Lanford Wilson, whose Sympathetic Magic will come to NY's Second Stage Theatre in the spring, will reminisce about the place that gave him his start -- Circle Repertory -- as part of a Feb. 24 panel at the NY Public Library For The Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. "The Fertile Life And Long Death Of Circle Rep" is part of the Library's "Speaking Out" series of discussions on "issues affecting today's music, theatre, opera, film and dance."
Wilson, author of Talley's Folly, The Fifth Of July, Lemon Sky and Burn This, will be joined by former Circle Rep artistic director Tanya Berezin, whose reign was a turbulent one, as the theatre found itself over half a million dollars in debt. Her departure was followed by Austin Pendleton being named the new artistic director. His season, however, lasted less than a year and the repertory, which had earlier lost its home at 99 7th Ave. South, closed its doors for good in autumn 1996.
Also taking part in the panel are Craig Lucas, author of Prelude To A Kiss -- one of Circle's last commercial hits; Michael Warren Powell, who directed Circle Rep's Lab for developing plays and playwrights; Trish Hawkins, who starred with Judd Hirsch in Wilson's Talley's Folly; and NY Times arts reporter and former critic, Mel Gussow.
Here is the schedule for future "Speaking Out" sessions:
Sisters Gershwin: Where Are The Women Composers & Lyricists?
Panelists for this March 24 discussion include Polly Pen (Bed And Sofa, Goblin Market), Mary Rodgers (Once Upon A Mattress, Hot Spot), Kim D. Sherman (composer for O Pioneers! and I Hate Hamlet), Elizabeth Swados (Runaways, The Red Sneaks, Groundhog), and Deborah Grace Winer (author of "On The Sunny Side Of The Street: The Life & Lyrics Of Dorothy Fields).
The Fat Lady Sings: Behind The Opera Boom
`include playwright Albert Innaurato (Gemini, Gus And Al). April 14. Spreading Gospel
A discussion of the enduring power of gospel music, April 28.
The Artist Descending Art, Atrocity And Justice
A discussion of artists caught between the creation of beauty and the participation in destruction (as in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany). Panelists include playwright Charles L. Mee (The Trojan Women: A Love Story), May 19.
Tickets for these 6:30 PM panels are $5 in advance, $7 at the door. For information call 9212) 870-1671.
Housing "the world's most extensive combination of circulating, reference and rare archival collections in its field," the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has such permanent research collections as the Music Division, the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, and the Billy Rose Theatre Collection.
Also at the Library --
Nov. 20-April 26, 1997: "Scenic Poet Of The Theatre." An exhibition highlighting Jo Mielziner's sketches and renderings for the theatre. Mielziner, a highly influential designer (Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Death Of A Salesman, Guys And Dolls), will be discussed by exhibition curator Mary Henderson in a free public program, Dec. 4.
Nov. 20-April 26, 1997: "From soulful ballads to biting satire, Yip Harburg wrote the lyrics for many of America's most haunting popular and theatrical songs ("April In Paris," "Brother Can You Spare A Dime," "It's Only A Paper Moon")." His are the lyrics to the classic songs in "The Wizard Of Oz" and Broadway's Finian's Rainbow. In "The Necessity Of Rainbows," the Library traces Harburg's rise from the Lower East Side to Hollywood and examines the way social concerns affected his art."
Jan. 21-April 19, 1997: An exhibit culled from the Hiram Stead Collection -- a huge trove of international theatre memorabilia, from the 18th to early 20th century. Among the gems: broadsides, correspondence, toy theatres and rarities, including an authentic invitation to the coronation of King George IV.
For information on the Library's programs, most of which are free, call (212) 870-1630.
-- By David Lefkowitz