The International Theatre Workshop goes Russian as director Slava Stepnov presents Edward Albee's Lolita at the Gene Frankel Theatre April 16.
Stepnov, a graduate of the Russian Academy of Theatre Art in Moscow, has directed 36 plays and musicals in eight major Russian cities during his 25-year career. He came to the United States in 1995 as a guest teacher and director at the Actor's Theatre of Louisville. Arriving in New York in 1997, he became one of the founding members of STEPS Theatre Production Company and the International Theatre Workshop. His last work, Chekhov's The Seagull, was presented at the International Theatre Workshop last year.
The International Theatre chose to present Lolita in honor of author Vladimir Nabokov's 100th birthday. The Russian novelist was born in St. Petersburg April 23, 1899. He gained international acclaim with his 12th novel "Lolita," which allowed him to retire from his teaching career and move to Switzerland to become a full-time write.
Albee, author of the award winning plays Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Delicate Balance and Three Tall Women, is less known for his adaptation of Lolita, which premiered on Broadway March 19, 1981 and starred Donald Sutherland.
The film, by Stanley Kubrick and written by Nabokov (but bearing little resemblance to his novel), was nominated for an Oscar in 1962. Lolita is the story of a literary professor who becomes obsessed with, and begins a tormenting relationship with, his 12 year old stepdaughter Dolores, nicknamed Lolita. Nansi Aliuka plays the role in the ITW mounting.
The controversial 1998 movie adaptation of "Lolita" had Hollywood in a tizzy. Distributors refused to touch the $50-million Adrian Lyne film deeming it too racy for American audiences. Stepnov sees Lolita less about sex and pedophilia and more about being a slave to one's own ego.
Lolita previews April 16 and opens April 19 at the Gene Frankel Theatre. Tickets are $15 and can be reserved by calling (212)741-6436.
-- by Becki Heller