John Malkovich Directs LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES at D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre Company, Now thru 12/9
The Shakespeare Theatre Company welcomes the Théâtre de l'Atelier's production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, directed by John Malkovich, to Washington, D.C. This French-revival stageplay, presented with English surtitles and adapted to a 21st century setting, runs from tonight, December 6-9, 2012 in the Company's Lansburgh Theatre (450 7th Street, NW).
Enter the world of the opulent French youth who treat romance as a game and wield sex as a weapon. In the Academy Award-winning 1998 film adaption of the novel-turned-play, Dangerous Liaisons, Malkovich made a name for himself as an actor of international renown for his chilling portrayal of the charming yet calculating Vicomte de Valmont, opposite Glenn Close and Michelle Pfieffer. Malkovich returns to direct the story in the original French language with a modern twist: the correspondences that ensnare and unravel the characters in the play have been transposed to modern day texting and messaging on cell phones and tablets. So too have the costumes been updated to a mix of period pieces and modern day garb.
The production garnered praise from critics and audiences alike in Paris. Malkovich has stocked his cast with vivacious new talent from acting schools across France to create a young and dynamic ensemble true to the original text. For a play steeped in deception, nothing is hidden from the audience's sight, and the actors remain on stage for the entire performance.
As members of the young French elite with too much money and time on their hands, two former lovers, the Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont, spend their days spinning webs of desire and deceit. Motivated by revenge, lust and competitive impulses in turn, they find new victims in the persons of the young Cécile de Volanges and the virtuous Madame de Tourvel. But as the pair set about laying their traps, the web begins to tangle, and The Players must reconsider who is manipulating whom.
"This is a production I saw in Paris which really excited me and a play I'm very fond of," said STC's Artistic Director Michael Kahn. "This is a very new and fresh and revelatory look at the play. John Malkovich's direction of it was true and yet radical; this is his own wonderful collaborative interpretation with a fine French cast. I'm glad to have Mr. Malkovich and his cast on the stage of the Lansburgh."
Laura Pels, Director of the Théâtre de l'Atelier, was approached by Kahn about bringing the production stateside after he saw the production in Paris. "I am extremely pleased that Michael Kahn decided to bring this play to a new American audience and hope it will be received enthusiastically in Washington, D.C., as it was in Paris," Pels said.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses is part of the STC Presents Series which brings world class international productions to theatregoers in D.C. Kahn declared, "We intend to bring in the most innovative and highest quality of work. Our goal is to make sure we're presenting the best of many kinds of performances, the best of their fields, and I feel our STC Presents Series is just that."
Support for Les Liaisons Dangereuses is provided by Laura Pels Productions, La Maison Française at the Embassy of France, The French American Cultural Foundation and Dr. Paul and Mrs. Rose Carter.
To purchase tickets or to learn more, patrons can call the box office at 202.547.1122 or visit ShakespeareTheatre.org.
*This production contains nudity and explicit adult situations.
John Malkovich is an uncategorizable artist, having acted in more than 80 films since 1978, appeared on stage, directed and produced works for stage and screen, and launched his own clothing line. He is most well known for his portrayal of the Vicomte de Valmonte in Stephen Frears' critically acclaimed film, Dangerous Liaisons. He earned both an Academy Award nomination and Golden Globe nomination for his role in Clint Eastwood's In The Line of Fire and an Academy Award nomination for his role in Places In The Heart. He also starred in the absurdist comedy Being John Malkovich, which used his persona as the driving force for dark humor. Malkovich has appeared on Broadway alongside Dustin Hoffman in Death of a Salesman and was awarded an Emmy for the made-for-screen version of the play. In addition to Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Malkovich directed and produced the film The Dancer Upstairs and directed the short Hideous Man. He has produced many well-received films such as Juno, Young Adult, and most recently, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Malkovich is currently filming a number of movies to be released in 2013.
Choderlos de Laclos (1741-1803) was a French novelist and army general who gained repute for his novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses. In epistolary form, storytelling through letter correspondences, de Laclos painted a scalding picture of French aristocratic decadence which is considered one of the great literary works of the 18th century.
British playwright, screen writer and film director Christopher Hampton was born in Portugal in 1946. After moving around the world with his family, he earned a dual degree in German and French as a Sachler scholar at New College, Oxford in England, from which he graduated First Class. Hampton became involved in theatre at Oxford University and in 1985 he published the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses, based on de Laclos' novel of the same title. Hampton went on to write the screenplay for the film based on his play, Dangerous Liaisons, starring John Malkovich, Glenn Close and Michelle Pfieffer. He won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Dangerous Liaisons in 1988, and was nominated again for his adaption of Ian McEwan's novel Atonement in 2007.
Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) has become one of the nation's leading theatre companies. Today, STC is synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn and Managing Director Chris Jennings, STC's innovative approach to Shakespeare and other classic playwrights has earned it the reputation as the nation's premier classical theatre company. By focusing on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced, the Company's artistic mission is unique among theatre companies: to present theatre of scope and size in an imaginative, skillful and accessible American style that honors the playwrights' language and intentions while viewing their work through a 21st-century lens.
A leader in arts education, STC has a stable of initiatives that teach and excite learners of all ages, from school programs and acting classes to discussion series as well as accessible programs like the annual Free For All, one of STC's most beloved annual traditions, allowing audiences to experience Shakespeare at no charge.
Located in our nation's capital, STC performs in two theatres, the Lansburgh Theatre and Sidney Harman Hall in downtown Washington, D.C., creating a dynamic, cultural hub of activity that showcases STC as well as outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. STC moved into the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre in March 1992, after six years in residency in the Folger Library's Elizabethan theatre. At that time the Penn Quarter neighborhood was not considered desirable by many; since then, STC has helped drive its revitalization. The 774-seat Sidney Harman Hall opened in October 2007.
The Théâtre de l'Atelier is located in Montmarte, overlooking the Place Charles Dullin. It has grown from its roots as a neighborhood theatre into an internationally-known center of French culture. The theatre's workshop aims to engage French audiences with new writers and directors of French, English and American descent and a multitude of genres, from vaudeville and mime, to adaptations of classically renowned works. In 1999, current director Laura Pels took the helm and continues to further the theatre's original mission.