LOS ANGELES -- Salome Jens stars in Frederick Durrenmatt's Play Strindberg (without tears), opening Feb. 27 at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center's Marilyn Monroe Theatre for a six-week run.
The director of this West Coast premiere is Martin Magner, who will celebrate his 98th birthday in Feb.
Magner, a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award-winner, began his acting and directing career at a young age in Europe. In Germany in 1932, George Bernard Shaw watched him direct a rehearsal of Too True to be Good and complimented him with a twist on his famous line, "Well, I see youth is not always wasted on the young!"
Magner fled Europe for America in 1939 and went on to an illustrious career in radio, theatre and television. He "retired" to California in 1965 and three years later founded New Theatre, Inc., with Hope Summers.
Magner described Play Strindberg as Durrenmatt's own personal and amusing "variation on a theme" by Strindberg on his play The Dance of Death. "It is, simply put, an officer and a gentleman driven to the verge of madness by an actress of no talent," he said.
"The writer sees them as three prizefighters who enter the ring and spar for survival. It is at once a marriage locked in hate, a deadly dance and a game of words . . . and with that it becomes extraordinarily funny."
Co-producing with New Theatre, Inc., is the Goethe Institute, Los Angeles/German Cultural Center.
Jens, currently teaching acting at UCLA, enjoyed a long career on Broadway. In addition to being an original member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, where she appeared in the inaugural production of After the Fall, Tartuffe, Mary Stuart, and others, she performed leading roles in Broadway shows such as Far Country, Patriot for Me and Lie of the Mind. Jens extensive work on television includes a recently completed eight-hour narration of The Great War for PBS.
Performances are Fri. and Sat. at 8 PM. The Marilyn Monroe Theatre is at 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. For tickets, $15, call (213) 660-TKTS.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent
and Blair Glaser