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Giamatti, Harris, Dreyfuss, Ruffalo and More Part of LATW Season

L.A. Theatre Works announced a 2008-09 season of ten plays that represent an array of theatrical genres.

Ten exceptional plays, including a U.S. premiere, will be presented between October and July at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.  All performances will be recorded to air on LATW's nationally-syndicated radio theater series, The Play's The Thing, which broadcasts weekly on public and satellite radio.

Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, Hector Elizondo, Paul Giamatti, Alfred Molina, Amy Pietz, David Strathairn and one of Britain's finest musicians, award-wining pianist Lucy Parham, are among the luminaries who will bring these plays - from historical fact to science fiction, from chamber musical to political thriller - alive on stage for audiences at the Skirball and to radio listeners nationwide.

Now in its 23rd year of recording plays for radio, L.A. Theatre Works has created the largest library of audio theater in the country.

"We are thrilled to kick off our season with a revival of Norman Corwin's play about the Lincoln-Douglas debates, The Rivalry, just as our own presidential race heats up," commented LATW Producing Artistic Director Susan Loewenberg.  "We'll also record the American premiere of a chamber musical that combines spoken word with the music of Schumann, Brahms and Liszt, and three important, contemporary plays with members of the original New York casts.  We want to bring the best theater possible to our viewing and listening audiences while preserving important classic and contemporary works for our unique archive of over 400 plays."

LATW's wide-ranging 2008-09 season schedule is as follows

OCTOBER 15-19:
Jump-starting the season, David Strathairn and Paul Giamatti star as two presidential candidates - one a rising Illinois legislator, the other a bombastic US Senator.  Obama and McCain?  Think again.  Eric Simonson, winner of the 2006 Academy Award winner for his documentary The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, directs a rare and timely revival of Corwin's The Rivalry.  In this transcendent Broadway play, the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates tackle the day's most passionate issue - slavery.  Their battle comes to life through the eyes of Mary Douglas, wife of candidate Stephen Douglas.  Challenged by the charming man from Illinois, she reexamines her basic beliefs about the American concept of freedom.

NOVEMBER 12-16
Winner of a Tony Award in 1984 for Best Play and again in 2000 for Best Revival, The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard is a modern classic: a witty comedy about marriage and writing, emotional fidelity and intellectual integrity, high art and pop culture.  Henry May be the wittiest playwright of his generation, but he's hopelessly naive when it comes to understanding love and infidelity. Writing about betrayal is one thing, living with it is another.  After Henry leaves his wife for another woman, he's confronted with being the cuckold himself.  Both dazzlingly clever and emotionally naked, Henry's search for "the real thing" in art and love demonstrates beautifully why both are worth the effort in the end.  Directed by Rosalind Ayres.

DECEMBER 3-7
The U.S. Premiere of Beloved Clara and Odyssey of Love - In Beloved Clara (Thursday, December 4; Saturday, December 6), the intense relationships between Robert Schumann, his wife Clara and Johannes Brahms are brought to vivid life through music and excerpts from their passionate writings.  With the arrival of the young, dynamic Brahms into the Schumanns' household, their fragile marriage is threatened by the deepening bond between Clara and their gifted guest.  Odyssey of Love (Wednesday, December 3; Friday, December 5; Sunday, December 7) mixes the colorful letters of Franz Liszt with some of his most ecstatic piano music, depicting his tempestuous relations with two fascinating women: the aristocratic free thinking rebel (and mother of his children) Marie d'Agoult, and the cigar-smoking intellectual Princess Carolyne von Sayn Wittgenstein.  Music for Beloved Clara and Odyssey of Love is performed live by award-winning pianist Lucy Parham, with extracts from the letters and diaries read by celebrated British actors Rosalind Ayres and Martin Jarvis.  Martin Jarvis directs.

JANUARY 14-18
First produced by the Negro Ensemble Company in 1969, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men by Academy Award nominee Lonne Elder III is a classic masterpiece that opened the door for a new generation of African American playwrights, August Wilson among them.  Original NEC cast member Judyann Elder directs Elder's portrait of a Harlem family that dreams of a better life but pursues it in tragic ways.

FEBRUARY 18-22
Winner of the 2008 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Play, Betrayed by George Packer is based on the journalist-playwright's original article in The New Yorker.  Eric Stoltz and original New York cast members Waleed F. Zuaiter and Sevan Greene star as three young Iraqi translators who risk everything for America's promise of freedom while their country collapses around them.

MARCH 18-22
Original New York cast members Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hamilton and Missy Yager star in the New York Drama Desk-nominated This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan.  In 1982, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, three pot-smoking teenagers are resoundingly rejecting the 1960's ideals of their affluent parents.  In hilarious and bittersweet detail, Youth follows 48 turbulent hours in the lives of three very lost souls at the dawn of the Reagan Era.

APRIL 15-19
Alfred Molina, reprising his Tony-nominated role, and Brian Cox star in Yasmina Reza's Olivier and Tony Award-winning comedy, Art.  How much would you pay for a painting with nothing on it?  Would it be art?  Marc's best friend Serge has just bought a very expensive - and very white - painting.  To Marc, the painting is a joke, and as battle lines are drawn, old friends use it to settle scores.  With friendships hanging in the balance, the question becomes: how much is a painting worth?  Peter Levin directs.

MAY 13-17
L.A. Theatre Works wraps up a 22-city national tour with this hugely entertaining double bill: H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, adapted for radio by Howard Koch, is the "mothership" of all space invasions.  Originally performed by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre of the Air, this chilling 1938 broadcast of an invasion from Mars caused a nationwide panic.  Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, adapted by John de Lancie and Nat Segaloff, is a rollicking adventure tale that follows a scientific expedition deep into the Amazon jungle - right back into the time of dinosaurs and cave men.

JUNE 17-21
Michael Hackett directs Neil Patrick Harris, Hamish Linklater and Emily Bergl in The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.  The final play from Oscar Wilde's pen is a stylish send-up of Victorian courtship and manners, complete with assumed names, mistaken lovers and a lost handbag.  Jack and Algernon are best friends, both wooing ladies who think their names are Ernest, "that name which inspires absolute confidence."  Wilde's effervescent wit, scathing social satire and high farce make this one of the most cherished plays in the English language.

JULY 8-12
Brendon Fox directs Richard Dreyfuss, Hector Elizondo and Amy Pietz in The Physicists by Friedrich Durrenmatt.  Johann Mobius, the world's greatest physicist, is locked away in a madhouse along with two other scientists.  Why?  Because he is haunted by recurring visions of King Solomon, and the other two are convinced they are Einstein and Newton.  But are these three actually mad?  Or are they playing a murderous game with the world at stake?  This darkly comic satire probes the cost of sanity among men of science and whether it is the mad who are the truly sane.
 
On Wednesday, October 15 at 6 pm, prior to the Opening Night Performance of The Rivalry, L.A. Theatre Works kicks off its new Wednesday Dinner Salon Series (separate admission price) with dinner and a live big screen viewing of the third Obama/McCain Presidential debate followed by commentary and analysis by a political commentator.  The second event in the series takes place on Wednesday, February 18, when playwright George Packer (tentative) will discuss the themes and issues in Betrayed. On Wednesday, April 15, a guest art critic will discuss the history and impact of modern art as a preamble to that night's performance of Yasmina Reza's Art.

L.A. Theatre Works' radio theater series, The Play's the Thing, airs locally every Saturday night from 10 pm to midnight on 89.3 FM KPCC Southern California Public Radio, and is streamed on the KPCC website ( www.kpcc.org) for one week following each broadcast. The series can also be heard on 89.7 WGBH in Boston; 91.5 FM WBEZ in Chicago; 94.9 KUOW in Seattle; 93.5 FM KRTS "Marfa Public Radio" in Texas; 90.5 FM KUT in Austin; 88.9 FM KUNM in Albuquerque; 91.5 FM, Interlochen Public Radio in Northern Michigan; 94.1 KPFA in Northern California; 91.1 FM KRCB in Sonoma County; 89.1 KUOR in Redlands; as well as on many other public radio stations nationwide and XM Satellite Radio.  Selected programs from LATW are also heard internationally over BBC World Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Telefis Eirann (Ireland), Radio Hong Kong, and Radio New Zealand. The L.A. Theatre Works Audio Theatre Collection is available in bookstores, libraries, through their catalog, digitally on itunes, overdrive.com, audible.com, and on the L.A. Theatre Works website at www.latw.org.

"The Play's The Thing" has been underwritten for the 2008-09 season by The Peter Glenville Foundation, and additional major support for LATW programs and productions comes from the Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

Performances of "The Play's The Thing" are recorded live for broadcast on public and XM Satellite Radio at the Skirball Cultural Center, located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, in the Santa Monica Mountains just off the San Diego (405) Freeway (exit Skirball Center Drive). Tickets range from $20.00 to $48.00.  On site, secure parking is free.  Assisted listening devices are available.  For reservations and information, call the L.A. Theatre Works Box Office at (310) 827-0889 or go to www.latw.org.

Photo of Neil Patrick Harris by James Sims/ Photos of Mark Ruffalo and Paul Giamatti by Sara DeBoer/Retna Ltd.



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