As New York Theatre Workshop readies for the May 21 opening night of Elizabeth Egloff's The Devils -- and prepares to put a new roof on its administrative space -- plans are also underway for the theatre company's next season.
In early September, Belgian-born director Ivo Van Hove will stage Eugene O'Neill's More Stately Mansions, in English, featuring an American cast. Artistic director of Amsterdam's Het Zuitelijk Toneel company, Van Hove is well-known for reinterpreting American classics by O'Neill and Tennessee Williams. Randal [sic] Lichtenwalner, NYTW's director of audience development, told Playbill On-Line (May 21) that Van Hove's production has received numerous awards throughout Europe. "Our artistic director, Jim Nicola, saw the play when he was in Amsterdam and was very taken with Van Hove's work. Casting for this production should be announced in a week or two."
Though Van Hove speaks English, Mansions will need a longer-than average rehearsal time because, "he'll have to teach the American actors his style of stripping the production down," said Lichtenwalner. "It's different from method acting and other styles American actors are used to. He goes for a heightened, almost dreamlike quality. He collaborates a lot with his scenic designer, Jan Versweyveld, who'll also make the trip to New York." A spare, non-naturalistic setting is promised for Mansions.
When Mansions closes on or around Oct. 19, NYTW will bring back the Five Lesbian Brothers of (The Secretaries fame) in Brides Of The Moon. A sci-fi spoof, Moon takes place in the future, when the entire world is owned by a large corporation called "IASWAL" (an acronym for "It's A Small World After All"). Lichtenwalner describes the plot thusly: "Four women astronauts and a monkey blast off to meet their male counterparts so they can populate the moon. But the women get stranded on the dark side of Uranus, and are faced not only with the struggle to survive, but the implanted urge to have sex every day at 6 PM. And that's just the beginning." Brides Of The Moon is set to run mid-November through January 1998.
Several projects are on the burner for NYTW's spring/summer 1998 line up. Under consideration are Paula Vogel's The Mineola Twins, which the theatre has been eyeing for over two years. Also strongly anticipated are Fanni Green's Tillers (formerly titled Soul Let Fly) and Bone Songs, a play with music by Andre Gregory and the Alloy Orchestra. Gregory was the "Andre" in Wallace Shawn's My Dinner With Andre. NYTW hopes to mount all three shows. If one falls through, audiences might get Band In Berlin instead, about the German vocal group The Harmonists. (If the Harmonists sound familiar, they're the same group examined in Barry Manilow's upcoming musical, Harmony. Band In Berlin, which was workshopped at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, takes a more multi-media, documentary approach.
Asked about New York Magazine's report that the theatre was considering a musical based on Jay McInerney's 1984 novel, Bright Lights, Big City, scripted by McInerney with a score by Paul Goodman, Lichtenwalner said, "We had an excellent reading, and everyone's very excited about it. The only thing keeping us from moving ahead is that we have so many other projects we're already committed to. Certainly we won't see this in the next twelve months, but we're trying to help the author bring develop it for either here or another theatre.
For information on the 1997-98 New York Theatre Workshop season, call (212) 460-5475. Memberships start at $100 and include one admission to every production, free coffee, ticket exchange priviliges and other perks. New York Theatre Workshop is, of course, the springboard of Broadway's Rent, as well as David Rabe's acclaimed A Question Of Mercy this season.
--By David Lefkowitz