Category Archives: Shear Claudia

«Restoration» της Κλόντια Σίαρ στη Νέα Υόρκη

  • New York Theatre Workshop
Claudia Shear

«Restoration». Η θεατρική συγγραφέας και ηθοποιός Κλόντια Σίαρ [Claudia Shear] παρουσιάζει το καινούργιο έργο της «Restoration», πρωταγωνιστώντας στον ρόλο μιας Νεοϋορκέζας συντηρήτριας έργων τέχνης η οποία, σε μια περίοδο κάμψης της καριέρας της, αναλαμβάνει μια δυνητικά αναζωογονητική εργασία: να «φρεσκάρει» τον Δαβίδ του Μιχαήλ Αγγέλου, ώστε να είναι έτοιμος για τους εορτασμούς της 500ετηρίδας του καλλιτέχνη στη Φλωρεντία. Η Σιάρ, γνωστή από τις θεατρικές επιτυχίες της «Blown Sideways Through Life» και «Dirty Blonde», μια κωμική ανίχνευση της ζωής της Μέι Γουέστ, για την οποία η συγγραφέας τιμήθηκε με το Theatre World Award, συνεργάζεται στο καινούργιο έργο της με τον σκηνοθέτη Κρίστοφερ Ασλεϊ, ο οποίος έχει επίσης στο ενεργητικό του βραβευμένες παραστάσεις όπως τα μιούζικαλ Xanadu και Rocky Horror Show. Στους ηθοποιούς που συμμετέχουν στην παράσταση περιλαμβάνονται ο Τζόναθαν Κέικ, η Τίνα Μπράκο και ο Αλαν Μαντέλ. Εως τις 13 Ιουνίου.

Beneath the Surface, More and More Layers

A really big man takes a very long bath in “Restoration,” the leisurely new comedy written by and starring Claudia Shear, and he’s not the only one who comes clean. In this girl-meets-statue story, Giulia (Ms. Shear), a lonely Brooklyn art conservator, lands the plum job of scrubbing down Michelangelo’s 17-foot statue of David at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence.

Joan Marcus

And wouldn’t you know it? As centuries’ worth of grimy layers on an immortal marble body dissolve, so do the layers of denial and repression that have long inhibited the people working on his makeover. When it comes to getting to know yourself, it seems, there’s no beating lots of quiet time with a 500-year-old hunk holding a slingshot.

“Restoration,” which opened on Wednesday night at the New York Theater Workshop, is the first new full-length play by Ms. Shear since the wonderful “Dirty Blonde,” which also originated at the Workshop (in 2000) before moving to Broadway, where it picked up five Tony nominations. It’s a pleasure to hear once again Ms. Shear’s distinctively tart voice as a writer and an actress. But “Restoration” isn’t the dream marriage of creator and subject that “Dirty Blonde” was.

Like “Restoration,” “Dirty Blonde” assessed the impact of a cultural monument on those who idolize it. The monument, in that case, was the self-created work of art known as Mae West, the screen’s shapely queen of sexual innuendo from the 1930s. Portraying both West and one of her more fanatical fans, Ms. Shear delivered a poignant, punchy argument for star worship as a route to self-discovery.

Michelangelo’s David, of course, isn’t as naturally lively an object of veneration as Mae West. Whether this statue should be referred to as “he” or “it” is a point of debate in “Restoration,” which weighs the claims of eternal art versus those of life in the moment. And despite being rendered in impressive if slightly distorted facsimile(Scott Pask is the scenic designer), old David never feels entirely real to us. Nor, despite the research and native wit that Ms. Shear has poured into this play, do the reactions that the statue elicits seem altogether fresh.

Directed by Christopher Ashley — who collaborated with Ms. Shear on “Blown Sideways Through Life,” her breakthrough memoir of a play from 1993 — “Restoration” has the sunny but autumnal aura of a romantic genre that might be called “the broad abroad.” In such works, a woman (usually British or American) who feels life has passed her by takes a trip to a foreign land (usually Italy) and learns that la vita can be dolce.

This rejuvenation process has been successfully depicted both in venerable literary fiction (novels by E. M. Forster and Henry James) and contemporary chick flicks (often starring Diane Lane, though there’s one with Julia Roberts on the horizon). In tone, “Restoration” falls somewhere between the two, offering gentle if predictable insights into its fallible characters’ relationships with an almost perfect masterpiece.

Giulia is unmarried and romantically uninvolved when we meet her, a state she attributes to being “weird, aggressive, successful and picky.” Despite her undisputed talent as a conservator, she lacks political finesse and, after opening her mouth once too often, she feels like an “old never-was,” reduced to “restoring rich people’s frames” and teaching introductory art history. So the opportunity to work on David — arranged by a former professor of hers (Alan Mandell) with a guilty conscience — becomes, as she says, “my last chance.”

Thus the prickly and feisty Giulia arrives in socially ritualized Florence (where she had lived as a child) to clean David and do battle with an assortment of Italians who find her people skills on the crude side. They include Daphne (Tina Benko), a beautiful blond aristocrat who oversees public relations on the David project; Marciante (Natalija Nogulich), a no-nonsense, tightly wired bureaucrat; and Max (Jonathan Cake), the hunky security guard who protects David from his visitors.

Scenes are divided by months, with Giulia tackling a different part of David’s anatomy. Each month also brings another small revelation as Giulia learns that people, like old works of art, may harbor surprises beneath the surface. Both the appeal of and the problem with “Restoration” is that what’s under the patinas isn’t very surprising. Even after months of fastidious cleaning, David still looks like David, and Giulia, Daphne and Max are different only in that they are perhaps a shade more comfortable in their own skins.

It is to Ms. Shear’s credit that she doesn’t push her characters into fake, swoony-movie denouements. Her point is that life must be accepted as it is. But that doesn’t keep “Restoration” from being formulaic, especially in Daphne and Giulia’s pretty-woman-versus-plain-woman face-offs. All the people in “Restoration” are, in their different ways, passionate souls, but you almost never feel their heat.

This means that “Restoration,” while often agreeable, is rarely much more than that. The script is winningly self-deprecating about its occasional glibness. (Characters are often calling each other out on premeditated cleverness.) And it is charmingly acted, with Mr. Mandell bringing to mind John Gielgud in his impish old age and Ms. Benko and Ms. Nogulich capturing precisely the worldly warmth and arrogance I associate with upper-crust Italian women. Mr. Cake, the British actor who was Jason to Fiona Shaw’s Medea, renders Max with an expert mixture of cocky machismo and plaintive resignation.

Most important, we get to spend time with Ms. Shear again. In an age of wall-to-wall eye candy, in which it often seems everybody aspires to a Vogue photo op, Ms. Shear refreshingly manages to be frumpy, dumpy and commandingly attractive. And her gravelly, skeptical voice lends conviction to even the glibbest one-liners. She remains a theatrical original, even in a less-than-original play.

RESTORATION

By Claudia Shear; directed by Christopher Ashley; sets by Scott Pask; costumes by David C. Woolard; lighting by David Lander; music and sound by Dan Moses Schreier; video by Kristin Ellert; wig design by Mark Adam Rampmeyer; dramaturge, Gabriel Greene; production stage manager, James Fitzsimmons. Presented by the New York Theater Workshop, James C. Nicola, artistic director; William Russo, managing director. At the New York Theater Workshop, 79 East Fourth Street, East Village; (212) 279-4200. Through June 13. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

  • WITH: Tina Benko (Daphne), Jonathan Cake (Max), Alan Mandell (Professor), Natalija Nogulich (Marciante/Beatrice/Nonna) and Claudia Shear (Giulia).

Claudia Shear’s RESTORATION Directed by Christopher Ashley Comes to NY Theatre Workshop Spring 2010

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 – by BWW News Desk

New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) Artistic Director James C. Nicola and Managing Director William Russo have announced that Restoration, written by and starring two-time Tony Award nominee Claudia Shear and directed by Christopher Ashley, will be the final play in the theatre’s 2009-10 season, slated for production in spring 2010.

Restoration recently received a critically-acclaimed world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse. Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal called it «one of the best new American plays to come my way in quite some time.»

In Restoration, Giulia, once a rising star in the exclusive world of art restoration, now works alone in her Brooklyn garage. When her mentor pays a visit with an extraordinary opportunity-the chance to restore Michelangelo’s David for its 500th birthday celebration in Florence-she has a shot to reinvigorate her career. But this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity truly becomes a second chance at life when Giulia begins to connect with fellow museum staff and lets go of the protective patina she has spent a lifetime building. Inspired by the actual restoration performed by one woman on the David in 2004, Restoration is a portrait of a woman who spends a year in the shadow of a masterpiece-and discovers herself.

Restoration casting and design team to be announced shortly.

Claudia Shear and Christopher Ashley first met and worked together on the landmark hit NYTW production of Shear’s Obie Award-winning play Blown Sideways Through Life. Directed by Ashley, Blown Sideways played an extended NYTW run, transferred for a hit commercial run to the Cherry Lane Theatre, and was later filmed for PBS’s «American Playhouse.» The play was featured in numerous national publications and Ms. Shear was named «Person of the Week» by ABC News. Shear triumphantly returned to NYTW with Dirty Blonde, a comic exploration of the life of Mae West and society’s need for and obsession with celebrity. Directed by James Lapine, Dirty Blonde transferred to Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre and won Ms. Shear a Theatre World Award, as well as Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for Best Play and Best Actress. Christopher Ashley‘s directing credits include Xanadu, for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical, and The Rocky Horror Show for which he received nominations for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical.

Claudia Shear‘s Broadway credits include Dirty Blonde, directed by James Lapine, (Theatre World Award, Drama League Award and Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Play) and The Smell of the Kill. Her off-Broadway credits include Blown Sideways Through Life (her one-woman play), directed by Christopher Ashley, at New York Theatre Workshop and the Cherry Lane Theatre (Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination). She appeared in the West End production of the hit musical Chicago. Her regional credits include The Smell of the Kill (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Dirty Blonde (Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and San Francisco), Jon Robin Baitz‘s End of the Day (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Blown Sideways Through Life (Los Angeles’ Coronet Theatre). On television she starred in the adaptation «Blown Sideways Through Life» (American Playhouse), and appeared in «Friends» and «Earthly Possessions.» Her film credits include: Living Out Loud, It Could Happen to You, and The Opportunists. Blown Sideways Through Life was published in an expanded edition by Dial Press/Bantam Doubleday Dell. Ms. Shear has also writes for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Vogue, Glamour, Travel & Leisure, and Psychology Today, as well as Underwire. She is a member of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, NYTW’s Usual Suspects, and the Dramatists Guild.

Christopher Ashley most recently directed Xanadu on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre, which opened in June 2007. Since graduating cum laude from Yale University in 1986, Mr. Ashley has directed over 60 productions, including Broadway musical productions All Shook Up (Palace Theatre 2005, national tour 2006) and The Rocky Horror Show (2001 Tony Award, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations – Best Direction of a Musical, Circle in the Square Theatre). At the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration he directed both Sweeney Todd (2002, Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Direction of a Resident Musical) and Merrily We Roll Along; at New York Theatre Workshop, Valhalla (2004, Lucille Lortel Award nomination), The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told (1998) and Blown Sideways Through Life (1993); at the Minetta Lane Theatre, Jeffrey (1993, Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Director, Obie Award, Director); at the WPA Theatre, The Naked Truth (1994) and The Night Hank Williams Died (1989); at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, Fires in the Mirror (1993, Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Director); at the Goodspeed Opera House, They All Laughed (2001) and the world premiere of Lucky in the Rain (1997); at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, Bunny, Bunny (1998); at the Variety Arts, Communicating Doors (1998); at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Wonder of the World (2001), New Yorkers (2001), Between Us (2004) and Regrets Only (2006); at the Helen Hayes Theatre, The Smell of the Kill (2002) and at the Mark Taper Forum, Without Walls (2006). Mr. Ashley has also been the recipient of the Princess Grace Award statuette, the Drama League Director Fellowship and an NEA/TCG Director Fellowship. He also directed the feature film of Jeffrey, released by Orion Classics, and the American Playhouse production of Blown Sideways Through Life for PBS.

New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW), now celebrating its 26th season, is a leading voice in the world of Off-Broadway and within the theatre community in New York and around the world. NYTW has emerged as a premiere incubator of important new theatre, honoring its mission to explore perspectives on our collective history and respond to the events and institutions that shape our lives. In addition, NYTW is known for its innovative adaptations of classic repertory. Each season, from its home in New York’s East Village neighborhood, NYTW presents three to five new productions, over 80 readings, and numerous workshop productions, for over 45,000 audience members. Over the past 26 years, NYTW has developed and produced over 100 new, fully staged works, including Jonathan Larson‘s Rent, Tony Kushner‘s Slavs! and Homebody/Kabul, Doug Wright‘s Quills, Claudia Shear‘s Blown Sideways Through Life and Dirty Blonde, Paul Rudnick‘s The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told and Valhalla, and Caryl Churchill‘s Mad Forest, Far Away, and A Number. The 2002 remounting of Martha Clarke‘s seminal work Vienna: Lusthaus and subsequent American tour was one of the longest-running productions in NYTW’s history. NYTW supports artists in all stages of their careers by maintaining a series of workshop programs including work-in-progress readings, summer residencies, and minority artist fellowships. In 1991, NYTW received an OBIE Award for Sustained Achievement and in 2000 was designated to be part of the Leading National Theatres Program by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Advertisements