Westport Country Playhouse will stage the National Book Award-winning memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion, June 12 – 30, featuring noted actress Maureen Anderman as Didion. Directed by Nicholas Martin, the play is based on the author’s actual experience rebuilding her life during the year after her spouse’s death and her capacity to emerge strengthened from even the most shattering of life’s trials.
Maureen Anderman (Contributed photo)
“With unblinking honesty, Joan Didion faces the truth about existence and loss and the ability to go on,” said Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. “It has the word ‘thinking’ in the title, and I feel that’s a directive to the way we are meant to respond to the work. Sharing in its presence, clarity and illumination can prove exhilarating, useful and good.”
According to an excerpt from “Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking” which first appeared in the “The Daily Telegraph” in 2008, Didion noted, “I could see right away that writing a play could not be a simple matter of adapting the book: I had written the book, I had no interest in rewriting it, a play would need to go deeper, come from a new perspective, tell me what I did not know when I wrote the book.”
Didion’s other books include the recently published “Blue Nights,” as well as “Play It As It Lays,” “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” and “The White Album.” With her husband, John Gregory Dunne, she wrote the screenplays for such films as “The Panic in Needle Park” with Al Pacino, “True Confessions” with Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall, “A Star Is Born” with Barbra Streisand and “Up Close & Personal” with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which awarded her its 2005 Gold Medal in nonfiction. She also received the 1996 Edward MacDowell Medal, the 1999 Columbia Journalism Award and the 2002 George Polk Book Award.
Maureen Anderman, who will play Didion, appeared at Westport Country Playhouse in “Later Life” and “After-Play.” She just completed a world tour of the Bridge Project’s “Richard III” with Kevin Spacey, directed by Sam Mendes. Her numerous Broadway credits include “Driving Miss Daisy,” “The Year of Magical Thinking,” “Seascape,” “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “The Lady From Dubuque,” “Benefactors,” “Social Security,” “You Can't Take It With You,” “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln,” “Hamlet” and “Macbeth” (both for Lincoln Center Theater), “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” “A History of American Film,” and “Moonchildren.” Off-Broadway she appeared in “Passion Play,” “Later Life,” “Ancestral Voices,” and “The Waverly Gallery.” Regionally, she has worked at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Huntington Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, The Old Globe, and Guthrie Theater. Ms. Anderman's film and television credits include “Jesus, Maria”; “Final”; “Man, Woman, and Child”; “The Seduction of Joe Tynan”; "Law & Order: Criminal Intent”; "Homicide”; "One Life to Live”; and recurring roles on "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" and "The Equalizer." She has been honored with IRNE, Drama Desk, and Tony Award nominations, and has received a Theatre World Award and Connecticut Critics Circle Award. A Weston, Connecticut, resident, she was recently honored for her work in theater with a Westport Arts Award.
Director Nicholas Martin previously directed Westport Country Playhouse’s “The Circle,” “A Cheever Evening,” and “The Substance of Fire.” On Broadway, he directed “Present Laughter,” “Butley,” “Match,” “Hedda Gabler,” “The Rehearsal,” and “You Never Can Tell.” He is the former artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival and Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company. Martin will be the guest speaker at a Sunday Symposium on Sunday, June 17, following the 3 p.m. matinee performance. He will discuss the play with David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director.
The design and production team includes Alexander Dodge (Westport Country Playhouse’s “The Circle” and “The Archbishop’s Ceiling,” Broadway’s “Present Laughter,” for which he received a 2010 Tony Award nomination), set design; Philip S. Rosenberg (Westport Country Playhouse’s “The Circle” and “I Do! I Do!”), lighting design; Drew Levy (Westport Country Playhouse’s “The Circle,” Broadway’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Present Laughter”), sound design; Matthew Melchiorre, stage manager; and Anne Keefe, assistant stage manager.
The performance schedule is Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Special series feature Taste of Tuesday, Previews, LGBT Night OUT, Opening Night, Thursday TalkBack, Sunday Symposium, and Backstage Pass. With this production, the Playhouse will launch a new Literary Salon, “Books Worth Talking About,” a pre-show discussion with a prominent author, on Wednesday, June 13, 6:30 p.m. In addition, the Playhouse will offer an open-captioned performance on Sunday, June 24, 3 p.m., for the hearing impaired.
Subscriptions are available (seasonal 4-Play, Pick 3 Plans and FlexTix) offering up to 40% off single tickets. Single ticket prices, starting at $30, are subject to change based on availability. Buy early for the best prices.
“The Year of Magical Thinking” Production Sponsor is the Judy Point Charitable Trust.
For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse) or get an insider’s peek on The Playhouse Blog (www.theplayhouseblog.org).
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