Ukranian-American sculptor Louise Nevelson is the subject of two current Off-Broadway works, Edward Albee's Occupant at the Signature Theatre, and Embers, a new play by Catherine Gropper playing the Chelsea Playhouse since Jan. 23. The reception of Albee's work remains to be seen (especially since star Anne Bancroft has been temporarily sidelined by a bout with pneumonia), but Gropper's, directed by Helena Webb, has been received well enough to warrant a one week extension, to March 3.
Not only that, on Feb. 23, a free post-show talk back will feature Gropper chatting with Laurie Lisle, the author of the bio, "Louise Nevelson: A Passionate Life." Questions from the audience will also be addressed.
Nevelson's work has been displayed in many of America's finest museums, including the Guggenheim, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. One of her large outdoor objects was destroyed in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
After immigrating to America in 1904, Nevelson studied drawing, painting and drama. She left her husband, who expected her to live the quiet life of a wealthy matron, in 1931 and then began to display her sculptures anbd paintings in 1933. She is known for her "assemblages," made from found objects, wood and cast metal and usually covered entirely in black, white or gold paint. Embers tells the story of her life in New York City's art world from 1960 to her death in 1988. The 85 minute biographical play premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was well received.
Nada Rowand stars as Nevelson. Her Broadway credits include The Young Man From Atlanta, Milk and Honey, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Al Pacino's Richard III. Also in the cast are Michael Graves, Kenneth Wilson-Harrington and Melissa Wolff. Tickets are $25-$40. The Chelsea Playhouse is located at 125 West 22nd Street. For reservations, call (212) 279-4200. Embers is on the web at http://www.EmbersThePlay.com.
— By Christine Ehren
and David Lefkowitz