The 1998-99 season at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre will feature new plays by Nicky Silver (Raised in Captivity, The Food Chain) and Laura Cahill (Hysterical Blindness), as well as a new musical from Tina Landau (Floyd Collins) and composer Ricky Ian Gordon.
After a limited return engagement of Craig Lucas' The Dying Gaul, the season will begin with the Cahill play, called Mercy, which will begin performance Nov. 24.
Hysterical Blindness ran in early 1997 at the Seanachai Theatre Company's space on West 29th St. It told the story of two working-class friends, Debby and Beth, who frequent a New Jersey bar.
Silver's plays have long been showcased at the Vineyard, from Pterodactyls to The Maiden's Prayer. The new work, The Eros Trilogy (running Dec. 1998-Jan. 1999), will be directed by longtime Silver interpreter David Warren.
The Laudau-Gordon musical, Dream Life: My Life with Vernon Dexter will follow in March 1999. The project will mark a rare foray into theatre for Gordon, who is primarily known for his classical music. Details on the plots of the above plays are to come. *
As for Lucas' The Dying Gaul, which recently received high critical praise but a short life at the Vineyard Theatre, the show will play a five week engagement, starting Sept. 18.
"There definitely was enough of a groundswell of support for the play, both critically and from the audience, to justify" bringing it back, said spokesman Sam Rudy (June 17). The Dying Gaul drew critical huzzahs from many corners -- including The Wall Street Journal, which called it "the best play of the year." The review in The New York Times, however, was mixed, and the play closed June 14.
The casting will remain the same with one exception. Last spring, Cotter Smith, originally slated to play a leading role, suffered a back injury and was replaced by Tony Goldwyn. Audiences will now get the chance to see Smith in the role. The rest of the cast includes Linda Edmond, Tim Hopper and Robert Emmet Lunney.
The play concerns an impressionable screenwriter who falls into a working -- and sexual -- relationship with a movie studio exec. When the latter's wife discovers the affair, she strikes back in a ghostly way -- via the internet.
The play may also have a future on the big screen. Lucas' agent Peter Franklin said there had been interest in the movie rights to the drama.
Dying Gaul examines the nature of people's responsibility to one another through the tale of a struggling screenwriter who becomes professionally and emotionally compromised by his relationship to a studio boss and his wife.
The show is the third straight Off-Broadway effort by director Mark Brokaw to enjoy an extended life. Both Brokaw's productions of Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive and Douglas Carter Beane's As Bees in Honey Drown transferred to open-ended runs at commercial Off-Broadway houses.
Lucas' last play was the poorly received God's Heart. His other works include Blue Window and Prelude To a Kiss.
-- By Robert Simonson