John Seitz, Deidre O'Connell and Paul Lazar make up the cast of Mud, one half of the double bill that leads off New York's Signature Theatre Company season, one devoted entirely to the works of Maria Irene Fornes. Signature dedicates itself to one playwright's oeuvre each season.
Mud and Drowning, the second half of the bill, will begin previews Sept. 14 for a Sept. 26 opening and a run through Oct. 10.
A quintessential Fornes play, Mud was written in 1983 and is one of the playwright's many explorations into humanity's darker side. In it, Mae (O'Connell) seeks to escape the basic life she has been living with Lloyd (Lazar) through education. She befriends Henry (Seitz), who offers to teach her, but he has a stroke and is forced to remain in the care of Mae and Lloyd. Neither Henry or Lloyd wish for Mae to leave them, with one of the characters brutally killing Mae before she attains the freedom for which she has fought.
Mud won an OBIE Award for "Best New Play" in 1984. 1986's Drowning -- the second half of the bill -- is an investigation into desire and its effect on the soul and features main characters which are potatoes. Drowning was adapted from a Chekhov story. Jed Diamond, Philip Goodwin and Marc Damon Johnson star.
Seitz won an OBIE Award for his work in another Fornes piece, Abingdon Square, in 1988. He has appeared in the Roundabout Theatre Company's Jason Robards-Christopher Plummer revival of No Man's Land, CSC Rep's productions of Krapp's Last Tape and Endgame, and Mac Wellman's Seven Blowjobs at Soho Rep. O'Connell acted in Love and Anger at New York Theatre Workshop, winning a Drama Desk nomination for her efforts. Lazar is well known in Downtown circles, having appeared in Soho Rep's recent Cowboys and Indians and several shows with The Wooster Group, where he is an associate.
Goodwin was recently seen at New York Theatre Workshop, in The Testle at Pope Lick Creek. Diamond's credits include Power Plays by Alan Arkin. And Johnson has acted in several productions of Shakespeare, with such companies as the Public Theater and The Acting Company.
The New York premiere of Enter the Night will take the second spot in the season, Nov. 23-Dec. 19. In Night, the relationship of three friends illustrates the layers of illusion we build in our minds to fulfill others' expectations and our expectations of ourselves. The play premiered at Seattle's New City Theatre in 1993. A director for the production is TBA.
The final play of the Fornes season will be the world premiere of a new play, currently without a title. The work will be based on the alleged suicide of Freddy Urco, a ballet dancer, and explores the late 60's downtown arts scene in New York City. The playwright herself will direct.
Other Fornes plays include Fefu And Her Friends, Promenade, The Summer in Gossenssass, A Vietnamese Wedding, Abingdon Square, Dr. Kheal, Successful Life of 3, The Danube, Terra Incognita and The Conduct of Life. In her career, over 30 years long, Fornes has been the recipient of eight OBIE Awards -- including the prestigious lifetime achievement award.
For memberships and information on the Signature Theatre season call (212) 244-PLAY.
-- By Robert Simonson