Kent Williams in the Undermain’s Port Twilight by Len Jenkins
The Undermain Theatre has announced its 28th season, and it actually seems a somewhat mainstream selection of works because it features two dramas by once-revolutionary, now-canonical playwrights: Harold Pinter and Sam Shepard.
Nonetheless, the Shepard play, Agnes of the Moon, will be a Southwest premiere directed by Undermain artistic director Katherine Owens.The drama follows two old friends reuniting and waiting in a fishing shack to see a total lunar eclipse — it was developed with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
The Pinter play is the British master’s classic dark comedy of foreboding and threat, The Birthday Party, to be directed by Patrick Kelly. He’s the former chair of the University of Dallas theater program who last helmed a show for the Deep Ellum theater in 1990. That play, Howard Barker’s The Possibilities, was one of the company’s outstanding efforts in the second space it once ran on Elm Street.
The third show, Time in Kafka, is by Obie Award-winner Len Jenkins, one of the Undermain’s favorite writers. Their most recent Jenkins production, Port Twilight, was a world premiere and one of the highlights of the Undermain’s 2009-2010 season. Typical for Jenkins, the play sounds fantastical: Time in Kafka follows a young assistant profesor who dreams of a ‘lost’ Kafka manuscript and tries to find it — only to slip back in time.
The new season also features a new. lower ticket price — $10 for all preview performances.
The full release follows:
Undermain Theatre’s 28 th Season – 2011/2012
“The Undermain is an unsung American Treasure”
Undermain Theatre celebrates 28 years of outstanding performance with a regional premiere by an icon of the American stage, a world premiere by a master of the avant-garde and a new exploration of a seminal mid-century masterwork by a leading voice of modern theater. In addition to these three productions Undermain continues its reading series of three plays throughout the season to be presented at the Dallas Museum of Art. This season in an effort to make Undermain Theatre productions even more economically available to its audience the Undermain will introduce a special $10 ticket price for all preview performances.
Ages of the Moon by Sam Shepard (Directed by Katherine Owens)
October 15 th – November 12 th , with $10 preview performances Oct. 12 th , 13 th and 14 th
Southwest Regional Premiere
Opening Night: October 15 th
In this darkly funny and poignant new play, two old friends reunite over bourbon on ice in a remote fishing shack as they wait to witness a total lunar eclipse. They sit, reflect and bicker until decades of love, friendship, and rivalry are put to the test at the barrel of a shotgun. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard developed this gritty new play in collaboration with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The Abbey production was brought to New York’s Atlantic Theater in the winter of 2010. Now, Undermain Theatre will present the southwest regional premiere in October to kick off its 28 th season.
“A poignant and honest continuation of themes that have always been present in the work of one of this country’s most important dramatists, here reconsidered in the light and shadow of time passed” – Ben Brantley, NY Times
“Finely wrought…as enjoyable and enlightening as a night spent stargazing” – Talkin’ Broadway
Considered one of America’s most influential and celebrated playwrights of the 20th century, Sam Shepard is also an accomplished actor, director, screenwriter and musician. Samuel Shepard Rogers IV was raised in Duarte, CA where he began acting and writing poetry while still in high school as well as working as a stable hand at a horse ranch in Chino. When a traveling theater group came through town, he joined up and left home. He moved to New York City in the early 60’s and worked as a bus boy at the Village Gate in Greenwich Village and began writing avant-garde one-act plays and eventually finding his way to the off-off-Broadway scene where he quickly gained notoriety and racked up 11 Obie awards for early plays like Chicago, Icarus’ Mother, Red Cross, La Turista, Melodrama Play and “Cowboys #2” and The Tooth of the Crime . Buried Child earned the playwright the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979. Later plays included the Curse of the Starving Class and Broadway productions of True West and A Lie of the Mind. More recent plays include The Late Henry Moss which Undermain Produced in 2003, The God of Hell and Kicking a Dead Horse .
He has received grants and honors from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation and is a recipient of multiple Drama Desk Awards and a New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. In addition to his work as a playwright Shepard has written screenplays for such films as Zabriskie Point and Paris, Texas , (winner of the Palme d’Or), Bob Dylan’s film Reynaldo and Clara , Far North and Savage Tongue. He’s also an actor appearing in films such as Days of Heaven , the Right Stuff, Resurrection, Blackhawk Down and The Assassination of Jesse James … among many others.
Katherine is founder and Artistic Director of Undermain Theatre. For Undermain, she has directed Port Twilight , The Black Monk , The Snow Queen , Shining City, The Appeal, Margo Veil, A Number, Blasted, Two September, The Late Henry Moss, A Man’s Best Friend, Silence, Cat’s Paw, Coaticook, Pericles, The Seagull, The Hyacinth Macaw, Macbeth, Seventy Scenes of Halloween, Goose and Tomtom, Harm’s Way,
Night Coil, Poor Folk’s Pleasure, Traps, Bremen Coffee/Blood on the Cat’s Neck and many others. She directed productions of The Lesser Magoo in Los Angeles for Bottom’s Dream Theater, Quake for the Dallas Theater Center’s Big D festival and As You Like it for the Dallas Shakespeare Festival. She has also appeared on stage in numerous Undermain productions. In New York, Katherine has directed Neil Young’s Greendale at The Ohio Theatre, A Man’s Best Friend at WalkerSpace, Glamour at the Ohio Theatre and Coaticook at the
Soho Think Tank’s Ice Factory Festival. She also designed the video for Erik Ehn’s Gold Into Mud (HERE American Living Room Festival) and Swedish Tales of Woe (Ohio Theatre). She is a recipient of multiple awards from the Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Forum for best direction and has also been named an AAUW Texas Woman of Distinction.
Time in Kafka by Len Jenkin
February 18th through March 17 th with $10 preview performances Feb. 15 th , 16 th and 17th
A world premiere
Opening night: February 18th
On the heels of its award winning world premiere of Len Jenkin’s Port Twilight, Undermain continues its collaboration with this Obie winning, American master. In the shadowy and fantastical world of Time in Kafka , an assistant professor at a small American college dreams that Kafka left the manuscript of an unknown novel at a sanatorium on Lake Garda in Italy. He follows the mad dream and travels there to find the lost Kafka novel and in the process, slips back in time into a familiar yet very different world …a play about love, literature, dreams, obsessions, and Kafka.
Len Jenkin is a novelist, playwright, director, and screenwriter.
His novels include NJudah, New Jerusalem and the Secret Life of Billy’s Uncle Myron (with Emily Jenkins). Plays include Dark Ride, Careless Love, Limbo Tales, The Dream Express, Like I Say, Poor Folk’s Pleasure and the Dallas Critics Circle Forum award winners Margo Veil and Port Twilight . His works for the stage have been produced throughout the United States, as well as in England, Germany, France, Denmark, and Japan. His films include Blame it on the Night , Welcome to Oblivion and American Notes . He has received many honors and awards, including three OBIE awards for Directing and Playwriting, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Award, a nomination for an EMMY Award, and four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. Mr. Jenkin holds a PhD in American Literature from Columbia University. He’s a Professor in the Dramatic Writing Department, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and lives in New York City.
The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter ( Directed by Patrick Kelly)
May 5 th through June 2 nd with $10 preview performances May 2 nd , 3 rd and 4 th
Opening night: May 5th
A psychological thriller with comic leanings of the darkest intent, The Birthday Party is a study in the power of opposing forces. A sudden shifting of moods-from cozy domesticity to palpable fear-is precisely what defines The Birthday Party and what gives it a continuing immediacy. The anti-hero, Stanley, is holed up in a seedy seaside boarding house lorded over by his dotty landlady and her docile husband. He’s seemingly hiding out from some unknown danger, which arrives in the form of the mysterious stranger Goldberg and his sinister Irish henchman McCann. They arrive to pluck Stanley from his domestic exile as they prepare for a menacing celebration even though he insists it’s not his birthday.
“Theatrically speaking, The Birthday Party is absorbing. It is witty. Its characters . . . are fascinating. The plot, which consists, with all kinds of verbal arabesques and echoing explorations of memory and fancy, of the springing of a trap, is first-rate.” – Harold Hobson, The Sunday Times
British playwright and Nobel laureate Harold Pinter is rightly perceived to be the heir to Samuel Beckett, who was his friend and mentor. Like Beckett, Mr. Pinter created worlds profoundly comic and tragic, in which meaning is never fixed, memory lies and people are betrayed not just by one another but also by their own minds. Mr. Pinter is celebrated for what the critic Irving Wardle called “the comedy of menace,” or as Mr. Pinter once joked, “the weasel under the cocktail cabinet.” In more than 30 plays-written between 1957 and
2000 and including masterworks like The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming and Betrayal -Mr. Pinter captured the anxiety and ambiguity of life in the second half of the 20th century with terse, hypnotic dialogue filled with gaping pauses and the prospect of imminent violence. Mr. Pinter’s plays are steeped in a sense of claustrophobia, of people hemmed in by both a hunger for and fear of power. His widely imitated and parodied style is notable for its clipped, elliptical sentences and ominous silences. The influence of Mr. Pinter cannot be underestimated, and it shows up in writers as different as David Mamet and Michael Frayn. Mr. Pinter was a very vocal critic of totalitarian and imperialist politics. His work as a screenwriter included adaptations of The French Lieutenant’s Woman , his own Betrayal and, more recently, Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth.
— Ben Brantley
Patrick Kelly is the former chair of the Drama Department at the University of Dallas, SMU alumnus and three-time winner of the Dallas – Fort Worth Theatre Critics’ Forum Award for Best Direction. The Birthday Party will mark Kelly’s return to the Undermain, having directed the award winning production of Howard Barker’s The Possibilities for the theater in 1990. In his esteemed career Kelly has also directed numerous productions for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas where he directed Richard III , as well as for theatres in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. He recently directed You Never Can Tell at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. He served as Artistic Director for the Dallas’ Stage #1, a highly influential institution that, in the early 1980’s, championed new American writing in Texas.
Undermain Theatre’s 2011/2012 Season
Ages of the Moon
by Sam Shepard
October 15 th – November 12 th , with $10 preview performances October 12 th , 13 th & 14 th .
Time in Kafka
by Len Jenkin
February 18th – March 17 th with $10 preview performances Feb. 15 th , 16 th & 17th
The Birthday Party
by Harold Pinter
May 5 th – June 2 nd with $10 preview performances May 2 nd , 3 rd and 4 th
performances are Wednesdays-Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Fridays-Saturdays at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are Wednesday & Thursdays $15, Fridays $20, and Saturdays $25. Undermain is located at 3200 Main Street at Murray Street in Deep Ellum. Discounts are available for seniors, students, KERA members and groups. Call 214.747.5515 or visit www.undermain.org