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Keen Launches New Season with Gurney's The Dining Room

Keen Company has announced the first production of their 2007/08 season, the first major NYC revival of the A.R. Gurney's The Dining Room, directed by Jonathan Silverstein (Keen's Tea and Sympathy, The Hasty Heart). The play begins previews on Tuesday, September 11 for a limited engagement through Sunday, October 14.  Opening night is Thursday, September 20 at 7 PM. 

"This 25th Anniversary production of A. R. Gurney's masterpiece of 20th Century family life – formal, informal, and impossible – explodes across the stage in a series of scenes dissecting birthday parties, holidays, breakfasts, affairs, and every imaginable form of American familial relations. Spanning the century and a single day at  the same time, The Dining Room is a humorous and moving evocation of family life, past and present," state press notes.

This Pulitzer Prize-nominated play originated at Playwright's Horizons in 1982, and starred a young William H. Macy.  Keen Company's full casting will be announced in the coming weeks, but the production has secured Ann McDonough, who starred in the original Off Broadway production, to be  part of the cast for the 25th Anniversary revival.  "The play is a tour-de-force for six actors playing over 50 roles."

A.R. Gurney (playwright) is one of the most prolific and produced playwrights in America. His work focuses primarily on the issues and realities of middle-class American life and has been produced on international theatre stages for more than 40 years. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1952, Gurney joined the United States Navy during the Korean War, writing shows to entertain the military  personnel. Following his discharge in 1955, he enrolled in the Yale School of Drama where he received his master's degree in playwriting. Later he joined the faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge where he taught until 1996.  In 1958, Gurney wrote Love in Buffalo, the fist musical ever produced at Yale. His breakthrough success came in 1982 with The Dining Room. Other plays include Scenes From American Life, Children, The Middle Ages, Richard Cory, The Golden Age, What I Did Last Summer, The Wayside Motor Inn, Sweet Sue, The Perfect Party, Another Antigone, The Cocktail Hour, Love Letters, The Snow Ball (adapted from his novel), The Old Boy, The Fourth Wall, Later Life, A Cheever Evening, Sylvia, Overtime, Let's Do It (a Cole Porter musical), Labor Day, Far East, Darlene, Ancestral Voices, Mrs. Farnsworth, Indian Blood and Post Mortem.  Gurney is the recipient of many awards, including a Drama Desk, NEA, Rockefeller  Foundation, New England Theatre Conference, two Lucille Lortel Awardss, American Association of Community Theatres, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He holds honorary degrees from Williams College and Buffalo State University. Gurney was on the  faculty of M.I.T. until 1996.

Keen Company's 2007/08 season continues with two World Premiere  productions: The Maddening Truth by David Hay, about Ernest Hemingway's third wife, the renowned war journalist Martha Gellhorn, which begins previews on January 15; and The Conscientious Objector by Michael Roland Murphy, a docudrama exploring Dr. Martin Luther  King, Jr.'s role in the anti-war movement, which begins previews on February 26.

The performance schedule is Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday –  Saturday at 8:00 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM. Performances are at Keen Company's Off Broadway home, The Clurman Theater @ Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues).  Tickets are $40 and are available by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or visit

Photo of A.R. Gurney by Ben Strothmann

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