By Adam Hetrick
17 Jul 2012
Lucille Lortel and Obie Award-winning director David Cromer (Our Town, The House of Blue Leaves) directs the intimate, in-the-round production where a young deaf man escapes the emotional cacophony of his dysfunctional family when a woman who is losing her hearing transforms his life. It began previews Feb. 16 and opened to critical raves March 4 at the Barrow Street Theatre. Tribes first extended its engagement through Sept. 2 and will now play through Jan. 6, 2013.
Tribes has surpassed Cromer's hit staging of Our Town, as well as Bug and No Child, to become the fastest selling show in Barrow Street Theatre's history. It previously broke all Barrow Street box office records last spring.
Tribes received the Drama Desk Award for Best New Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play and the Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play. It also received an Olivier Award nomination for its 2010 London debut.
The cast features Academy Award nominee Mare Winningham ("Georgia," "Mildred Pierce," "The Boys Next Door") and Jeff Still (Our Town) as the parents of an unconventional family where no subject, no matter how sensitive, is off limits. Theatre World Award winner Russell Harvard ("The Hammer," "There Will Be Blood") portrays their son Billy, who was never taught sign language, but has learned to adapt to life as a deaf man by reading lips.
Completing the ensemble cast are Will Brill (Cromer's Our Town) and Gayle Rankin (The Illusion) as siblings Daniel and Ruth, respectively, with Obie and Theatre World Award winner Susan Pourfar (Cromer's When the Rain Stops Falling) as Sylvia, a woman born into a deaf family, who is slowly losing her hearing. She unlocks a new world of language and possibility for Billy.
Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian and Tom Wirtshafter, who produced Cromer's acclaimed staging of Thornton Wilder's Our Town Off-Broadway, are among the producers of Tribes. The producing team also includes Patrick Daly, 2Manocherians, Christian Chadd Taylor, Burnt Umber Productions, Roger E. Kass and Marc & Lisa Biales.
The creative team includes Tony Award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask, costume designer Tristan Raines, lighting designer Keith Parham, sound designer Daniel Kluger and projection designer Jeff Sugg.
Here's how the play is billed: "In Tribes, Billy was born deaf into a hearing family, and raised inside the fiercely idiosyncratic and unrepentantly politically incorrect cocoon of his parents' house. He has adapted brilliantly to his family's unconventional ways, but they've never bothered to return the favor. It's not until he meets Sylvia, a young woman on the brink of deafness, that he finally understands what it means to be understood."
Cromer recently staged Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, as well as the Broadway revival of The House of Blue Leaves. His credits also include Adding Machine, When the Rain Stops Falling, Picnic and the short-lived 2009 Broadway revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs.
For tickets visit Smarttix.com. The Barrow Street Theatre is located at 27 Barrow Street.