HOUSTON-- Locals are, as the lingo goes, "Houston Proud" that the Alley Theatre, Houston's Tony Award-winning regional troupe, is associated with the world premiere of Not About Nightingales, an obscure, early effort by Tennessee Williams. In this co-production between the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, whose director is Trevor Nunn, and the Moving Theatre, Corin and Vanessa Redgrave's maverick company, three Alley actors are joining the international cast. Not About Nightingales opens at the National's Cottesloe Theatre in London on Mar. 5.
But it hasn't been determined when the Alley will import the production for its American debut. So how do Alley patrons support James Black, Sherri Parker Lee, and Noble Shropshire, the Alley Americans abroad? And what about those who simply can't wait for this Williams rarity to play Houston?
Radio personality Dean Dalton is coming to the rescue. Between 8:30 and 9 AM Mar. 3, and Mar. 6, the host of "The Morning Show" on KUHF 88.7 FM will provide updates on the Alley's adventures and interview the Alley company actors featured in Not About Nightingales. Dalton is the only Houston media person to be reporting on the Alley's trip. He will be back in-studio at KUHF on Mar. 9 to wrap up his experiences. A non-profit station licensed to the University of Houston, KUHF, with nearly 200,000 listeners, has the largest audience for classical music and National Public Radio news in Texas.
Among others Dalton will also chat with on-air are Alley artistic director Gregory Boyd and Alley managing director Paul Tetreault, who, in addition to fulfilling their professional duties, are leading a group of Alley patrons, Dalton included, on a week-long tour of London, ending Mar. 8. At $3,362 per person, the tour includes round-trip airfare, accommodations, and tickets to four productions, including Not About Nightingales.
Not About Nightingales was written in 1938 when Williams was in his late 1920s and a playwrighting student at University of Iowa, and when he still went by his given first name, Tom. A prison drama arguing against inhumane conditions, it is based on actual events involving rebellious inmates. It was discovered by Vanessa Redgrave at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin; the Ranson Center houses extensive Williams archives, including manuscripts form approximately 1,000 works. Redgrave came across it in 1996 while in Houston during the first collaboration between the Alley and Moving Theatres: repertory productions of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. Trevor Nunn is directing Not About Nightingales. Playing a ruthless warden, Corin Redgrave leads the cast of 18. Not About Nightingales marks the Alley's initial relationship with the Royal National.
-- By Peter Szatmary