Geva to Continue Season with Co-Production of A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN
The jaded James Tyrone is on the edge of despair, and the fiercely passionate Josie Hogan is lonely beyond endurance. But on this night, when they meet on a barren patch of earth in the glow of an autumn moon, hope sparks between them. In this bittersweet elegy, two wounded hearts experience the power of redemption-and the saving grace of love. It is a stark look at humanity in its basest and loveliest form by four-time Pulitzer Prize and America's only Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill.
When Eugene O'Neill (1888 - 1953) began writing for the stage early in the 20th century, the American theatre was dominated by vaudeville and romantic melodramas. Influenced by Strindberg, Ibsen, and other European playwrights, O'Neill vowed to create a theatre in America, stripped of false sentimentality, which would explore the deepest stirrings of the human spirit. In 1914, he wrote: "I want to be an artist or nothing." During the 1920s, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for three of his plays - Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, and Strange Interlude. Other popular successes, including The Emperor Jones, The Hairy Ape, Desire Under the Elms, The Great God Brown, and Mourning Becomes Electra, brought him international acclaim. In 1936, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature-the only American playwright to be so honored. O'Neill experimented with new dramatic techniques and dared tackle such controversial issues as interracial marriage, the equality of the sexes, the power of the unconscious mind, and the hold of materialism on the American soul. In each of his plays, he sought to reveal the mysterious forces "behind life" which shape human destiny. Three of his final works, written at Tao House, tower over the others: The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. These autobiographical plays portray, with "faithful realism," the haunting figures of his father, mother, and brother who loom in the background of most of his other plays. He was awarded a fourth Pulitzer Prize, posthumously, in 1956 for Long Day's Journey into Night. In a career which spanned three decades, Eugene O'Neill changed the American theatre forever.
Written in 1943 as a sequel to Long Day's Journey into Night, A Moon for the Misbegotten was the last major play that O'Neill wrote before his death in 1953 and had its world premiere in Columbus, Ohio in 1947. The play has been produced five times on Broadway; the first in 1957, with a cast led by Cyril Cusak, Franchot Tone and Wendy Hiller, and most recently in 2007 featured Eve Best, Colm Meaney and Kevin Spacey.
This production of A Moon for the Misbegotten is a result of a partnership between Geva Theatre Center and the Theatre Royal in Rochester's Sister City of Waterford, Ireland. In early 2014, Geva's Artistic Director, Mark Cuddy was approached by Patrick Burke, the Managing Principal of The Burke Group in Rochester with a proposal: Partly due to the Sister Cities program, Rochester has many business relationships with Waterford, Ireland (Bausch and Lomb for example), but what about creating a cultural exchange? Perhaps the Theatre Royal of Waterford and Geva Theatre Center could discuss a project? It soon became apparent that a partnership between the theatres in the respective Sister Cities would be a good fit, which led to a series of conversations between Cuddy and Ben Barnes, Director of the Theatre Royal (the oldest theatre venue in Ireland). They decided quickly that for whatever play was chosen, the creative team should be as bi-national as possible to ensure a true collaboration between Ireland and America. This meant that the design team and actors would be a mixture of Irish and American professionals, and that Barnes and Cuddy would work together to choose the play. They began conversations discussing Irish playwrights, but it wasn't long before Barnes suggested an Irish American writer who is celebrated in both countries: Eugene O'Neill. The choice of A Moon for the Misbegotten seemed timely - a rich play about hope and redemption. "This is a luminous play," comments Mark Cuddy, "and it's so rewarding to tackle giant works such as Moon because they require a deep commitment from first-class actors and a first class creative team." The production opened at the Theatre Royal in Waterford on March 10 and opens at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast on March 15.
The cast of A Moon for the Misbegotten is comprised of Irish and American Actors. Mark Lambert (Phil Hogan) is one of Ireland's leading actors. He has appeared in numerous productions for both The Abbey and Gate Theatres including Heartbreak House, She Stoops to Conquer, Twelfth Night, The Importance of Being Earnest and Romeo and Juliet. Previous productions include Juno and the Paycock also directed by Ben Barnes at The Albery Theatre, London for which he received an Olivier Award nomination for his role as Joxer. Previous productions with The Abbey Theatre also include The Gigli Concert, Barbaric Comedies (Irish Times Theatre award nomination) and Observe the Sons of Ulster Walking Towards the Somme. Previous productions with The Gate Theatre include Molly Sweeney, The Three Sisters, A Month in the Country, Aristocrats, Art and Festen. In London, productions include Our Country's Good and The Recruiting Officer, Dancing at Lughnasa (Phoenix & Garrick Theatres), The Memory of Water (Vaudeville Theatre) winning the Olivier award for Best Production, All's Well That Ends Well with Judi Dench, Tout and Red Black and Ignorant (Royal Shakespeare Company). Recent TV includes "Rebellion" (RTE/Element/Touchpaper), 'Mr Hammond' in all three seasons of the BAFTA-nominated BBC children's series "Roy," series regular 'Des Harte' in "Raw" (Octagon/RTE) and "Single Handed" (Touchpaper Films/RTE/ITV). Michael Quinlan's (T. Stedman Harder) theatre credits include Macbeth, Othello and King Lear for Theatre Royal Waterford; the Irish tour of Dreamland (Irish Times Best New Play nomination); The London Cuckolds at the Pleasance Theatre, London; The Starvling at the Arcola Theatre, London; Private Thoughts in Public Places at the Oval Theatre, London; A Midsummer Night's Dream and Julius Caesar at Principal Theatre; Michael Collins - A Musical Drama at Cork Opera House and Olympia Theatre, Dublin); Dissident, Urbs Intacta Manet and GTi at Garter Lane, Waterford. TV Credits include "This is England '90." Kate Forbes (Josie Hogan) makes her Geva Theatre Center debut in A Moon for the Misbegotten. Ms. Forbes has appeared in major roles on Broadway, Off-Broadway and at regional theatres all around the U.S. She has also performed at the RSC in Stratford, England. Favorite roles include Portia, Nora, Desdemona, Emilia, Candida, Stella, Lady Macbeth, Elizabeth Proctor, Helena, Lady Teazle and Gertrude, among many others. Television credits include Olivia Fairfax in the PBS series "Mercy Street," Law & Order" and various soaps. Film credits include Hot Summer Nights (2017), The Longest Ride, Term Life, The Sacrament and The Substance of Fire. Ms. Forbes is a popular narrator of audio-books, working for over fifteen years with Recorded Books, LLC. Donald Sage Mackay (James Tyrone, Jr.) also makes his Geva Theatre Center debut in A Moon for the Misbegotten. He primarily works out of Los Angeles and New York, as well as in major regional theatres throughout the U.S. (Signature Theatre/NY, Actors Theatre of Louisville, La Jolla Playhouse, Cleveland Play House, Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum/Ahmanson in LA, and at numerous Shakespeare Festivals). Mr. Mackay is the recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Lead Actor. Film/TV appearances include Guest Stars on "Modern Family," "Elementary," "Blue Bloods," "Law & Order: SVU," "The Good Wife," "Mad Men," "House," "Weeds," "NCIS," "Criminal Minds," "The West Wing," "Frasier," "ER," feature film Transformers2, as well as past recurring roles on "Scrubs," "The Practice" and "Providence." Augustus Cuddy (Mike Hogan) returns to the Geva stage for the first time in ten years after last being seen in Our Town. He is a School of the Arts graduate and alumnus of Geva Summer Academy, currently studies acting at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, and has also studied at the London Dramatic Academy. University credits include The Skin of Our Teeth and We Are Proud.... He has also performed in New York and regionally at the Cape Playhouse.
A Moon for the Misbegotten is directed by Ben Barnes, Artistic Director of the Theatre Royal, Waterford and formerly Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre, Director of the Gaiety Theatre and one of the founding Artistic Directors of Opera Theatre Company (OTC). The design team includes Joe Van?k (scenic and costume design), Ann G. Wrightson (lighting design) and Lindsay Jones (sound design).
The 2015-2016 Wilson Stage Series is sponsored by ESL Federal Credit Union. A Moon for the Misbegotten is produced with support from International Exchange Sponsor The Burke Group; Co-Producer O'Connell Electric Company; Associate Producers Bond, Schoeneck & King Law Firm and Canandaigua National Bank and Trust; and Media Sponsor WYSL.