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WHAT OF THE NIGHT Starring Jane Alexander Begins Previews March 16


MCC THEATER (Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, Artistic Directors; William Cantler, Associate Artistic Director, John G. Schultz, Executive Director), is proud to announce its third production of the 2004-2005 season: WHAT OF THE NIGHT, an American premiere based on the writings of Djuna Barnes, created for the stage by Jane Alexander, Noreen Tomassi, Birgitta Trommler, directed and choreographed by Ms. Trommler, and starring Ms. Alexander (The Great White Hope; Kramer vs. Kramer; Testament; The Sisters Rosenzweig). The production marks Trommler's New York directorial debut.

Performances of WHAT OF THE NIGHT begin off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street, NYC) on Wednesday, March 16, 2005. Opening night is Wednesday, April 6 at 7pm .

Novelist. Playwright. Journalist. Poet. Djuna Barnes was master of many genres, a writer with sharp satiric wit, a great sense of contradiction, and an anguished vision of the world. Barnes rose to fame in 1936 as the acclaimed novelist of Nightwood - her magnum opus and story of a doomed, tempestuous love affair with Thelma Wood. Discovered by T. S. Eliot, Nightwood was considered a masterpiece of modern fiction and caught the attention of the literary scene after the manuscript was rejected by nearly every publisher for its narrative style, metaphoric language and underlying themes of sexual perversion, lesbian romance and religious blasphemy.

Ms. Alexander says, "The impetus for WHAT OF THE NIGHT came out of our desire to capture in the theater, one of the most elusive literary figures of the twentieth century and at the same time, to examine how memory operates in the mind of a writer who used her life as the basis of her art."

Djuna Barnes's destructive childhood led to a complicated adult life in avant-garde social circles throughout Paris and the center of New York City bohemia - Greenwich Village . Her contemporaries included playwright Eugene O'Neill, authors James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, painter Marcel Duchamp, photographer Alfred Stieglitz and actor/director Charlie Chaplin. Barnes was sent by McCalls magazine to Paris in 1921, where she remained for almost 20 years. It was during that time she met and fell in love with Thelma Wood.

Barnes battled chronic alcoholism most of her life and lived reclusively in Greenwich Village until her death in 1982, at the age of 90.


Jane Alexander (as Djuna Barnes; Co-Author) first gained national fame for her Tony Award®-winning performance in the 1965 Broadway play, The Great White Hope. The play was later adapted into a feature film where she garnered her first of four Academy Award® nominations. Most notably, her film work includes: The Great White Hope (Best Actress Oscar nomination), All The President's Men (Supporting Actress Oscar nomination), Kramer vs. Kramer (Supporting Actress Oscar nomination), Testament (Best Actress Oscar nomination), The Cider House Rules, and The Ring. Other films include: Carry Me Home, Sunshine State , Night Crossing, Brubaker, The Betsy, Gunfight. On Broadway, she has received 6 additional Tony Award nominations for Wendy Wasserstein's The Sisters Rosensweig, The Visit, Honour, Night of the Iguana, First Monday in October, Find Your Way Home, and 6 Rms Riv Vu. Other Broadway credits include: Shadowlands, Monday After Miracle, Goodbye Fidel, The Heiress, Hamlet. Notable television includes her Emmy Award®-winning performance in "Playing for Time." Other TV: "Eleanor and Franklin," "Bitter Winter," "Calamity Jane," "Miracle on 34th Street," "Sweet Country," "In Love and War," and "Daughter of the Streets" among numerous others. From 1993 to 1997, Alexander was Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of Command Performance: An Actress in the Theater of Politics, a reflection on her years in Washington , which was published by Public Affairs in June 2000.

BIRGITTA TROMMLER (Director; Co-Author) has been Director of the Tanz/Theater at the Staatstheater Darmstadt Opera in Germany since 1996. In addition, she initiated the Serious Fun Festival of interdisciplinary forms of theatre, as well as the Cutting Edge, an international competition for young directors with a focus on new forms of theatre in Europe . From 1989 until 1996, Ms. Trommler was the Director of the Dance Theatre Department at the Stadt Buhnen Munster theater school. She has also directed the European premieres of several operas by the American composer Philip Glass. In 1975 she co-founded "Tanzprojekt Munchen," an independent company, which toured to national and international dance festivals.

NOREEN TOMASSI (Co-Author) is the President & CEO of Arts International. In this capacity, she led strategic planning and fundraising efforts to establish Arts International as an independent non-profit corporation, raising over $7 million as seed funding for this effort. Tomassi joined Arts International in 1987 in its earlier incarnation as a division of the Institute of International Education and became the Division's Associate Director in 1988 and Director in 1996. She began her career in the arts in Play Development at McCarter Theatre in Princeton , where she co-produced the Playwrights-at McCarter Series and managed the Community Outreach and Education program. In 1983, she joined the staff of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts where she was editor of Arts New Jersey magazine, executive producer of State of the Arts for New Jersey public television, and directed the Literature program. Tomassi's publications include Money for International Exchange in the Arts (ACA Book: 1992); American Visions/Visiones de las Americas (ACA/Allworth Press: 1994) and articles on the arts which have appeared in Ambassador's Review, Crain's New York Business, Christian Science Monitor, New Directions for Women and other publications.


The set design for WHAT OF THE NIGHT is by Rob Odirisio; the costume design is by Ann Roth; the lighting design is by Beverly Emmons; the sound design is by Fabian Obispo; the video design is by Dennis Diamond; casting is by Bernard Telsey Casting. The production stage manager is Ellen Jones and the production manager is B.D. White. Production photography is by Joan Marcus.


MCC THEATER is one of New York City 's leading Off-Broadway theater companies, committed to presenting New York and World Premieres Off-Broadway each season. Under the artistic direction of Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey and William Cantler, MCC Theater has brought many artists' names into the spotlight in its nineteen-season history. John G. Schultz serves as Executive Director.

When MCC Theater was founded in 1986, its mission was simple: to bring new theatrical voices to theater-going audiences. MCC Theater continues to accomplish this yearly through presentation of its mainstage works; its Literary Program, which actively seeks and develops new and emerging writers; and its Education and Outreach Program, allowing more than 1,200 students yearly to experience theater, increase literacy and discover their own voices in the arts.

Notable highlights from MCC include: the 2004 Tony-winning production of Bryony Lavery's Frozen; Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat; Rebecca Gilman's The Glory of Living; Marsha Norman's Trudy Blue; Margaret Edson's Pulitzer prize-winning Wit and Tim Blake Nelson's The Grey Zone. Over the years, the dedication to the work of new and emerging artists has earned MCC Theater a variety of awards.

Most recently, MCC presented Bryony Lavery's LAST EASTER, directed by Doug Hughes. MCC's 2003-2004 season included Neil LaBute's THE DISTANCE FROM HERE, directed by Michael Greif; the sold-out run (and Tony-winning Broadway transfer) of Bryony Lavery's FROZEN, directed by Doug Hughes; and Eric Coble's BRIGHT IDEAS, directed by John Rando. For more information and a complete MCC production history, visit online at


MCC re-teams with Neil LaBute to present the world premiere of the playwright's latest work, FAT PIG, directed by Jo Bonney and starring in alphabetical order: Ashlie Atkinson, Jessica Capshaw, Andrew McCarthy, and Steven Pasquale. Performances run through February 26 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Tickets may be purchased by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or online at


WHAT OF THE NIGHT performs at the Lucille Lortel Theatre ( 121 Christopher Street , NYC). To reach the Lucille Lortel Theatre by Subway, take the number 1 or 9 (red line) train to Christopher Street station. Walk west one and a half blocks down the street. The Lucille Lortel Theatre is between Bleecker and Hudson Streets.

Tickets for WHAT OF THE NIGHT are $50.00, and are available through Ticket Central, 212-279-4200, or online at ( ). Student Rush Tickets : subject to availability, are $15.00, on sale 30 minutes prior to curtain, in-person ONLY at the Lucille Lortel Theatre box office, with valid student ID (NOTE: limit of one pair, per student daily.)

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