A one-woman show starring Elaine Stritch, a new production of Shakespeare's Othello starring Keith David, and new plays by Ellen McLaughlin and Suzan-Lori Parks are on the roster for the Public Theater's 2000-01 season.
The Stritch show is an autobiographical work called Elaine Stritch at Liberty. The piece is “constructed by Elaine Stritch, reconstructed by John Lahr” and directed by George C. Wolfe. A legendary theatre veteran, Stritch has starred in such shows as Pal Joey, Bus Stop, Sail Away, Company, Show Boat and A Delicate Balance, all on Broadway.
Suzan-Lori Parks' new play, called Fucking A, will be the playwright's third work at the Public in as many seasons. Topdog/Underdog, starring Don Cheadle and Jeffrey Wright, is due to bow late this spring, while In the Blood played in fall 1999. Like In the Blood, A takes as its inspiration Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter." In 17 scenes and seven songs, A tells of an illiterate abortionist whose goal is to buy her wayward son out of prison. Parts of the play are written in an invented language called "Talk," which is used by the undereducated women of the piece to talk about sex and reproduction. Parks also penned the music and lyrics for the story's songs, a first for the playwright. Parks directed the play for Houston's DiverseWorks Artspace in early 2000.
If Parks is obsessed with "The Scarlet Letter," then Ellen McLaughlin is fixated on the Battle of Troy. An earlier play, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, which played Off-Broadway's CSC, was a post-modern look at Agamemnon's wife and his daughters, including the title character, who was sacrificed to the gods so that Agamemnon's forces might sail to and engage rival Troy. McLaughlin's new work, Helen, is about the woman whose face launched those one thousand ships in the first place. In the world of Helen, however, the woman in question is not in Troy but in Cairo having protein shakes and facials . Tony Kushner, taking a break from playwriting, will direct the show.
Keith David will star in the new production of Othello. David has appeared in two Public Theater productions in the last season alone: David Grimm's Kit Marlowe and A Winter's Tale in Central Park. Mark Lamos will direct. Completing the line-up is 36 Views by Naomi Iizuka, directed by Mark Wing-Davey. The show is a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre.