By Adam Hetrick
10 Mar 2013
Lucille Lortel and Obie Award-winning director David Cromer (Our Town, The House of Blue Leaves), who directed the intimate, in-the-round production Off-Broadway, recreates the staging for the Center Theatre Group. Performances began in Los Angeles Feb. 27 and will continue through April 14.
The Off-Broadway production ended its extended, critically acclaimed Off-Broadway run Jan. 20 at the Barrow Street Theatre after beginning performances Feb. 16, 2012. Tribes recouped its entire investment, a rarity in the Off-Broadway commercial world. The production, which played 19 previews and 391 regular performances Off-Broadway, grossed over $2.5 million by the time it closed.
Tribes features original cast member, Theatre World Award and Drama League Award winner Russell Harvard ("The Hammer," "There Will Be Blood") in the central role of Billy, a young deaf man who was never taught sign language, but has learned to adapt to life by reading lips.
Harvard's fellow original cast members Will Brill (Cromer's Our Town) and Gayle Rankin (The Illusion) play 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.
The Los Angeles production also features Lee Roy Rogers (Orson's Shadow) and Jeff Still (August: Osage County) as parents Beth and Christopher, respectively. Rogers and Still joined the production later in the New York run.
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 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."