Keen Company to Premiere New David Auburn Play in 2004

News   Keen Company to Premiere New David Auburn Play in 2004
Keen Company, the Off-Broadway troupe that spotlights "sincere" plays, both old and new, will premiere a new work by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Auburn in 2004. The piece, The Journals of Mihail Sebastian, is adapted from the writings of the title novelist and playwright. Keen Company artistic director Carl Forsman will direct.

Sebastian was a Rumanian novelist and dramatist. His journals, which were published in 1996, told of the shocking history of anti-semitism in the Bucharest of World War II. Despite the country's one-time reputation as a safe place for Jews during the conflict, the book revealed that Romania's wartime government killed 150,000 Jews and imposed employment limitations on others. Sebastian himself was barred from holding certain jobs and had to borrow money to pay his rent.

The play is a one-man show, covering six years in Sebastian's life. It is described as "expressionistic," the journal being "created" over the course of the evening.

This will be Auburn's first new stage work to be presented in New York since the premiere of Jonathan Larson's tick, tick....BOOM!, the book of which Auburn's refashioned. Auburn's second major full length play, Proof, premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2000 and transferred to Broadway. It went on to win nearly every available prize and has been produced throughout the United States and the world. A movie version is in the works.

The remainder of the Keen season will feature the company's stock in trade: lost or forgotten dramas and comedies, often hailing from the first half of the 20th century. The line-up begins Sept. 19-Oct. 12 at the Connelly Theatre with Good Morning Bill by P.G. Wodehouse, the author best known for his witty "Jeeves and Wooster" stories. Forsman will direct the tale of "a directionless young man who falls in love with a very serious female doctor." The piece includes the very Wodehousian elements of "sardine sandwiches, a silly song and a golf-obsessed uncle."

To American musical fans, Wodehouse is known as one of the most successful early librettists of Broadway. He wrote the books to such shows as Oh, Kay! and Anything Goes, as well as lyrics for Rosalie, Sally, Very Good Eddie and the Show Boat song "Bill." Following the Auburn work will come another oddity, Pullman Car Hiawatha by Thornton Wilder, the author of Our Town and Skin of Our Teeth. The play is described as a "27-character kaleidoscope portrays a few moments inside a train car." Keen artistic associate Henry Wishcamper will stage the piece.

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