Third is a full-length expansion of a one-act that had its premiere at Theatre J in Washington, DC, in early 2004. At the time, it was paired with another one act, Welcome to My Rash. In the one-act version of Third, Laurie Jameson, a veteran professor at a private liberal arts college, and Woodson Bull III (as in "the Third"), her conservative, wrestling jock of a student, face off in a series of confrontations over politics, Shakespeare, and campus culture. Meanwhile, Laurie fends off hot flashes as well a challenging relationship with her college-age daughter.
Durning is the stage and film veteran whose credits include The Best Man, The Gin Game, Inherit the Wind and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Tony Award). Hoffman is primarily known for her precocious teen film career, during which she starred in the Nora Ephron films "Sleepless in Seattle" and "This Is My Life." Ritter is the son of the late actor John Ritter. He starred in the series "Joan of Arcadia." His theatre credits include The Distance From Here at the Almeida in London and The Beginning of August at the Atlantic Theater Company Off-Broadway.
Dianne Wiest is a two-time Academy Award-winner ("Hannah and Her Sisters," "Bullets Over Broadway"). Her recent New York City credit is Memory House at Playwrights Horizons. Other theatre credits includeSalome, Solitaire on Broadway. She won a Theatre World Award and an Obie Award for The Art of Dining in the early '80s and a second Obie for her work in the plays Other Places and Serenading Louie.
Daniel Sullivan—who piloted Wasserstein's best known titles, The Heidi Chronicles and The Sisters Rosensweig—will direct the work, which is expected to begin in mid-September and open in October.
Lincoln Center has long been Wasserstein's New York home, the place where her plays An American Daughter and Old Money have been seen. On Third, Wasserstein and Sullivan reunite for the first time since 1997's An American Daughter, which was a critical and popular disappointment for both. Mark Brokaw directed the subsequent Old Money. Wasserstein's other plays include Isn't It Romantic? and Uncommon Women and Others. Her musical, Pamela's First Musical, premieres in California in 2005-06.