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Michael Arabian directs Tennessee Williams’
rarely produced ‘Kingdom of Earth’
LOS ANGELES (June 9, 2016) — Tennessee Williams aficionados will have the chance to view one of his lesser-known works in a rare Los Angeles production this summer. Michael Arabian (Waiting for Godot) directs Susan Priver, Brian Burke and Daniel Felix de Weldon in Kingdom of Earth, a darkly comic psychodrama set to open July 15 as a guest production, presented by Dance On Productions in association with Linda Toliver and Gary Guidinger, at the Odyssey Theatre.
Kingdom of Earth is the savage, sexy and brutally funny story of three outcasts trapped in an isolated and dilapidated Mississippi farmhouse by an encroaching flood. Dying from tuberculosis and obsessed with memories of his late mother, “mama’s boy” Lot has returned home with his wife of 24 hours, the aging, down-on-her-luck showgirl, Myrtle. But Lot’s return fuels a longstanding feud with his biracial half-brother, Chicken, over the ownership of the family estate. As the flood waters rise, Myrtle, at once frightened of and fascinated by the macho Chicken, is caught between his kitchen lair and the upstairs bedroom, where her new husband is fighting for breath and losing his tenuous hold on reality.
“The metaphorical and taboo motifs of race, gender and human survival in this play are surprisingly current,” says Arabian. ”Williams is never dated because his themes are so universal.”
Williams’ most deeply felt emotions are fully realized in this rich and comical take on the loneliness of life. “What does anyone know about the Kingdom of Heaven? It’s Earth I’m after.” Originally a short story, Williams converted it to a play during his “dark decade.” The play, at that time called The Seven Descents of Myrtle, premiered on Broadway in 1968 with Estelle Parsons, Harry Guardini and Brian Bedford, directed by Jose Quintero, and Parsons received a Tony nomination for her performance as Myrtle. Williams later revised the script, and it was produced again in 1975 in Princeton, New Jersey under the new title Kingdom of Earth. The New York Daily News called it “one of [Williams’] best, which is high praise for any play,” and the New York Post wrote, “contains some of the distinguished dramatist’s most probing and compassionate reflections on lost souls of this sad world.”
Scenic design for Kingdom of Earth is by John Iacovelli; lighting design is by Bill E. Kickbush; sound design is by John Nobori; costume design is by Shon LeBlanc; graphic design is by Doug Haverty; and casting is by Michael Donovan, CSA. The production stage manager is Jennifer Palumbo, and Dance On Productions produces in association with Linda Toliver and Gary Guidinger.
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), born Thomas Lanier Williams III, explored passion with daring honesty and forged a poetic theater of raw psychological insight that shattered conventional proprieties and transformed the American stage. The autobiographical The Glass Menagerie (1945) brought what Mr. Williams called “the catastrophe of success.” He went on to win two Pulitzer Prizes, for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955. Among his many other masterpieces are Vieux Carre, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Rose Tattoo, Orpheus Descending, The Night of the Iguana and Camino Real.
Michael Arabian has directed and produced numerous world, West Coast, Los Angeles and New York premieres, and his productions have garnered over 50 awards. Most recently, he directed dance icon Leslie Caron in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks at the Laguna Playhouse; Red, starring John Vickery, at San Diego Rep; and God of Carnage at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts for McCoyRigby Entertainment. His production of Waiting for Godot at the Mark Taper Forum was honored with five Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards including outstanding production and direction; was nominated for 10 Ovations, winning five, including best production; and was cited as one of the two most memorable productions of 2012 seen in either New York or L.A. by Los Angles Times theater critic Charles McNulty. Other Taper productions directed by Michael include Beckett’s Krapps Last Tape, Albee’s The Sandbox, Pinter’s A Slight Ace and workshops of new works. His site-specific company, Theatre InSite, formed a partnership with CBS (Radford) Studios, a first for L.A. theater, to produce live TV pilots (with Third Rock from the Sun picked up) and inventive, large-scale productions such as an updated Romeo and Juliet In which audiences followed scenes and car chases through the backlot’s suburban streets, and The Trojan Women, set during the Gulf War and staged in 400,000 gallons of water at the old Gilligan’s Island Lagoon. His film King of the Ants is distributed by Vanguard Cinema.
Performances of Kingdom of Earth take place Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., July 15 through Aug. 14. There will be two preview performances on Wednesday, July 13 and Thursday, July 14, both at 8 p.m. All tickets are $30 (reserved seating); rush tickets are available for $15 one hour before curtain, at the door (subject to availability). The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 x 2 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com. Visit us on facebook at facebook.com/KingdomofEarthplay/. Follow us on twitter: @kingdomofearth2.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘Kingdom of Earth’
Kingdom of Earth — Tennessee Williams aficionados will have the chance to view one of his lesser-known works in a rare Los Angeles production this summer. Williams’ most deeply felt emotions are fully realized in this savage, sexually-charged and brutally funny story about three outcasts trapped in an isolated, once elegant Mississippi farmhouse by an encroaching flood.
• Written by Tennessee Williams
• Directed by Michael Arabian
• Starring Susan Priver, Brian Burke, Daniel Felix de Weldon
• Presented by Dance On Productions in association with Linda Toliver and Gary Guidinger
Previews: July 13 and July 14
Performances: July 15 – Aug. 14
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: July 13 ONLY (preview)
• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: July 14 (preview), 21, 28: Aug. 4, 11
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 15 (Opening Night), 22, 29; Aug. 5, 12
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 16, 23, 30; Aug. 6, 13
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: July 17, 24, 31; Aug. 7, 14
A guest production at the
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
• All performances: $30
• Rush tickets: $15 (at the door, one hour prior to curtain subject to availability)