LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE To Open 29th Season for ACT 1
Nashville's Artist's Cooperative Theatre 1 (ACT 1) will kick off its 29th season this fall with a production of Delia Ephron and Nora Ephron's Love, Loss and What I Wore, playing the iconic Darkhorse Theater October 6-21. The five plays and their directors, which make up the new season, were revealed to the opening night audience of ACT 1's 2016-17 season closing production of Reefer Madness the Musical, which runs through June 24.
Love, Loss and What I Wore introduces a 2017-18 season for ACT 1 that includes time-honored theater classics by playwrights Neil Simon and Lillian Hellman and more recent work by Martin McDonagh. The new season will also see executive director Memory Strong-Smith, who has held the title for two years, turn the reins over the longtime ACT 1 board member and one-time executive director Eric Ventress.
ACT 1's 2017-18 season includes:
Love, Loss, and What I Wore is a play written by Nora and Delia Ephron based on the 1995 book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman. It is organized as a series of monologues and uses a rotating cast of five principal women. The subject matter of the monologues includes women's relationships and wardrobes and at times the interaction of the two, using the female wardrobe as a time capsule of a woman's life.
The show was initially presented as a part of the 2008 summer series at Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York, and then as a benefit series at the DR2 Theatre in New York in early 2009. Later the same year, the show was produced Off-Broadway as an ongoing commercial theatrical production at the Westside Theatre in New York, where it continues to run as the second-longest running show in the theatre's history. The production and its cast received positive critical attention. The production won the 2010 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience as well as the 2010 Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite New Off-Broadway Play.
Inspired by Simon's early career experience as a junior writer (along with his brother Danny) for Your Show of Shows, the play focuses on Sid Caesar-like Max Prince, the star of a weekly comedy-variety show circa 1953, and his staff, including Simon's alter-ego Lucas Brickman, who maintains a running commentary on the writing, fighting, and wacky antics which take place in the writers' room. Max has an ongoing battle with NBC executives, who fear his humor is too sophisticated for Middle America. The play is notable not only for its insider's look at the personalities and processes of television comedy writing, but also for its reflection of the political and social undercurrents of its time, in particular the rise of Joseph McCarthy, relationships between various (European) American ethnicities, and attitudes toward women.
The work is a roman à clef, with the characters in the play based on Neil Simon's co-writers on Your Show Of Shows. Lloyd Rose, in her Washington Post review, noted several of the real-life inspirations: the "Sid Caesar-inspired Max Prince", "hypochondriac Ira (played by Ron Orbach, inspired by Mel Brooks)", "dryly witty, sane Kenny (John Slattery, inspired by Larry Gelbart and Carl Reiner)", and "fussy Russian emigre Val (Mark Linn-Baker, inspired by Mel Tolkin)....There is no character based on Woody Allen." Woody Allen is often misattributed to the Ira Stone character, as the character in the play is a hypochondriac and Allen went on to use that affectation to great effect in his own comedy career. However, in actuality Simon was poking fun at Mel Brooks. The real-life counterparts for each character are:
The Pillowman is a 2003 play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh. It received its first public reading in an early version at the Finborough Theatre, London, in 1995. It tells the tale of Katurian, a fiction writer living in a police state who is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories, and their similarities to a number of bizarre child murders occurring in his town. The play received the 2004 Olivier Award for Best New Play, the 2004-5 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best New Foreign Play, and two Tony Awards for production. It was nominated for the 2004 Evening Standard Award for Best New Play.
Katurian, a writer of short stories that often depict violence against children, has been arrested by two detectives, Ariel and Tupolski, because some of his stories resemble recent child murders. When he hears that his brother Michal has confessed to the murders and implicated Katurian, he resigns himself to his execution but attempts to save his stories from destruction. The play contains both narrations and reenactments of several of Katurian's stories, including the autobiographical "The Writer and the Writer's Brother", which tells how Katurian developed his disturbed imagination by hearing the sounds of Michal being tortured by their parents.
The Little Foxes is a 1939 play by Lillian Hellman, considered a classic of 20th century drama. Its title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 of the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible, which reads, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." Set in a small town in Alabama in 1900, it focuses on the struggle for control of a family business. Tallulah Bankhead starred in the original production as Regina Hubbard Giddens.
The fictional Hubbards in the play are reputedly drawn from Lillian Hellman's Marx relatives. Hellman's mother was Julia Newhouse of Demopolis, Alabama. Julia Newhouse's parents were Leonard Newhouse, a Demopolis wholesale liquor dealer, and Sophie Marx, of a successful Demopolis banking family. According to Hellman, Sophie Marx Newhouse never missed an opportunity to belittle and mock her father for his poor business sense in front of her and her mother. The discord between the Marx and Hellman families was to later serve as the inspiration for the play
Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare, directed by Melissa Williams, running June 22-July 7, 2018
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. Originally published in the First Folio of 1623, where it was listed as a comedy, the play's first recorded performance occurred in 1604. The play's main themes include justice, "mortality and mercy in Vienna," and the dichotomy between corruption and purity: "some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall." Mercy and virtue predominate, since the play does not end tragically. Additionally, traces of Christian virtues such as compassion and forgiveness can be identified in the ending of the production. While the play focuses on justice overall, the final scene illustrates that Shakespeare intended for Christian justice to be restored more so than true civil justice. This is highlighted through a number of the characters receiving understanding and leniency, instead of the harsh punishment that could have been their sentence.
For season ticket information, go to www.ACT1online.com.