Guthrie Theater to Celebrate Christopher Hampton in 2012


Director Joe Dowling today announced the three plays that will comprise the Guthrie's 2012 celebration of prolific British playwright, screenwriter and director Christopher Hampton. A Guthrie commission of Appomattox, a new play based upon Hampton's original 2007 opera collaboration with composer Philip Glass, will be joined by Tales from Hollywood and Total Eclipse.

Appomattox is an American epic spanning a century, with the action in the first act dealing with the final week of the Civil War and the immediate aftermath of the treaty signed in April 1865 at the Appomattox Court House; the second act takes place 100 years later, addressing the still-contentious issue of racial suppression against the backdrop of the Civil Rights era. It will be staged on the Guthrie's McGuire Proscenium Stage.

Tales from Hollywood has been described by Hampton as the favorite of his plays to date. It dramatizes the lives in Los Angeles of prominent European writers and intellectuals who fled the spread of Nazism in Germany, including Bertolt Brecht and Thomas and Heinrich Mann. A combination of speculative fantasy, fact-based drama and comedic elements, Tales spotlights Hampton's fascination with cultural creation and the role of the artist in differing cultural circumstances. It will play on the Guthrie's Wurtele Thrust Stage.

Total Eclipse depicts the dramatic and destructive relationship between the young 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud and his older mentor Paul Verlaine. Based in part on actual letters and poems, the play explores the volatile mix of a period of fertile creativity and personal imbalance. Hampton adapted the play into a screenplay for the 1995 film of the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio and David Thewlis. Total Eclipse will play in the Guthrie's Dowling Studio.

The Guthrie will also offer a series of one-night screenings of films personally selected by Hampton. Included in the series will be: Carrington (1995), the story of the relationship between painter Dora Carrington and author Lytton Strachey, starring Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce and adapted and directed by Hampton; Atonement (2007), Hampton's adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel about lives changed by a lie during World War II starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy; and Dangerous Liaisons (1988), based on Hampton's play about passion and betrayal amid aristocrats in 18th-century France starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Accompanying his plays and films, Hampton will teach a Master Class on adapting works for the stage on September 24 and appear for an "In Conversation" with artistic director Joe Dowling on Monday, October 15 on the Guthrie's Wurtele Thrust Stage. Hampton will also participate in a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) session on October 16.

The Christopher Hampton celebration follows in the footsteps of the Guthrie's unprecedented 2009 celebration of Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner, which also featured productions on all three stages including the world premiere of The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, an acclaimed production of Caroline, or Change, and the evening of short plays titled Tiny Kushner, which went on to play at Berkeley Rep in 2009 and London's Tricycle Theatre in 2010.

Christopher Hampton is a prolific British playwright, screenwriter and film director who has earned high praise for his work. His plays, musicals and translations have garnered four Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards, four Evening Standard Awards, and the New York Theatre Critics Circle Award. Prizes for his film and television work include an Academy Award, two BAFTAs, a Writer's Guild of America Award, the Prix Italian and a Special Jury Award at the Cannes Film Festival. He was awarded the CBE by the United Kingdom and Officier des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

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