A Head-Turning Season: Geffen Invites Exorcist and Plays by Alan Alda, Beth Henley to 2011-12

News   A Head-Turning Season: Geffen Invites Exorcist and Plays by Alan Alda, Beth Henley to 2011-12 Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles has lined up three world premieres for its 2011-12 season: a new adaptation of the demonic-possession thriller The Exorcist, a new play by Pulitzer Prize winner Beth Henley and the playwriting debut of actor Alan Alda, whose topic is Nobel-winning scientist Marie Curie.

Alan Alda
Alan Alda Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The Geffen slate — also including Red Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins featuring Kathleen Turner, Pulitzer Prize nominee The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz and Tony Award nominee Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts — was announced May 12.

John Pielmeier (Agnes of God) is penning the stage version of The Exorcist, a tale of a little girl possessed by the devil. The property began as a novel but is better known as a horror film. Tony Award winner John Doyle (Sweeney Todd, Company) directs.

The Jacksonian (directed by Robert Falls) is the title of the new work by Henley, who won her Pulitzer for Crimes of the Heart.

Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie is by actor and science buff Alda, acclaimed for his work in TV's "M*A*S*H" and on stage and as an actor, writer and director of films.

The Jacksonian and Radiance will appear in the Geffen's flexible 150-seat Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater in 2012. "We've talked a lot over the past couple of years regarding the development of new plays not being limited to world premieres," Geffen producing director Gil Cates said in a statement. "With this in mind, in addition to the three world premieres we're producing this year, we're investing in subsequent productions of new works. These plays are all in different stages of their development, but what they undoubtedly have in common is their extraordinary theatricality."

One title has yet to be announced for the mainstage Gil Cates Theater. Here's the 2011-12 Geffen season at a glance:

THE GIL CATES THEATER AT THE GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
West Coast Premiere
Written by Kristoffer Diaz
Directed by Eddie Torres
Aug. 30-Oct. 9

"Think pro-wrestling is all outrageous masks and pyrotechnics? Think again – there's so much more in this 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist. This West Coast premiere slams together thrilling spectacle, incredible characters and geopolitical allegory into an invigorating theatrical experience you can't find on pay-per-view. This smack-down of a play tackles racism, drop-kicks globalization, and brings this championship tale into the ring. In wrestling, as in life, behind every winner lies the story of a really excellent loser. 
This West Coast premiere will mark the second production of the acclaimed play and will allow both playwright and director to delve deeper into this still new work."

Next Fall
West Coast Premiere
Written by Geoffrey Nauffts
Directed by Sheryl Kaller
Oct. 25-Dec. 4

"Next Fall, which has already won widespread critical acclaim (nominations for the 2010 Tony Award for Best Play, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Play) makes its West Coast debut at the Geffen Playhouse with the original New York director, Sheryl Kaller. Adam and Luke seem like a case of opposites attract — Adam is older, neurotic and an atheist; Luke is impulsive, a struggling actor, and a devout Christian. After Luke is involved in a critical accident, family and friends descend upon the couple and these longtime differences collide, forcing opposing views on faith and family into a stand-off. As timely as it is touching, this must-see play exposes the fundamental truth that we love people both because of — and in spite of — who they are. This will be the second production for original director Sheryl Kaller and will give her the opportunity to explore the play with different artists."

Red Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins
West Coast Premiere
Written by Allison Engel & Margaret Engel
Directed by David Esbjornson
Jan. 3-Feb. 12, 2012

"Two-time Tony and Oscar nominee Kathleen Turner sizzles as Molly Ivins, the brassy Texan reporter whose liberal journalism skyrocketed her to the national stage. From writing Elvis Presley's New York Times obituary to becoming the most widely-read self-proclaimed 'pain in the ass to whatever powers come to be,' Ivins — often described as a modern-day Mark Twain — made rabid fans and enemies alike with her sharp-tongued humor and unabashed political 
criticism. This acclaimed one-woman show captures the red-headed reporter's indomitable character by weaving personal anecdotes with her colorful take on national politics. 
Red Hot Patriot had its world premiere at Philadelphia Theatre Company directed by David Esbjornson and featuring Kathleen Turner; Esbjornson directed a subsequent production at ZACH Theatre in Austin (featuring Barbara Chisholm)."

To Be Announced
April 3-May 13, 2012

The Exorcist
World Premiere
Written by John Pielmeier
Directed by John Doyle
Adapted from the novel by William Peter Blatty
July 3-Aug. 12, 2012

"This world premiere adaptation of the famous 1971 novel documenting the terror and redemption of a ten-year old girl remains as frightening and relevant as when we first experienced it. The Exorcist transforms the unsettling battles of good versus evil, faith versus fact and ego versus ethos into a uniquely theatrical experience as sophisticated as it is suspenseful."

THE AUDREY SKIRBALL KENIS THEATER AT THE GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE

The Jacksonian
World Premiere
Written by Beth Henley
Directed by Robert Falls
Jan. 31-March 11, 2012

"This eerie offering transports us to a seedy motel in Jackson, Mississippi circa 1964. You go to The Jacksonian Cottages to bury your secrets, making the motel an unsettling world where subversive becomes commonplace and the passage of time becomes hauntingly unpredictable. Revolving around the night of a murder, The Jacksonian is a surreal trip that is rife with disturbingly dark humor. As this salacious tale's mysterious events unfold, both characters and audience find themselves on a road that ultimately leads to a dead end."

Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie
World Premiere
Written by Alan Alda
Directed TBA
Dates TBA

"This world premiere play by acclaimed actor Alan Alda delves into the life and romance of one of the most brilliant female scientists in history. Famous for her groundbreaking research in radioactivity, Curie was the only person ever to win two Nobel Prizes in multiple sciences, but not without a struggle. For all the answers that came to her in the lab, Curie's life is peppered with questions of how to realize the passion she has for both knowledge and love. Celebrated but then rejected by the popular press as both a woman and scientist, Curie is left to define her place in society — and history — on her own terms."

For information about season subscriptions, visit geffenplayhouse.com/newseason.

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