Talk about your dramatic characters. Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Joan Plowright and Kenneth Tynan are the quintet featured in Orson's Shadow, the latest play by actor-director-dramatist Austin Pendleton. The play, Pendleton's third, will receive a production at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company's new Garage space, Jan. 13-Feb. 13, 2000 (opening Jan 16, with a possible extension through March 19).
Orson concerns the 1960 London premiere of Ionesco's Rhinoceros, which starred Olivier and was directed by Welles. At the time, Olivier was going through a nasty divorce from his second wife, actress Vivien Leigh, who named actress (and, from 1961, Olivier's third wife) Joan Plowright as co-respondent in her divorce filing. Tynan was London's leading dramatic critic and all-around enfant terrible, a friend of both Welles and Olivier (he would co-found the Royal National Theatre with Oliver in 1963), and a frequent sparring partner of Ionesco's.
Pendleton, best known as an actor (The Diary of Anne Frank, the upcoming Finian's Rainbow) and director (The Runner Stumbles, The Little Foxes), debuted as a playwright in the early 90s with Booth, a bio-drama which starred Frank Langella as legendary actor Junius Booth. Though that work did not go far, Pendleton's second play, the searing Uncle Bob, went on to enjoy productions in New York, Los Angeles, Hartford and Chicago.
No casting has been announced, but readings have featured John Mahoney, Jeff Perry and Sally Murphy.
The Steppenwolf Garage season will begin with Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth, presented Oct. 14-Nov. 14 in collaboration with Roadworks Productions. Meanwhile, the 1999-2000 season as Steppenwolf's Studio Space runs as follows:
€ Her Name Was Danger, a Lookinglass Theatre-Steppenwolf co production, created and directed by David Catlin, Nov. 17-Dec. 12.
€ Redmoon's Hunchback, a Redmoon Theater-Steppenwolf co production, by Jim Lasko, based on Victor Hugo's novel, music by Michael Zerang, May 17-June 11, 2000.
For information, call (312) 335-1888.
-- By Robert Simonson