Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan and a Mark Brokaw-directed production of The Glass Menagerie will round out the 1998-99 Steppenwolf season. The two shows join previously announced productions of Charles L. Mee's The Berlin Circle, directed by Tina Landau; Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain, featuring Amy Morton; and Sylvia Regan's Morning Star, piloted by Frank Galati.
British phenom McDonagh will receive his Steppenwolf debut with Inishmann, which will close the season, playing July 8-Aug. 29, 1999. The drama was staged by Jerry Zaks at New York's Public Theater earlier this spring, and another McDonagh play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, is currently enjoying a successful run on Broadway. Inishmaan takes place in a small Irish town in 1934, where Cripple Billy eyes a visiting Hollywood filmmaker as his possible ticket out of a dead-end existence. No director or cast has been set for the production.
Also making his Steppenwolf debut will be director Mark Brokaw, the man behind such Off-Broadway successes as How I Learned to Drive and As Bees in Honey Drown. Brokaw is currently in Minneapolis, readying his Guthrie Theatre mounting of Turgenev's A Month in the Country. His Menagerie will run Dec. 3, 1998-Jan. 30, 1999.
The mainstage season will open with The Berlin Circle (Sept. 24 Nov. 15), a variant on the legend behind Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Following Menagerie will be Three Days of Rain (Feb. 11-Apr. 4) by Richard Greenberg, the story of a famous architect whose will forces his children to probe their family's dark history. Next will be Morning Star (Apr. 22-June 20), Sylvia Regan's 1940 drama about a widow and her extended family who find themselves caught up in the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, World War I and the Great Depression; Steppenwolf ensemble member Frank Galati (who staged Livent's Ragtime) directs.
Currently rehearsing at Steppenwolf is the Douglas Hughes staging of Synge's Playboy of the Western World, starring company member Jim True as the title rogue and film and stage star Martha Plimpton as Pegeen Mike, the Irish lass who falls for him. Plimpton has appeared in such films as Running on Empty, Another Woman, Parenthood, and I Shot Andy Warhol. New York stage productions include Pericles at the Public Theater.
Jim True has previously enjoyed noted success in another Irish play, Brian Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which was produced at New York's Roundabout Theatre Company in 1994. True was most recently seen on Broadway as Vince in Steppenwolf's lauded 1996 revival of Sam Shepard's Buried Child.
The rest of cast includes B.J. Jones, Jerome Kilty, Bradley Armacost, Rob Riley, Georgina Stoyles, Melanie Moore, Laura Ruth, and Lanny Flaherty. The designers are Anita Stewart (sets), Michael Chybowski (lights), Karin Kopischke (costumes), and Johnny Cunningham (sound). The production will begin previews at Steppenwolf on July 3 and open on July 12 for a run through Aug. 23. The play will then travel in the fall to open the 1998-99 season at the Long Wharf Theatre, where Hughes is artistic director. It is not certain whether True or Plimpton will appear in the New Haven production. No specific dates have been announced for the Long Wharf engagement.
-- By Robert Simonson