* * * Breaking News on Black Friday, November 29, 2013 * * *
We congratulate The Studio Theatre on the great notices being received for the first two Apple Family Plays. Read more here.
When we launched this season with Amy Herzog’s After The Revolution, we were aware that Amy had another play about the same Joseph family set 10 years later; a play involving the same matriarchal character, Vera, who appears both in
After The Revolution and in the subsequent 4000 Miles; a play written after Revolution, but one which appeared, quite successfully, in DC earlier in spring at Studio Theatre. There’s a great deal of fun (and more, deep meaning too) that comes from watching a character or whole family evolve from one play to the next.
How fascinating it would be to run After The Revolution and 4000 Miles in rolling rep, and see a great actress (like Nancy Robinette or Tana Hicken) age ten years in the process of moving from one relationship with a grand-daughter in Revolution to a very different relationship with a wayward grandson in Miles.
Of course, Amy Herzog’s not the only playwright to thread the same character from one play to the next. Lanford Wilson did so famously in his “Talley Trilogy,” weaving in the story of Sally Talley in his Pulitzer Prize winning Talley’s Folly into the action a play written 10 years later, Talley and Son (or, in another version, A Tale Told) involving action happening at the exact same time as Talley’s Folly but in the family home at the top of the hill, while Matt Friedman was proposing to Sally Talley in the boathouse down by the river.
Part III of the Talley Trilogy was the play written first; The Fifth of July, involving the same Sally Talley some 30+ years later. Lanford’s achievement made a mark on me as I encountered his work as a young intern at Circle Rep, the theater company he founded. And indeed the idea of an interlocking collection of plays, bound by family, character, place or theme has always felt to me to be an exhilarating theatrical proposition.
Washingtonians remember with fondness and exhaustion the 9 hour, 3 part The Great Game: Afghanistan which came to the Harmen Center via London’s The Tricycle Theatre. And the Kennedy Center presented all ten of the August Wilson 20th Century Plays which are now being restaged, the whole ten of ’em, in New York.
I’ve of course been involved in a trilogy of my own creation, “The Born Guilty Cycle,” comprised of three plays, Andy and The Shadows, Born Guilty and The Wolf in Peter.
There are lots and lots of examples of plays and their sequels; trilogies of plays; 8 hour extravaganzas — Feel free to add to a list below, while we hear from our student subscribers who returned to Studio Theatre this last Thursday to see part II of “The Apple Family Plays,” Sweet and Sad, once again written by Richard Nelson, staged by Serge Seiden.
(Serge will be making his Theater J directorial debut this spring when we produce Freud’s Last Session and Serge will teamed up once again with the great Rick Foucheux — who famously played Bernie Madoff for us in Imagining Madoff in 2011.
Matt Friedman in our production of Talley’s Folly in 2003, and Peter Sichrovsky in both Born Guilty and Peter and The Wolf in 2002). Some of us will be commenting on part III of the Apple Quartet, the play Sorry, which Rick has just sent us in manuscript form.
Eager to hear how seeing Part II of a 4-part opus deepened our experience after our initial viewing of That Hopey Changey Thing. The Apple plays open this weekend for press over at Studio. We wish everyone there a great opening! As our production of The Argument comes to a close… (sad face)! Happy Weekend!
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Following up, here are some crowd-sourced suggestions of other play cycles of note, culled from a facebook shout-out for suggestions:
• In Trousers/March of the Falsettos/Falsettoland – the musical trilogy by William Finn
• Kentucky Cycle by Robert Schenkkan
• Little Foxes and Another Part of Forrest by Lillian Hellman
• “The Arnold Wesker Trilogy:” Roots, Chicken Soup with Barley, and I’m Talking About Jerusalem
• Tarrel Mc Craney’s The Brother Size and its sequels, In The Red And Brown Water and Marcus, or the Secret of Sweet
• August Wilson’s 10-play cycle, one for each decade of the 20th century
• Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (Millenium Approaches and Perestroika and throw in Slavs!: Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness as well)
Any other suggestions?