Brian Dennehy to Lead THE STEWARD OF CHRISTENDOM at Mark Taper Forum in 2013
The Taper's 46th season at the Los Angeles Music Center will open with the off-Broadway hit comic drama "Tribes" by Nina Raine, directed by David Cromer; and continue with the August Wilson classic "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," directed by Phylicia Rashad; the new dark comedy "A Parallelogram" by Bruce Norris, directed by Anna D. Shapiro; and the farce "What the Butler Saw" by the inimitable Joe Orton, directed by John Tillinger. The season closes with Brian Dennehy in the deeply moving "The Steward of Christendom" by Sebastian Barry, directed by Steven Robman.
"What I love about this season," said CTG Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, "is that we have five brilliant playwrights who, in distinctly original voices, are tackling life's grand questions, and presenting the human experience in all its richness and variety. The storytelling is first-rate, with the timeless treasures of August Wilson's dramas and Joe Orton's farces, the edgy comedy of Bruce Norris, the fresh new voice of English playwright Nina Raine, and the compassion of Sebastian Barry who comes to us from Ireland's majestic theatrical tradition."
This is a season that will fill the Taper with glorious language – language of crystal clarity and beauty and humor. We will also have directors of the highest quality to match these plays. No one knows the precision-drawn chaos of Joe Orton like John Tillinger; and with her memorable portrayal of Aunt Ester in August Wilson's 'Gem of the Ocean,' we know how in tune Phylicia Rashad is with the rhythm and lyricism of August Wilson. Two award-winning directors will bring out the rich characters and storylines in two of the newer plays: Anna D. Shapiro with Bruce Norris' clever puzzle of a play, and David Cromer with Nina Raine's impassioned exploration of family and self. Veteran stage and TV director Steven Robman has a special affinity for Irish plays which you will see in his work on Barry's 'The Steward of Christendom.'
"I'd like to add how happy I am to finally be working with Brian Dennehy," said Ritchie. "We have known each other for some time now, but this is our first venture together. What a treat it is to have this remarkable actor on our stage."
by Nina Raine
Directed by David Cromer
The Barrow Street Theatre production of "Tribes," a penetrating new comic drama by Nina Raine about belonging, family and the value of communication, will open the Mark Taper Forum's 2013 season, February 27 through April 14, 2013. The opening is set for March 10.
Obie Award-winner David Cromer will direct this ". . . smart, lively . . ." new play (Ben Brantley, The New York Times), which was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Play when it premiered in 2010 at The Royal Court Theatre in London, and won the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play for its American premiere at the Barrow Street Theatre, where it is currently playing off-Broadway.
At the center of "Tribes" is Billy, the youngest son of a raucous family of intellectuals obsessed with self expression. As his parents and siblings verbally spar and compete for attention, Billy, who is deaf, catches what he can by lip-reading.
When Billy meets Sylvia, a young woman who is an expert at sign language and is losing her hearing, he asks her to teach him how to sign, and for the first time, he is introduced to the deaf community. Billy's life is transformed as a different world is unveiled to him. But when a new door opens, does another have to be closed?
Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post called "Tribes" off-Broadway a ". . . dazzling play . . . pitch-perfect." Adam Feldman of Time Out said, ". . . there are moments in this play that I don't think I will ever forget – scenes that tap the beauty that can live and resound in silence." Paul Levy of the Wall St. Journal said of the London premiere, "It's the best-written, best-plotted, deepest, most daring – and funniest – new play in recent years."
Nina Raine, after graduating from Oxford, began her career as a trainee director at The Royal Court Theatre. She dramaturged and directed "Unprotected" at the Liverpool Everyman, for which she won several awards. Her first play, "Rabbit," was presented in London's West End in 2006 before being produced as part of the Brits Off-Broadway festival in New York. She directed her second play, "Tiger Country," at Hampstead Theatre, where it had a sold-out run, and she also directed "Shades," and "Jumpy," which will open in the West End in late August 2012. "Tribes" was commissioned by The Royal Court Theatre. In addition to the Olivier nomination, the play won the Off West End Theatre Award and was nominated for the Evening Standard Award for best new play. In New York the play also won the Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play and the Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play.
David Cromer, a recipient of a 2010 MacArthur fellowship, has received Obie Awards for his direction of "Our Town" which ran for 18 months at the Barrow Street Theatre (and also won Lortel Awards for Direction and Outstanding Revival), and "Adding Machine" at the Minetta Lane (also Lortel Award). Recent credits include "The House of Blue Leaves" on Broadway, "When the Rain Stops Falling" (Lortel Award for Outstanding Direction) at Lincoln Center Theater, "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, "Brighton Beach Memoirs" on Broadway and "Orson's Shadow" at Barrow Street.
"Joe Turner's Come and Gone"
Directed by Phylicia Rashad
The lyrically rich and powerful "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" by August Wilson will be the second production of the Taper's new season, April 24 through June 9, 2013. The opening is set for May 8.
Phylicia Rashad, who directed the highly acclaimed Ebony Repertory Theatre production of "A Raisin in the Sun" at the CTG/Kirk Douglas Theatre last season, will direct "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," which is the second play chronologically in August Wilson's unprecedented series of 10 plays about the black American experience, one in each decade of the 20th century.
"Joe Turner" is set in 1911 in a Pittsburgh boarding house, where tenants come and go, forming a community that is altered time and time again. The daily routine of meals, conversation, gossip, arrivals and departures, and the changes that occur within this fluid grouping of people, is set against a great tide of Americans of African descent, only 50 years out of bondage, who are moving toward the industrial cities of the North in search of economic opportunity, lost family members and new beginnings.
Ben Brantley of The New York Times said of the play, "'Joe Turner' seamlessly blends the ordinary with the extraordinary. . . This play disarms its audiences with folksy chitchat and homespun comedy before it dawns on them that what they're watching - in its subliminal sweep and symmetry - is close to epic poetry."
CTG maintained a long relationship with August Wilson, presenting seven of his plays. In addition to "Jitney," "King Hedley II" (Tony Award nomination for Best Play), "Gem of the Ocean" and "Radio Golf" at the Mark Taper Forum, CTG presented the Tony Award-nominated "Seven Guitars" at the Ahmanson Theatre and "Two Trains Running" and "The Piano Lesson" (1990 Pulitzer Prize) at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood.
This spring, CTG's Education and Community Partnerships department hosted the August Wilson Monologue Competition regional finals with over 30 schools from five Southern California counties represented. Students in grades 10 through 12 performed monologues from Wilson's "Century Cycle, with the winners traveling to New York to compete in the national finals at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. This was the first time California had been represented in this competition and it will become an annual event for CTG.
Phylicia Rashad starred in the 2004 Broadway revival of "A Raisin in the Sun" and won the Tony Award for Best Actress (Play), which was the first time in Tony history that an African-American actress won in this category. Her other Broadway credits include "August: Osage County," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Gem of the Ocean" (she starred in the world premiere production at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum in 2003), "Jelly's Last Jam," "Into the Woods," "Dreamgirls" and "The Wiz." She has appeared in numerous movies and is well known on television as Clair Huxtable in "The Cosby Show." She made her Los Angeles directing debut with the Ebony Repertory Theatre production of "A Raisin in the Sun," first at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center and then at the Douglas Theatre.
by Bruce Norris
Directed by Anna D. Shapiro
The riveting new play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winner Bruce Norris, "A Parallelogram," directed by Tony Award-winner Anna D. Shapiro, will be presented at the Taper, July 10 through August 18, 2013. The opening is scheduled for July 21.
A darkly comic play, "A Parallelogram" introduces us to Bee, who believes she has the ability to know what happens in the future. With what appears like a little time-bending she sees how her life, and that of her boyfriend and the world at large, will play out. To the increasing concern of those around her, Bee tries to make sense of this new-found knowledge. Should she try to reinvent destiny? Or is the trajectory of life basically unalterable?
Steven Oxman of Variety said that "A Parallelogram" in its premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre in July 2010 was a "…well-crafted, highly entertaining and exceptionally thought-provoking comedy." Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune said, "It's like Norris has combined the alacrity of Edward Albee, the nebbish intellectualism of Wallace Shawn and some of the narrative questions of 'Back to the Future.' It makes your head spin in all the right ways."
Bruce Norris' "Clybourne Park," which won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2010 Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Play in London, was presented at the Mark Taper Forum last season prior to moving to Broadway. His other plays include "The Infidel," "Purple Heart," "We All Went Down to Amsterdam," "The Pain and the Itch" and "The Unmentionables," all of which had their premieres at Steppenwolf. His work has also been seen at Playwrights Horizons, Lookingglass Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Staatstheater Mainz (Germany) and The Galway Festival (Germany).
Anna D. Shapiro was awarded the 2008 Tony Award for her direction of "August: Osage County" (Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Broadway, London, and it was presented at the Ahmanson Theatre in September 2009), and was nominated in 2011 in the same category for "The Motherf**ker with the Hat" at The Public Theater. An ensemble member at Steppenwolf since 2005, her credits there include Bruce Norris' "A Parallelogram" and "The Pain and the Itch" (the latter also in New York), "I Never Sang for My Father," "Man From Nebraska," "Three Days of Rain," "Side Man," and many more at Steppenwolf and elsewhere. She has served as the director of the MFA in Directing program at Northwestern University since 2002.
"What the Butler Saw"
by Joe Orton
Directed by John Tillinger
Joe Orton's full-throttle farce "What the Butler Saw" will be the fourth production in the Taper's new season, September 25 through November 3, 2013. The opening is set for October 6.
John Tillinger, a leading interpreter of Orton's work, will direct this savagely funny piece, which became the last play written by England's legendary playwright before his untimely death in 1967 at the age of 34.
Set in the consulting room of a private psychiatric clinic, the action begins when the very proper Dr. Prentice is interrupted by his wife just as he is about to seduce a beautiful, young woman who is applying for a job as a secretary. As his botched efforts to conceal his actions spiral outrageously out of control, Orton ferociously skewers psychiatry, religion, marriage, morality, government and definitions of gender.
In spite of a small body of work that also included television and radio plays, Orton emerged as one of the seminal playwrights of the 20th century – a direct successor to Oscar Wilde, William Congreve and Noel Coward. In addition to "What the Butler Saw," his other well-known plays are "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" and "Loot," which were presented in a repertory directed by Tillinger at the Mark Taper Forum in 1987. John Lahr said of Orton, "Nobody came closer than Orton to reviving on stage the outrageous and violent prankster's spirit of comedy and creating the purest (and rarest) of drama's by-products: joy."
John Tillinger's long career as a director has included numerous productions on Broadway,some of which were"Absurd Person Singular"with Paxton Whitehead, "Judgment at Nuremburg" with Maximilian Schell, Martha Keller and George Grizzard, "Night Must Fall" with Matthew Broderick, "The Sunshine Boys" with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, "Inherit the Wind" with Charles Durning and George C. Scott (Tony Award nomination), Arthur Miller's "Broken Glass," "The Price" with Eli Wallach (Tony Award nomination) and "Loot" with Alec Baldwin and Zoe Wanamaker (Tony Award nomination). In addition to the Orton plays at the Taper, Tillinger also directed "The Lisbon Traviata," "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" (both at the Taper) and "It's Only a Play" (Ahmanson Theatre).
"The Steward of Christendom"
Directed by Steven Robman
With Brian Dennehy
Two-time Tony Award-winner Brian Dennehy will be featured in "The Steward of Christendom," Sebastian Barry's poignant story of a man left behind by history, in the final production of the Taper's 2013 season, November 26, 2013, through January 5, 2014. The opening is scheduled for December 8, 2013.
Steven Robman will direct.
"The Steward of Christendom" is set in the early 1930s at an Irish county mental home, where 75-year-old Thomas Dunne has been committed by his daughter. Here, his mind wanders in and out of lucidity as he remembers his childhood, his wife and children, and his career as the head of Dublin's Metropolitan Police, where he rose through the ranks to the highest position a Catholic could hope to achieve.
Dunne was essentially the man with responsibility for the security of Dublin Castle, which was at the very heart of English rule in Ireland. But when Irish independence comes in 1921, followed by a civil war, Dunne's life, once devoted to keeping order, falls apart, and he can no longer make sense of the world around him.
John Lahr of The New Yorker said of the 1995 premiere of "The Steward of Christendom" at The Royal Court Theatre in London, "A great play, like a great punch, is sometimes hard to see coming, but you know when you've been hit. You are rocked to your toes; and long after the event your body carries the memory of that unforeseen power."
Brian Dennehy's Broadway credits include "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (Tony Award for Best Actor), "Death of a Salesman" (Tony Award for Best Actor; he also received the Olivier Award for the London production), "Desire Under the Elms," "Inherit the Wind" (with Christopher Plummer) and "Translations." Off-Broadway and regionally he has appeared in "Conversations in Tesculum" at The Public Theater, "The Cherry Orchard" at BAM, "Says I, Says He" at The Phoenix Theatre, "Twelfth Night," "The Homecoming," "All's Well that Ends Well," "Hughie" and "Krapp's Last Tape." At the Taper, Steven Robman directed Dennehy in a production of "Says I, Says He" in 1980 and "Made in America" in 1984. "Death of a Salesman" with Dennehy was presented at the Ahmanson Theatre in 2000. Select film credits include "The Big Year," "The Next Three Days," "Assault on Precinct 13," "Tommy Boy," "Presumed Innocent," "Cocoon" and "Silverado," among others. Dennehy was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2010.
A playwright, novelist and poet, Sebastian Barry's early plays include "Boss Grady's Boys," which opened in 1988, and won the BBC/Stewart Parker Award. "The Steward of Christendom," which transferred to Broadway after its run at the Royal Court, won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize, the Ireland/America Literary Prize, the Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play, and the Writers' Guild Award (Best Fringe Play). "Our Lady of Sligo" (1998) was joint winner of the Peggy Ramsay Play Award and was seen off-Broadway, and "Hinterland" premiered at The Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and the Royal National Theatre, London, in 2002. He subsequently wrote "Whistling Psyche" (2004). Barry has also written poetry, including the collections "The Water-Colourist" (1983) and "Fanny Hawke Goes to the Mainland Forever" (1989); a novel for children, "Elsewhere: The Adventures of Belemus" (1985); and short novels including "Time Out of Mind/Strappado Square" (1983). His novels include "The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty" (1998), translated into seven languages, and "Annie Dunne" (2002).
At the Mark Taper Forum Steven Robman has previously directed "Says I, Says He" (featuring Dennehy) by Belfast-born playwright Ron Hutchinson, Hutchinson's adaptation of "Babbitt: a marriage," Adrian Mitchell's "Hoagy, Bix and Wolfgang Beethoven Bunkhaus" and Alvin Boretz's "Made in America" (featuring Dennehy). Other theatre work includes Hutchinson's "Moonlight and Magnolias" and Alan Gross' "High Holidays" at the Goodman Theatre, as well as Hutchinson's "Rat in the Skull" at the Wisdom Street Theatre and the revival of Gross' "Lunching" for the Apollo Theatre Group, among many others. In New York he has directed at Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, Chelsea Theater Center, The Phoenix Theatre and the Jewish Repertory Theatre. He has also staged plays at many regional theatres including the Guthrie Theater, Arena Stage, Yale Rep, Long Wharf Theatre and Actors Theatre of Louisville. He has also directed premieres of plays by Wendy Wasserstein, D.L. Coburn, Fay Weldon, Alan Knee and James Yoshimura. For television Robman has directed numerous episodes of dramatic and comedy series, and movies-of-the-week, and the ABC miniseries "The Audrey Hepburn Story."
Further casting for "The Steward of Christendom" will be announced at a later date.
CTG's 2013 Mark Taper Forum Season Available on Membership Only
Tickets for the Mark Taper Forum's 46th season are currently available by season ticket membership only. For information and to charge season tickets by phone, call the Exclusive Season Ticket Hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase season memberships on-line, visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/Taper. For information regarding audio description and Project D.A.T.E. (sign language interpreted, open caption and audio description performances) call TDD (213) 680-4017 or voice (213) 972-4444.
Center Theatre Group, a non-profit organization, is one of the largest and most active theatre companies in the nation, programming subscription seasons year-round at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and the 1,600 to 2,000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center of Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to providing theatre of the highest caliber to the rich, diverse communities of Southern California and beyond, CTG supports a significant number of play development and arts education initiatives.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.