Film star Donald Sutherland will star in the U.S. premiere of French playwright Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's Enigma Variations at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. The production, which will also star Jamey Sheridan, will begin previews April 24, open May 6 and run through June 13. Daniel Roussel directs.
Sutherland's film career stretches back to the late 60's. Through landmark films such as "M*A*S*H," "Klute" and "Don't Look Now," he established himself as an keenly intelligent actor and an offbeat and popular film presence. Others film credits include "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Kelly's Heroes," and "Ordinary People." In recent years, he has taken to playing villains and supporting character roles, such as that of the coach in Robert Towne's recent "Without Limits."
In Enigma Variations, Sutherland will play Abel Znorko, a Nobel prize-winning novelist who flees the world's mediocrity and the woman he loves to settle on a distant island in the Norwegian Sea. Matters begin to unravel when he agrees to an interview with journalist Erik Larsen (Sheridan), who proved to be his match in mental gamesmanship.
Sheridan's credits include All My Sons and Biloxi Blues.
Schmitt is fast becoming a popular playwright in America. Recently, the Shuberts planned a Broadway engagement of his play The Visitor, starring Eli Wallach. (The production was subsequently postponed, owing to the lack of an appropriate theatre.) *
The addition of Enigma to the Taper schedule has necessitated a change in the run of Anna Deavere Smith's latest piece, House Arrest. The play, a study of the American presidency, was originally set to play May and June of this year. Instead, its will play the shorter and earlier engagement of ten performances Apr. 9-18.
The 90-minute play, in which Smith will direct an ensemble of actors, will represent Act One of Smith's work-in-progress. Smith has said that Act Two will be a "community conversation," in which audiences will engage a group of civic leaders, activists and scholars in a discussion about the impeachment and trial of President Clinton and related topics.
Since 1995, Smith has interviewed more than 300 elected officials, politicos, journalists and others in preparation for House Arrest. The first version of the play premiered at Washington's Arena Stage in 1997.
For more information, call the Taper at (213) 628-2772.
--By Robert Simonson