Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Christopher Ashley, artistic director at La Jolla Playhouse.
Two plays currently being staged by La Jolla Playhouse may both be set in the past, but the themes and issues are contemporary.
American playwright David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, "Glengarry Glen Ross" focuses on the drama that unfolds between four desperate realtors pitted against each other in a brutal, no holds barred sales contest. Set in 1983 during the real estate crash, the challenges the sales-thirsty characters face in a down housing market parallel today's economic recession.
Mamet is known for his sharp, raw dialogue, often referred to as "Mamet speak." And language, especially cursing, plays a central role in “Glengarry Glen Ross," which director Christopher Ashley (also Playhouse artistic director) first saw on Broadway as a college student in the '80s. "I was blown away. It was my first exposure to Mamet," said Ashley in a video interview on the Playhouse's website (also posted below). "I love his language, I love how muscular it is, how fragmented it is. It explores the way that people communicate and don’t."
Another Playhouse production isn't being performed in the theater, but rather in a bar. “Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir," part cabaret show and part one-man play, transports the audience to Greenwich Village, 1958 even though it's performed in Hillcrest's Martinis Above Fourth.
Sam Bendrix, played by Luke Macfarlane (ABC's "Brothers and Sisters"), is a former bartender turned singer who gets a shot on the Bon Soir stage for one final performance before leaving New York City for good. Bendrix is gay, and tells the heartbreaking tale of love in the days before the Stonewall riots. Jazz standards like Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," are woven into the storytelling.
The play is the third production in the Playhouse's ongoing "Without Walls" series, which is dedicated to performing works in site-specific locations throughout San Diego. Previous productions included "Susurrus" at the San Diego Botanic Garden and "The Car Plays: San Diego," which staged short plays inside cars.
Buzz continues around the Playhouse's "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," the upcoming world-premiere musical inspired by eclectic rockers The Flaming Lips' album of the same name. Des McAnuff (former Playhouse artistic director) returns to La Jolla to direct, working with the band’s lead singer Wayne Coyne. Previews begin November 6 at the Playhouse. (Learn more about the production.)