Alley Theatre of Houston's much lauded production of Tennessee Williams' early rarity, Not About Nightingales, 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.
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 New York cast will match the Texas one, with a few minor exceptions, with Corin Redgrave leading the ensemble. The show will be produced by Carole Shorenstein Hays, Stuart Thompson, Marsha Garces Williams and Lou Gonda.
Not About Nightingales , a prison drama, 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. The theatre went bankrupt in 1996 and closed a year later, collapsing under a mountain of debt. It hasn't seen a theatre production since 1997's Stanley, the sole product Gregory Mosher's short reign as Circle's final artistic director. Mann and Libin hold the lease to the space through their company, Thespian Theater Inc.