Little-Known Robert Anderson Play, Free and Clear, Surfaces at Florida's Asolo Theatre May 7-30

News   Little-Known Robert Anderson Play, Free and Clear, Surfaces at Florida's Asolo Theatre May 7-30 Free and Clear, a play by Robert Anderson that had a brief regional showing 21 years ago, will resurface in May in what's billed as a world premiere staging by Asolo Theatre Company in Sarasota, Florida, the company announced.

Anderson, who is 86, is best known for his plays Tea and Sympathy, I Never Sang for My Father and You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running.

Eberle Thomas will direct Free and Clear, May 7-30, at the Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts in the Jane B. Cook Theatre.

Asolo producing artistic director Howard Millman announced the addition to the 2003-04 season (the play replaces The Smell of the Kill, which will be staged in the future). "We're honored to bring Free and Clear to the stage in full production for the first time. Millman said. "This is a very exciting project. We're presenting a new play created by one of the outstanding playwrights of our time..."

Star casting is being finalized for the company of four.

According to the Asolo announcement, "Free and Clear is the story of a family. Two brothers return home for their mother's birthday. Each has dreams and desires of his own which do not fall in line with his parents' plans. What obligations do children have to their parents? How much can a parent expect of their children? Join these characters on their journey as they search for answers." The play's previous production was in a reading situation at the Long Wharf Theatre 21 years ago. That staging has been mentioned as a developmental "tryout" but not a full production.

According to producer Richard G. Fallon, who has a long history with Asolo and Sarasota theatre, who is presenting the play with Millman's company, "Producing this play has been a consummate mission of mine for the past 10 years. I am fulfilling a promise I first made to Robert's agent, Audrey Wood, before she died and then to Robert Anderson, with whom I have become very close. Audrey deeply believed in Robert and his work. I promised to help get this play produced in a way that will truly do it justice. That's why now, at a time when Robert's health is failing, it is so very important to see my promise fulfilled soon. We have a responsibility to produce the play both for Robert and for the play's relevance as his last work. My belief is that, because of the course of events that brought it here, the play was destined for the Asolo stage."

Robert Anderson, a native New Yorker, is one of the foremost American playwrights of the 20th century and one of America's major playwrights to chronicle mid century American life. Anderson received The Edward Albee Last Frontier Playwright Award (1997) and The William Inge Lifetime Achievement Award for a Playwright (1985), among other honors. Educated at Harvard University (magna cum laude), Anderson's work includes the play Silent Night, Lonely Night, as well as screenplays (including the transfers of "Tea and Sympathy" and "I Never Sang for My Father," radio plays, teleplays and two novels.

Fallon was given permission by Anderson and his family to bring Free and Clear to the stage. Fallon, who founded the Asolo State Theatre in 1965, the FSU/Asolo Conservatory of Professional Actor Training, the Department of Theatre at FSU and the development of the School of Theatre at FSU, first contacted Eberle Thomas, who in turn went to the Asolo with the idea.

"When Richard Fallon and Eberle Thomas approached us about doing Robert's play, we knew it was an excellent opportunity and it had to be done," explained Howard Millman, in a statement.

For information, call Asolo (941) 351-8000 or toll-free at (800) 361-8388, or visit www.asolo.org.

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In addition to his long and revered history with FSU and the Asolo State Theatre, Richard Fallon's long career in professional radio, stage and film includes study with Laurence Olivier and Tyrone Guthrie at the Old Vic Theatre in London. Fallon was elected to The Players and the American Theatre Association College of Fellows, and served as president of the University/Resident Theatre Association, the Florida Theatre Conference, and the American Theatre Association and has co-chaired the Board of Trustees of the State Theatre Systems.