Warren Leight's No Foreigners to Have New York Premiere Sept. 17

News   Warren Leight's No Foreigners to Have New York Premiere Sept. 17 Side Man Playwright Warren Leight's No Foreigners Beyond This Point will get its Off-Broadway debut Sept. 17 courtesy of the Ma-Yi Theater Company at the Culture Project (45 Bleecker Street).
Warren Leight
Warren Leight Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The show, directed by Loy Arcenas, will play until Oct. 16. No cast has been announced.

Leight's Tony winning Side Man drew heavily on his own family life as the son of a wayward jazz trumpeter. Leight is again mining personal experiences for his latest work, which had its debut in 2002 at Baltimore's Center Stage.

In the story, two American teachers find themselves in a remote Chinese village where "the Beatles are as unknown as personal privacy."

Leight himself taught English in Canton in 1980 and 1981, when he was 23. "I had the chance so I took it," Leight told Playbill.com. He added: "Also, I had a crush on someone I knew would be teaching over there.

"Like in Side Man, I'm trying to capture a world I knew well. Of course, one of the points of the play is how hard a world it is to know. The other teachers, students and one other foreigner, are my usual composites." His work on the play technically began 20 years ago. During his tenure as a foreign instructor, he kept diaries and wrote letters, which he then packed away until Irene Lewis, the artistic director of the Maryland not-for-profit theatre, offered him a commission to write what became No Foreigners Beyond This Point. The show was workshopped in January and scheduled for the 2002-03 season soon after.

"I knew of Center Stage because two of my close friends, Eric Bogosian and Michael Mayer, had had productions down there," said Leight, "and a third friend, Jill Rachel Morris, was their dramaturg. I liked the theatre on both trips down, and liked the city. Jill introduced me to Irene.

"Irene has begun to commission new plays. And as you know, not many places do that these days. I had two plays I was interested in writing, and she responded to this one. She said she hasn't seen that world on stage before. And she liked the themes that I said I'd be working with. She has strong interest in China, because her father spent time there during World War II."

Aside from Side Man, Leight's other plays include Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine, seen at Manhattan Theatre Club. He is currently head writer on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."