The White Barn Theatre in Westport, CT, is giving Tennessee Williams' obscure play, The Day On Which a Man Died, its world premiere July 13-15.
Punctuated with nudity and strong language, the work is a revision of an earlier play, In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel, which was produced in New York in 1969. The Day on Which concerns "a painter on the edge and the woman who loves him," and is said to be loosely based on the relationship of artist Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Krasner's character is played by Tanya Lopert, prominent French film and theatre actress, opposite Tony Cormier in the Pollock-like role.
The cast also includes Gina Ahn, Chris Chinn and Masa Yasu Nakanishi. Arthur Storch directs the premiere, billed as "an occidental Noh play," inspired by the Japanese classical theatre form, combining elements of dance, drama, music, and poetry into a singular aesthetic stage art. Authentic Japanese music, orchestrated and played by Joshua Pearl, and Japanese stagecraft are important aspects of the piece.
According to White Barn production notes, Donald Madden, the actor of the original Tokyo Hotel staging, told the author that the audience was not understanding the play, and suggested the need for major changes. Some time later, Williams presented Madden with a script, saying, "Here's what you wanted," and it was a completely different play.
Madden, an actor, not a producer, didn't know what to do with the new play he had been given, yet kept the play until his death in 1983. Following Madden's death, his family gave the script to Madden's good friend, Vincent Curcio, White Barn Theatre general manager, who decided to produce the play this season. The Tennessee Williams estate knew nothing about the existence of this play, according to Curcio. The production is dedicated to the late Yukio Mishima, Japanese novelist, playwright, and translator of Williams' works into Japanese. The White Barn Theatre's founder, Lucille Lortel, was responsible for bringing Mishima to the U.S.
Scenic and lighting design are by Leo B. Meyer, costumes are by Wade Laboissonniere. Donald Saddler, the Broadway veteran dancer-choreographer, handles the staged movement.
Performances are 8 PM Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and 4 PM Sundays. Tickets are $30-$35. Student rush tickets are $10, one-half hour before performance. Lucille Lortel's White Barn Theatre is located on Newtown Avenue, Westport, CT. For more information, call (203) 227-3768 or visit the website at whitebarntheatre.org. This is the 54th season of the White Barn.
— By Kenneth Jones