FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE &
contact: Dawn Flood firstname.lastname@example.org Please see release for all appropriate public
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE & BROADCAST
Press contact: Dawn Flood
Please see release for all appropriate public information
It’s The Real Thing at The Western Stage in September
If playwright Tom Stoppard has a hobby, it is virtually certain that it has something to do with puzzles.
From the beginning of his career with the now classic Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to more contemporary plays like The Invention of Love, Stoppard has produced an entire canon of literary puzzles that have engaged and delighted theatre audiences for over four decades.
No more is his love of puzzles more apparent then in his 1982 play The Real Thing, which plays in The Western Stage’s intimate Studio Theater September 15th through October 8th. Employing the same game play that has become a hallmark of his stage craft, Stoppard constructs a theatrical puzzle about one of humanity’s most puzzling topics: the nature of love.
At the center of the play is Henry, a clever if somewhat emotionally distant playwright apparently modeled on Stoppard himself. When Henry engages in an extramarital affair with Annie, the wife of the lead in his latest play, his already tenuous marriage collapses like a house of cards. Now beginning a new relationship with Annie, Henry finds himself confronting the same series of questions, traps, and shortcomings that sabotaged his first marriage. Is love a commitment or a perpetual negotiation? What is the delicate balance between complete ambivalence and pathetic jealousy? When is love real, and when is it just an illusion…or a game?
As if this was not enough material for a play, Stoppard also manages to throw in some commentary about politics and the craft of playwrighting into the intellectual juggling act that is his dramaturgical impulse.
By the early eighties, plays like Jumpers, Travesties, and Enter a Free Man had earned Stoppard more praise and accolades than any playwright of his generation. Yet, he was not without his critics. Some complained that his plays were actually no more than game play. Not only did they fail to address the political issues of the day, but they were also devoid of any truly personal issues. As a one time theatre critic himself who once claimed to have left his job in journalism to show people how to write a good play, Stoppard seems to have addressed these critiques head on with The Real Thing. (For more, read supplemental article.)
When Annie asks Henry to doctor (or rather ghost write) a television script for Brodie, a Scottish radical imprisoned for burning the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during an anti-nuclear proliferation rally, Stoppard opens up a venue to discuss his own ideas about the craft of playwriting through the juxtaposition of the seasoned playwright and the angry young radical with no formal training but a lot of passion. He also seems to hint at why writing a play with an overt political message is deadly to the playwright’s craft. While Brodie’s heavy handed teleplay sinks like a lead balloon, Henry’s rendering of the same play demonstrates that the key ingredient in good playwrighting is not a political message, but playfulness.
Of course, these are just a few of the pieces to the fascinatingly intricate puzzle Stoppard has constructed with The Real Thing, and which the cast will try to unravel under the direction of Jeff McGrath whose previous directorial credits at TWS include The Cripple of Inishmaan, Prelude to a Kiss, and Laughter on the 23rd Floor.
The Real Thing runs September 15th – October 8th. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at , and Sundays at Tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 Seniors/Juniors/Military and can be purchased by visiting westernstage.com or calling the TWS box office at 375-2111.
Don’t miss the other exciting productions TWS has on the boards for the latter half of its 2006 season. In October, Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn sails onto the MainStage followed by the riveting and still contemporary American classic Inherit the Wind in the Studio Theater. As tradition dictates, TWS will close its 2006 season in December with a holiday musical for the entire family: Oliver!
Dan Tarker Literary Associate