In the six-actor play, according to the resident Equity company, "28-year-old Vincent (Matthew Dellapina) is confused about his relationship. On impulse, he stands up his girlfriend Annie (Theo Allyn) and takes off for an apartment he's inherited in the 13th arrondissement [municipal borough] of Paris. There he meets Jacques (Edmond Genest), the ghost of his grandfather, who appears in a pinstripe suit. The dapper Jacques is appalled when Vincent describes the manners of modern couples. So, through his romance with Chloe (Bridget Connors), Jacques shows Vincent the proper way to woo a woman. They are interrupted by the arrival of Annie's wacky friend Jessica (Jenny Wales) and her new husband William (Gregory Johnstone), who have their own lovey-dovey approach to marriage."
Obie Award winner Melia Bensussen, currently the producing director of Emerson Stage in Boston, directs the production, to play to Feb 17 at City Theatre's 272-seat mainstage.
The 13th of Paris recently received an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award and was workshopped at City Theatre's MOMENTUM 07: new plays at different stages.
Has the playwright ever been to Paris?
Smart told Playbill.com, "I first went to Paris about ten years ago and was very unimpressed. It was the middle of the winter — cold, gray, raining and snowing. There were numerous strikes that closed down the museums and the trains and everything was inconvenient. Even the streets were filthy. Then about two-and-a-half years ago, I took a trip to Cameroon in Africa. On the way, I had a couple-day layover in Paris. I got a cheap hotel in the 13th District. I had no expectations of the city. But it was May and there was beautiful weather and I found it to be the wonderful city that it is known to be. I started writing the play in the little cafe at the hotel, while looking at an old black and white photograph on the wall of an older man at a cafe with his dog." Does Smart have an interest in ghost stories?
"I don't really think of Jacques — Vincent's grandfather — as a ghost, but rather a real person who just happens to have died 40 years ago. I am fascinated by the differences in generations. Did people love more fully 40 years ago? A hundred years ago? Do cell phones and email lessen the romance in our lives? What can be done about it? It just so happens that the person Vincent is having this debate with is no longer living."
The design team for The 13th of Paris includes Judy Gailen (scenic), Pei-Chi Su (costumes), Andrew David Ostrowski (lighting) and Joe Pino (sound). Patti Kelly is the production stage manager, and Don Wadsworth is the dialect coach.
Smart is the author of nine full-length plays. In 2005 the world premiere of his play The Hopper Collection was produced by the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. In 2006 it ran at Huntington Theatre in Boston. At 26, he became the youngest playwright ever produced on Huntington's mainstage. A graduate of the University of Evansville in Evansville, IN, he holds an MFA in playwriting from the University of California – San Diego and now lives in Brooklyn.
Opening night is Jan. 30. City Theatre, one block off Carson at Bingham and 13th Streets, is located in Pittsburgh's South Side.
For more information call (412) 431-CITY or visit www.CityTheatreCompany.org.