With two hits under its belt—Elaine Stritch: At Liberty and Othello—the Public Theater has cemented plans for its first couple productions of 2002.
First out of the gate is Helen by Ellen McLaughlin. The drama will run Feb. 26-March 31 at the LuEsther Theater. Playwright Tony Kushner, who saw McLaughlin star in his Angels in America on Broadway, will direct.
The play concerns a favorite subject of McLaughlin's: the Battle of Troy. An earlier play, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, which played Off-Broadway's CSC, was a post-modern look at Agamemnon's wife and his daughters, including the title character, who was sacrificed to the gods so that Agamemnon's forces might sail to and engage rival Troy. Helen, is about the woman whose face launched those one thousand ships in the first place. In the world of Helen, however, the woman in question is not in Troy but in Cairo having protein shakes and facials.
Kushner's Homebody/Kabul, is now at New York Theatre Workshop. Helen will be his NYC directing debut.
Meanwhile, Naomi Iizuka's 36 Views begins performances at the Newman Theatre on March 12. The show is a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where 36 Views played last fall. Mark Wing Davey, a Public favorite, directed the Berkeley show and will repeat his duties in Manhattan. A spokesperson for the Public, said the theatre may retain much of the California cast, which included Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Elaine Tse, Bill Camp, Peter Donat, Liana Pai, Rebecca Winsocky. In the drama, a mysterious one-of-a-kind Japanese pillow book is discovered, setting the field of Asian antiquity on its ear. Behind the scenes, art restorer Claire (Tse) and an antique dealer's assistant John (Moss-Bachrach) become caught up in their own lies and deceptions as the alleged pillow book subtly reveals contradictions in their lives.
Iizuka is also the author of Polaroid Stories, Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls and The Languages of Angels.
Suzan-Lori Parks' Fuckin' A, the final officially announced production of the 2001-02 Public season, has yet to set dates. It is expected later in the spring.
—By Robert Simonson
and Christine Ehren