Dorfman's new play will be presented as a workshop production, directed by David Esbjornson, who staged Broadway's Tony Award-winning The Goat by Edward Albee.
According to the Theater Previews announcement, "Purgatorio explores many of the same themes as Dorfman's award-winning play Death and the Maiden, but takes the dilemmas a step further: can there be forgiveness and reconciliation if we have committed monstrous deeds? And how can we be expected to repent of those deeds without destroying our own identity, the bedrock of our past which made us who we are today?"
Zannie Giraud Voss, producing director at Duke, said in a statement: "Purgatorio is a powerful play whose contemporary yet timeless themes will resonate profoundly with audiences. It is tremendously exciting for us to work with such an outstanding playwright whose reputation as an artist, novelist and poet is international in scope, and whom we are fortunate enough to consider a colleague at Duke. We are deeply honored to be the first to present this provocative new play, and deeply grateful to Benjamin Mordecai and Producers Four for bringing this work to our attention."
If the play has a future commercial life, presumably Mordecai and his colleagues will shepherd it.
Tickets are currently on sale for Purgatorio at University Box Office at (919) 684-4444. Performance times are 8 PM Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4-5 and 2 PM on Feb. 6. All tickets are $15. A $5 discount will be offered to those purchasing tickets to both Purgatorio and Gore Vidal's On the March to the Sea, running Feb. 22-March 6.
Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean expatriate who holds the Walter Hines Page Chair of Literature and Latin American Studies at Duke University. He has received numerous international awards, including the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play (Death and the Maiden, which was made into a feature film by Roman Polanski) and two awards from the Kennedy Center. His books, written both in Spanish and English, have been translated into more than 30 languages and his plays staged in more than 100 countries.
Dorfman's novels include a re-issued edition of "Widows," "Konfidenz," "The Nanny and the Iceberg" and "Blake's Therapy." Among his non-fiction works are "Exorcising Terror: The Incredible Unending Trial of General Augusto Pinochet," "The Empire's Old Clothes" and his memoir, "Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey." He has written a bilingual book of poetry, "In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land," and a novel with his son, Joaquin Dorfman, "The Burning City." His latest works are a Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel book, "Desert Memories: Journeys through the Chilean North" from National Geographic Directions, and a new book of essays, "Other Septembers, Many Americas: Selected Provocations, 1980-2004" has just been published by Seven Stories Press.
Theater Previews at Duke's mission "is to serve as a breeding ground for professional, innovative and high quality new plays and musicals, and to offer audiences the opportunity to engage in productions in a variety of stages of development. The presence of the playwright is an essential part of the program. Theater Previews provides the personnel, space, time and support required to bring his or her vision to fruition in the course of producing work that makes a contribution to the field on a national scale."
Theater Previews presented the Broadway tryout of Little Women in fall 2004.