Mint Celebrates Theatre Guild with 1919 Play John Ferguson

By: Aug. 02, 2006
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The Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning Mint Theater Company will present a rare New York revival of St. John Ervine's 1919 work John Ferguson. Martin Platt will direct. Performances begin September 8th, with opening night scheduled for September 25th.

"A Smashing Play! For those who care for what is rarest and best in the art of the drama and of the theater," wrote The New York Times in 1919 when this powerful and haunting drama from Ireland was first presented, "it is an occasion not to be missed."

"Set in a rundown farmhouse in County Down, this unassuming play wrings powerful feelings from a familiar tale.  John Ferguson tells the Story of a poor and pious farmer in Ulster County, Ireland, unable to keep up with his mortgage payments and threatened with eviction. He has great faith in the Lord—and the mail boat from America, which he expects will bring salvation in the form of a loan from his brother.  When the postman arrives empty handed, a devastating chain of events are unleashed on this humble man's family that tests his faith to its limits," state press notes.

Originally scheduled for just 5 performances by the fledgling Theatre Guild, John Ferguson ran 130, confounding the pessimists who believed that theatergoers had no appetite for serious drama.  On opening night the Theatre Guild had less than $20 left in their bank account, but the success of the play saved them from bankruptcy, paving the way for their landmark work.  From its inception in 1918 to the 1960's, the Guild provided an American home for ground-breaking writers, directors, actors and designers as well as for audiences hungry for thoughtful, provocative and nourishing drama.

Mint Theater begins a three-year initiative celebrating the important work of the Theater Guild with this production. 

Platt directed Mint's acclaimed production of The Daughter-In-Law by D.H. Lawrence in 2003, which was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play.

John Ferguson will feature Robertson Carricart, Joyce Cohen, John Keating, Terrence Markovich, Mark Saturno, Justin Schultz, Greg Thornton, and Marion Wood. The play will have set design by Bill Clarke, costumes design by Mattie Ullrich, lighting design by Jeff Nellis and sound design by Lindsay Jones

In February 2007, Mint will present Harley Granville-Barker's 1909 comedy The Madras House, directed by Gus Kaikkonen. "Barker's brilliant but unwieldy play has only been seen once in New York, in 1921 when it was presented by the Neighborhood Playhouse for 80 performances. Alexander Woollcott, writing for The New York Times called it, 'unexpectedly dramatic and abundantly entertaining.'  In other words, what are we to do about the overpowering distraction of sex?"

Mint Theater Company, "that truffle hound of half-buried treasures from the past," (Village Voice) has a celebrated reputation for excavating such worthy but neglected treasures as the recent Susan and God by Rachel Crothers. In 2001, the Mint was awarded an Obie grant for "combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition," and in 2002 a special Drama Desk Award for "Unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit."

John Ferguson will take place in the theater on the Third Floor of 311 West 43rd Street. Performances, which begin September 8th and run though October 15th, will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets will be $35 through September 24th and $45 thereafter and are available by calling (212) 315-0231 or online at