MY WIFE IN A CHADOR to Premiere at TNC, 11/6-23
The play moves back and forth between a political drama and a trenchant comedy. On the one hand, true to the author's Italian roots, it bears distinctive influences of commedia dell' arte. On the other hand, it presents the serious crisis of a couple divided between western culture and Islamic culture who manage to overcome their differences. There is also commentary on the specter of ISIS and Al Queda in American eyes, with the author suggesting that the threat to Westerners from Islamic fundamentalism can be defeated by love.
Playwright Claudio Angelini is a noted Italian TV news reporter and author of 15 books of poetry, novels and essays. Among his many news assignments, he covered the death of the Italian statesman Aldo Moro, who was kidnapped and killed by the Red Brigades in 1978. Angelini was the Director of the RAI office of the Quirinale and the anchorman of Italy's National newscast Tg1 for over twenty years. He has directed countless RAI shows and offices, such as the Radio newscasts (Gr1-Gr2 and Gr3) and RAI's headquarters in the United States. On September 11, 2001 he was the first Italian journalist to report the news of the attack on the Twin Towers. He was also Director of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, where he has been living for 15 years and where he currently serves as President of the Dante Alighieri Society and columnist for an Italian daily, Il Messaggero.
Last season, Angelini made his NY playwriting debut with "Obama in Naples," a comedy with songs that speculated whether the "good magic" of our President could rescue Southern Italy from its never-ending woes. It was staged at the Abingdon Theather and at the Italian Embassy in Washington, where it opened the year of the Italian Culture. Angelini also published a poetry book, " Manhattan poems," dedicated to the heroes of 9/11, which won the Camaiore Prize in Italy (an Italian benchmark for contemporary poetry), was translated into English and published in the USA.
"My Wife in a Chador" started as a novel and ended up as a play. Angelini is haunted by politics, having covered five Italian presidencies over his 20 years as a bureau chief of RAI, plus both campaigns of George W. Bush and Obama's first campaign. His book, "Obama: un anno di sfide" ("Obama: a Year of Challenges," published by Rizzoli) was a best seller in Italy. He did not know Norman Mailer personally, but appreciated his books and was fascinated by Mailer's campaign promise to make New York City the country's 51st state.
Director Stephan Morrow staged "Obama in Naples" by Claudio Angelini last season and was a theatrical collaborator of Norman Mailer. In 2007 he acted and directed Mr. Mailer's play "The Deer Park" and was subsequently invited to co-direct a film of the play with Mr. Mailer and to act in it. He has directed five plays by Mario Fratti at Theater for the New City, including the currently running "Six Passionate Women." Other notable productions include "Triangle - The Shirtwaist Triangle Factory Fire" by J. Gilhooley at 59E59 St. Theaters and "Dogmouth" by John Steppling, which started on stage at TNC and will premier as a feature film in The New York City Greek Film Festival on October 27 at Cinema Village. Morrow has directed staged readings of "Wall St. Fandango" by Murray Schisgal at The Actor's Studio and Theater for the New City with casts including Peter Riegert and Rosie Perez. He has performed in two plays by Norman Mailer, "Strawhead: Marilyn, A Memory Play" and "The Deer Park." He can be seen in Mailer's cult classic film, "Tough Guys Don't Dance." From 2001 to 2005, as Artistic Director of The Great American Play Series, he directed four public presentations of Arthur Miller's play "Incident at Vichy" with Mr. Miller's personal backing. Casts included Richard Dreyfus, F. Murray Abraham, Fritz Weaver, Austin Pendleton, Barry Primus and many others. Morrow was mentored into the Playwright Directing Unit of the Actor's Studio by Elia Kazan.
Brian Childers plays John, the novelist/candidate, and Marlain Angelides plays Rosa, his newly-Islamic wife who changes her name to Abeera. Kristin Taylor plays a beautiful young fashionista who beguiles the candidate and threatens his marriage. Five roles are yet to be cast as of this writing. Set design is by Mark Marcante and lighting design is by Alexander Bartenieff.
Brian Childers (John, the novelist-candidate) played the leading role of Paolo, the journalist, in "Obama in Naples" by Claudio Angelini last season. He appeared Off-Broadway as Danny Kaye in "Danny and Sylvia, The Danny Kaye Musical" (Helen Hayes Award Winner for Best Actor in a Musical). He appeared in national tours of The Kid from Brooklyn (Danny Kaye) and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Tom Sawyer). (www.brianchilders.net)
WHERE AND WHEN:
November 6 to 23, 2014
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)
Presented by Theater for the New City
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 3:00 PM
$15 gen. Adm., $12 seniors & students
Box office (212) 254-1109, www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Runs 2 hours with intermission. Critics are invited on or after November 8.