New Media Rep Presents OUT OF THEIR MINDS, Now thru 11/16

From today, November 8 to 16, New Media Repertory Company, 512 East 80th Street, will present "Out Of Their Minds" by David Willinger, a tale of thwarted love between Lucia Joyce (daughter of James Joyce) and the young Samuel Beckett. Miranda McDermott directs.

The play takes us back to Paris in 1928-1938, when the young Samuel Beckett served James Joyce as his personal assistant, providing an insightful look at the inner workings of the Joyce family. Beckett, a lost soul who has failed in life (before writing his great novels and plays), arrives to worship at the seat of his creative master and make himself useful. Joyce, who is partially blinded by multiple eye operations, finds the cultured fellow Irishman useful and sympathetic, so Beckett joins in their constellation. Joyce's dancer daughter, Lucia, falls in love with Beckett, but over time, loses her sanity. The play is a tragic tail of thwarted love, but with the fascination of the wit, humor, and originality of some of the greatest literary minds of the twentieth century. Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Lucia Joyce and Nora Joyce come alive before our eyes.

The lives of these geniuses became twisted and contorted. Despite their mutual attraction, Beckett proved unprepared to enter into the lasting relationship Lucia wished for. Lucia was mercurial but an accomplished dancer -- a student of Raymond Duncan, brother of Isadora -- who sought intensively after purpose, authenticity and love. Despite the ministrations of leading psychoanalysts including Dr. Carl Jung, Lucia was losing her center and descending into a condition that today might be called bi-polarity or schizophrenia and spent her latter years institutionalized. Willinger explains, "Joyce needed her to delve into her own insanity so he could write from it. Then they all got crazy. He deliberately put his family through hardships to intensify life and to be able to write 'craziness,' which he saw as his future." The Joyce household was also inspiring to Beckett, whose plays ultimately bubbled with the quirks of this curious family, echoes of which are evoked in this play.

Not that writing came easily for Beckett; mostly he was unable to blossom until after World War II. Unable or unwilling to hold down a job, young Samuel was, at the time, still supported by his despairing, well-heeled and utterly non-artistic family. He had spent his young adulthood drifting between Paris and Dublin, hobnobbing with Joyce's circle, giving up a promising academic career at Trinity College Dublin, undergoing psychoanalysis, touring Germany in order to perfect his German and trying to become a connoisseur of painting. His literary output in this period is inconsequential, but his first play, "Human Wishes" (about Samuel Johnson), actually emerged during this time with Joyce.

Playwright David Willinger has delved deeply into the period of this play, owing partly to having worked with so many modernist plays from this period. His literary output includes translations of plays by Belgian surrealists and Dadaists, including "The Round Square" by René Magritte, "Scandal in Deliverance" by Paul Joostens, "The Other Side of the Cards" by Paul Nougé, "Dreams Drowning," "Blockheads," and "Venus" by Michel de Ghelderode, "Surrealist Film" by Fernand Dumont, "The Ephemeral is Eternal" by Michel Seuphor and "The Mountebanks" by Clément Pansaers.

Willinger is also author of the original plays "Andrea's Got Two Boyfriends," Malcolm's Time," "Frida y Diego," "Bombing the Cradle," "Caprichos" and "The Trail of Tears: A Drama from the Historical Record," written with Peggy Dean. He has crafted stage adaptations of "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers, "The Upper Lip" by William Saroyan, "Secret Agent" by Joseph Conrad and "The Manor" by Isaac Bashevis Singer. As a director, he is well known for "Job's Passion" and "Winter Wedding" by Hanoch Levin, "Don Juan in N.Y.C." by Eduardo Machado and "Master and Margarita," adapted from Bulgakov's novel by Jean-Claude van Itallie, all at Theater for the New City (TNC) and for the double-bill of "The Death of Tintagiles" by Maeterlinck and "Karna and Kunti" by Tagore for the Ambassador Theatre in Washington DC. He translated "Jim the Lionhearted" by René Kalisky and directed its American premiere at TNC and translated and directed the American premiere of "The Temptation" by Hugo Claus.

He is Professor of Theater at City College, where he has also directed some thirty plays. He has received awards from the N.E.A., the N.E.H., the Fulbright Foundation, Drama-Logue, A Translation Center Award, the Jerome Foundation, a Rifkind Center Award, a Mellon Fellowship, a number of PSC-CUNY Awards and an award for Rayonnement des Lettres à l'Etranger from the Belgian Ministry of Culture.

Willinger's prior collaborations with director Miranda McDermott go back to the 1970's and include "Sun's Morning" at the Provincetown Playhouse (1971), "Power Cut" at Mercer Arts Center (1972), "Long Long Before Us" at Manhattan Theater Club (1974), all with her as playwright/director and he as an actor, and "He Saw His Reflection" at TNC (1994), in which she was the playwright and he was the director.

Miranda McDermott (director) is Artistic Director of New Media Repertory Co. ( Second generation of a theatrical family, an actress and playwright by training, she co-founded New Media Rep with painter/sculptor Franklin Engel in 1976. The company's name came from its willingness to use mixed media onstage before it was widely accepted, even in Off-off Broadway. The troupe located itself on the Upper East Side 38 years ago because that's where its commitment to cultural diversity would stand out. The organization is also committed to the development of creativity within the individual. Its small brownstone theater houses a young people's department and an adult repertory company. Professional training in theater and creative writing is offered to individuals of all ages. Cultural diversity is reflected in all its programs and it reaches out to those with special needs and provides scholarships. The company has produced classics by Molière, Chekhov, Ibsen and Wilde, but its main effort is the presentation and development of the new playwright through play readings as well as full Equity productions. These playwrights have included John Levine, Gerry Holland, Gary Gitter, Jeffrey Gordon, Stanford Pritchard and Edward Musto. Willinger's play received two workshop readings before this production, both at New Media Rep.

As a playwright, McDermott's work has been produced at Mercer Arts Center, New Media Rep, Manhattan Theater Club, Provincetown Playhouse and Theater for the New City. She has acted many leading roles Off-Broadway. Her directorial credits include "Duet for One" by Tom Kempensky, "The Miser" by Molière, "The Ninth of April" by Mark Weston, "Six" by Christopher Durang, "Testiculations" by Geoffrey Gordon, "All Is Calm" by John Levine and "Man On The Street" by Gerry Holland.

"Out Of Their Minds" will be acted by Tony Greenleaf as James Joyce, Greg Horton as Samuel Beckett, Roxann Kraemer as Nora Joyce and Erika Salazar as Lucia Joyce. Set and lighting design by artist/sculptor Franklin Engel and costume design by Caridel Cruz will all be in the style of Modernist Movement black and white drawings of the 20's and 30's.

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