Before their season gets underway this year, Massachusetts' American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge will serve as host to "Readings from the Best American Short Stories 2001," October 22. The event is a benefit for PEN (Poets/Playwrights, Essayists, Editors, Novelists) New England's branch.
This season's A.R.T. company members Will LeBow and Karen MacDonald — from the 1996 Broadway revival of The Night of the Iguana — will join actress Rebecca Pidgeon at the reading. Pidgeon starred on Broadway in (her husband) David Mamet's The Old Neighborhood. PEN president and acclaimed writer Sue Miller will be on hand to emcee.
PEN New England is one of the five branches of PEN American Center which is part of the only worldwide organization of writing professionals — International PEN. The organization was founded in 1921. Early members included Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw, and H. G. Wells.
Tickets to the benefit are available at the door. A pre-reading reception will occur at 6 PM, with food prepared by Rialto Restaurant's Jodi Adams.
* Kicking off A.R.T.'s season in November will be Shakespeare's Othello. The Bard's classic tale of the Moor King who is brought to tragedy by the manipulating hand of Iago and his own jealousy. Russian director Yuri Yeremin helms the A.R.T. production set to run through January.
Playing in repertory with the season opener, starting in December, is Enrico IV by Luigi Pirandello. When an equestrian mishap causes a rich Italian to think he is a German emperor, his friends and servants play along with his delusion for 20 years. But when his memory begins to return, will he have to keep up the charade? Artistic director Robert Brustein co-direct his new adaptation with Karin Coonrod.
Adam Rapp (whose A.R.T. production of Nocturne reached Off Broadway last season) will enjoy a production of his Stone Cold Dead Serious in February at the A.R.T. The dysfunctional family story of the Ledbetters — a bunch of dropouts, junkies, and QVC addicts — is suddenly thrown askew when their son becomes a finalist in a video game contest. Marcus Stern, who helmed last season's Nocturne reteams with Rapp for this production running through March.
Running in rep with Rapp will be The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade by Peter Weiss. The play, known better by its abbreviated title Marat/Sade, supposes that the Marquis de Sade is helming a production of the death of French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat in an insane asylum with a cast of sociopaths, schizophrenics, and narcoleptics. Hungarian director János Szász, who helmed last season's Mother Courage, stages this production through March.
Robert William Sherwood's Absolution will play at A.R.T.'s 350 seat Hasty Pudding Theatre in April 2002. The story of three high school friends who 15 years earlier committed a heinous act and now are faced with their secret resurfacing.
The final project announced for the Loeb mainstage is an adaption of Aristophanes' Lysistrata playing May-June. Forget about a writers' or actors' strike, in this classic comedy the women of Athens, weary of the years of war with Sparta, unite to withhold sex. Larry Gelbart (book writer for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) has retooled the work that features songs by Alan Menken and Arnold Weinstein. Andrei Serban is set to direct the production with A.R.T. founding member Cherry Jones starring.
For tickets to any of the productions at A.R.T., 64 Brattle Street, just outside Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, call (617) 547-8300. For more information, visit their website at www.amrep.org.
— by Ernio Hernandez