The line-up will commence in December with Wallace Shawn's best known play, Aunt Dan and Lemon, directed by New Group artistic director Scott Elliott. The disturbing comedy concerns Lemon (short for Leonora), a sickly young girl living in London with her family, and her relationship with her brutally candid, Kissinger-worshipping Aunt Dan (short for Danielle). Through a combination of straight scenes and politically horrifying, but hilarious monologues, Shawn trains a magnifying glass on civilized society and the uncivilized things it tacitly permits its leaders to do, so that its comforts may be kept in place.
The 1985 New York premiere at the Public Theater starred Kathryn Pogson as Lemon, Linda Hunt at Dan, longtime Shawn collaborator Larry Pine and Shawn himself. A later London production at the Royal Court also starred Shawn and Hunt.
Shawn's other works include Marie and Bruce, recently rumored for a Second Stage revival, and The Designated Mourner, given a New York production a few seasons back with Shawn and Pine in the cast.
March 2004 will bring a world premiere from Betty Shamieh, Roar. Following in the New Group's tradition of presented plays that depicts the lives of displaced ethnicities in strange surroundings, Roar will look at a Palestinian-American family living in Detroit. The time frame is the aftermath of the first Gulf War. Problems arise when a relation is thrown out of Kuwait and seeks shelter in the family home. Shamieh is herself a Palestinian-American.
A third play will be announced at a later date. The New Group takes up permanent residence at West 42nd Street's newly refurbished and rebuilt Theatre Row this season. The Theatre Row of days gone by was the site of many of the company's greatest triumphs, including Mike Leigh's Ecstasy and Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth.