Zimmerman—who has found inspiration for past shows in the work of Ovid, Homer, Leonardo Da Vinci—this time draws from the life and work of French novelist Marcel Proust, whose multi-volume work "Remembrance of Things Past" is one of the lasting monuments of world literature.
The one-woman show, called Monsieur Proust, concerns not so much Proust himself, but Celeste Albaret, who kept house for the writer for a decade. Near the end of her life, Albaret wrote down her memories of living with the famously frail and hermetic artist.
This is not the first time Zimmerman has meditated on Proust. In 1998, she presented Eleven Rooms of Proust in Chicago. The performances took place at the city-owned Berger Park Mansion. Audiences were guided through different rooms, where scenes and images from Proust's 3,000-page "Remembrance of Things Past" were communicated through dance, music, performance art, visual art, and architecture. Furthermore, there were, in the manner of a restaurant or amusement park ride, several seatings per evening. The production lasted 55 minutes and the theatre admitted six groups of 15 people each night.
Unusual for a Zimmerman piece, the new work will not be directed by her, but by Eric Rosen. Monsieur Proust will play the Upstairs Theatre June 8-16, 2006.
Also at the Upstairs Theatre will be Love-Lies-Bleeding by Don DeLillo, directed by Amy Morton, and starring Martha Lavey. It will run April 27-May 25, 2006. The show by the noted novelist is described thusly: "Hovering over the artist's lifeless body are his son, estranged ex-wife and younger wife, locked in metaphysical struggle over the ultimate question: do they agree to a mercy killing or let him die his natural course?" The production will play at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre as part of the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays June 17-25, 2006. In the smaller Garage Theatre, meanwhile, Steppenwolf will present the Chicago premiere of what is becoming Sarah Kane's most widely performed work, 4.48 Psychosis. The play, in which the central character dreams of going to the doctor's and being given just eight minutes to live, received its premiere in London in 2000, a year after the writer's February 1999 suicide.
Kane, whose plays include Blasted, Cleansed and Crave, committed suicide just days after her 28th birthday. The young playwright rose controversially to prominence in 1995 when, at age 23, she had her first play, Blasted, staged by the Royal Court. The play disgusted many critics with its portrayal of cannibalism and male and female rape. Kane's predilection for violence continued to divide critics in subsequent plays—Phaedra's Love, which she also directed, at the Gate Theatre and, back at the Royal Court in 1998, Cleansed. Her final work before her death, Crave, received its world premiere at 1998's Edinburgh Festival Fringe and later received a London run back at the Royal Court. The play, in which four characters sit and talk in verse of obsessive love, was more enthusiastically received by critics who appreciated the lack of gore and believed it demonstrated Kane's maturity as a playwright. But, perhaps tellingly, the play ended with suicide.
Sean Graney will direct 4.48 Psychosis. Dates are Nov. 10-Dec. 18.
Also scheduled for the Garage is an untitled work conceived and directed by ensemble member Tina Landau, running May 25-July 2, 2006.
As previously announced, Bruce Norris' The Unmentionables, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, will be the fifth world premiere in the 30th anniversary season for Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company. John Mahoney, Laurie Metcalf and Amy Morton will star.
The show fits in with the existing 2005-06 line-up. In a striking break with its past record, Steppenwolf has decided to fill its 30th year entirely with new works, including plays by Steven Dietz, Frank Galati, Richard Greenberg and John Kolvenback.
Bruce Norris is a favorite with Steppenwolf, which has produced more of his plays than any other theatre in the country. He is the author of The Infidel, Purple Heart, We All Went Down to Amsterdam and The Pain and the Itch. The new work is set "in a posh home in a small town in Africa, [where] a wealthy American entrepreneur, flamboyant government representative, young Christian missionary and his girlfriend meet by accident. When one of them goes missing, they are forced to confront their benevolent notions of themselves and the realities of the world they think they control."
The season will open with Last of the Boys, running Sept. 15-Nov. 13. Rick Snyder will direct Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in the Steven Dietz play "set in the California trailer home of a Vietnam vet, where the past makes a return visit."
Next up, running Oct. 20-Feb. 19 in the Upstairs theatre, is After the Quake, director Frank Galati's stage adaptation of a book of interconnected short stories by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, followed by The Well-Appointed Room, a new work by Richard Greenberg "of three couples in three different eras whose lives play out in the same New York apartment." The Jan. 12-March 12, 2006, engagement sees Terry Kinney direct Tracy Letts, Amy Morton and Molly Regan.
Finally, Love Song, running March 30-June 4, 2006, is a romantic comedy by John Kolvenback, directed by Austin Pendleton and featuring Tim Hopper and Laurie Metcalf.