Prominent contemporary dramatist Jon Robin Baitz has been tapped to pen a new adaptation of the Ibsen classic Hedda Gabler for movie star Annette Bening. Bening will play the title role. The production is set to begin performances at L.A.'s Geffen Playhouse March 14 for a brief, month-long run through April 18. The show will open on March 24, 1999.
Baitz, new to the adaptation game, is known for his original plays, such as Substance of Fire, A Fair Country, The Film Society and The End of the Day. Show spokesman Gary Murphy said Baitz had completed the adaptation and rehearsals would begin in February. No other cast members have been announced. Dan Sullivan, who has staged several Baitz plays, will direct.
Henrik Ibsen's 1890 drama tells of a woman who marries well but boringly and secretly longs for troubled but passionate poet, Eilert Lovborg. When she's faced with blackmail, not to mention the dashing of her idealistic view of Lovborg, she turns to her father's pistol for comfort.
Bening hasn't done a play since 1988's Spoils of War at NY's Second Stage Theatre. She received a Clarence Derwent Award and a Tony nomination for her role in Tina Howe's Coastal Disturbances, which played at the Second Stage in 1986 and then moved to Broadway. Previously, she'd been a company member at SF's American Conservatory Theatre, the Denver Center, and numerous Shakespeare Festivals. (Bening's Coastal Disturbances Playbill bio notes that during her training years, she'd played many famous women's roles in theatre: Juliet, Lady Macbeth and Eliza Doolittle.)
Bening's film roles include "Mars Attacks!," "The American President," "Bugsy," "Regarding Henry," Ian McKellen's "Richard III" (as Elizabeth) and an Oscar-nominated turn in "The Grifters." Bening has also been talks with playwright George Furth to appear in his new comedy, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, though no time frame or further details are yet available on that show.
Call (310) 208-5454 for further details on the Geffen Playhouse season.
-- By Robert Simonson