PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Kirk Douglas

Brief Encounter   PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Kirk Douglas
 
One-person stage shows are usually the province of energetic young up-and-comers, but nobody told that to Kirk Douglas.
Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas

The 92-year-old film and stage star will perform a four-show limited engagement of his one-man show, Before I Forget, starting March 6 at the Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA. Aided by film clips — both professional and personal — he will discuss his life and career, which includes such landmark films as "Ace in the Hole," "Spartacus," "Seven Days in May" and "Lust for Life," as well as a series of 1940s Broadway appearances, made before he became a star in Hollywood. The indomitable Douglas spoke to Playbill.com about what it takes to finally become a stage star in your tenth decade.

Playbill.com: Whose idea was it to do this stage show?
Kirk Douglas: Well, let me tell you, when you're 92 years old and you have impaired speech caused by a stroke, what do you do? You do a one-man show! Especially, when you have your own theatre, the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Playbill.com: Kirk Douglas in the Kirk Douglas Theatre. I guess it was inevitable.
KD: Yes. I like that.

Playbill.com: Nobody's going to get lost going to your show.
KD: I wrote the script and took a deep breath and said, "Why not?" So I hope I can do it.

Playbill.com: Are you going to be talking about your early Broadway experiences, before you became a film star?
KD: Yes. It's really an overview about life, and I mention some things about my Broadway experiences. But I'm excited about it. It's been a long time since I was in the stage. As I say in my show, I always wanted to be a star on the stage, not in movies. Now I know how you do it. You build your own theatre! Anyway, I showed them the script and they liked it, so I will try to do four performances, and maybe I will do a DVD. Playbill.com: Will the show feature clips from your various films?
KD: Yes. Also family clips that I think few people have seen, that I intersperse throughout the show.

Playbill.com: You mean home movies?
KD: Yes. I like home movies.

Playbill.com: Showing your son, Michael, and other family members?
KD: Yes.

Playbill.com: What's the running time of the show?
KD: An hour and a half. And let me tell you, that's a workout for me.

Playbill.com: Does any part of your career dominate the show?
KD: No. It's really everything. My relationship with my father, my mother. Really, it was interesting to me discover lots of things about myself that I didn't fully realize. When I formed my independent production company, I called it after my mother, Bryna. And when I took over the Motion Picture Relief Home's Alzheimer's Unit, I named it after my father, "Harry's Haven." People told me it sounds like a saloon. I say, my father would have approved of that. I guess if you live long enough, you start reflecting on your whole body of work, and your relationship to your parents and sons. It was fascinating to me. A real discovery.

Playbill.com: What is the part of your career that you're proudest of?
KD: Well, why don't you come and see the show? The thing I think was most satisfying was when I did "Spartacus," and I used a writer [Dalton Trumbo] who spent a year in jail. He was blacklisted. Blacklisted writers couldn't use their names. We hired him for the job. I just thought it was so hypocritical that blacklisted writers couldn't collect awards or take credit under their own name. That was the first time the correct name of a blacklisted writer was used. And that broke the blacklist. I look back at that, and that was certainly important.

Los Angeles' Kirk Douglas Theatre
Los Angeles' Kirk Douglas Theatre Photo by Craig Schwartz
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