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Nobody Dies on Friday

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When Marilyn Monroe quarrelled with her husband or felt the need for private acting lessons, she would seek asylum at the house of her acting coach Lee Strasberg, founder of the Actor’s Studio and guru of “the Method.” This heartfelt new play charts the impact of Monroe on the Strasberg family during one day in their life. An examination of the poisoning effect of celebrity on human relationships, Nobody Dies on Friday dramatizes the emotional and intellectual tensions among the four Strasbergs, whose quarrels over art, theater, and the purpose of acting threaten to tear the family apart.

SYNOPSIS

It is the morning after one of Lee Strasberg’s famous annual parties, where the greatest stars of stage and screen mingle to celebrate the New Year. John Strasberg, Lee’s son, has spent the night on the sofa, because Marilyn Monroe, his father’s illustrious pupil, has taken over his bedroom.

The events of the party, and Marilyn’s presence in the apartment, have a profound impact on the volatile Strasbergs. Lee, his wife Paula, and their two children John and Susan, are drawn into a whirl of accusation and self-recrimination that threatens to tear the family apart and leads to inevitable tragedy.

Credits

Creative team

by

Robert Brustein

As founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Repertory Theaters, Robert Brustein has supervised well over two hundred productions, acting in eight and directing twelve.  He has written eleven adaptations for the American Repertory Theater and is the author of thirteen books on theater and society. His latest book, The Tainted Muse: Prejudices and Preconceptions in Shakespeare's Works and Times, was released earlier this year. Mr. Brustein also served for twenty years as director of the Loeb Drama Center, is a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University and drama critic for The New Republic. He is a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the recipient numerous awards including the George Polk Award in Journalism, the Commonweath (Massachusetts) Award for Organizational Leadership, and most recently the Eugene O'Neill Foundation's Tao House Award for serving the American theatre with distinction.

His Six Characters in Search of an Author won the Boston Theatre Award for Best Production of 1996. His play Demons, which was broadcast on WGBH radio in 1993, had its stage world premiere as part of the A.R.T. New Stages. His play Nobody Dies on Friday was given its world premiere in the same series and was presented at the Singapore Festival of Arts and the Pushkin Theatre in Moscow. His play Spring Forward, Fall Back was performed in 2006 at Theater J in Washington, D.C., and at the Vineyard Playhouse. His newest play, The English Channel, was produced in 2007 in Boston and at the Vineyard Playhouse. In the Fall of 2008, it played at the Abingdon Theatre in New York where it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Brustein also wrote Shlemiel the First, based on the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer and set to traditional klezmer music, which was directed and choreographed by David Gordon. After the original presentation in 1994 at ART and in Philadelphia at the American Music Theatre Festival, which co-produced the show, Shlemiel the First was revived several times in Cambridge and subsequently played at the Lincoln Center Serious Fun Festival, the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, as well as touring theatres in Florida and in Stamford, Connecticut. The play has also been produced at Theater J in Washington, DC. Shlemiel the First comes to Peak Performances @ Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, in January 2010.  His short plays Poker Face, Chekhov on Ice, Divestiture, AnchorBimbo, Noises, Terrorist Skit, Airport Hell, Beachman’s Last Poetry Reading, and Enter William Shakespeare were all presented by the Boston Playwrights' Theatre.  Brustein is also the author of Doctor Hippocrates is Out: Please Leave a Message, an anthology of theatrical and cinematic satire on medicine and physicians, commissioned by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement for its 2008 convention in Nashville.  He was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2002.

Brustein is a former professor of English at Harvard University (now a Senior Research Fellow), Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Suffolk University in Boston, the drama critic for The New Republic, and former dean of the Yale School of Drama. In 2003 he served as a Senior Fellow with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, and in 2004 and 2005 was a senior fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts' Arts Journalism Institute in Theatre and Musical Theatre at the University of Southern California

He was the founding director of the Yale Repertory Theatre and the American Repertory Theater and served for twenty years as director of the Loeb Drama Center, where he founded the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. He retired from the artistic directorship of ART in 2002 and now serves as Founding Director and Creative Consultant. He is also a regular blogger for the Huffington Post and the Open University.

During his tenure at ART, Brustein wrote eleven adaptations, including Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck, The Master Builder, and When We Dead Awaken, the last directed by Robert Wilson; Three Farces and a Funeral, adapted from the works and life of Anton Chekhov; Luigi Pirandello's Enrico IV; and Brustein's final production at ART, Lysistrata by Aristophanes, directed by Andrei Serban.  He also directed numerous adaptations while at ART including a Pirandello trilogy: Six Characters in Search of an Author, which won the Boston Theatre Award for Best Production of 1996, Right You Are (If You Think You Are); Tonight We Improvise; Ibsen's Ghosts, Strindberg's The Father, and Thomas Middleton's The Changeling.

Over the course of his long career as director, playwright, and teacher, he has participated in the artistic development of such theater artists as Meryl Streep, Christopher Durang, Christopher Walken, Cherry Jones, Ted Talley, Michael Feingold, Sigourney Weaver, James Naughton, Mark Linn-Baker, Henry Winkler, James Lapine, Tony Shalhoub, Tommy Derrah, Rocco Landesman, Linda Lavin, Michael Yearga, William Ivey Long, Derek Maclane, Steve Zahn, Peter Sellars, Santo Loquasto, Tom Moore, Albert Innaurato, and many others.

Mr. Brustein is the recipient of many coveted awards, including:

  • Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Nottingham
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
  • Twice winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism
  • George Polk Award for Journalism (Criticism)
  • The 2nd Elliot Norton Award For Professional Excellence in Boston Theatre (formerly the Norton Prize), presented by the Boston Theatre District Associatione
  • New England Theatre Conference's Major Award for outstanding creative achievement in the American theatre
  • American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts
  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education Career Achievement Award for Professional Theatre
  • The Commonwealth Award for Organizational Leadership
  • Inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame
  • United States Institute for Theatre Technology Lifetime Achievement Award
  • National Corporate Theatre Fund Chairman's Award for Achievement in Theatre
  • Gann Academy Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts
  • Eugene O'Neill Foundation's Tao House Award for serving the American theatre with distinction

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Directed by

David Wheeler

Directed by

David Wheeler

On Broadway, he directed Richard III with Al Pacino, and The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, for which Mr. Pacino won the Tony Award for Best Actor. Regional theatres include the Guthrie Theatre, Alley Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, Arizona Theatre Company, Pittsburgh Playhouse, and the Charles de Rochefort Theatre in Paris, where he directed the French premiere of Edward Albee's The Zoo Story.

As the artistic director of the Theatre Company of Boston (TCB) from 1963 to 75, Mr. Wheeler directed over eighty productions.  Among these were ten by Pinter, seven by Brecht, five by Albee, nine by Beckett, two by O'Neill, and numerous works by new writers such as Ed Bullins, Jeffrey Bush, John Hawkes, Adrienne Kennedy, and Sam Shepard.  Through these productions and others, he helped to launch the careers of then-unknown actors including Paul Benedict, Larry Bryggman, John Cazale, Stockard Channing, Blythe Danner, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, Hector Elizondo, Spalding Gray, Paul Guilfoyle, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jon Voight, Ralph Waite, and James Woods. His film The Local Stigmatic (with Mr. Pacino)—adapted from the play by Heathcote Williams—was presented at the Montreal Film Festival and screened at the Whitney Museum and the MOMA. It will be released in 2006.

Mr. Wheeler's honors include the Elliot Norton Award for his work on Misalliance, the St. Botolph Club Foundation's Award for Distinction in the Performing Arts, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Award. He has taught and directed at Harvard University, Boston University, MIT, Brandeis, Barnard, Colorado College, and Circle-in-the-Square. He has directed student productions at U.N.C. Chapel Hill, U.C. Irvine and Long Beach, and Évora, Portugal. After receiving his masters at Harvard, Mr. Wheeler trained with José Quintero in New York during the great "O'Neill years" of the 1950's.

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Set design by

J. Michael Griggs

Set design by

J. Michael Griggs

J. Michael Griggs, the set designer for No Child … , is the design and technical advisor for Harvard student theater in the Loeb Drama Center. Previously for the American Repertory Theater he co-designed Boston Marriage and designed sets for No Man's Land, Animals and Plants, How I Learned to Drive, Nobody Dies on Friday, and numerous productions for the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, including Pants on Fire, The Seagull, Overboard, Three Sisters, and The Interview. He currently teaches courses in stage design at Harvard University. Stage designs for the Súgán Theatre Company include Talking to Terrorists, Women on the Verge of HRT, Sanctuary Lamp, Well of the Saints, Mojo Mickybo, Howie the Rookie, The Lepers of Baile Baiste, Molly Maquire, Bailegangaire, The Lonesome West, This Lime Tree Bower, Perfect Days, and St. Nicholas. White People, New Repertory Theatre; Design for Living, Publick Theatre; 9 Parts of Desire, Lyric Stage Company of Boston. Other stage designs include the award-winning Strindberg Sonata with director Anne Bogart in San Diego, King Lear at the Maryland Stage Company, and Lydie Breeze and Old Times at the Illinois Repertory Theatre. He has also designed for the Cricket Theatre in Minneapolis, A Director’s Theatre in Los Angeles, the South Florida Shakespeare Festival in Miami, and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, among others. He has taught at the University of Illinois, Carleton College, and the University of Maryland. Mr. Griggs also works as a designer for WGBH public television in Boston and is a member of United Scenic Artists 829.

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Costume design by

Catherine Zuber

Costume design by

Catherine Zuber

Catherine Zuber has created the costumes for Richard II, The Doctor's Dilemma, and over forty other A.R.T. productions including Three Farces and a Funeral, Antigone, Loot, The Idiots Karamazov, Ivanov, Phaedra, The Merchant of Venice, Valparaiso, The Imaginary Invalid, The Taming of the Shrew, Peter Pan and Wendy, The Bacchae, Man and Superman, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, Woyzeck, The Wild Duck, The Naked Eye, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Tartuffe, Ubu Rock, Waiting for Godot, The Oresteia, Shlemiel the First, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, A Touch of the Poet, What the Butler Saw, The Cherry Orchard, and Orphée. Ms. Zuber's credits include work at Lincoln Center, The Joseph Papp Public Theater, Goodman Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera, among others. Her Broadway credits include The Triumph of Love (Connecticut Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk nomination), Ivanov (Drama Desk nomination), The Sound of Music, Twelfth Night, The Red Shoes, London Assurance, The Rose Tattoo, and Philadelphia Here I Come. Ms. Zuber was the recipient of the 1997 Obie Award for sustained achievement in design. She is the costume designer for La Fête des Vignerons de 1999, the massive Festival of the Winegrowers in Vevey, Switzerland.

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Lighting design by

John Ambrosone

Lighting design by

John Ambrosone

Lighting Designer John Ambrosone has designed over thirty productions for the American Repertory Theater, including Lysistrata, Absolution, Marat/Sade, Othello, Animals and Plants, Mother Courage (2001 Elliot Norton Design Award), The Doctor's Dilemma, Three Farces and a Funeral, Nocturne, IvanovThe Cripple of Inishmaan, The King Stag, Boston Marriage, Charlie in the House of Rue, Valparaiso, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, How I Learned to Drive, Nobody Dies on Friday, Man and Superman, The Old Neighborhood, When the World Was Green (A Chef's Fable), Alice in Bed, Slaughter City, and Buried Child. On Broadway he designed The Old Neighborhood. Work in resident theaters includes the Alley Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Walnut Street Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, and Arena Stage. Mr. Ambrosone also has designed in Singapore, Moscow, Japan, Brazil, Taiwan, Mexico, Germany, and France.

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Sound design by

Christopher Walker

Sound design by

Christopher Walker

Christopher Walker has composed music and designed sound for We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, Phaedra, Beckett Trio: Eh Joe, Ghost Trio, and Nacht und Traüme, and An Evening of Beckett, and designed sound for The King Stag, Loot, The Idiots Karamazov, Ivanov, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Charlie in the House of Rue, The Merchant of Venice, Valparaiso, The Taming of the Shrew, The Bacchae, The Wild Duck, Woyzeck, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Wild Duck, Alice in Bed, Slaughter City, Buried Child, Ubu Rock, The Threepenny Opera, The Accident, Demons, Waiting for Godot, The Oresteia, Hot 'n' Throbbing, The America Play, A Touch of the Poet, The Cherry Orchard, What the Butler Saw, and Those the River Keeps at the A.R.T. Previously he composed music and designed sound for productions at the Intiman Theatre, the Bathhouse Theatre, and the Alice B. Theatre. He also scores for dance and has composed for the Allegro Dance Festival, the Bumbershoot Festival, and On The Boards.

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Lee Strasberg, Head of the Actor’s Studio Alvin Epstein
Paula Strasberg, his wife, an acting coach Annette Miller
Paula Strasberg, his daughter, an actress of 21 Emma Roberts
John Strasberg, his son, a young man of 18 Robert Kropf
Marilyn Monroe, an actress Karen MacDonald