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Old Globe's 2013-14 Season Lineup Unveiled

April 29, 2013 1:54 p.m.

Barry Edelstein, Artistic Director, The Old Globe

Related Story: Old Globe's 2013-14 Season Lineup Unveiled

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The Old Globe is out with its midseason lineup, it's diverse, ambitious, it's also the first season programmed by the Globe's new Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. Barry's worked in New York most recently as the head of the Shakespeare Initiative at New York City's Public Theater we can see that popping up in the light of the (inaudible) and Barry Edelstein, thanks so much for joining me.

BARRY EDELSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now there is a new musical, hit comedy, dramas, up-and-coming playwrights and more in a season. Did you try to establish any kind of overall themes are connections between the works.

BARRY EDELSTEIN: What I wanted to do most of was acknowledge the history of the globe and its role as the biggest performing arts organization in San Diego. We are the second largest theater in San Diego, California. The sixth-largest in the United States of America, and we have a mandate to serve a very broad community, which means a very diverse repertoire. We need staff that is funny, witty stuff that is serious, needs to this classic. We need stuff that is because we serve over a quarter of 1 million San Diego annually, and people have a wide case, people interested in a wide variety of things and it's role of the state cultural institution to try to serve a banquet that is as wide as possible.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So as part of your selection, going back and maybe checking out what it was is it that (inaudible) liked in the past of the globe?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: In some cases, yes. I've been here about four months. Obviously I've known about it from New York for many years it's one of the many theaters in the nation even as far away as New York one is aware of what the Globe is up to, so of course it's got a reputation as one of the greatest Shakespeare producers in America and my own background is very rich in Shakespeare so I wanted to include that in the program. The globe has one of the great costume shops in the US. It is legendary for the sensuousness and beauty of the physical production. So I wanted there to be at least one set of custom classic that would really show off the production strengths of the organization and also present a great play at the same time. And globe as a glowing reputation of an incubator of new plays that going to lives around the country so in the smaller theater, the white hitter I decided that I would try to really push forward, kind of play writing that we are presenting all four of the pieces. One is a musical, one is the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, one is a world premiere and three of the four are written by American playwrights under 30 so I thought I would just try and not just accentuate the theater's reputation as an incubator of writing but also try and push it forward a little bit.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's talk a little bit about there some actual Shakespeare play a lineup. Let's talk about the one that has Shakespearean roots. It's a modern take on Romeo and Juliet. Tell us about the last goodbye.

BARRY EDELSTEIN: Our season will open with a musical called the last good bye which is Romeo and Juliet, but incorporating the music of just Jeff Buckley, who of course is the great rock icon of the 90s. Who sadly died young. Tragically, in a swimming accident. Joining the pantheon of rock musicians whose contribution is cut prematurely short. The extraordinary thing about his music is that it is incredibly lushly emotional. And, driven by the kind of passions of youth. So the adapter of the last by a guy by the name of Michael Kimmel struck a extraordinary idea that this Jeff Buckley music is kind of the inner life of the young characters in the play. If Romeo and Juliet had an iPod, what would be on it, and what would be on it would be Jeff Buckley music. So as you're walking Romeo Juliet people fighting with swords and doing all that stuff but occasionally someone will blow out into song and it's this sort of incendiary driving phenomenally passionate rock music of Jeff Buckley.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I was reading about this so I could not quite make it out. Is this a world premiere?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: This is a show that had a production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts but directed by someone different. After the production the creative team made a change and have put the show in my hands of Alex Timbers. Alex Timbers was just announced today he's going to be on the musical version of Rocky, of all things, to Broadway next year. He just opened a David Byrne piece in New York is about to have another Shakespeare musical. He is without a doubt the hottest guy in American theater at the moment. He directed Peter and the Star Catchers, Bloody, bloody Andrew Jackson, extraordinary young guy when he came on board to this project. He sort of did in a completely different direction and injected a brand-new kind of energy. While it is technically not a world premiere the version that's going to appear at the Globe in the fall, it will be a brand-new iteration of this piece.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Then there is a Winter's tale Shakespeare coming back inside the Old Globe, Shakespeare's been performed outside during the summer series at the Globe for number of years now, why did you choose to bring Shakespeare back indoors?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: Well, back in the day the Globe used to do Shakespeare indoors all the time and the thing I found in the few months I've been in San Diego is there is an incredible audience for classical theater in this town. Great audience for musicals of course because the Globe and the La Jolla Playhouse do important work in American musicals but there's a huge classical theater audience here and I wanted to give them something that they may really enjoy, and my own life has been so deeply involved in Shakespeare and the winter's tale has always been my favorite that I thought well maybe that's the one I should kick off with.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Why is it your favorite?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: The winter's tale comes up at the end of Shakespeare's career and I feel that everything he was doing up until that point Winters tale specifically, he, I believe from the very beginning of his career because I have to be careful once again be talking about Shakespeare, you will have a hard time shutting me up, but I believe that everything he was doing since the beginning of his career had a lot to do with this idea that comes up powerfully in the Winters tale of wonder, of the miraculous, and try to understand things about the way people go about living their lives and making choices in relationship with forces that are larger than we are, nature, God or some sort of divine power, time, big huge spiritual ideas that impact our everyday human lives. And that I think is his abiding subject over the course of his many decade career. And in the Winters tale. Everything that he had been exploring, every angle on the question sort of comes together. It is a story about a guy who makes a dreadful terrible mistake that leads him to act out an incredibly violent ways that end up killing people into changing the course of his country's life and by the end of the play he gets a second chance. And that is so beautiful and so wonderful. He comes to understand the very simple things like the fact that it is springtime flowers bloom is magical in redeeming.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's move on to something completely different. You landed a very hot property, Sonia Sonia Masha and Spike, which is currently a hit on Broadway's comedy. Tell the listeners about this one.

BARRY EDELSTEIN: I told you you'd have a hard time getting me stopped talking about Shakespeare.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I wish you could go on.

BARRY EDELSTEIN: You'll have another type so this is the newest play by Christopher Durang the greatest playwright living in the US it's not properly instructed by guiding Nicholas Martin is an associate artist of the Globe at last season directed Pygmalion at the Globe, which was a big success. He's also not friend. So when he was here to Pygmalion. I said you are about to go do fun use on you Marsha Spike on Broadway or two we had been hit off Broadway, aren't you he said yes I am, I said Amy, and doing here if you would and happily that has worked out.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You have a lot of strong relationships in the theater world as you say you work for a long time in New York he must feel pretty good to tap into the network in a leadership role that you are in now.

BARRY EDELSTEIN: More than that it's kind of humbling in a funny way to think about this incredibly talented people are within a phone call from my desk at the Globe. Also, the exciting thing about it is they all want to come here and work. Not simply because I think the Globe is so excellent but San Diego is a very nice place to spend some time. So there is no one that I called said no I don't want to do that and it's been very rewarding.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The new season also features Pulitzer Prize winner, Water by the spoonful. This comes from a Latina playwright tell us who she is.

BARRY EDELSTEIN: This is Quiara Alegria Hudes. Hudes was a Pulitzer finalist here before for the book of the musical In The Heights. She has written a trilogy. It is about a character named Elliott, who is in Iraq that the returns to Philadelphia at the end of the Iraq war and struggles to reintegrate himself into American society. There are three plays. The first was likely produce a second one water by the spoonful. But the Pulitzer. The third one is about to premiere in Chicago and they tell an incredible story about contemporary American life particularly about military families and what this war has meant to them but also about how contemporary Americans are dealing with all the huge changes that have happened in our country the last 10 years.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How important is it to you to bring these new playwrights to the Old Globe?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: I think some of the central jobs of the Old Globe as the biggest these are institution in San Diego. We have an obligation to produce San Diego audiences. The most interesting work that's happening not just in New York, but around the country.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: there is a new, the end of this one is a world premiere is called the few.

BARRY EDELSTEIN: The few is a Play by granting Samuel Hunter he wrote a play called the whale that generated enormous amount of attention was just produced at South Coast rep, up the street. He's a writer, I think he's 31 or 32 from northern Idaho and he writes these place about quiet American life of the kind that are usually placed center stage. And, how regular people in this country, living their lives. Shakespeare writes about kings and potentates, but Samuel Hunter writes about just regular folks and how they are trying to get along. It's very sweet story about a woman who runs a newsletter in northern Idaho and she gets it going by placing personal ads from long-haul truckers. So she has all these lonely hearts that are passing through on the interstate that are trying to find love. Yet her own love life is a complete mess.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, which of these plays that you have picked in this new season for the Old Globe would you say are examples of perhaps a riskier plays that you'd like to see the Old Globe stage?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: I think all of them are incredibly sort of forward-looking in terms of their talent, and particularly the way that all the place are trying to say that the theater has a sacred obligation to talk about the world that we live in now. I think that water by the spoonful is very interesting from a formal point of view. It's got two separate plots that are moving at the same time. That seemed for most of the night you're watching the dealer to have nothing to do together and that they slowly kind of overlap. I think the musical that we haven't talked about dog and pony, that's a risky venture inasmuch is the world premiere of the musical is always extraordinarily risky. Is it going to work, is it not going to work?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How much attention, how much of the resources of the Old Globe does that tax when you have a big production like that, coming in?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: Those are heavy lifts for the Globe on the other hand that's part of what we're trying to do. The thing about dog and pony is that Scott has incredible credentials. He directed Jersey boys, directed Peter and the star catcher the music is by Michael Patrick Walker, he wrote a long running play called altar boys being directed by Roger Rees is one of the great actor, director figures that the theater has produced in the last 25 years, so it's got great sort of pedigree going into it. On the other hand, musicals are the most updated and difficult things that theater can produce because you've got people on stage, people in a pit, you've got dance going on, not to mention all the scenic and costume things that happened. So, there are become gated things, but the Globe has had such a distinguished track record developing musicals that go on to lives not just on Broadway but around the United States that I thought it was crucial to include that in the season.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, when you are programming and deciding which plays you're going to bring in, is it part of what you think about trying to draw in a star performer or someone with name recognition?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: Couldn't hurt. If I could do that that would be nice.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You can take the guy out of Brooklyn...

BARRY EDELSTEIN: Yeah, I hope that the next set of phone calls that they start to make will be the actors. One never knows. Scott dated to do that. People have family lives and other complicated things going on. But certainly, we will try. You know I think one of the other great things about having the size of audience that the Globe has a set of the years the audience has come to really respond to the work itself. When possible, if some star shows up that's very exciting and galvanizing thing but I think this is an audience response to the theater in San Diego that doesn't need the kind of bait of a big star in order to come out.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And finally what kind of reaction have you got so far from the new season?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: It seems that people are quite excited and that gratifies me enormously. I've received a lot of e-mails and telephone calls from friends around the country and everywhere I've been in San Diego since the season was announced, people have been congratulating and telling me how excited they are, so

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are not able to talk about all the plays, but if people want to find out more, where should they go?

BARRY EDELSTEIN: Come to our website which is www.theoldglobe.org which I really hope I got right since I'm so new in town, but I think that is right.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And the new season begins September 20 with the last goodbye the musical that we started the conversation with. I've been speaking with Barry Edelstein, artistic director of the Old Globe. Thank you so much.

BARRY EDELSTEIN: Thank you for having me.