Arizona Theatre Company will produce the Arizona premiere of Margaret Edson's brilliant and powerful play Wit, with Karen Grassle in the lead role of Dr. Vivian Bearing. ATC's associate artistic director Samantha K. Wyer will direct. The New York Times calls Wit "the kind of theatrical experience of which legends are made."
Wit begins previews January 13, opens to the press on January 19 and runs through February 3 at the Temple of Music and Art in downtown Tucson. It will continue its run in Phoenix February 8 through February 25 at the Herberger Theater Center. Production underwriters are Phelps Dodge and Elsa Paine Mulhern. ATC's production of Wit will be dedicated to Elsa Paine Mulhern, a generous and well-loved ATC trustee, who passed away early this month. A special fund has been established in her name to support this production. Call Claudine Messing at 884-8210 for more information.
As a scholar of 17th century metaphysical
poetry, Dr. Vivian Bearing is at the top of her field. She is
a demanding professor and a brilliant scholar, feared and admired
by students and colleagues alike. When she is diagnosed with advanced
ovarian cancer, all the rules change. She becomes the topic of
someone else's research, and hostage to her own body's rebellion.
The intellectual prowess and rigorous discipline with which she
attacked the mysteries of John Donne's poetry are powerless against
the ravaging effects
of cancer, and its grueling treatments. Surprised by her own need for compassion in her time of crisis, Vivian comes to understand that life's most profound questions cannot be answered by intellect alone.
Vivian guides the audience on her journey
toward death in a series of flashbacks, lectures and wry musings
with caustic wit and touching vulnerability. Avoiding maudlin
sentimentality, playwright Edson has
created something much more than a tearful account of a woman wasting away from cancer, more than an indictment of modern medical ethics. It's an entrancing, funny, and powerful story of transformation, in which the deeply painful struggles come hand-in-hand with humor and a chance for grace. (Wit contains brief nudity.)
"Wit is a play that resonates with all those who experience it," says director Samantha K. Wyer. "It is about looking one's own mortality straight in the face and having to come to grips with it - a task that no one can avoid. If this production can in some way help people with that journey, it will be a success."
KAREN GRASSLE (Vivian Bearing) is best known for her portrayal of Ma on "Little House on the Prairie" for eight seasons. A longtime advocate and worker for women's rights, Ms. Grassle was central in bringing the issue of battered women to the attention of the American public with her film Battered in which she starred and co-wrote. She has lobbied for help in Domestic Violence, the ERA and Women's Right to Choose on state and national levels. For six years she lived in Louisville, Kentucky, where she had a long association as an actor with Actors Theater of Louisville. She has a number of Broadway credits, including Butterflies are Free, The Gingham Dog, Sweet Sue and Cymbeline. She appeared in regional theaters around the country following her Fulbright Fellowship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
"When we first met and discussed how we might tackle this story together, Karen's passion for the piece illuminated the conversation," says Wyer. "She's a strong, fearless actor who is willing to explore Vivian's ever-shifting world with grit but also with compassion. I feel comforted knowing Dr. Vivian Bearing rests in her talented hands."
Wit is Margaret Edson's first play. Born
in Washington, DC, Edson studied Renaissance History at Smith
College. After graduating magna cum laude, she held a number of
jobs which included selling hot dogs on the street in Iowa City;
painting the walls of a French Dominican convent in Rome; working
as a physical therapy aide; and serving as a unit clerk on the
cancer and AIDS inpatient unit of a major research hospital. It
was during her work in the hospital that she was inspired to write
Wit. She received her master's
degree in English from Georgetown University on a full scholarship and worked for six years in the DC public schools teaching English as a Second Language. She currently lives in Atlanta and teaches kindergarten in downtown Atlanta.
The cast of Wit also includes local favorite RobertO Guajardo (Dr. Harvey Kelekian), whose recent ATC credits include As You Like It, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Shadowlands; LIZZY DAVIS (nurse Susie Monahan), who in addition to numerous acting credits is a teaching artist in The Creative Arts Team program in New York Public Schools; JASON KUYKENDALL (Dr. Jason Posner), most recently seen at ATC in Long Day's Journey Into Night; and veteran actress JEAN BURCH (Professor E.M. Ashford) in the role that earned her critical acclaim in the recent Alley Theatre/Seattle Repertory Theatre co-production of Wit. Ensemble roles are played by University of Arizona graduates JENNIFER FISK-WILKEN, RAVI GAHUNIA, and TATE ALLEN, all former participants in ATC's Professional Internship Program.
Director Samantha K. Wyer's other Arizona credits include Arcadia at Arizona Repertory Theatre and Two Days of Grace at Middleham by Toni Press-Coffman, a play she also directed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. She has served as director of Missouri Repertory Theatre's Playwright's Stage, and has worked at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C. as assistant director for Michael Kahn and for Joe Dowling. She has been a visiting instructor and director for University of Missouri, Arizona State University and The University of Arizona, where she will direct Angels in America: Millennium Approaches in March of 2001.
The design team for Wit includes scenic designer PETER BEUDERT, costume designer SAM FLEMING, lighting designer TRACI ODISHAW and sound designer ADAM WERNICK. The stage manager for this production is Elizabeth Lohr and the assistant stage manager is Summer Star Martinez-Bonta.
Tickets range in price for $22 to $35 and are available at the ATC Box Office with discounts for seniors, students and the military. Half-price Rush tickets are available for all performances one hour prior to curtain at the ATC Box Office (subject to availability). For more information or to charge tickets, call ATC at (520) 622-2823. For group discounts call (520) 884-8210.
ATC will offer a Pay What You Can performance on Tuesday, January 16 at 7:30 p.m. A limited number of tickets will go on sale at the Temple of Music and Art at 10 a.m. on the day of the performance and are limited to two tickets per order with a suggested donation of $5.
ATC offers audio-described performances for patrons with visual impairments Thursday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Wednesday, January 31 at 2 p.m. Each performance will include a tactile tour one hour prior to curtain. Braille and large-print playbills are available upon request from the house manager. American Sign Language-interpreted performances are offered Thursday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, January 27 at 8 p.m. Patrons with hearing impairments will receive a biography of the interpreters, a description of the play and name signs of each character. Tickets for the audio-described and ASL-interpreted performances are available through the ATC Box Office at (520) 622-2823. Patrons with hearing impairments may access the box office via Arizona Relay at (800) 367-8939 (TTY/ASCII).
For ticket information for the Phoenix run of Wit, call the ATC box office in Phoenix: (602) 256-6995.
Saturday, January 13 Preview 8 pm $25-27
Sunday, January 14 Preview 7 pm $22-24
Tuesday, January 16 Preview/PWYC 7:30 pm $22-24
Wednesday, January 17 Preview 7:30 pm $22-24
Thursday, January 18 Preview 7:30 pm $22-24
Friday, January 19 Press Opening 8 pm $30-32
Saturday, January 20 2 pm $26-27
Saturday, January 20 8 pm $32-35
Sunday, January 21 2 pm $26-28
Sunday, Janaury 21 7 pm $25-27
Tuesday, January 23 Post-show discussion 7:30 pm $25-27
Wednesday, January 24 Green Valley shuttle 2 pm $22-24
Wednesday, January 24 Post-show discussion 7:30 pm $25-27
Thursday, January 25 Audio-described/
ASL-interpreted 7:30 pm $25-27
Friday, January 26 8 pm $30-32
Saturday, January 27 4 pm $30-32
Saturday, January 27 ASL-interpreted 8 pm $32-35
Sunday, January 28 2 pm $26-28
Wednesday, January 31 Audio-described/
Post-play discussion 2 pm $22-24
Wednesday, January 31 7:30 pm $25-27
Thursday, February 1 7:30 pm $25-27
Friday, February 2 8 pm $30-32
Saturday, February 3 Art Play 2 pm $26-27
Saturday, February 3 8 pm $32-25
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Arizona Theatre Company will present Alan Ayckbourn's diabolically clever How the Other Half Loves. Andrew Traister will direct this chaotic comic ride about love, lies and lust - all of which collide during two dinner parties that happen on consecutive nights, but take place on stage at the same time! The Dallas Morning News says How the Other Half Loves is "Ayckbourn at his best?one of his funniest and most inventive plays."
How the Other Half Loves previews February 24, opens to the press on March 2 and runs through March 17 in downtown Tucson. It will continue its run in Phoenix May 3-20 at the Herberger Theater Center. Production underwriter is Bank One.
ATC's production of How the Other Half Loves will be set in London in 1969, where the Beatles are hot, fashion is mod and the city is swingin', baby!
Three mild-mannered couples are caught in the crossfire of the sexual revolution when they're unwittingly brought together by a steamy affair. The comedy takes place simultaneously in the living/dining rooms of two couples, Frank and Fiona Foster and Bob and Teresa Phillips. Bob and Fiona have had a fling, and now have to explain to their spouses why they were so late the night before. Matters are further complicated by the fact that Fiona's husband Frank is Bob's boss. To cover their tracks, Bob and Fiona invent a story about having to spend some time smoothing over the domestic crisis of a third couple, the not-very-worldly Featherstones, William and Mary.
Hilarity ensues as dinner parties are planned to help assuage the imagined conflict between the unwitting couple. The audience sees it happen all at once as both living rooms and dining rooms are a single set, which takes on a character of its own, as two dinners are served on different nights, simultaneously. Will Frank and Teresa find out about the affair? Will William and Mary figure out what's going on? It's a whirlwind ride back to the swinging 60's where confusion, mayhem - and hilarity- reigns!
"The play was first produced in 1969 and I thought that time period would present an interesting context for a story about middle class English adultery," director Andrew Traister said of the decision to set this production in the late 60's. "The irony of the repressed English middle class fooling around while London is swinging right outside their doors intrigued me. It gives me a context musically and visually as it was a great time for psychedelic culture and English bands, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who and Dave Clark Five."
Returning to ATC is MICHAEL SANTO (Frank Foster), who appeared as Einstein in ATC's Picasso at the Lapin Agile and has been seen at regional theatres throughout the country including American Conservatory Theater, where he recently appeared in the American premiere of Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love; and JOHN WALCUTT (Bob Phillips) who appeared in ATC's production of A Perfect Ganesh and is a member of Matrix Theatre Company in Los Angeles. The company of How the Other Half Loves also includes LAURA DRAKE (Fiona Foster), who has appeared frequently at Theatre 40 in Los Angeles and was a founding member of Penumbra Theatre Company; MICHAEL LEWIS (William Featherstone), whose New York credits include the premiere of Horton Foote's Pulitzer Prize-winning Young Man from Atlanta at Signature Theatre Company; well-known Valley actress KATIE McFADZEN (Mary Featherstone), who is in her eighth season as part of the acting ensemble with Childsplay, Inc. and is a founding member of In Mixed Company; and JULIET PRITNER (Teresa Phillips), whose credits include numerous New York and regional theatre appearances as well as a six-year stint on "As the World Turns."
The design team for How the Other Half Loves includes scenic and lighting designer KENT DORSEY, costume designer CHRISTINE DOUGHERTY, sound designer BRIAN JEROME PETERSON, dialect coach DIANNE J. WINSLOW and stage manager JOHN KINGSBURY.
Tickets range in price for $22 to $35 and
are available at the ATC Box Office with discounts for seniors,
students and the military. Half-price Rush tickets are available
for all performances one hour prior to curtain
at the ATC Box Office (subject to availability). For more information or to charge tickets, call ATC at (520) 622-2823. For group discounts call (520)
ATC will offer a Pay What You Can performance on Tuesday, February 27 at 7:30 PM. A limited number of tickets will go on sale at the Temple of Music and Art at 10 a.m. on the day of the performance and are limited to two tickets per order with a suggested donation of $5.
ATC offers audio-described performances for patrons with visual impairments Thursday, March 8 at 7:30 PM and Wednesday, March 14 at 2 PM. Each performance will include a tactile tour one hour prior to curtain. Braille and large-print playbills are available upon request from the house manager. American Sign Language-interpreted performances are offered Thursday, March 8 at 7:30 PM and Saturday, March 10 at 8 PM. Patrons with hearing impairments will receive a biography of the interpreters, a description of the play and name signs of each character. Tickets for the audio-described and ASL-interpreted performances are available through the ATC Box Office at (520) 622-2823. Patrons with hearing impairments may access the box office via Arizona Relay at (800) 367-8939 (TTY/ASCII).
For ticket information for the Phoenix run of How the Other Half Loves, call the ATC box office in Phoenix at (602) 256-6995.
How the Other Half Loves,
By Alan Ayckbourn
PLACE: The Alice Holsclaw Theatre, Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott
Tickets are on sale at the ATC Box Office. Half-price adult Rush tickets
are available for all performances one hour prior to curtain at the ATC Box
Office (subject to availability). Anyone under 25 may buy a ticket for $10
(section 2 only.)To charge tickets, call (520) 622-2823. Tickets may be
charged to MasterCard, VISA, American Express or Discover. For group
discounts call (520) 884-8210.
DATES: Saturday, February 24, Preview 8 pm $25-27
Sunday, February 25, Preview 7 pm $22-24
Tuesday, February 27, Preview/
Pay-What-You-Can 7:30 pm $22-24
Wednesday, February 28, Preview 7:30 pm $22-24
Thursday, March 1, Preview 7:30 pm $22-24
Friday, March 2, Press Opening 8 pm $30-32
Saturday, March 3, 8 pm $32-35
Sunday, March 4, 2 pm $26-28
Sunday, March 4 , 7 pm $25-27
Tuesday, March 6, Post Show Discussion , 7:30 pm $25-27
Wednesday, March 7, Green Valley Shuttle ,2 pm $22-24
Wednesday, March 7, Post Show Discussion , 7:30 pm $25-27
Thursday, March 8, Audio-Described/
ASL-Interpreted , 7:30 pm $25-27
Friday, March 9, 8 pm $30-32
Saturday, March 10 ,4 pm $30-32
Saturday, March 10 ASL-Interpreted , 8 pm $32-35
Sunday, March 11, 2 pm $26-28
Wednesday, March 14 , Audio-Described/
Post Show Discussion , 2 pm $22-24
Wednesday, March 14 , 7:30 pm $25-27
Thursday, March 15, 7:30 pm $25-27
Friday, March 16, 8 pm $30-32
Saturday, March 17, Art Play, 2 pm $26-27
Saturday, March 17 , 8 pm $32-35
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