Esbjornson Will Direct L.A. Premiere of Equivocation, a Hot Title About a Famous Playwright

News   Esbjornson Will Direct L.A. Premiere of Equivocation, a Hot Title About a Famous Playwright David Esbjornson, director of Broadway's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, will stage Bill Cain's Equivocation at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Opening is Nov. 18.
David Esbjornson
David Esbjornson

The play, "a witty historical fiction with Shakespeare as its protagonist," is the second production in the Geffen's season, directly following the world premiere of Blair Singer's satire Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas, which opens on Sept. 16. Tickets to both productions will go on sale to the public at noon on Aug. 4.

Equivocation, the world premiere of which is currently playing (in a separate staging) at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, will run at the Geffen Nov. 10-Dec. 20. Here's how Geffen characterizes it: "In a world where history is told by the winner, comes a new play about the night England's infamous Gunpowder Plot was foiled. For hundreds of years, this event has been celebrated as Guy Fawkes Day, but it's clear there is no way the night could have unfolded the way the Crown claimed. So, without Fox News at his disposal, how does King James turn fiction into fact? He hires the world's greatest playwright. Enter William Shakespeare. With the weight of history on their shoulders, Shakespeare and his winsome troupe struggle to dramatize the King's absurd account without losing their integrity — or their heads. Featuring playful allusions to some of the Bard's greatest works, Equivocation is a high-stakes tale where history meets fiction and fiction meets its match."

TV and theatre star Anthony Heald ("Boston Public," Broadway's Love! Valour! Compassion!) plays Shakespeare, spelled "Shagspeare" or "Shag" in the Oregon production of the play. OSF artistic director Bill Rauch directed that world premiere.

The play was recently announced to be part Manhattan Theatre Club's 2009-10 Off-Broadway season. A director will be announced for that separate staging.

Esbjornson is the former artistic director of Seattle Repertory where he directed premieres of Ariel Dorfman's Purgatorio, Kevin Kling's How? How? Why? Why? and the first major revival of Edward Albee's The Lady From Dubuque. Other recent works include Hamlet for Theater For A New Audience; the premiere of Peter Parnell's Trumpery; The Great Gatsby at the Guthrie; the London Royal Haymarket production of A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin; Much Ado About Nothing at the Delacorte; Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart; Kathleen Tolan's Memory House at Playwrights Horizons; and the world premieres of Tuesdays With Morrie by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom.

John Tufts in OSF's Equivocation
photo by Jenny Graham

Equivocation was developed at the Ojai Playwrights Conference and TheatreWorks in Palo Alto. Cain's widely produced play Stand-Up Tragedy earned six LA Critics Awards in its premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. Stand-Up later garnered four Helen Hayes Awards at Arena Stage in Washington, DC before its 1990 Broadway engagement, where it received the Joe A. Callaway Playwriting Award. He wrote the television adaptation of the play for TNT, under the title "Thicker Than Blood" (Writers' Guild nomination). He is the recipient of a George Foster Peabody Award for Outstanding Achievement in Television for the series "Nothing Sacred," which he co-created, wrote and produced for ABC. He wrote the critically acclaimed screen adaptation of "Nightjohn" for Hallmark/Touchstone, which was named best American film of the year by The New Yorker and given a special citation for excellence by the National Society of Film Critics. His work for television has won Writers Guild, Humanitas, Christopher and Alma awards, among others. He is the founder of the Boston Shakespeare Company, where he was artistic director for seven seasons.

Visit geffenplayhouse.com.

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