The Hairy Ape follows the saga of Yank, a maritime laborer who questions his place in society when branded as "a filthy beast" by the rich daughter of a steel industrialist. In a series of eight scenes, O'Neill chronicles Yank's struggle with "the human condition," caught somewhere between his own primitive nature and the more intellectually based-and emotionally vacant-upper classes. Rejected by the bourgeois of Fifth Avenue as well as his fellow workers, Yank finally seeks solace from the only creature with whom he finds kinship: an ape in the Central Park Zoo. The Provincetown Players premiered The Hairy Ape, O'Neill's sixth play, in March 1922 under the direction of frequent O'Neill collaborator Robert Edmond Jones. That production, featuring Louis Wolheim's powerful performance as Yank, moved that April to Broadway's Plymouth Theatre. In 1944, a film version of the play featured William Bendix and in the ensuing decades the play has received dozens of notable revivals around the country; perhaps the most celebrated of these was The Wooster Group's 1996 production, featuring Willem Dafoe as Yank.
Founded by director Sean Graney in 1997, The Hypocrites Theatre Company has spent the last decade challenging the theatrical norms of Chicago. Inspired by various 20th century styles, The Hypocrites seek to break the emotional distance between artist and audience, inviting the spectators to become actively involved in the performance while questioning themselves and the world around them. The company initially staged classics of the absurdist and expressionist traditions, such as Beckett's Endgame, Büchner's Woyzeck and Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and their first major success came with their production of Sophie Treadwell's Machinal, which garnered critical raves and six Jeff Citations. Though such avant-garde works are not generally met with large audiences, the quality and integrity of the company's work quickly solidified The Hypocrites' place among the most adventurous of Chicago's off-Loop theaters. Most recently The Hypocrites staged a hit revival of Thornton Wilder's Our Town directed by David Cromer.
Sean Graney is the Artistic Director and Founder of The Hypocrites where he as directed such acclaimed productions as Miss Julie, Equus, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, Angels in America: Perestroika, and Death of a Salesman. Other directing credits include Edward II at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. He was born and raised in Boston and received his BFA in Theater and Writing from Emerson College. He won a Joseph Jefferson Citation and After Dark Award as Director of Machinal by Sophie Treadwell and several of his theatrical adaptations have been nominated for Joseph Jefferson Awards. Mr. Graney has been cited by Chicago magazine as "Chicago's best avant-garde director," named Chicagoan of the Year in Theater by Chicago Tribune and was recently selected for participation in the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Development Program for Directors.
By Eugene O'Neill
Directed by Greg Allen
March 3-6, 2008
The design team for Strange Interlude will be announced at a later date.
Strange Interlude is Eugene O'Neill's rarely-revived, Pulitzer Prize-winning epic story of Nina Leeds and her three lovers-and the lengths she will go to keep them in her life and under her control. Using extensive asides in which characters reveal their inner thoughts, the play unfolds over 25 years of time, spanning nine acts and five-and-a-half hours in length. It was an immediate sensation when it premiered on Broadway in 1928; running for 426 then-unprecedented performances, it quickly became an object of admiration and satire among the theatergoing elite. The play's unconventional approach to character revelation, its influence by the theories of Freud and Jung, and unusual length all contributed to its overwhelming popular success-as did its controversial nature. Banned in Boston in 1929 for being, according to Mayor Malcolm Nichols, "a plea for the murder of unborn children, a breeding ground for atheism and domestic infidelity, and a disgusting spectacle of immorality," the production was brought to nearby Quincy where it attracted scores of audiences eager to view "the spectacle." Strange Interlude remains one of O'Neill's most distinctive, iconic achievements.
Founded by Greg Allen, The Neo-Futurists is a collective of writer/director/performers whose unique experimental style is inspired by the dynamism of the Italian futurists; the dadaist joy of randomness; surrealist thrill of the unconscious; and the social consciousness and redefining of audience/performer relationships that marked the theatrical experiments of the 1960s. Their signature production, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, which opened in 1988, is written and performed by an eight-member ensemble. Billed as "an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes," Too Much Light...is performed every week in their North Side home, the Neo-Futurarium. Through the success of Too Much Light...and a variety of other works and having performed extensively nationally and internationally, The Neo-Futurists have become one of the most highly regarded experimental theater companies in America.
Greg Allen is the Founding Director of The Neo-Futurists and creator of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. He has written, directed, and performed more than 500 original plays for Too Much Light... in its continuous run since it opened December 2, 1988. He has also written and/or directed twenty full-length productions for The Neo-Futurists for their prime-time seasons including K., his adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Trial, which won the 1996 After Dark Award for Outstanding New Work, and the 1997 Best Director Award at the New York International Fringe Theater Festival. After premiering at the 1999 Rhino Festival in Chicago, Allen's collaboration with Danny Thompson and Ben Schneider, The Complete Lost Works Of Samuel Beckett As Found In An Envelope (partially burned) In A Dustbin In Paris Labeled "Never to be performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I'll Sue! I'LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!!!, won the Outstanding Production Award for Comedy during its sold-out run in the New York International Fringe Theater Festival in 2000, and later returned to NYC for a successful run at the Present Company in 2001. The show also won rave reviews during its sold out run at the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and later toured to London,Dublin, Belfast and Brighton.
Photos by Eric Y. Exit
BWW Hi-Res Gallery - Original Version