Cigarettes and Chocolate, a stage adaptation of the Anthony Minghella radio play, had a brief run in August at the Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts in New York City. Now the piece will get a higher-profile reading Off-Broadway.
The Blue Light Theatre Company, currently staging Michael Cristofer's Amazing Grace, will offer a one-night reading of Cigarettes, Mar. 22, 7 PM at Theatre Four, 424 West 55th St. The reading features Blue Light regular Greg Naughton, alongside Vivienne Benesch (Deep Blue Sea, Ancient History), Camilla Sanes, Paul Amodeo, Kelly Deadmon, Matthew Saldivar, Francesca DiMauro and James Matthew Ryan. Cheryl Faraone directs.
Minghella, Academy Award winning director of The English Patient and author of its screenplay, was commissioned by the BBC to write Cigarettes and Chocolate in 1988. American Opera Projects managing director Charles Jarden came across the play in a collection of Minghella writings in 1992 and has been working with director Gabrielle Jakobi on the staged production through a series of workshops over the past two and a half years. With the success of The English Patient American Opera Projects stepped up production on the play to capitalize on the notoriety of Minghella. Miramax recently purchased the film rights to Cigarettes.
Set in present day London, Cigarettes and Chocolate follows a young woman's decision to stop speaking and the attempts of her friends to understand why. Her silence serves as a catalyst to their confessions. Jarden told Playbill On-Line, "It's about the relationship between music, silence and noise." Solo music by Bach on the violin has been incorporated into the story. Jarden said, "We've pushed the boundaries of what can happen," and called the play, "very serious, intense and experimental."
American Opera Projects will take the play to Berlin and Vienna as part of an exchange initiated by German director Jakobi. Jakobi directed Winterreise at La Mama E.T.C. in 1994. Tickets to the Mar. 22 Cigarettes reading are free to Blue Light members, $5 for non-members.
-- By David Lefkowitz