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Azama's The Life and Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini Plays Nov. 22-25

New Yorkers will be able to see the work of acclaimed contemporary French playwright Michel Azama when The Life and Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini premieres as part of the Act French Festival.

The production, which commemorates the 30th anniversary of Pasolini's mysterious death in November 1975, is directed by Elizabeth Williamson. Originally written in French in 1984, this New York Premiere translation is by Nicholas Elliott, who also acts as dramaturg and designer. Previews begin November 22 at The Abingdon Theatre with opening night scheduled for November 25.

Thirty years ago Italian poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini was murdered in Rome by a teenage male prostitute. The play "is an unnerving psychodrama that examines the lingering suspicions that he was killed by a neo-fascist element. The play delves into the iconoclast's conflicted relationship with Italian Communism, his notorious private life, his battle against homophobia and the suppression of his now-celebrated work," according to press notes.

Michel Azama was born in 1947. His plays have been translated into more than 15 languages and performed throughout the world, though rarely in the US. He won the Prix Beaumarchais for Zoo de nuit, the Grand prix de la ville de Bourges for his body of work in 1999, and the Prize for the Best Foreign Author, Spain 1999. He was the founder and editor-in-chief of Cahiers du Prospero, and is currently the president of Les écrivains associés du théâtre. He has recently completed a 3-volume anthology of contemporary French playwriting, De Godot à Zucco.

Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922 - 1975) was known for his sexually and politically controversial works. The son of a soldier famous for saving Mussolini's life,  Pasolini was drafted in World War II, and after subsequent imprisonment by the Germans, managed to escape. Later, he joined the Communist party, but was expelled on the grounds of his homosexuality, which he publicly declared on many occasions. He is best known for his films which  include The Canterbury Tales, The Decameron, and Salo. On May 7th, 2005, Pasolini's killer retracted his confession, claiming that unidentified men had actually killed Pasolini; he cited threats against his family as the reason for his confession. The investigation into Pasolini's death has been reopened, supporting the notion that his death was the result of a political conspiracy.

Elizabeth Williamson's directing credits include Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis (Lincoln Center Theater's Directors Lab workshop), the US premiere of Martin Crimp's translation of Genet's The Maids (FringeNYC 2001), and an adaptation of Chikamatsu's The Floating World (2002 American Living Room Festival at HERE). She has assisted Mark Wing-Davey (at BADA in London), Charles Newell and Chris Bayes (at Court Theatre), Kyle Donnelly and Leigh Silverman (at American Conservatory Theater), and she will assist Dominique Serrand at Theatre de la Jeune Lune this January. 

The Life and Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini runs November 22 - December 4, Tues. - Sat. at 8pm, Sat. & Sun. at 2pm. (Note: There is no show Nov 24.) The Abingdon Theatre is located at 312 West 36th Street (accessible from the A,C,E trains at 34th Street).  The show clocks in at 80 minutes, with no intermission. Tickets are $15, and are available from Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or

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