The Classic Stage Company (CSC) production of Beckett's Texts for Nothing opens Oct. 15 and will run through Nov. 5. Having begun previews Sept. 28, Texts for Nothing is part of a two-part CSC 2000-2001 season comprising Holocaust-themed works created by eyewitnesses to those events.
The two Holocaust-themed pieces include the New York premiere of a musical theatre piece by composer Philip Glass, and Beckett's Texts for Nothing which stars Bill Irwin.
Texts For Nothing is both directed and performed by Irwin. It is the story of a world-weary tramp who "stands on a hillside and surveys the universe." The most recent major artist to try his hand at Beckett's Texts was Joseph Chaikin, who appeared in A Contemporary Theatre's production of the piece in September 1999.
Also on tap for the CSC season:
• Race by Ferdinand Bruckner, which chronicles the rise of Hitler and its impact on a group of medical students, will be adapted and directed by Barry Edelstein. • The world premiere of the stage version of Victor Klemperer's acclaimed diaries, I Will Bear Witness, is Klemperer's recording, in meticulous detail, of "the humiliations and insults, absurdities and brutalities of a civilized society sliding into barbarism." The play will be adapted by George Bartenieff and Karen Malpede, directed by Karen Malpede and performed by George Bartenieff. (Presented as part of the "Classic Stages / New Visions" series, both of the Holocaust-themed plays mentioned above will run in modified repertory in conjunction with a major academic conference on Holocaust Drama and related issues at New York University.)
• The New York Premiere of a music-theatre piece by Philip Glass, In The Penal Colony, based on the story by Franz Kafka, tells of a man's observations at a remote tropical penal colony where an officer demonstrates the Harrow, an elaborate machine for capital punishment; this demonstration puts both men's theories on crime, correction, mercy and justice to the ultimate test. The libretto for In the Penal Colony is by Rudolph Wurlitzer and the piece will be directed by JoAnne Akalaitis.
CSC will also offer its series of free educational programming including Tuesday Talks, weekly post-performance discussions with the cast and artistic staff; and Saturday Symposia, presentations about the season's plays given by leading academic experts and thinkers from fields outside theatre.
The renovated Classic Stage Company is under the artistic direction of Barry Edelstein and producing director Beth Emelson. Production notes indicate that theatre improvements include "a fully computerized box office system, a redesigned lobby and lounge area, refurbished rest rooms, a new handicapped accessible rest room, and a new central heating and air conditioning system."
Memberships to CSC productions are $25 which entitles members to purchase the best seats for between $15 - $25 per production. For membership and ticket information, call (212) 677-4210, ext. 10, or visit CSC in person at 136 E. 13 Street.
-- By Murdoch McBride