He took a Walk in the Woods and went Down The Road, stayed in Two Rooms and examined Nice People Dancing To Good Country Music. Now playwright Lee Blessing is Going to St. Ives -- and St. Ives may be going to Broadway.
Blessing's Going To St. Ives had its world premiere July 3-Aug. 3, 1997 at Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre. Blessing, author of Down The Road, Two Rooms, Fortinbras and the 1989 Broadway hit, A Walk In The Woods, developed his latest play at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in CT. Although that idyllic training ground is not supposed to be a marketplace for producers, occasionally pays do get snapped up for productions around the country. That's what happened with Going To St. Ives.
Director Leslie Swackhamer, who caught one of the O'Neill readings, said, "The entire audience hung on every word, absolutely riveted by the story and characters. I knew ACT had to do this play."
Now Variety reports (and Fox Theatricals producer Michael Leavitt confirms) that Fox has plans to bring the show to Broadway in the 1998 99 season. Leavitt had no further details on direction, casting or venue. (Though he confirmed a Variety report that Meryl Streep is connected to a potential film version that Fox is also mulling.)
Winner of the Herbert & Patricia Brodkin Scholarship Award, St. Ives has some similarity to Blessing's Two Rooms in that both deal with the psychological implications of hostage negotiations. In the earlier play, a wife uses diplomatic circles and the media in a vain attempt to get her husband released from middle-eastern captivity. In St. Ives, an English doctor invites an African dictator's ailing mother to tea. The physician, Cora, promises to treat May's illness if her brutal son releases four hostages. At ACT, the play starred Gloria Foster (Having Our Say) and Mari Nelson (An American Daughter at Seattle Rep).
-- By David Lefkowitz