Chalfant Brings Duras' Savannah Bay to Life, Opening June 10 at NYC's Classic Stage

News   Chalfant Brings Duras' Savannah Bay to Life, Opening June 10 at NYC's Classic Stage
On the edge of the sea, a once-famous French actress meets the granddaughter she never knew in Classic Stage Company's 35th season-ender, Savannah Bay, opening June 10 following previews that started May 29.

Busy actress Kathleen Chalfant stars in the Barbara Bray translation of the play by the late Marguerite Duras, directed by Les Waters. During the run, Chalfant (Wit) is shuttling between Classic Stage in the East Village and the Minetta Lane Theatre (all in the same night) to appear in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads.

In Savannah Bay, she is the grandmother and Marin Ireland (Far Away, Nocturne) is the young woman in her life.

"They discover a common bond to a lost mother and daughter — Savannah," according to production notes from Off-Broadway's CSC. "Exploring themes of love, loss and the overwhelming power of memory, Savannah Bay is a gossamer, lyrical and beautifully haunting work of theatre."

Chalfant (who plays Madeleine) returns to the Classic Stage Company, having last appeared in Iphigenia and Other Daughters. She is remembered for Broadway's Angels in America.

Ireland (who plays Young Woman) most recently appeared in Far Away with Kathleen Chalfant at New York Theatre Workshop. *

Designers are Myung Hee Cho (set); Ilona Somogyi (costumes); Robert Wierzel (lights) and Darron L. West (sound).

Director Les Waters directed Charles Mee Jr.'s Big Love, which earned them both a 2001 Obie Award. His other New York credits include Life During Wartime (MTC) and Fen, Ice Cream With Hot Fudge, Rum and Coke and Romeo and Juliet (all for NYSF/Public Theater).

Upcoming credits include Wintertime by Charles Mee, to be produced at La Jolla Playhouse and Long Wharf Theater. He is a professor in the Theatre Department at the University of California at San Diego and is the head of the MFA directing program.

Marguerite Duras (1914-1996) was a novelist, playwright, film director, and screenwriter. According to CSC, she wrote many plays, of which Savannah Bay, regularly performed in the Francophone theatre, is considered a standout. Born in French Indochina (now Vietnam), she set many of her works there, including her first successful novel, "The Sea Wall" (1950). She went on to write more than 70 novels, many of which have been made into films and most of which deal unsentimentally with love, despair, and sexual passion. They include "The Sailor from Gibraltar," "Moderato cantabile," "10:30 on a Summer Night," "Destroy, She Said" and "Emily L." Her mysterious and sensual semiautobiographical novel "The Lover," an international bestseller, was her first work of fiction to reach a large popular audience. It won the Prix Goncourt and was made into a film in 1992. Duras was also acclaimed for her screenplays of "Hiroshima mon amour" and "India Song."

Classic Stage Company is at 136 E. 13th Street. This is the fifth and final season for artistic director Barry Edelstein. The not-for-profit's mission is "re-imagining the classics for New York audiences and contributing to the American theatre with innovative works of outstanding merit. Classic Stage Company believes the works of the past are meaningful, relevant, and indeed essential to the world of today. Taking the broadest view of what constitutes a classic, CSC explores the literature of many periods and diverse cultures."

Savannah Bay performances continue to June 29. Tickets range $35-$50. For ticket information, call (212) 677-4210 ext. 13 or visit

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