Elizabeth Marvel and Bill Camp to Star in DEAR ELIZABETH Benefit Reading
Three-time Obie winner Elizabeth Marvel (The Meyerowitz Stories, Homeland, Other Desert Cities) and Tony and Emmy-nominated Bill Camp (The Night Of, Love & Mercy, The Crucible) will perform a reading of Pulitzer Prize Finalist Sarah Ruhl's critically acclaimed play Dear Elizabeth, on Sunday, Nov. 19th, 7:30 p.m. at Theatre for a New Audience's Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn.
The event will raise funds for Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, CA, a renowned cultural institution ("The Beating Cultural Heart of Big Sur" - CNN) that regularly brings internationally acclaimed performing artists, poets, writers and film screenings to this western edge of the continent. The Library has been grappling with severe financial challenges after a seven month emergency closure. Tickets are on sale at bit.ly/SaveHenryMillerLibrary.
Through Dear Elizabeth the furtive, creative minds and private lives of Pulitzer Prize-winning 20th Century poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop come to sparkling life. Cultivated through 400 letters over a 30-year span (1947-1977), Bishop and Lowell's warm yet distant friendship amidst extraordinary and troubled lives was chronicled through those letters, in Words in Air (2007).
After Ruhl became engrossed with the trove, the Pulitzer-finalist and Tony-nominated playwright was inspired to write Dear Elizabeth, which she constructed using only Bishop and Lowell's revealing letters and riveting poetry.
Like Marvel and Camp, the reading's director and organizer Jonathan Mann studied theater at Juilliard. Mann has produced on Broadway (A Time To Kill) and directed readings at Circle in the Square where he also developed and managed a number of special projects. In earlier years Mann was a performer, appearing on Broadway and in regional theaters. For decades, Mann worked with and alongside his father Theodore Mann who, with Jose Quintero and fellow Woodstock, NY artist colony friends, founded Circle in the Square Theatre in 1950.
Born in Manhattan and raised in Williamsburg, Henry Miller has been called everything from the North Star of the Beat Generation to the father of the sexual revolution. What's less known about Henry is that he was-to quote one biographer-a "pathological" letter writer. Henry Miller grew up in Williamsburg, and Henry Miller Memorial Library's director Magnus Torén appreciates the synergies at play.
"Henry would surely be pleased to see this brilliant collaboration spanning his bi-coastal homes of Brooklyn and Big Sur. The Library is honored to partner with Jonathan, Elizabeth and Bill in presenting Ms. Ruhl's fascinating work, at such an intimate and gorgeous theatre - and all for a good cause!" said Torén.
Miller lived high in the hills of Big Sur for 20 years, and one can easily imagine him sitting in his studio, firing off letters to friends, admirers like Lawrence Durrell and Norman Mailer, and later in life, over 1,500 letters alone to Playboy playmate Brenda Venus.
It's exactly why we find the parallels between Miller's "pathology" and the innovative work that is Dear Elizabeth so compelling. Both embrace the deliberation and intimacy in the simple but increasingly rare act of writing a letter.
Or as Bishop once wrote to Lowell: "It seems to me it's the whole purpose of art - that rare feeling of control, illuminating - life is all right."
"Like Victorians hungry for the next installment of a serialized novel, the two looked to each other's letters for sustenance." Read more about The Letters of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell in the New Yorker article by Dan Chiasson.