We’ve begun rehearsals on an amazingly sharp, clever, bittersweet chamber play on some great big themes like friendship (and its deconstruction), jealousy (and its trace elements of love and resentment), the arc of a writer’s identity formation, and the tricks that Time and Memory play on the heart and head. The play’s called THE FOUR OF US and it’s written by one of the hottest writers on the American theatrical scene, Itamar Moses.
We’ve got lots and lots to say and share about our engagement with this play and, even better, we’ve got a wonderful address given by the playwright earlier this year at the International Association for Jewish Theatre annual conference in New York. We’ll begin serializing that address next posting.
For now, here’s a bit of an introduction to the work of Itamar Moses. It’s compiled by our production dramaturg, Shirley Serotsky, and you’ll find more of it in the program for THE FOUR OF US which goes to press this week. Here’s part of it:
Since Itamar Moses’s critically acclaimed play Bach at Leipzig opened in New York in 2005, he has been hailed as one of America’s most talented young playwrights. In 2008, The Wall Street Journal declared that “to call Itamar Moses ‘promising’ no longer makes sense. He is already one of America’s most accomplished playwrights.”
Moses’s career started its upward climb in 2002 when Bach at Leipzig received two notable regional productions (local audiences may remember the 2007 production at Rep Stage, which The Washington Post deemed “a poignant meditation on the artistic temperament and the transporting power of music”); that same year his play Outrage premiered at Portland Center Stage. Since his auspicious debut Moses has had numerous plays produced in New York and regionally.
Last year Tony Taccone, Artistic Director of Berkeley Rep–where Moses’s play Yellowjackets premiered–said “There’s a coming-of-age party on a national scale. For Itamar, the transformation from ‘emerging writer’ to ‘established writer’ is complete…He has an incredible sense of dramatic architecture. It seems like many playwrights are driven by poetic or imagistic motors, and it’s rare for them to pay a lot of attention to plot these days. But Itamar does.”
When Bach at Leipzig was published, playwright Tom Stoppard wrote the introduction, calling Moses a “new and original voice.”
That “original voice” became known for its structural complexity and its tendency to deal with ambitious and heady subjects, often about historical figures and events. Moses’s play The Four of Us, which debuted at The Manhattan Theater Club in March 2008, represented a shift in the playwright’s dramatic focus—for once, it seemed, he was writing about himself. And yet, even with this more intimate and accessible subject matter Moses created a complex and layered structure to support the story. New York based critic Mark Blankenship wrote about this dramatic feat in an article published in American Theater Magazine. “The play-within-a-play is a physical manifestation of conflicting emotions. On one hand, David is immature and jealous about Benjamin’s success; but on the other, David has been spurred on to write an honest and sensitive play about his feelings…his envy actually pushes him to his own greatest achievement. Moses asks us to acknowledge the positive and negative at the same time. ‘Any question that has an easily articulated answer isn’t worth writing a play about,’ Moses ventures. ‘If you land on an answer at the end of a play, it’s probably going to ring false. That’s not to say I go into a play without a point of view. But I never feel like the thing is done until I’ve given equally strong arguments to the sides I supposedly disagree with.’”