Kathleen Turner Set to Lead RED HOT PATRIOT at Arena Stage; David Esbjornson to Direct
Iconic stage and screen actress Kathleen Turner returns to Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater to star in Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, as the feisty, unforgettable political journalist. Written by twin-sister journalists Margaret Engel and Allison Engel and directed by David Esbjornson (Broadway's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? and Driving Miss Daisy), the D.C. premiere kicks off Arena Stage's 2012/13 season playing August 23 through October 28, 2012 in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle.
"Molly Ivins is a political news icon. Newspeople admired her, and politicians-even the ones she skewered-respected her brutally honest work. She makes a really wonderful stage character, and Kathleen Turner is the ideal match. Molly was a true crusader and activist in every sense of the word-and activists catch fire on stage," says Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith.
In Red Hot Patriot, Academy Award and Tony Award nominee Kathleen Turner brings her sizzling blend of sensuality and intelligence to the bravado of newspaper columnist Molly Ivins. A dyed-in-the-wool liberal from deep in the heart of Texas, Ivins' rapier wit made her one of America's highest-regarded columnists, satirists and beloved rabble-rousers. The incomparable Turner "excels" (Variety) in this searing, 75-minute show that weaves personal anecdotes and a look at our national pastime-politics.
"I am thrilled to be bringing Red Hot Patriot to Arena Stage," shares Turner. "We had our first reading there, and the timing on this piece, before the election, couldn't be better. Can hardly wait."
The Engels researched and wrote the play based on Ivins' writings, interviews and speeches as well as through interviews with her friends and colleagues. Red Hot Patriot received a workshop and private reading with Turner at Arena Stage in 2009. The production reunites Turner with Esbjornson, who staged her in the piece for the Philadelphia Theatre Company world premiere in 2010 as well as the recent production at the Geffen Playhouse. Red Hot Patriot also marks the return of Turner to Arena Stage, where she last performed as Titania in the 1981 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, in addition to participating more recently in a tribute performance to Edward Albee as part of the Edward Albee Festival in 2011.
"People continually use Molly Ivins' quotes to describe the current political climate," add playwrights Margaret Engel and Allison Engel. "There's a real hunger for Molly's voice. While being hilariously funny, she always hit a nerve writing about politicians, economic injustice and the threats to our freedoms. We are thrilled that her voice will be coming to our nation's capital right before the election."
To further explore the reach of Molly Ivins on the arts and journalism communities, Arena Stage will host events through the Public Arena, including an Engage@ArenaStage panel series during the run of Red Hot Patriot, featuring prominent journalists and friends of Molly Ivins'. See below for full details.
Margaret Engel (playwright) directs the Alicia Patterson Journalism Foundation and was the managing editor of the Newseum. She was a reporter for the Washington Post, Des Moines Register and Lorain Journal and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard. She co-wrote Food Finds: America's Best Local Foods and the People Who Produce Them with her twin Allison, and helped turn the book into a show for the Food Network, where it ran for seven years. She serves on the board of Theatre Washington/Helen Hayes Awards, the Fund for Investigative Journalism and chairs the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism awards board. She and her husband, Bruce Adams, wrote three editions of a travel guide to America's baseball parks, with the help of their children, Emily and Hugh.
Allison Engel (playwright) has been a reporter for the Des Moines Tribune, San Jose Mercury and Pacific News Service, and was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. She also has been a speechwriter and aide for former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack and lieutenant governor Sally Pederson. In Iowa, she was active in the Des Moines Playhouse, serving as president and head of play selection. She has been a food columnist for Saveur, an architecture columnist for Renovation Style, and has written for many other national publications. She recently spent five years as director of communications at the University of Southern California before becoming the associate director of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the university. She received an MA in screenwriting from USC in 2009. She is married to Scott Kirkpatrick, and they have two children, Miles and Nora.
David Esbjornson's (director) premieres include: Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (Broadway) and The Play About the Baby (Century), The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (Broadway) and Resurrection Blues by Arthur Miller (Guthrie), Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and the first staged presentation of Perestroika (Eureka), Homebody/Kabul (London), Neal Bell's Therese Raquin (CSC), In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks (Public), Albom/Hatcher's Tuesdays with Morrie (Minetta Lane), Israel Horowitz' My Old Lady (Promenade), Kathleen Tolan's Memory House (Playwrights), Ariel Dorfman's Purgatorio, and Kevin Kling's How? How? Why? Why? Why? (SRT). Recent work: Lady from Dubuque (SRT), Measure for Measure (NYSF Delacorte), Moira Buffini's Gabriel and Peter Parnell's Trumpery (Atlantic), Margaret Engel's and Allison Engel's Red Hot Patriot (PTC then Geffen Playhouse). Revivals include: Driving Miss Daisy (Broadway and West End), Death of a Salesman (Gate-Dublin), Hamlet (TFNY), A Few Good Men (West End), All My Sons (Huntington), Much Ado About Nothing (NYSF), The Normal Heart (Public), Mud and Drowning (Signature), The Entertainer, The Maids, Endgame, Entertaining Mr. Sloane (CSC), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Summer and Smoke (Guthrie), Farmyard (NYTW). Mr. Esbjornson has served as Artistic Director of NYC Classic Stage Company and Seattle Repertory Theatre and is the current Chair of Theatre at Rutger's University.
The Cast of Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins
Screen icon Kathleen Turner (Molly Ivins) has garnered critical acclaim for her performances in various movies including Body Heat, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe; Romancing the Stone and Prizzi's Honor, which earned her a Golden Globe Award for each; Peggy Sue Got Married, which brought Turner both an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination; and War of the Roses, and yet another Golden Globe nomination. Turner's extensive film credits also include The Man with Two Brains, with Steve Martin; Jewel of the Nile, with Michael Douglas; The Accidental Tourist; V.I. Warshawski; John Waters' Serial Mom; Naked in New York; Moonlight and Valentino; The Real Blonde; and Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides. Ms. Turner has also starred on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, for which she received a Tony nomination; Indiscretions; The Graduate; and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which she received a second Tony nomination. Ms. Turner had a major recurring role last season playing the role of Sue Collini on Showtime's hit series Californication. In the spring of 2010 Ms. Turner starred as Molly Ivins in the world premiere of Red Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins at Philadelphia Theater Center and immediately following that shot the starring role in an independent film called The Perfect Family, which opened across the country May 4th. Last year Ms. Turner starred on Broadway in the world premiere of a play by Matthew Lombardo called High. This past winter she performed Red Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins at The Geffen Theater in Los Angeles and was on the road this spring performing High in various cities all over the country. In addition to her film and stage credits, Turner wrote of her many accomplishments and life experiences in her 2008 autobiography titled Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles, which secured a position on The New York Times Best-Seller List.
Nicholas Yenson (Helper) is a proud member of Actors' Equity. He previously appeared in Arena productions of The Music Man, You, Nero and a reading of The Beard of Avon. Other theater credits include the McCarter Theater Center, the Hampton Theater Company and the New York Musical Theater Festival.
The Creative Team for Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins includes Set Designer John Arnone, Costume Designer Elizabeth Hope Clancy, Lighting Designer Daniel Ionazzi, Original Music & Sound Designers Robert Milburn and Michael Bodeen, Projection Designer Maya Ciarrocchi, Wig Designer Paul Huntley, Production Consultant Mary Michele Miner and Stage Manager Kurt Hall.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.