The world premiere of two new plays by Lonny Chapman, The Wickedest Man in San Francisco and Emma & Teddy, will take place on Aug. 26 at the Group Repertory Theatre in Los Angeles' NoHo. The GRT was recently renamed Lonny Chapman's Group Repertory Theatre in honor of Chapman's long helm as artistic director there. The run is through Sept. 30.
Both plays are "what if" plays. The first asks what if we were to find an actor reincarnated as the outspoken and vitriolic author and critic Ambrose Bierce, with life and memories intact, confessions ready to spill. The actor becomes Bierce and transports us back to 1913, at the height of the Mexican Revolution, when the highly influential but embittered Bierce has quit backing the fiery Revolution leader Pancho Villa.
With loaded pistol by his side, Bierce awaits a possible fatal visit from Villa's men. Characters from his life appear, such as Mark Twain and William Randolph Hearst. Will Bierce use the pistol on himself or chance the visit from Pancho Villa?
In Emma & Teddy, Chapman takes us to New York's Central Park, circa 1901, and introduces the young, vibrant revolutionary Emma Goldman, who is approached by then Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, just back from the horrors and triumphs of the Spanish-American War. It's Red meeting the Red, White and Blue as the two converse...and possibly fall for each other.
Chapman, who also directs, developed both plays in the GRT's Writer's Unit.Lonny Chapman's Group Repertory Theatre is located at 10900 Burbank Blvd. For tickets and information call (818) 769-PLAY.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent