Soho Rep, a staple of the downtown scene dedicated to new and innovative playwriting, opens its 1999 season with Cowboys and Indians, the new Richard Maxwell piece.
Writer-director Maxwell's last piece, House, ran to excellent reviews at P.S. 122 last fall. Cowboys, co-written with Jim Strahs, chronicles the real-life journey of explorer Francis Parkman and his party along the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s.
Rather than portray defining moments in characters' lives, Maxwell's plays (Burger King, Ute Nos vs. Crazy Liquors) tend to explore the banality of everyday living, finding humor in the moments where we don't quite know how to react or what to say.
In the past, Maxwell's direction hasn't attempted to seduce audiences into the "reality" of the situation on stage. Furthering Brecht's groundbreaking alienation theories, Maxwell's actors portray the awkwardness of real life -- as if each of the actors are speaking in public for the first time.
The set design for Cowboys is by frequent Maxwell collaborator, Jane Cox. For the set of House, Cox recreated the midtown rehearsal space Maxwell used to develop the piece. The cast for Cowboys features Lakpa T. Bhutia, David Cote, Sally Eberhardt, Julia Jarcho, Christopher Kirkman, Aaron Landsman, Paul Lazar, Johanna S. Meyer, Okwuchukwu A.I. Okpokwasili, Scott Sherratt, Eric Dean Scott, Pete Simpson, and Ford Wright.
Founded in 1974, Soho Rep has introduced hundreds of playwrights to the New York scene, including Mac Wellman, Ain Gordon, Len Jenkin, and Eric Overmeyer. Once known for presenting theatre's most innovative playwrights, the theatre's reputation began to diminish in the '90s. Kicking off his tenure with downtown's hottest property, new artistic director Daniel Aukin hopes to bring a new Soho Rep into the nineties.
For tickets ($12) or more information, call (212) 334-0962.
-- By Sean McGrath