The New Group presents the world premiere of An Early History of Fire, a new play by Tony Award-winning playwright David Rabe. Directed by Jo Bonney, this production features Gordon Clapp, Erin Darke, Jonny Orsini, Devin Ratray, Dennis Staroselsky, Theo Stockman and Claire van der Boom. Limited Off-Broadway engagement is slated April 5 - May 26 at The New Group @ Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street). The official Opening Night was Monday, April 30 at 7:00 PM. Check out the opening night party photos below featuing Meryle Streep and all the cast at B-Smith's.
An Early History of Fire is set in a small Midwestern town at the tipping point of the early 1960s. A few years out of high school, Danny finds his days defined by friendship and loyalty - but a confusing new world encroaches in the form of Karen, back from college in the East, alluring and unsettling because of all she has learned. Awhirl in longing and eyeing a chance for radical change, Danny struggles against the grip of his immigrant father, who clings to his only son while mourning a vanished world of lost prestige. Poignant in its portrayal of the loss of America's innocence, this world premiere marks David Rabe's return to The New Group, following the company's acclaimed 2005 revival of Hurlyburly.
An Early History of Fire features Gordon Clapp ("Pop," B'way: Glengarry Glen Ross -Tony® nom.; at The New Group: Blood From A Stone; Film: Flags of Our Fathers, Sunshine State, The Game Plan; TV: "NYPD Blue,"-Emmy Award, "CSI," "Monk," "Without A Trace," "Deadwood," "Damages"), Erin Darke ("Shirley," Theater: Summer Shorts Festival/59E59; Film: We Need to Talk about Kevin; TV: "Pan Am"), Jonny Orsini ("Terry," Off-B'way: Be a Good Little Widow/Ars Nova; Film: Cigarette Candy), Devin Ratray ("Benji," at The New Group: Marie and Bruce; Film: Home Alone and Home Alone 2, Dennis the Menace, Little Monsters; TV: "Law & Order" series, "Supernatural," "Third Watch," "New York Undercover"), Dennis Staroselsky ("Jake," Theater: Back, Back, Back/Dallas Theater Center, The Mambo Kings/Golden Gate Theater, Biloxi Blues/Geva Theater Center, Dead End/Huntington Theatre Co.; TV: "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "Nurse Jackie"), Theo Stockman (B'way: American Idiot, Hair; TV: "Blue Bloods," "Private Practice," "CSI," "30 Rock") as "Danny" and Claire van der Boom (Film: Red Hill; TV: "Hawaii Five-O," "City Homicide") as "Karen."
David Rabe's first play in New York in 1971 was The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel. This was followed by Sticks and Bones, The Orphan, In the Boom Boom Room and Streamers, all produced by Joseph Papp. Hurlyburly came later, as did Those the River Keeps, A Question of Mercy, The Dog Problem and The Black Monk adapted from Chekhov. In recent years he has devoted his time more to fiction as he pursued a course begun with the novel Recital of the Dog. Since 2005 he has published A Primitive Heart, a book of stories, and two novels, Dinosaurs on the Roof and Girl by the Road at Night. A fourth novel was completed not long ago, along with several plays. Among his awards are the Drama Desk, NY Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics, Obie, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Tony and three Hull-Warriner Awards.
Jo Bonney's directorial credits include: Lynn Nottage's By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Second Stage); Break of Noon (MCC); Culture Clash's American Night (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Darci Picoult's Lil's 90th (Long Wharf Theatre); Suzan-Lori Parks' Father Comes Home from the War (Public Theatre Lab); Naomi Wallace's The Hard Weather Boating Party (The Humana Festival) and Fever Chart (Public Theatre Lab); Michael Weller's Beast (New York Theatre Workshop); Alan Ball's All that I Will Ever Be (NYTW); Eric Bogosian's subUrbia; Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play and Lisa Loomer's Living Out (Second Stage); Will Power's The Seven (NYTW & La Jolla Playhouse - Lortel Best Musical); Neil LaBute's Fat Pig (MCC & Geffen Playhouse); Some Girl(s) (MCC); Carol Churchill's Top Girls (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Christopher Shinn's On the Mountain (Playwrights Horizons); Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics (Arena Stage); Universes' Slanguage (NYTW/ Mark Taper Forum); Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July (Signature Theatre - Lortel Best Revival); Jose Rivera's Adoration of the Old Woman (La Jolla Playhouse) and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot (The Public Theater); Diana Son's Stop Kiss and Anna Deavere Smith's House Arrest (The Public Theater); Jessica Goldberg's Good Thing (The New Group); John Osborne's Look Back in Anger (CSC,NY); Danny Hoch's Some People and Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop (USA/Britain); Dael Orlandersmith's Stoop Stories (Studio Theatre, Washington & The Goodman Theatre); numerous solos: Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll; Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead by Eric Bogosian (USA/Britain). Recipient of a 1998 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Direction and editor of Extreme Exposure: An Anthology of Solo Performance Texts from the Twentieth Century (TCG).
An Early History of Fire features Set Design by Neil Patel (B'way: Oleanna, Sideman, ‘Night Mother, Wonderland, Ring of Fire; Off-B'way: By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, This Beautiful City, others), Lighting Design by Lap Chi Chu (The Good Negro - Lortel nom. and Father Comes Home From the War both at The Public Theater; Wildflower/Second Stage), Costume Design by Theresa Squire (B'way: The Lieutenant of Inishmore, High Fidelity; at The New Group: Blood From A Stone, Rafta, Rafta..., The Accomplices; other Off-B'way: Orson's Shadow, more) and Sound Design by Ken Travis (B'way: Memphis, The Threepenny Opera, Barefoot in the Park, Steel Magnolias; at The New Group: The Kid, Two Thousand Years, Abigail's Party, Hurlyburly, more). Dialect Coach is Doug Paulson and Fight Director is David Anzuelo.
The New Group (Scott Elliott, Artistic Director; Geoff Rich, Executive Director) launched its 2011-12 Season with Thomas Bradshaw's Burning and is currently represented Off-Broadway by the extended run of Erika Sheffer's Russian Transport (both directed by Scott Elliott). Last season, the company presented Tommy Nohilly's Blood From A Stone featuring Ethan Hawke (Obie winner), the revival of Wallace Shawn's Marie and Bruce starring Marisa Tomei and Frank Whaley, and One Arm (co-production with Tectonic Theater Project) based on an unproduced screenplay by Tennessee Williams, adapted for the stage and directed by Moisés Kaufman. In 2009-10, The New Group presented the extended run of Kenneth Lonergan's The Starry Messenger featuring Matthew Broderick, the sold-out revival of Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind directed by Ethan Hawke, and the world premiere of the new musical The Kid. Other productions include Ian Bruce's Groundswell, Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra, Ayub Khan-Din's Rafta, Rafta..., Jonathan Marc Sherman's Things We Want, Jay Presson Allen's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Bernard Weinraub's The Accomplices. Additional standouts include David Rabe's Hurlyburly, Mike Leigh's Two Thousand Years, Abigail's Party, Smelling a Rat, Goose-Pimples and Ecstasy, Wallace Shawn's The Fever and Aunt Dan and Lemon, Kenneth Lonergan's This is Our Youth and Kevin Elyot's Mouth to Mouth and My Night With Reg. The New Group is a recipient of the 2004 Tony® Award for Best Musical (Avenue Q). The New Group and Artistic Director Scott Elliott were honored with a Special 2010-11 Drama Desk Award "for presenting contemporary new voices, and for uncompromisingly raw and powerful productions."
An Early History of Fire plays at The New Group @ Theatre Row (The Acorn Theatre / 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Aves) as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at 7:00 PM and Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00 PM. Matinees Saturday at 2:00 PM. Tickets may be arranged through www.telecharge.com or (212) 239-6200, or at the Theatre Row Box Office (12-8 PM daily). Tickets are $60.00 plus $1.25 restoration fee. For more info, visit www.thenewgroup.org.
Photo Credit: Tracy Ketcher.
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