Edward Albee's OCCUPANT Makes DC Debut At Theater J
Edward Albee's Occupant, Theater J's second show of its 19/20 season, begins performances in the renovated Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theater at the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center on November 7, 2019 and continues through December 8, 2019. Occupant, which looks at how sculptor Louise Nevelson came to create her world and her art, was the last produced new play of master playwright Edward Albee, premiering in New York City at Signature Theatre Company in 2008. Theater J's DC premiere will be directed by Aaron Posner and stars Susan Rome as Nevelson. The press is invited to Opening Night on Monday, November 11 at 7:30 PM.
The play imagines an interview with Nevelson from beyond the grave and digs into the icon's turmoil and triumphs as she transforms from a young Jewish girl immigrating from Russia to a master at the height of her creative powers. Through her ups and downs, her contradictions and evasions, the audience witnesses the complicated evolution of one of the 20th century's greatest artistic minds.
Albee was one of the most celebrated playwrights of the last century, starting with The Zoo Story in 1958, and continuing through Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1961), A Delicate Balance (1966), Seascape (1974), and Three Tall Women (1991), among many others. He won multiple Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prizes as well as the National Medal of Arts and a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Occupant builds on Theater J's great success with "forgotten classics," most notably with the rediscovery of Arthur Miller's Broken Glass - also directed by Aaron Posner - in June 2017. "One of our favorite things to do at Theater J is to unearth a script from the archives, put it in the capable hands of DC's top artists, and give it fresh life," says Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr. "You never know how the past will speak to the present until you invite it back to the stage. This play is quintessential Albee, uncovering important truths about art through its playful language, its rich characterizations, and its haunting subject matter."
Director Posner says, "Albee was always obsessed with the inner workings of complicated, problematic, remarkable human beings. His plays are filled with various kinds of magnificent monsters, as it were- layered, hard-to-define, hard-to-know, but totally captivating and engaging." Posner continues that, "it is no surprise that he was equally obsessed with real life people of the same ilk. The brilliant sculptor Louise Nevelson, was one of these people."
The DC metro area is home to several works by Nevelson, including her monumental "Sky Landscape" at the corner of Vermont Avenue and L Street NW, and a large, steel sculpture on the National Institutes of Health campus. Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Art's and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, among others.
Rome says she is eager to tackle the character of Nevelson because of "her immensity, her artistry, her power." She has played more than a dozen roles at Theater J over the past 19 years. One of her most recent, Kate Jerome in Brighton Beach Memoirs, earned her a 2018 Helen Hayes Award for best supporting actress in a play. Joining her in the cast is Jonathan David Martin, recently seen in The Heiress and Junk at Arena Stage and in Describe the Night at Woolly Mammoth.
Theater J is dedicated to taking its dialogues beyond the stage, offering public discussion forums which explore the theatrical, cultural and social elements of our productions. Details about the post show events are on Theater J's website.Theater J's 2019-2020 season continues with Sheltered, The Wanderers, Becoming Dr. Ruth, and Compulsion, or the House Behind.