Trent Dawson, James Prendergast Decode Václav Havel's Memorandum, Opening Nov. 4

News   Trent Dawson, James Prendergast Decode Václav Havel's Memorandum, Opening Nov. 4
The Memorandum, Václav Havel's absurdist-tinged comedy inspired by the absurdities of Eastern European life under communist rule, opens Nov. 4 in an Off-Broadway staging by TACT/The Actors Company Theatre. Previews began Oct. 25.

James Prendergast and Nilanjana Bose
James Prendergast and Nilanjana Bose Photo by Stephen Kunken

Havel the artist would become Havel the social/political activist and later president of the Czech Republic. TACT is staging the play's first major Off-Broadway revival in over 40 years. The Memorandum, directed by Jenn Thompson (The Eccentricities of a Nightingale), plays The Beckett Theatre (410 West 42nd Street) to Nov. 27.

In The Memorandum, billed as a look at "bureaucracy gone mad," the managing director of an organization discovers that all office communications are suddenly being written in "Ptydepe," a new and impossibly complicated language. He seeks to get a memo translated, taking him through a maddening riot of red tape. The play is said to be inspired by the absurdities of life in communist Eastern Europe.

The cast of The Memorandum includes TACT members Mark Alhadeff (The Cocktail Party, Incident at Vichy), Jeffrey C. Hawkins (Incident at Vichy, The Confidential Clerk), John Plumpis (The Lion King, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), James Prendergast (Incident at Vichy, The Late Christopher Bean), Lynn Wright (The Elephant Man, As Bees in Honey Drown) and guest artists Nilanjana Bose (TACT debut, 2010 Juilliard graduate), Trent Dawson (TACT debut, "As the World Turns"), Joel Leffert (Freudian Slips) and Kate Levy (On Golden Pond, Well). Prendergast replaced Simon Jones in previews; Jones was struck by a car in October and is expected to make a full recovery.

Havel began writing The Memorandum as early as 1960. It was rewritten many times over, and became the second of Havel's plays produced at Prague's Theatre of the Balustrade, where he was then literary manager. The play had its American premiere in 1968 as part of Joseph Papp's inaugural season at The Public Theater winning an Obie Award for Best Foreign Play. First produced in London in 1977 (and revived in 1995), The Memorandum has been presented regularly around the world. TACT is dedicated to presenting "neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit."

The creative team includes Adrian W. Jones (sets), David Toser (costumes), Philip S. Rosenberg (lights), Stephen Kunken (sound), Joseph Trapanese (original music) and Lily Fairbanks (properties). Meredith Dixon is production stage manager. The Memorandum has the following performance schedule: Monday, Wednesday-Friday at 7:30 PM; Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM; Sunday at 3 PM. Tickets are $36.25-$56.25 and are available through or at (212) 239-6200 or at the Theatre Row box office (410 W. 42nd Street between 9th & 10th Avenues) between noon and 8 PM daily.

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The cast of <i>Memorandum</i>
The cast of Memorandum Photo by Stephen Kunken
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