Peer Gynt Gets an American Makeover By Will Eno for 2013 Humana Fest; Les Waters to Direct
By Kenneth Jones
Will Eno's take on Henrik Ibsen's sprawling, picaresque fantasy Peer Gynt, freshly titled Gnit, will gets its world premiere in the 2012 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. ATL's new artistic director Les Waters will direct.
The title was announced on June 21. It's part of the ATL 2012-13 Brown Forman subscription season, so it was announced early; the remaining spring 2013 Humana Festival new-play titles will be revealed later this year. Humana, birthplace of scores of new American plays over the years, will run Feb. 27-April 7, 2013.
Performed in the Pamela Brown Auditorium, Gnit begins previews March 15, 2013, opens March 17 and runs through April 7.
Here's how ATL characterizes Gnit, from the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize finalist who penned Thom Paine (based on nothing) and Middletown: "Watch closely as Peter Gnit, a funny-enough but so-so specimen of humanity, makes a lifetime of bad decisions, on the search for his True Self, which is disintegrating while he searches. A rollicking and very cautionary tale about, among other things, how the opposite of love is laziness. Gnit is a faithful, unfaithful, and willfully American misreading of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, a 19th-century Norwegian play which is famous for all the wrong reasons, written by Will Eno, who has never been to Norway."
The 1876 source material was in five acts and boasted a large cast and fantastical elements (trolls, kidnappings, flying pigs, troll women, adventures in Morocco and Egypt, shipwrecks and the passing of decades).
Eno said in a statement, "Gnit is a play written specifically for the living. I hope you like it. The play and its protagonist Peter deal with the old questions, the ones we ask late at night, leaning against the sofa, eating yogurt in the dark. Not that it's philosophy, the play — it's the furious and cruel business of life in real time, as if there's any other time. If you see nothing familiar in Gnit, good for you, you'll have some laughs and you can go home and sleep soundly. Others may need to give things some more thought. I am excited to come to Louisville and Actors Theatre and I'm excited about the horses, grass and people, not in that order."
Artistic director Waters added, "Will is a major voice in contemporary American theatre and one of the funniest and most truthful of writers. I've had the pleasure of working with Will twice before when I directed TRADEGY: a tragedy at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Middletown at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. I'm delighted to introduce this play and this playwright to local audiences."
Eno is the recipient of a Residency Five Fellowship at the Signature Theatre in New York City, where his play Title and Deed began in May 2012 following a run in Ireland. The Realistic Joneses had its world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre in April 2012. His play Middletown was a winner of the Horton Foote Prize and was produced at the Vineyard Theatre in New York and Steppenwolf in Chicago. His play Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.
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