The Old Globe Theatre will present a world premiere translation of a Spanish classic, three plays still being reworked by their authors, and two Shakespearean classics in the company's 43rd annual summer festival.
The new translation, "Spite for Spite," commissioned from actor Dakin Matthews, is a verse adaptation of "El Desden, Con El Desden" a Golden Age of Spain classic written in 1654 by Augustin Moreto.
While "El Desden, Con El Desden" was adapted by Moliere as "La Princesse d'Elide," it has never before been translated into English for a U.S. production.
The six-play season includes "Breaking Up" by Michael Cristofer, who won a Tony and Pulitzer for his 1977 play, "The Shadow Box," "Interior Decoration," by New Yorker cartoonist William Hamilton and "Lost Highway: The Music and Legend of Hank Williams" by Randal Myler and Mark Harelik.
The Shakespeare plays are "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and "The Winter's Tale."
The Cristofer and Hamilton plays have only been produced once before. "Breaking Up" was directed in Teaneck, N.J., in 1990 by "Forever Plaid" creator and director Stuart Ross (who will direct the San Diego production). The Magic Theatre in San Francisco produced "Interior Decoration" in 1988.
The Myler/Harelik play has been produced across the country (although not in New York) since it debuted in 1979 at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria as "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight: The Songs and Legend of Hank Williams." The show was presented at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum under its current title as recently as 1988, but the team came to the Old Globe with the understanding that they are still reshaping the work, according to Old Globe artistic director Jack O'Brien.
O'Brien compared this season to that of the Second Stage, a company in New York that has built its reputation on giving plays their second, rather than first productions.
"Sometimes we put too much value on a show's being brand new," O'Brien said. "I've often lamented that when I've opened up world premieres here, especially comedies, they're forced to play critically on their fifth performance (after four preview performances). That's asking an enormous amount of the play and even of the actors because a play can only be worked in front of an audience. Particularly if it's a play with laughs.
"You must never forget that playwrighting is spelled play WRIGHTING . And that a playwright, like a boatwright, is someone who crafts things. A playwright is not a scribe, he's a carpenter. So you've got to bang those plays around a little bit before they're in perfect alignment."
"These are plays we feel are imperative for us," O'Brien said. "They have value for us and we feel they are very affecting for our audience. I'm not trying to get world premieres, I'm trying to reach the community."
The shows will be presented in the company's outdoor 612-seat Lowell Davies Festival Stage, the 225-seat Cassius Carter Centre Stage and the 581-seat Old Globe mainstage.
The season opens with "Two Gentlemen of Verona" July 1-Aug. 9 at the Lowell Davies with a director to be announced. The San Diego premiere of "Lost Highway: The Music and Legend of Hank Williams" follows in the Davies Aug. 28-Oct. 4. "Lost Highway," which features more than 20 country-western songs by Williams, will be directed by author Myler, while his co-author, Harelik, will star as the singer. Harelik, who starred in the La Jolla Playhouse's "Elmer Gantry" last summer last appeared at the Old Globe in "Kiss Me, Kate" in 1984.
The Cassius Carter Centre Stage will open with the West Coast premiere of Cristofer's two-hander, "Breaking Up," July 8-Aug. 23. Director Ross said on the phone from Los Angeles where he was readying a production of "Forever Plaid" for the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills, that he brought the show to the Globe because he felt "It deserved another life."
"It's 14 intense scenes about a couple that has a very bad relationship and are even worse about breaking up."
Ross said that despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the play is not as different from "Forever Plaid" as one might think.
"It's about 90 minutes and there's no intermission, so on that level it's similar," he noted with a laugh. "The other thing that's not so different is that it's intensely funny and a little painful, but also touching and by the end of the show we have a heartwarming feeling for these people and what they're going through."
Matthew Modine, whom Ross praised as "brilliant," starred in the New Jersey production, but casting has not yet been set here. Playwright Cristofer is currently playing Claudius in "Hamlet" at Broadway's Roundabout Theatre in New York.
"Spite for Spite" follows in the Cassius Carter Sept. 9-Oct. 25. Old Globe executive producer Craig Noel will direct. The play, first brought to O'Brien's attention several years ago in a conversation aboard a plane with New York theater critic John Simon, is about a woman pursued by three suitors, one of whom conspires to win her through an elaborate pretense.
The mainstage season opens with "Interior Decoration," July 12-Aug. 23, under the direction of John Tillinger. The play is about a successful woman determined to get pregnant but not married and the man she selects to do the deed, with complications ensuing from a second couple that is decorating the woman's apartment.
The Globe presented the play last fall as part of its Play Discovery Series with veteran Globe actors Dakin Matthews, Kandis Chappell, Deborah May and George Deloy--all of whom would be welcomed back for the full production if they are available, O'Brien said.
The season concludes Sept. 13-Oct. 25 on the mainstage with "The Winter's Tale," to be directed by O'Brien. O'Brien called the show, last produced by the company in 1978, a work that has been "haunting" him.
"I love the miracle plays, the romances. We're a culture deeply in need of miracles," he said.