MLLE. GOD Inaugurates Atwater Village Theatre 1/28-3/6
Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA's world premiere production of Mlle. God by Oscar-nominated writer Nicholas Kazan inaugurates the new Atwater Village Theatre and an adventurous joint season with Circle X Theatre Co. The six-week run takes place January 28 through March 6, with low-priced previews beginning January 20. Nicholas Kazan has re-invented Frank Wedekind's Lulu, creating an outrageous and muscular dark comedy that is a paean to sex, art, and living in the millisecond. Rated "R" - not for the faint of trousers!
EST/LA artistic director Gates McFadden (Star Trek TNG) states, "Theater should provoke as well as entertain. Mlle. God is the perfect choice to kick off the new space and our first season."
"Mlle. God is ribald, raucous, and wildly entertaining," agrees director Scott Paulin, whose relationship with Kazan dates back more than thirty years. "It's about joy and sex as the core of life. Lulu is a spirit who brings out the truth in people, and the vehicle through which she travels is sex."
The character of "Lulu" is the most famous creation of German dramatist Frank Wedekind (1864-1918). She is a force of nature, a wild, beautiful beast who is the embodiment of pure female sexuality, destroying the weak men around her. "She was created to stir up great disaster," said Wedekind, whose "Lulu plays," Der Erdgeist (1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (1904), were originally written as a single work. Because of their perceived immorality, the plays were banned and never performed during his lifetime. Wedekind's erotic masterpiece later inspired George Pabst's expressionist film Pandora's Box (1929), starring the Hollywood actress Louise Brooks, as well as Alban Berg's unfinished opera Lulu. Mlle. God is loosely adapted from the original.
"I was inspired by Wedekind, by Pabst, and most of all by Louise Brooks' luminous comic performance," says Kazan. "Sex is, in a way, so simple...the means by which we reproduce. But the experience itself can be so powerful that it overwhelms us...as Lulu does. This is why the character, with her playful joy, still feels so dangerous and shocking: she refuses to assign a moral weight to what is, after all, a biological necessity."
Annika Marks stars as 'Lulu,' the femme fatale who is the reflection of every man's desire. The double-cast ensemble features Laura Beckner, Keith Arthur Bolden, Kim Chueh, William Duffy, Tasso Feldman, Kareem Ferguson, Will Harris, Jon Kellam, Andy Lauer, John Nielsen, Gary Patent, Heather Robinson, Keith Szarabajka, Robert Trebor and Jacqueline Wright. Set and lighting design for Mlle. God is by Richard Hoover; sound design is by John Zalewski; projection design is by Jason Thompson; costume design is by Christina Haatainen-Jones; production stage manager is Caitlin Reinhart; production manager is Rebecca Cohn; and the associate producer is Laura Flanagan.
Nicholas Kazan has a talent for scripts described as 'edgy, terse, bleakly funny" (Movie-Line). His plays, including the Off Broadway hit Blood Moon with Dana Delaney, have been performed across the U.S. in New York (MTC and MCC among others), Washington, D.C (Wooly Mammoth), the San Francisco Bay area (Magic Theater), Atlanta, and elsewhere; A Good Soldier was recently produced at the Odyssey Theatre here in Los Angeles. Early screenplays include the 1982 biopic about Frances Farmer, Frances, co-written with Eric Bergren and Christopher DeVore and featuring a tour-de-force performance by Jessica Lange; At Close Range (1986) starring Sean Penn and Christopher Walken; and Patty Hearst (1988) starring Natasha Richardson. In 1990, he received an Oscar nomination for "Best Screenplay" for Reversal of Fortune, the darkly funny tale of Claus Von Bulow that garnered a "Best Actor" Oscar for Jeremy Irons; this script also garnered Best Screenplay Awards from several critics groups (Los Angeles, Boston, etc.). Other credits include the children's classic, Matilda (1996), adapted with his wife Robin Swicord from the Roald Dahl novel and starring producer/director Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman; the supernatural cult horror film, Fallen, starring Denzel Washington and John Goodman; and Bicentennial Man starring Robin Williams. Dream Lover (1994), which he wrote and directed, was called "a smart, diabolical thriller" by The New York Times.
Scott Paulin (director) recently directed the world premiere of Nicholas Kazan's A Good Soldier at the Odyssey Theatre. He has directed Horton Foote plays including Roads to Home, The Midnight Caller, Blind Date, and The One-Armed Man (the last three one-acts performed together as Harrison, Texas) at the Second Story Theater. Also at the Second Story, he directed John Patrick Shanley's Welcome to the Moon and Four Dogs and A Bone; Tennessee Williams' 27 Wagons Full of Cotton; Michel Tremblay's Johnny Mangano and his Astonishing Dogs (Trois Petit Tours); and The Woolgatherer by William Mastrosimone. His production of Getting Frankie Married-and Afterwards (also by Mr. Foote) closed the 2009-10 Season at The Open Fist Theater in Hollywood. He recently directed St. Nicholas by Conor McPherson at the Stephanie Feury Studio. He has also directed thirty-five hours of television drama, winning the Humanitas Prize for an episode of the NBC civil rights drama I'll Fly Away. As an actor he has guest starred in more than one hundred hours of television drama, mini-series, and MOWs and he has played leading roles in feature films including The Right Stuff, A Soldier's Story, Cat People, Pump Up the Volume, Turner and Hooch, The Accused, and I Am Sam. Currently he plays Jim Beckett, a recurring role on the nighttime ABC drama Castle.
Annika Marks (Lulu) received rave reviews for her recent portrayal of Bethany in the world premiere of Wendy Graf's Behind the Gates, for which her role included a nearly half hour-long opening monologue ("Annika Marks delivers a mesmerizing performance" - LA Weekly). Other credits include Liza in The Something Nothing (Lounge Theatre); The Fountain Theatre's The Accomplices (Odyssey Theatre); Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA's The Last Seder (Greenway Court); Pipeman on the Moon (Hudson Mainstage); and Early Decision (Edgemar). Memorable NYC theater roles include Dan in Pull (The Producer's Club) and Nina in The Seagull (Circle in the Square). She has been seen in Columbia Picture's Mona Lisa Smile, IFC's The Undeserved, The Mushroom Sessions, Hard To Come By. TV: Law and Order: Criminal Intent and the pilot Mama and Son. Annika is a co-founder of Sweet Potato Productions, whose first film Me, You, a Bag & Bamboo played at film festivals across the country and just received distribution.
Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA is one of Los Angeles' premier developmental and producing theaters and an offshoot of the renowned New York company that developed many of the most accomplished voices in the American theater, including Christopher Durang, Richard Greenberg, David Mamet, Marsha Norman, José Rivera, Shel Silverstein, John Patrick Shanley and Wendy Wasserstein. Through its developmental programs and full productions, Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA is poised to launch the next generation of new American plays and theater artists. The company of over 150 theatre professionals is led by Artistic Director Gates McFadden.
Mlle. God runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm and 7pm, January 28 through March 6. Preview performances take place on the same schedule January 20 through 27. General admission is $25;preview performances are $15; Pay-what-you-can tickets are available on Thursday, February 3 and Thursday, February 10 when purchased at the door (subject to availability). Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA is located in the Atwater Village Theatre complex at 3269 Casitas Ave in Atwater Village, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call 323-644-1929 or go to www.ensemblestudiotheatrela.org.