At the end of 1998, David Esbjornson will leave Off-Broadway's Classic Stage Company, where he has served as artistic director since 1993. CSC's Board of Directors has begun the search for a new AD.
In a statement, Esbjornson said, "I believe that CSC's artistry and management structures are at an all-time high, and that its new leadership is well-positioned to build on the company's strong reputation. I intend to help in any way that I can to ensure a smooth transition."
At CSC, Esbjornson has directed such works as Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), Entertaining Mr. Sloane and Therese Raquin. Esbjornson's other directing credits include Dealer's Choice at Long Wharf in CT and Pick Up Axe at South Coast Rep.
According to spokesperson Candi Adams (of James LL Morrison Associates), he's directing Macbeth at the University of California in San Diego and will soon be staging a new musical about politician Harvey Milk in San Francisco.
Currently at CSC, Kathleen Chalfant stars in Phaedra In Delirium (Jan. 20-Feb. 15). The show is set in contemporary times and serves as "a response" to plays by Euripides (Hipolytus) and Jean Racine (Phedre, 1677), wherein Theseus' wife, Phaedra, falls in love with her stepson, Hippolytus. A co-production of Women's Project & Productions, this world premiere of Phaedra In Delirium is staged by Australian director Alison Summers. Best known for the bloodless mom in Angels In America, Chalfant also appeared on Broadway in Racing Demon. She nabbed a Drama Desk nomination for Nine Armenians and appeared in CSC's Iphigenia And Other Daughters. In 1996, she received a Village Voice Obie for Sustained Excellence.
Co-starring in Phaedra are Peter Jay Fernandez, as both Theseus and Hippolytus), and Sandra Shipley (Indiscretions). Designing the show are Christine Jones (set), Teresa Snyder-Stein (costumes), Beverly Emmons (lighting) and Fabian Obispo (original music/sound).
Author Yankowitz's previous plays include 1969 Terminal 1996 (with Joseph Chaikin), Night Sky, Under The Skin and the libretto for Slain In The Spirit - The Promise Of Jim Mones (with composer Taj Mahal).
In other CSC news, a planned production of Waiting For Godot for late winter was cancelled, albeit weeks before the Esbjornson resignation. Andrei Belgrader was to stage Samuel Beckett's comedy/drama about two vagrants, Vladimir & Estragon, and the guy they're waiting, and waiting, and waiting for. Sources say the production was scrapped because a London Godot, with Ben Kingsley, looked like a sure thing for Broadway.
No play has been chosen in Godot's stead. Said spokesperson Adams, "At this point, they're only doing a three-play season, though that could change if a production comes in for early summer."
After Phaedra In Delirium, the CSC space will be rented out for a commercial production of Sideman, directed by Michael Mayer (March 3-29).
For tickets and information on CSC productions, call (212) 677-4210. Special programs include the education and outreach project, "Classic Contenders," and pay-what-you-can tickets made available to those under 18.
-- By David Lefkowitz