Lots will be said and lots will be written about Christopher Durang’s new play at McCarter Theater, opening Friday, September 7, and scheduled to move to Lincoln Center Theater after the Princeton production ends October 7. But if you want to hear for yourself what Durang and one of his leading ladies have to say about the play, or if you want to ask a question of your own, your chance is next Wednesday, August 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library.
Durang, the acclaimed playwright (“Beyond Therapy,” “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You,” and “The Marriage of Bette and Boo”), will join actress Kristine Nielsen in a conversation about the play, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.
Durang, a Bucks County resident, wrote two roles in his newest play, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” for his long-time friends and collaborators, Sigourney Weaver (Masha) and Nielsen (Sonia). The new play has been described as a “blend of neuroses and absurdity that turns Chekhov on his head.” McCarter Theater publicist Dan Bauer asked Durang and Nielsen a few questions of his own prior to their appearance at the Public Library.
Bauer: How would you describe the play?
Durang: It is not a parody of Chekhov though it takes characters and themes from Chekhov, mixes them up into a blender and set in present day Bucks County, where I actually live. I wrote it because as my hair turned grey and I was starting to feel older with more aches and pains and I began to feel more like a Chekhov character and it made me want to write a modern-day version.
Bauer: Kristine, what’s it like going to work every day with a cast that includes Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce?
Nielsen: Pure joy. It’s great fun. I’ve been involved in enough theater to know you hold onto memories like these. I’m so happy every day to go into the rehearsal room and laugh and share a lot of fun together with this incredibly talented cast.
Bauer: You have originated Durang characters many times. Did you ever envision yourself becoming a leading interpreter and muse of Christopher Durang’s?
Nielsen: Never. Chris and I see the world quite similarly. I feel very lucky as that doesn’t happen very often.
Bauer: Chris, you’re hosting a dinner party for four people, past or present, who would you invite:
Durang: Thornton Wilder, I love Thornton Wilder. A professor Emily Mann [McCarter’s Artistic Director] and I had at Harvard named William Alfred. He was such a dear man and a wonderful teacher and writer, and then I think I should liven it up and invite Tallulah Bankhead and someone else from the movies. Who could that be? Maybe Ingrid Bergman. I was going to say Marlene Dietrich, but I think Ingrid Bergman is so charming.
An Evening with Christopher Durang and Kristine Nielsen, in the community room of the Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, Wednesday, August 29, at 7:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. 609-924-9529 or visit www.princetonlibrary.org. For more about the play visit www.mccarter.org.