Terrence McNally Announced as Eclipse Theatre Company's 2015 Featured Playwright
Chicago's Eclipse Theatre Company, the Midwest's only theatre company to focus on a single playwright each season, will feature the works of award-winning American playwright Terrence McNally for their 2015 Season. Eclipse will explore the range of McNally's output with three full productions, plus readings and public events about the playwright.
"We are thrilled to dedicate our 2015 season to the works of one of the most beloved and prolific playwrights working in the American theatre today," said Eclipse's Artistic Director Nathaniel Swift. "With insightful humor and sharp wit, Terrence McNally's plays embody the human spirit and illuminate the ever changing social and sexual politics of our time. We look forward to showcasing a wide range of his canon, from his award-winning Broadway hits to his rarely seen Pulitzer-nominated comedy. The Terrence McNally season will be a memorable and exciting theatrical experience for our audiences and artists alike."
All performances will be held at Chicago's Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
In addition to these three main productions, Eclipse will also explore additional works by Terrence McNally through a yearlong free series of intimate readings and discussions, The Playwright Scholar Series. Special event details, plus casts and crews, will be announced as confirmed.
The 2015 Terrence McNally Season will include:
Lips Together, Teeth Apart, directed by Ted Hoerl in his Eclipse directorial debut
April 16 - May 24, 2015 (opening nights on April 19 at 3 p.m., and April 21 at 7:30 p.m.)
In the 2015 season opener, a gay community in Fire Island provides an unlikely setting for two straight couples who are discovered lounging poolside, staring out to sea. Through monologues unheard by the others, the characters reveal a desperate sense of individual isolation. The only people these four characters find more alien are the gay men partying in the houses on either side of them. As they divert themselves from their own mortality with food, cocktails, New York Times crossword puzzles, fireworks, charades, and biting jabs at each other and the boys next door, Sally and Sam and John and Chloe find little to celebrate about themselves or their country on its birthday.
A Perfect Ganesh, directed by Artistic Director Nathaniel Swift
July 16 - August 23, 2015 (opening nights on July 19 at 3 p.m., and July 21 at 7:30 p.m.)
In this Pulitzer-nominated play, two middle-aged women travel to India instead of to their more usual Caribbean vacation spots. They have chosen India as a way of healing from the deaths of their sons. While there, they meet a Hindu god, Ganesha, meaning "wisdom." Faced with the women's despair, who but the golden elephant god could intervene? Fluid in his power to assume any guise, at peace with all things, Ganesha is the spiritual center around which the play spins itself, drawing upon the tragic and the comic, the beautiful and the deplorable, until a breathtaking release arrives for both women at his hands.
The Lisbon Traviata, directed by Ensemble Member and Goodman Theatre Artistic Associate Steve Scott
November 5 - December 13, 2015 (opening nights on November 8 at 3 p.m., and November 10 at 7:30 p.m.; no performance on Thanksgiving, November 26)
The 2015 Terrence McNally season concludes with this sharply funny yet deeply tragic story that centers around a revealing conversation between depressed literary editor and opera fanatic, Stephen, and Mendy, a flamboyant opera queen. The two dish late into the night, distracting Stephen from his failing relationship with hilarious riffs on records, divas and more. But when Stephen returns home to confront his boyfriend, a tragedy unfolds on the scale of the grand opera he loves so much.
Terrence McNally was born in 1939 and grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. Graduating from Columbia in 1960 with a degree in English, McNally enjoyed a fellowship in Mexico where he wrote a play that earned the attention of the Actors Studio and got him a job as a stage manager, allowing him to acquire some practical theatre experience. From the macabre to the farcical, the range of McNally's satire and drama borrows from his personal life and his personal understanding of the world. McNally's plays about homophobia, love, fear, and AIDS, among other things, illuminate the dominant theme of how people connect and fail to connect. McNally's most recent play, Mothers and Sons, opened on Broadway in March 2014 at the John Golden Theater and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. Other recent plays include Golden Age, And Away We Go, and Unusual Acts of Devotion. In 2011, his musical adaptation of Catch Me If You Can, with a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theater. In 2010, the Kennedy Center produced three of his plays under the title "Terrence McNally's Night at the Opera: Master Class, The Lisbon Traviata, and the world premiere of Golden Age." His musical adaptation of Fredrich Durrenmatt's The Visit, with the score by John Kander and the lyrics by Fred Ebb, was produced at Arlington's Signature Theatre. Recent plays include Deuce with Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes on Broadway and Some Men at off-Broadway's Second Stage. He has won four Tony Awards for his plays Love! Valour! Companion! (as well as the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play, and the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards for Best Play) and Master Class and his musical books for Kiss of the Spider Woman (Kander & Ebb) and Ragtime. Recent Broadway credits include the revivals of his plays The Ritz and Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune. His other plays include A Perfect Ganesh, Corpus Christi, Dedication or The Stuff of Dreams, The Stendhal Syndrome, Lips Together, Teeth Apart (Drama Desk Award Best New Play), and It's Only a Play(recently updated and revived on Broadway). Earlier stage works include Bad Habits (Obie Award Best Play), Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone?, . . . And Things that Go Bump in the Night, and Next. He also wrote the books for the musicalsThe Full Monty, The Rink (Kander & Ebb), and A Man of No Importance. The San Francisco Opera presented Dead Man Walking with McNally's libretto and music by Jake Heggie. McNally has written a number of TV scripts, including Andre's Mother for which he won an Emmy Award. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, a Lucille Lortel Award, and a citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been a member of the Dramatists Guild since 1970 and is twice the recipient of the Hull-Warriner Award for Best Play.
The current Eclipse ensemble is Stephen Dale, Kathleen Dickinson, Sally Eames, Nora Fiffer, Susanne Hufnagel, Anish Jethmalani, Joe McCauley, Sarah Moeller, Nina O'Keefe, J.P. Pierson, Rebecca Prescott, Steve Scott, TayLar, and Katie Vandehey. The Artistic Director is Nathaniel Swift and the Managing Director is Kevin Scott.
Eclipse Theatre Company presents the work of one playwright each season, offering audiences an opportunity, unique in the Midwest, to journey through the playwright's works. Eclipse featured playwrights include Jean Cocteau (1998);Tennessee Williams (1999); Lillian Hellman (2000); Romulus Linney (2001); John Guare (2002); Neil Simon (2003); Keith Reddin (2004); Lanford Wilson (2005); Rebecca Gilman (2006); Pearl Cleage (2007); Arthur Miller (2010),Naomi Wallace (2011), Eugene O'Neill (2012), Sir Alan Ayckbourn (2013), and Lynn Nottage (2014).
Photo of Terrence McNally by Jeffrey Hornstein