A LOSS OF ROSES Opens 6/15 at Arkansas Repertory Theatre
"I discovered A Loss of Roses a few years ago. I thought: this is a forgotten beautiful American play, full of colorful people and rich, juicy humor, and full of tragedy," says Pendleton. "Since I read it, I've wanted to do it. I'm thrilled a theatre as good as Arkansas Rep is letting me do it."
Pendleton directed a staged reading of A Loss of Roses featured in TONGUES at New York's Cherry Lane Theatre in 2010. Pendleton has served as artistic director of The Circle Repertory Theatre Company in New York and is an ensemble member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Pendleton says several of Inge's plays have been revived by theatre artists wanting to tackle the playwright's well-made plays. However, A Loss of Roses has remained mostly on the shelf since it closed on Broadway in 1959.
Arkansas Rep's production will feature Jean Lichty as Lila Green, Jane Summerhays as Helen Baird and Bret Lada as Kenny. The theatre was awarded a $20,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011 to produce A Loss of Roses this season.
"Bringing a rarely-produced work by William Inge to the stage is cause for celebration; doubly so when the creative team is led by Austin Pendleton," says Arkansas Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp. "He's assembled a dynamic cast for this fascinating play. Arkansas Rep is honored to introduce A Loss of Roses to a new generation of theatregoers and to re-examine Inge in the context of what he spoke of as his favorite among his many works."
A Loss of Roses was Inge's first big setback after a string of critical and commercial successes with Bus Stop and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Picnic. The production was plagued by cast and script changes, earned poor reviews and closed after only three weeks on stage. Inge felt the play was one of his best, and was said to be stung by the criticisms.
"This play is not the play that was produced in New York last November," Inge writes in his foreword in 1960. "It was greatly changed by the time the play opened at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Now I can't remember why all the changes were thought necessary at the time, but working under the pressure that exists in theatre today, people become excited and mistrust their best instincts."
Inge goes on to say that the most serious mistake was to end with the parting scene between mother and son, and his second publishing in 1960 allowed him to right that wrong. Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production will include the ending as Inge originally intended.
A Loss of Roses will run June 15 – July 1, 2012, at Arkansas Repertory Theatre at 601 Main Street, Little Rock, Ark. Founded in 1976, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the state's largest nonprofit professional theatre company. A member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT D), The Rep has produced more than 300 productions including 40 world premieres on its 385-seat MainStage and 99-seat black box SecondStage located in its historic building in downtown Little Rock. For more information, visit www.therep.org.