Richard Nelson's Four-Play Series, The Apple Family Plays, Will Be Filmed by PBS Station WNET

By Adam Hetrick
December 11, 2013

New York PBS station WNET Thirteen will film Richard Nelson's four-play series The Apple Family Plays: Scenes from Life in the Country, which are currently playing in repertory at the Public Theater Off-Broadway.



The repertory engagement introduces the world premiere of Nelson's Regular Singing, the final installment in the series. That play opened on the night in which it is set, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The three preceding plays, That Hopey Changey Thing, Sweet and Sad and Sorry, premiered at the Public in recent seasons. Each play is tethered to a moment in American politics.

The engagement concludes Dec. 15. WNET will begin filming the week of Dec. 16, and audiences will have the chance to attend one of the tapings. They will be directed for television by David Horn and produced by Mitch Owgang. Visit PublicTheater.org for more information on attending.

The dramas are not expected to be presented as part of PBS' "Great Performances" series.

Playwright Nelson also directs the plays, which star several original cast members from the Public Theater premieres, who return for the repertory engagement. They include Tony Award winner Maryann Plunkett (Me and My Girl, A Man for All Seasons), as well as Jon DeVries (August: Osage County), Laila Robins (Heartbreak House) and Jay O. Sanders (A Midsummer Night's Dream). Newly added to the cast are Stephen Kunken (Enron, High) and Sally Murphy (Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof).

According to the Public, "The compelling plays are about family, politics, change, and the way we live today. They resonate with remarkable immediacy and relevance. Each of these plays originally premiered on the night on which it is set. In The Hopey Changey Thing, the Apples reflect on the state of their family and discuss memory, manners and politics as polls close on mid-term election night 2010 and a groundswell of conservative sentiment flips Congress on its head. In Sweet and Sad, a family brunch stirs up discussions of loss, remembrance and a decade of change. And Sorry, which premiered last fall, finds the Apples sorting through family anxieties and confusion on the day of electing the President."

The Apple Family Plays have scenic and costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton and sound design by Scott Lehrer and Will Pickens.

Nelson is the Tony Award-winning playwright/adaptor of James Joyce's The Dead. His works also include Two Shakespearean Actors, Farewell to the Theatre, Conversations in Tusculum, as well as Nikolai and the Others. He wrote the book and lyrics and directed the musical My Life with Albertine and also penned the book for the musical Chess.