Jean Cocteau Rep hope to shed a little light on a lost classic of American theatre when they begin previews for their production of Maxwell Anderson's 1935 N.Y. Drama Critics Circle Award winning play, Winterset on Mar. 12. The production officially opens March 14, and runs through May 2.
Like Dion Boucicault (The Shaughraun, Octoroon) Anderson was once considered the leading playwright of his day (circa 1930 - 1950), but history has not been as generous to his reputation.
With Winterset, Anderson abandoned the historical subjects he'd become known for (in plays like Elizabeth the Queen, Mary of Scotland, and Valley Forge) but retained the blank verse for a contemporary setting. Based on the Sacco-Vanzetti case, Winterset focuses on Mio, son of the innocent but executed man. Mio's search for revenge becomes a quest in vain.
Prior to Winterset, Anderson had already written a play about the Sacco-Vanzetti fallout, though Gods of Lightning (penned with Harold Hickson), took a more directly factual approach.
Cocteau's Eve Adamson will direct Winterset, the second time she's done so for the company, having tackled it in the late '70s. The cast features Tim Deak, Elise Stone, Harris Berlinsky, Christopher Black, Craig Smith, Charles Parnell, and Patrick Hall. Set design is by Robert Klingerhoefer, costumes by Susan L. Soetaert, with lighting by Adamson. Founded in 1971, Jean Cocteau Repertory uses a resident company of actors to bring twentieth century classics (American and European) to an Off-Broadway stage. The company is located in the Bouwerie Lane Theatre (3330 Bowery) in New York's East Village. In May, the company will travel to Brazil to perform its 1996 production of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, after a limited engagement at their home stage.
Winterset will run in repertory with Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra (now extended through April 23) and a limited run of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author (May 7 - 16).
For tickets to Winterset or any other Cocteau production, call (212) 677-0060.
-- By Sean McGrath