Next month sees what is being billed as "the world's largest ever celebration of American culture." From 25 January, Inventing America, a wide-reaching year-long festival, will take over at London's Barbican Centre. The ambitious £3,000,000 "era of invention" of America in London will include the full gamut of American cultural experiences, drawing together theatre, music (from classical to rock), opera, dance, cinema, the visual arts, literature, technology and food (from hamburgers to Hawaiian cuisine).
The drama element, Staged America, contains four British premieres including the Chicago-based Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Kaufman and Hart's The Man Who Came To Dinner. This marks a rare excursion for the Company, both into comedy and the UK (where it has not appeared since 1989). James Burrow will direct the play starring John Mahoney of Broadway's The House of Blue Leaves and TV's Frasier. The Man Who Came To Dinner will run 16-25 July 1998.
The New York-based Acting Company will take on Love's Fire, an evening of seven specially commissioned one-act plays based on Shakespeare's sonnets. The plays are written by a band of Americans leading contemporary playwrights: Eric Bogosian, William Finn, John Guare, Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman, Ntozake Shange and Wendy Wasserstein. Love's Fire will run 20-23 May.
Other productions for the season include: Lisa Kron's one-woman show 2.5 Minute Ride; Roger Guenveur Smith's portrait piece A Huey P. Newton Story; and David Felshuh's Miss Evers' Boys about the US government's 40-year syphilis study on black men.
Barbican Arts Director, Graham Sheffield, comments on the project: "Exciting, innovative, challenging and provocative. All words associated with the leading names in American theatre. Much of the work we are presenting takes a refreshingly broad view of theatre as a medium. It will present great names and great companies with a new slant. There is plenty to enjoy in this the biggest season of American work ever presented, as well as the Barbicanis first full international theatre season." --By Terri Paddock
What's On Stage, London