ICT artistic director caryn desai directs the West Coast premiere of The Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award-winning Ghost-Writer, an intimate spine-tingler from playwright Michael Hollinger(Opus). Performances take place Aug. 24 through Sept. 16 at International City Theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, with low-priced previews beginning August 21.
Something mysterious is happening: acclaimed novelist Franklin Woolsey has died, but his devoted secretary remains poised at her typewriter—waiting to channel the words that will complete his masterpiece. This ghost story of literary proportions questions where we draw the line between fact and fiction, between this life and beyond. It’s up to the audience to decide what to believe …
“I love language, and that’s what this play is all about,” says desai. “It has something beautiful to say about the actual art of writing—what writers go through to create a literary piece, down to which words to choose and even which punctuation.”
Ghost-Writer was inspired by an anecdote Hollinger came across about the secretary to early 20th-century novelist Henry James. She typed as he dictated his novels and stories, and after his death claimed to continue receiving dictation from her late employer.
“My mother had died shortly before I encountered this story, and, through conversations with my father, I began thinking about ‘the presence of absence’— that is, the power that a departed loved one holds over us, and how we negotiate the space left by that person,” he explained in an interview. “As the play continued to develop, I also found myself looking at the nature of the creative process itself, that mysterious combination of craft and what most people would call inspiration.”
Michael Hollinger's other plays include Opus, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf, Red Herring, Tiny Island, Tooth and Claw andIncorruptible. He has written seven touring plays for young audiences, as well as numerous short works. For PBS, he has scripted three short films and co-authored the feature-length Philadelphia Diary. His awards include a Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association, the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays, the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist, a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award, the Frederick Loewe Award for Musical Theatre, a commission from the EST/Sloan Science and Technology Project, and fellowships from the Independence Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Hollinger is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Villanova University.
caryn desai is the producing artistic director for International City Theatre, where she most recently directed the critically acclaimed 2012 season opener, God of Carnage. Other ICT directing credits include The Old Settler, Loving Repeating...A Musical of Gertrude Stein, The Clean House, Bright Ideas, Backwards in High Heels, Once on This Island (six NAACP nominations including direction), Raisin (LADCC Best Production), and Dinah Was (multiple Ovation nominations). She has served on grant panels for L.A. County and the City of Long Beach and as a speaker/panelist for the SRO Theatre Conference at USC on Best Practices, the Technical Theatre Conference about the role of a director, and more. She was named “Enterprising Woman in the Arts” in Long Beach, and most recently received the Rosie The Riveter Foundation’s “We Can Do It” Award for Arts and Culture.
International City Theatre is Long Beach’s Resident Professional Theater at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center and the recipient of the Margaret Harford Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for “Sustained Excellence in Theater.”
Ghost-Writer will run Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays @ 8 pm and Sundays @ 2 pm, August 24 through September 16. Tickets are$37 on Thursdays, and $44 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night which is $55 and includes a reception with the actors following the performance. Preview performances take place on Tuesday, August 21; Wednesday, August 22; and Thursday, August 23 @ 8 pm. Preview tickets are $29.
International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach. For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at (562) 436-4610 or go to www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.