Famed designer Ming Cho Lee recreates the vibrant New Mexico landscape of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings in the East Coast premiere of The Faraway Nearby, beginning previews Dec. 11 and opening Dec. 16 at the Arena Stage's Kreeger Theater in Washington DC.
The play, by Canada's John Murrell, charts the relationship between artist O'Keeffe (played by Megan Cole) and Juan Hamilton (Carlos Sanz), who became her friend and soulmate in the 1970s, after the death of husband photographer Alfred Stieglitz, as she worked in the American Southwest. The production continues to Jan. 24, 1999.
In production notes, Tony Award-winning designer Lee (Bway's K2 and many Arena shows) said, "Space is integral to the staging of The Faraway Nearby, as Georgia O'Keeffe was so spiritually connected to the vast Southwest. I intend to capture O'Keeffe's presence through a set that touches both realism and the abstract."
The play had its American premiere at Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, AK, under the producership of Molly Smith, who later became artistic director of Arena Stage. Smith said in production notes, "I was first attracted to this play because of John Murrell's elegant, lush language, which matched the passion and vitality of the great painter Georgia O'Keeffe. The play is a walking meditation on her life, death and art."
The Arena staging is directed by Roberta Levitow, making her Arena debut. She previously staged Everybody's Ruby at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York and other plays at resident theatres throughout the nation. Costumes are by Lindsay W. Davis, lighting design is by Allen Lee Hughes and original music and sound are by Mitchell Greenhill.
Arena Stage's Kreeger Theater is at 1101 6th St, SW. Tickets are $24 $45. Call (202) 488-3300 for information.
-- By Kenneth Jones