Steppenwolf Presents a Reshaped Homebody/Kabul, Beginning July 10

News   Steppenwolf Presents a Reshaped Homebody/Kabul, Beginning July 10
Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble members Amy Morton and Tracy Letts will star in the Chicago premiere of Homebody/Kabul, which has been significantly reworked by author Tony Kushner since the play's New York premiere. Performances begin July 10.
Director Frank Galati.
Director Frank Galati.

Also in the cast are Firdous Bamji, Jeremy Beiler, Reed Birney, Ali Farahnakian, Diana M. Konopka, Raymond Kurut, Elizabeth Ledo, Aasif Mandvi, Omar Metwally, Arian Moayed, Diana Simonzadeh and Christopher Yonan. Tony-winner Frank Galati (The Grapes of Wrath, Ragtime) directs.

Homebody/Kabul premiered Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop in fall 2001, just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Though Kushner wrote the work before the tragedy, the plot, half set in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, proved prescient.

Homebody/Kabul, as the title might indicate, is divided into two fairly distinct parts. The first, Homebody, is a one-hour monologue delivered by an eccentric English woman who has retreated from her family and contemporary life in a fecund fantasy world of books, history and verbiage. Kabul, meanwhile, introduces the Homebody's husband and daughter as they journey to the title city in search of the suddenly vanished, and perhaps dead, woman. There, they encounter a culture and world that upends all their previously held ideas about their lives and themselves.

Morton will play the Homebody, a part made famous by Linda Emond (a former Chicago actor) in New York. Letts plays drug-addict diplomat Quango Twistleton. Birney, a New York theatre regular, plays the Homebody's befuddled husband, Milton Ceiling.

Galati told Playbill On-Line that the play is now somewhat shorter and has been adjusted structurally. Instead of the long Homebody monologue comprising the entire first act, intermission is now preceded by that speech and four scenes from the Kabul section, which introduces the Homebody's family. The first act now concludes with a new scene between Priscilla, the Homebody's daughter, and the Afghan guide she befriends. In New York, the guide was played by an old man. The character is now considerably younger. "It was interesting to make this relationship more complicated that just this old geezer taking this young girl around for the purpose of smuggling information through her to supporters of the Northern Alliance," said Galati.

Official opening is July 20. The run ends Aug. 31. Tickets are $35-$50. Call (312) 335-1650.

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