The 60-year-old work is billed as "an epic tale about a man who, belatedly in life, learns the true meaning of patriotism and honor in this drama set in the early days of the Second World War," according to the announcement by Firedrake Productions. "It was never filmed — but thanks to adapters Joseph Rinaldi and Kathleen Rowlands, the work will have its world stage premiere."
The play is set in 1940 France, when the Nazis are on march and seemingly unstoppable. "Caught in their path is one Louis Garoux, an elderly, homeless rapscallion who wants nothing more than good food and a good bottle of wine — no matter who they belong to — an attitude which more than once has landed him in jail," according to production notes. "Escaping his latest incarceration, he ends up in the seaside town of Beaudrais, where he's befriended by several townspeople who believe him to have fought valiantly against the invaders — a fiction Louis does nothing to discourage. While Louis would like nothing better than for the war to simply pass him by, some of those around him feel quite differently. These people would gladly sacrifice their lives, and the lives of others, for their ideals, as Louis comes to realize when he finds himself caught up in the danger and intrigue of a town ready to explode. It is this sense of sacrifice that leaves him with only two ways out in this tale of war, honor, redemption and accidental heroes."
By the time of his death in 2000, Ring Lardner, Jr. had won Academy Awards for his screenplays of "Woman of the Year," starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and "M.A.S.H." He was better known, perhaps, as one of the "Hollywood 10" that refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in the mid-1950s. Refusing to implicate his friends, he was pronounced in contempt of court and sentenced to a year in prison.
Trumbo's screen credits include Academy Award winners "Roman Holiday" and "The Brave One," as well as screenplays for "Kitty Foyle," "Spartacus" and "The Sandpiper." A member of the "Hollywood 10," he also refused to answer questions before the Committee and served a 10-month jail term. He died in 1976.
The writers wrote "The Fisherman of Beaudrais," based on a three short stories by Ira Wolfert, during 1942-1943. Beaudrais's stage director is Keith Oncale, founding artistic director of Actors Stock Company NYC (The Shroud, Circus of Infinite Attractions, 10:10, Cozi Sa Wala, The Black & White, Victoria Station and A Slight Ache).
Since its inception, Firedrake Productions "has mounted works that highlight those who have been politically or socially silenced."
Are You Now or Have You Ever Been? (1998) provided insight into the artistic lives of those censored by the McCarthy hearings, while 1999 saw the first New York production of Closet Land, the story of a writer dealing with political and sexual persecution.
Performances of The Fishermen of Beaudrais continue to July 20. The staging is an Equity showcase.
Bank Street Theatre at 155 Bank Street (between West and Washington Streets). Performances play Thursday and Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 3 PM & 8 PM, Sunday at 3 PM. There is no 3 PM performance on Saturday, July 5 and there is an additional performance on Wednesday July 16 at 8 PM. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students, $10 for seniors and groups of 10 or more). For reservations, call (212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com. For more information, visit www.firedrakeproductions.com.