'Independence' Gets a Gnu Production

It's baaaaack.

The Gnu production of Lee Blessing's "Independence" opens Thursday at the North Hollywood theater, nine months after its scheduled opening last year--with the original cast intact.

Last May, a squabble with Dramatists' Play Service and Jon Gottlieb, producer of another staging at the Burbank Theatre Guild, over the rights to the play resulted in a court injunction that prevented Gnu producer/director Jeff Seymour from opening his production until three weeks after the authorized Burbank run had ended.

"I could've done it then, but I decided to wait," Seymour noted. "One girl wasn't sure she could do it. And I just wanted to slow down, put the ill feelings behind us, start the new year fresh."

Although Gottlieb had to file suit to obtain the temporary restraining order in this rancorous dispute last April, Seymour now claims, "The deposit's in, the contract's signed, sealed, delivered."

The object of all this fuss is a four-character drama set in Independence, Iowa, on a young woman's bid to free herself from her mother.

"The father is long gone, the mother's been in and out of mental hospitals," explained Seymour. "The oldest daughter has moved to Minneapolis; the youngest is 19, still in high school. So taking care of the family really falls on the shoulders of the 25-year-old (played by Sachi Parker), who's also struggling to gain independence for herself. It's about at what price we dedicate ourselves to our parents, and where does that obligation end. It also means working with (an all-women cast), which I like."

THEATER BITS: Piper Laurie appears in a one-woman show about Zelda Fitzgerald, "The Last Flapper," at the Wilshire Ebell, Saturday, in a benefit for the L.A. Commission on Assaults Against Women. . . . "And the Soul Shall Dance," Wakako Yamauchi's award-winning play about Japanese-American immigrants in California's Imperial Valley at the end of the Depression, will have a final performance, today at 8 p.m. at CalArts' Theatre 2 in Valencia. This is a production of New York's Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre. Admission is free, first-come, first served. Information: (805) 253-7800.

The Taper's Improvisational Theatre Project school-touring production of Peter Mattei's "Freedom Song" will make public appearances at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, April 5-6; Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, April 11; Cal State Los Angeles, April 13-21; and UCLA's Wadsworth Theatre, April 26-27.

Also on the youth front: the Santa Monica Playhouse's production of "Dear Gabby: Confessions of an Overachiever" is on the move again. The teen drama, created by SMP's Young Professionals Company, toured Quebec, Japan and England in 1989. Following a March 11-15 appearance at the AATE Youth Conference in New York, the company (plus chaperones and staff) will travel to Leningrad, Moscow, and Stockholm--where they will perform in English, Russian and Swedish.

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