Austin Pendleton to Helm Mississippi Mud's CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, 10/19-11/17
Obie- Award winning and Tony nominated director Austin Pendleton directs Tennessee Williams' Cat on A Hot Tin Roof in a new Indie theatre production with the Mississippi Mud. This is the play that Ben Brantley described as Williams' "most impassioned and articulate statement on human isolation, the wrenching problems of communication between people and the ways in which death defines life." It is brought to life in a new intimate bold raw space production that unfolds in "real time" and places center stage the lush language of this modern classic fable.
Post-Show Talkbacks with Austin Pendleton and cast Saturday October 19 and Friday November 1.
Austin Pendleton (Director) has just directed Vieux Carre and A Streetcar Named Desire for the Mud Lab. This past June he directed The Blonde Bombshell Project for Mississippi Mud Productions. He recently directed The Birthday Party at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, where he has acted and directed, as a member of the Ensemble, for many years. In New York, he has directed several Mississippi Mud productions, including Suddenly Last Summer (in which he also appeared), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (in Mud Lab). He was most recently seen as Nightingale in Vieux Carre Mud Lab and Choir Boy at the Manhattan Theatre Company. He has directed three Chekhov productions at Classic Stage Company: Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters (for which he won an Obie), and Ivanov, featuring, between them, such actors as Maggie Gylenhall, Peter Sarsgaard, and Ethan Hawke. He has acted in many movies and in recurring roles on such TV series as Homocide and Oz, as well as on Broadway in, most recently, The Diary of Anne Frank, with Natalie Portman and Linda Lavin, in a script revised by Wendy Kesselman, in whose musical, The Black Monk, he played the title role. He has written three plays: Orson's Shadow, produced at Mud after its off-Broadway run which lasted the year of 2005, at the Barrow St. Theatre, directed by David Cromer; Uncle Bob, which has been produced in NY, around the country and internationally; and Booth, which starred Frank Langella in its productions in New York, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven; as well as the libretto for A Minister's Wife, music by Josh Schmidt and lyrics by Jan Tranen, commissioned and produced by Chicago's Writers' Theatre in 2009, and at Lincoln Center in 2011. All these works have been published. He directed Elizabeth Taylor on Broadway in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes. He recently directed The Last Will in New York (in which he also appeared), by Robert Brustein, at the Abingdon Theatre. He teaches acting at HB Studio, in New York.
Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play focuses on a troubled Southern family and the discord over their dying father's millions. Wealthy plantation owner Big Daddy Pollitt is celebrating his 65th birthday with his family, including his wife Big Mama, his two sons, Brick and Gooper and their wives. He has cancer, but a doctor has for the sake of the day declared it in remission. Seemingly perfect son Gooper and his wife, Mae have several children and are anxiously expecting to inherit Daddy's millions. By contrast, Big Daddy's "favorite," Brick, is a has-been football star who's taken to drinking his days away since the suicide of his "best friend" a year earlier. He resents his wife, Maggie, because he believes that she had an affair with his deceased friend. As a result, he refuses to sleep with her, although she remains devoted to him and as a woman who saw the dire effects of poverty on her family, and is fighting to secure Brick's and her future. Since Brick and Maggie have failed to produce any grandchildren, Big Daddy is inclined to leave his estate to Gooper, but Maggie attempts to prevent that by telling him that she is pregnant. Big Daddy knows better, yet he recognizes that Maggie loves Brick so much that she would be willing to do anything for him. Although Brick is self-destructive and resentful, unable to come to terms with his losses, it takes Big Daddy's recognition of his own mortality to make Brick change his perspective. Brick's struggle with his sexual identity, and the nature of his relationship with his "friend," along with the struggle for security in a dance with life and death for each character, unfolds.