William Luce's Broadway credits include such biographical solo dramas as The Belle of Amherst (on Emily Dickinson), Lucifer's Child (on Isak Dinesen), Zelda: The Last Flapper (on Zelda Fitzgerald) and Barrymore. But some of his most recent bio dramas have premiered a long way from Manhattan. A play about Coco Chanel was commissioned by the Japanese company Parco and staged in Japan, in Japanese. Luce's latest will also go the same route and feature well-known Japanese actors.
Nijinsky, about Polish-Ukranian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, will premiere this fall in Tokyo, to be staged by veteran director John Tillinger. The latter told Playbill On-Line Luce's play catches Nijinsky at the end of his career, reminiscing about his marital struggles.
Nijinsky gave his last performance in 1917, when he was not yet 30. The last half of his life was destroyed by mental illness and he spent much of his time in sanitariums. Nevertheless, his short career cast a long shadow. The openly gay Nijinsky departed from his classical training, blending technique and sensuality. He was particularly known for his power of elevation, which made him seem to hover above the stage. As a choreographer, his primal 1912 ballet, Afternoon of a Faun, scandalized Paris society, which considered it lascivious. He died in 1950.
Tillinger's credits include National Actors Theatre's Inherit The Wind (with George C. Scott and Charles Durning), Getting And Spending, and the current Off-Broadway comedy-drama, The Exact Center of the Universe.
New York has seen a rash of Nijinsky-based shows in recent months, including Nijinsky's Last Dance and Nijinsky Speaks. There are no plans to bring Luce's play to Manhattan at this point. -- By David Lefkowitz