Rufus Collins and Amanda Drinkall Star in VENUS IN FUR's Chicago Premiere at Goodman Theatre Tonight
"In love as in politics, one partner must rule. One of them must be the hammer, the other the anvil." Venus in Fur, Chicago native playwright David Ives' "smart, sexy, sinister comedy" (Vogue), makes its premiere tonight, March 8, at Goodman Theatre, helmed by Joanie Schultz.
As previously announced, Rufus Collins (Broadway's To Be or Not To Be and The Royal Family) portrays playwright/director Thomas and Amanda Drinkall (Strawdog Theatre Company's Great Expectations and Measure for Measure at the Goodman) portrays Vanda, the actor auditioning for him. Venus in Fur runs today, March 8 - April 13 in the Albert Theatre (opening night is Tuesday, March 18).
Tickets ($25-$86; subject to change) are on sale now and can be purchased at GoodmanTheatre.org/Venus, by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn). Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is the Major Corporate Sponsor and United Scrap Metal, Inc. is the Corporate Sponsor Partner for Venus in Fur. Headshots, bios and rehearsal photos for Venus in Fur are now available in the Goodman's Press Room (Username: Goodman; Password: Theatre). A performance calendar and details about the special events in conjunction with the production follows.
"Laced with David Ives' characteristically sharp humor and satiric insights, Venus in Fur is a true original: hilarious, challenging, at times unnerving and completely unpredictable," said Artistic Director Robert Falls. "I am delighted to welcome back director Joanie Schultz, who began her relationship with the Goodman as our Michael Maggio Directing Fellow several seasons ago. Since then she's become one of the most highly sought after young directors in town, and I know that she will bring her distinctive gifts to this smart and funny play. And while you're laughing, you may find yourself reassessing your own views of the eternal tensions that define romantic relations between men and women."
Based on the 1869 novella by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch-for whom "Masochism" was named-Venus in Fur's critically acclaimed Broadway run was hailed as a "suspense-packed" (New York Times), "electric" (Entertainment Weekly), "wildly intelligent and sometimes frightening" (New Yorker), "madly funny" (Wall Street Journal) and a "time-tripping game of cat and mouse" (Bloomberg). When Vanda (Drinkall) arrives hours late to an audition for a play based on a nineteenth century erotic novel, the director, Thomas (Collins), is less than impressed. But Vanda's surprisingly masterful performance of the script flips Thomas' expectations and initiates a tango for dominance between them. As the audition unfolds, both actress and director morph into Sacher-Masoch's alternately tortured and bemused lovers, switching roles on a dime and exploring shifts in power and the blurring of identities.
"The novella crackles with the friction of two buttoned-up people in an erotic power play; that sure sounded dramatic to me," said playwright David Ives, who has authored the one-act comedies All in the Timing and Time Flies, as well as adaptations of older plays including The School For Lies (a reworking of Molière's The Misanthrope) and Georges Feydeau's A Flea in Her Ear. "Chicago is my beloved home town, and I'm thrilled that Venus in Fur will be playing at the Goodman-where I went to the theater for the first time. I hope the Goodman's audiences have as much fun watching the play as I had writing it."
Director Joanie Schultz creates a new production for the Chicago premiere of Ives' play. "We want to let the audience in on how much the imagination of theater really transforms everything in the room-not just the actors, but also the space, the sounds, and how real life and imaginary life start running together," said Schultz. "The rehearsal room is not the most glamorous place-coffee gets spilled, everybody's eating their salad, there's sweat-and yet there's this magical thing that happens there which makes it beautiful. We endow the objects that we use in the theater with power: a rehearsal room becomes a palace, a chair a throne, a paper cup becomes fine china. We're using the design to help the audience see these things the way actors are seeing them."
Schultz and her Tony Award-winning set designer Todd Rosenthal (Luna Gale, A Christmas Carol) based the world of the play on many rehearsal rooms, including the two at the Goodman. Jenny Mannis (Teddy Ferrara, Animal Crackers) designs costumes, Keith Parham (By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, Sweet Bird of Youth) designs lighting and Mikhail Fiksel (Buzzer, New Stages festival) designs sound. Joseph Pindelski is the dramaturg and Alden Vasquez is the production stage manager.