Durang & Weaver: The Master and His Muse, Reunited

By Harry Haun
04 Dec 2012

Weaver in Vanya and Sonia.
Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Weaver explains, "The play is about her arriving as a huge success and them all sorta figuring out, 'what is success at this point in your life? Is it being with the people you love, or is it having made a string of successful movies? What is it? Is it activity or inactivity?"

If that sounds like some Weaver reality woven into the writing of Masha, you may be right. "When I was young and at Yale — and a little after, I absolutely thought of her when I was writing," Durang admits. "I stopped doing it for two reasons. I actually wrote A History of the American Film, thinking of her for the lead, but the director didn't feel she was right for it, and she was disappointed. Later, I was able to get Sigourney in the part of Prudence in Beyond Therapy, the Off-Broadway version, but then I realized her movie career was doing so well there were few plays of mine she'd be available to do, so I just thought it was advisable not to specifically write with people in mind — although I will tell you, because it has worked out, in writing this particular play I really did think of Sigourney for Masha and Kristine for Sonia."

Weaver appreciates the tailoring. "I have had that good fortune of working with him more than any other writer, and I'd still love to do a few more like Laughing Wild and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You.

"I'm such a fan of his. There's no one like him, with his wit and his anger and his sensitivity to the human condition."

Their closeness has been known to confuse people on occasion — one occasion being the bogus bios they put out while co-starring in Das Lusitania Songspiel. "Because we mixed some truth into it — by then, I had done A History of the American Film on Broadway and she had done 'Alien' in the movies — people bought it," reasons Durang. "We pretended we had performed on Broadway many times, and we use Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne's credits as our own. At the end, it said, 'In private life, Mr. Durang and Ms. Weaver are married and live in Connecticut with their daughters, Goneril and Regan.' We thought people would get it's a joke — but no."

(This feature appears in the December 2012 Off-Broadway issue of Playbill magazine.)

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Sigourney Weaver, Genevieve Angelson and David Hyde Pierce
Photo by T. Charles Erickson