Academy Award-winning actress Holly Hunter stars as Hester Swane in the California premiere of the Irish drama, By the Bog of Cats, opening Sept. 14 at San Jose Repertory Theatre. The company's artistic director and frequent Hunter helmer Timothy Near (Ghost on Fire, Buried Child, A Doll's House) directs.
At the opening night, San Jose Repertory Theatre artistic director Timothy Near will address the audience before the performance, speaking on the Sept. 11 attack on New York City and Washington, DC. The opening night fundraising dinner at the Fairmount Hotel prior to the performance will feature a donation drawing which will benefit disaster relief programs and a moment of silence with Near and managing director Alexandra Urbanowski to honor the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.
Hunter won her Oscar for "The Piano." Other film work includes "Jesus' Son," "Crash," "Copycat," "Raiding Arizona," "Broadcast News" and "The Firm." On Broadway she is known for bringing to life Beth Henley's work with her star-making turn in Crimes of the Heart, The Miss Firecracker Contest, The Wake of Jamie Foster and, most recently, An Impossible Marriage.
Hester Swane (Hunter) was born By the Bog of Cats, like her mother before her and, like her mother before her, she too gave birth to an illegitimate daughter there. Now her daughter Josie's successful farmer father wants to have a real marriage with a respectable woman, leaving Hester and Josie to care for themselves. Unable to handle the loss, Hester rises like a modern Irish Medea to destroy those around her. Carr is the author of Low in the Dark, The Mai and Portia Coughlan. Her most recent play, On Raftery's Hill, played both the Gate Theatre in Dublin and the Royal Court Theatre in London.
Jillian Lee Wheeler plays Hunter's daughter Josie Kilbride with Gordon MacDonald as Carthage. Also in the cast are Wanda McCaddon (Monica Murray), J.G. Hertzler (Xavier Cassidy), Gretchen Cleevely (Caroline Cassidy), Joan MacIntosh (Catwoman), James Carpenter (Ghost Fancier), Matt Huggman (Ghost of Joseph Swane) and Alex Moggridge (Young Dunne/Waiter).
Tony nominated British designer Joe Vanek (the Rep's Love in the Title, Dublin and Broadway's Dancing at Lughnasa, Molly Sweeney and Wonderful Tennessee) creates the sets and costumes. Peter Maradudin designs the lighting with sound by Jeff Mockus.
Performances to the near sell-out run began Sept. 6 and continue through Oct. 7. San Jose Repertory Theatre is located at 101 Paseo de San Antonio between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. For ticket information, call (408) 367 7255. San Jose Repertory Theatre is on the web at http://www.sjrep.com.
— By Christine Ehren