A unusual number of Broadway producers have been flying west to take in The Alley Theatre's current production of Not About Nightingales, an early rarity by Tennessee Williams. The international production opened June 10 to a largely positive review from The New York Times.
Alley spokesperson Jennifer Garza told Playbill On-Line that several producers attended the opening night and had shown interest in taking the show -- a collaboration between the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain and Corin and Vanessa Redgrave's Moving Theatre, in association with the Alley -- to New York. Several more producers are set to attend during the run. Garza added, however, that no formal discussions have yet taken place (June 18). Alley's Artistic Director Gregory Boyd was in rehearsal and not available for comment.
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.
Not About Nightingales, a prison drama, had its world premiere March 5 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 led by Corin Redgrave as the tyrannical warden and Alley actor James Black as the prison leader (with two other Alley members in supporting roles). Still playing there, it has received critical and general acclaim and quickly sold out its limited run.
For tickets, $22 for previews and $35 - $37 otherwise, call (713) 228-8421