She hasn't done a play since 1988's Spoils of War at NY's Second Stage Theatre, but Annette Bening will return to the boards with a doozy of a part: Hedda Gabler, to be staged at L.A.'s Geffen Playhouse, Mar. 16-Apr. 18, 1999, opening Mar. 24, 1999.
Henrik Ibsen's 1890 drama tells of a woman who marries wealthily but boringly, and secretly longs for troubled but passionate poet, Eilert Lovborg. When she's faced with blackmail, not to mention the dashing of her idealistic view of Lovborg, she turns to her father's pistol for comfort... Alongside Nora in Ibsen's A Doll's House, Hedda is considered one of 19th century theatre's most fascinating female characters. No director has yet been announced for the Geffen staging.
Bening received a Clarence Derwent Award and a Tony nomination for her role in Tina Howe's Coastal Disturbances, which played at the Second Stage in 1986 and then moved to Broadway. Previously, she'd been a company member at SF's American Conservatory Theatre, the Denver Center, and numerous Shakespeare Festivals. (Bening's Coastal Disturbances Playbill bio notes that during her training years, she'd played many famous women's roles in theatre: Juliet, Lady Macbeth and Eliza Doolittle.)
Bening's film roles include Mars Attacks!, The American President, Bugsy, Regarding Henry, Ian McKellen's Richard III (as Elizabeth) and an Oscar-nominated turn in The Grifters.
In other Geffen Playhouse news, the 1998-99 season will also offer producing director Gilbert Cates directing his first Geffen show, Donald Margulies'Collected Stories, opening Jan. 20, 1999. "Until now I have not had the time," Cates said. "When we started, I didn't realize how much work there would be in terms of theatre operating and fund-raising." Cates had stepped down as Dean of the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television, recently directed a miniseries for ABC TV, and will once again produce the Oscars for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences "if asked."
Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan (Oct.); David Mamet's The Cryptogram and The Old Neighborhood (Jan. 1999); and Kaufman & Connelly's Merton of the Movies are the other plays on the Geffen's slate.
Former Abbey Theatre head Joe Dowling directs the opening show, Inishmaan , on Wed. Oct. 28. The play, by the author of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, tells of a moderately handicapped young man from a poor Irish village, who tries out for a role in Robert Flaherty's semi-documentary, "Man of Aran."
Call (310) 208-5454 for further details on the Geffen Playhouse season.