By Robert Simonson
05 Jan 1999
Corin Redgrave will lead a cast of 18 in the Alley Theatre of Houston's much-lauded production of Tennessee Williams' early rarity, Not About Nightingales. The play will alight on Broadway, beginning Feb. 13, 1999 at the Circle in the Square. The production will open Feb. 25 and run a limited engagement until June 27, 1999.
Redgrave will play the warden in the prison drama. Also starring are Finbar Lynch as Jim, a young prisoner, Sherri Parker Lee as Eva, the warden's secretary and James Black as rebellious inmate Butch O'Fallon. Also in the cast are Jude Akuwudke, Chico Andrade, Mark Dexter, Sandra Dickinson, Alex Giannini, Dion Graham, Tom Hodgkins, Joel Leffert, Noble Shropshire, Daniel Stewart and Richard Ziman.
Nightingales played its last performance at the Alley July 3, 1998. A collaboration between the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain and Corin and Vanessa Redgrave's Moving Theatre, in association with the Alley, the international production opened June 10 to a largely positive review from The New York Times.
The show will be produced by Carole Shorenstein Hays, Stuart Thompson, Marsha Garces Williams and Kelly Gonda.
Not About Nightingales had its world premiere March 5, 1998 at the Royal National's Cottelsoe Theatre in London, under the direction of Royal National artistic director Trevor Nunn, and featuring an international cast of 18. It received critical and general acclaim and quickly sold out its limited run.
Not About Nightingales was written in 1938 when Williams, who then went by his given first name Tom, was a playwriting student in his late 20s at University of Iowa. It is based on actual events in a Philadelphia jail involving rebellious inmates, a hunger strike, and sadistic punishment, and it argues against inhumane conditions. It was discovered by Vanessa Redgrave at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin; the Ransom Center houses extensive Williams archives, including manuscripts from approximately 1,000 works. Redgrave came across it in 1996 while in Houston during the first collaboration between the Alley and Moving Theatres: repertory productions of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. Because the companies' first partnership celebrated a great English playwright, it was deemed appropriate that the next should highlight an American master. Not About Nightingales marks the Alley's initial relationship with the Royal National.
The New York production will be the first show into Circle in the Square since Circle founder Ted Mann and former producing director Paul Libin won a legal battle with a group of Circle's creditors over control of the Broadway space.