged reading of the play last summer.

Juri Henley-Cohn making his Barrington Stage debut in the title role. He has been seen on stage in New York, at regional theaters, among them Williamstown Theater Festival, and on film.

Nayfack, who also directed last year's reading, is associate producer of BSC's Blatt Center and is a theater director, choreographer, producer and performance artist. Her BSC credits include directing "Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers" and choreography for "Mormons, Mothers, and Monsters," "The Game" and "Lord of the Flies."

Evelyne de la Chenelière's plays have been produced in Quebec as well as abroad, and translated into several languages.

Ticket information is available through the Barrington Stage box office at (413) 236-8888 or toll-free at 855-TIX-2BSC; or online at www.barringtonstageco.org.