Tuesday, November 11, 2008


As seen in Playbill, The Weinstein company has acquired the film rights to Tracy Letts' Pulitzer, Tony, Jeff, Nobel, and American Dental Association winning play August: Osage County. Letts will write the script, no director or casting have been announced, and release is planned for 2011.

So what do we think? Will a movie version work? I hope they will resist the temptation to open it up too much, adding too many extra characters and outside scenes. With 13 characters, the play is already pretty expansive, and there is plenty of room inside the house for it to stay visually varied. We shall see. (I have similar worries about how John Patrick Shanley opened up Doubt for the upcoming movie--we'll see how well it works.)

Any ideas for a director? In terms of familiarity with large casts, complex plots, and fascinating language, my first two thoughts are Jonathan Demme (whose recent Rachel Getting Married is apparently a brilliant ensemble drama) and Stephen Frears, who can do anything, and is usually superb. If she has any interest, it would be great if original stage director Anna D. Shapiro were approached, but I don't know if they'd give such a big movie to someone who hadn't made one before.

What about casting? In an ideal world, of course, I'd love to see the entire original cast reunited (except maybe for the character of Jean, as someone who's 15 in 2008 is 18 in 2011, which is a significant difference). However, I'm not sure that could fly. It might take stars to get this thing made. The only adaptation of a play recently that  kept the original cast was The History Boys, and that was not widely seen in the US. Then again, Proof had Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins and still sank without a trace, so stars are hardly a guarantee.

But if we do need stars, who? I'm often good at fantasy casting, but I have to admit my mental well is dry at the moment. Anyone thinking of actors who would be perfect for these parts? Comment!

Playbill is also reporting that the upcoming Roundabout revival of Hedda Gabler has been cast. In addition to the previously announced Mary-Louise Parker as Hedda, interesting names include Michael Cerveris as Tesman (It's a surprisingly nebbishy role for an actor who's usually so volcanic, and I'm not sure how it will work.) and Peter Stormare as Judge Brack. (An actual Scandinavian in the role, though he's Swedish rather than Norwegian.) Hedda Gabler is one of my favorite plays, but I have to ask if New York really needs another one. Broadway saw a superb production in 2001-02, with Kate Burton in the title role (which I saw) and more recently there was Ivo Van Hove's highly controversial Off-Broadway production at New York Theatre Workshop with Elizabeth Marvel dousing herself in tomato juice. (I told you it was controversial.) So why a new one so soon? I am sure Christopher Shinn's new translation will be strong, and director Ian Rickson is riding high from his acclaimed production of The Seagull. And there is no doubt that Parker, especially with her role on TV's Weeds, is certain to sell tickets. But what's the urgency to do this play again? I think it's great that people are being exposed to it, but couldn't they at least have waited for it to be off Broadway for  10 years?

1 comment:

Mr. K said...

Yeah, when you think of all the Ibsen plays other than Doll's House and Hedda Gabler, it makes you wonder if those are the only two anyone has ever read.

But then again, considering how expensive it is to rent or own space in NYC, I guess it's no surprise that everyone wants to go with a more familiar show with a Hollywood name.

Yeesh. Of course, if the Times would cover theatre outside of an 8 block radius, maybe people would be willing to take risks.

Or maybe the people that take risks would finally get attention.