ACCLAIMED BRITISH ACTORS SIGN ON FOR DIRECTOR WILLIAM FRIEDKIN’S THE BIRTHDAY PARTY OPENING NIGHT FEBRUARY 12, 2014 IN THE GIL CATES THEATER AT THE GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE LOS ANGELES (December 17, 2013) – Acclaimed British stage and screen actors Frances Barber, Steven Berkoff, Tim Roth and Nick Ullett join the cast of the William Friedkin directed The Birthday Party in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, opening February 12. The Pulitzer Prize winner Harold Pinter’s “comedy of menace” is among his most renowned and enigmatic. The Birthday Party is a mysterious and wry riff on the absurd terrors we face every day. This production brings Friedkin full circle with the celebrated Pinter piece. In 1968 he directed Pinter’s screenplay starring Robert Shaw. The Birthday Party also boasts a happy reunion for Roth and Berkoff who collaborated on the 1986 London production of Metamorphosis. Two imposing strangers arrive at an English seaside boarding house – disrupting the monotony and disturbing the puzzled tenant Stanley. In celebration of Stanley’s birthday, a party is planned but menace arrives and mayhem ensues. This celebrated and darkly comic work mixes the familiar with the strange and the anticipated with the offbeat for an unconventional experience that is anything but expected and nothing but extraordinary. This new production boasts a dynamic cast of powerhouse actors. Frances Barber appears at the Geffen after a highly praised run as the title character in an all female production of Julius Caesar in New York and she will return for a third season on the BBC’s Silk. Actor/writer/director Steven Berkoff is known as the bad boy of Britain’s “in yer face” theater, for his villainous roles in Octopussy, Beverly Hills Cop as well as his recent film appearances in
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The Tourist and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Tim Roth has created memorable performances in films such as Rob Roy where he was nominated for an Academy Award, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, The Incredible Hulk and on the FOX series Lie To Me. This spring he will star opposite Nicole Kidman in the film Grace of Monaco. Nick Ullett has done everything from The Ed Sullivan Show and improvisational theatre in LA, to Joe Orton’s Loot and created the role of Gerald in the musical Me and My Girl on Broadway. Additional cast to be announced. Academy Award winner William Friedkin’s films include The French Connection, The Exorcist, Cruising, To Live and Die in L.A. and Killer Joe. Since 1998 he has directed operas around the world. He is currently in development with HBO Films and Bette Midler for a film about Mae West. This is his first production at the Geffen Playhouse.
The Geffen Playhouse presents The Birthday Party Written by Harold Pinter Directed by William Friedkin Preview performances: Tuesday, February 4 – Tuesday, February 11, 2014 Opening Night: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 Closing Night: Sunday, March 16, 2014 PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE Monday Tuesday – Saturday Saturday Sunday
No performance 8:00pm 3:00pm; 8:00pm 2:00pm; 7:00pm
TICKET INFORMATION Tickets are available now in-person at the Geffen Playhouse box office, via phone at 310-2085454 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.com. Prices are $37-$77. ONLINE PRESS ROOM High-resolution photos and press releases at http://geffenplayhouse.com/mediacenter.php
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BIOGRAPHIES *additional cast to be announced FRANCES BARBER (MEG) Frances Barber is an award winning actress whose work has combined leading roles in theatre, film and TV in the UK. Seasons at The RSC, The National and London's West End have seen her play a variety of parts in Shaw, Chekov, (Sonya in Uncle Vanya, for which she received her second Olivier Nomination and a TMA award for Best Actress), Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare and many contemporary playwrights. She created the leading role, Billie Trix, in the Pet Shop Boys’ musical, Closer to Heaven for which she won a Best Actress in a Musical Award. She toured the US in 2007 in King Lear and The Seagull, directed by Sir Trevor Nunn and also starring Sir Ian Mckellen. On film she has worked with Mike Leigh in Stephen Frears' Prick Up Your Ears and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, Peter Greenaway, John Irving, Tom Hooper and Kenneth Branagh amongst many others. On TV she has played innumerable roles in drama series for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. Most recently she has played Kovarian in Doctor Who and has just finished filming season 3 of Silk in which she plays the role of a hard hitting QC Caroline Warwick for which she was nominated for a prestigious Silver Dagger Award. Silk has been named Best TV Drama Series by the Writers' Guild of Great Britain at its 2013 awards. She has just completed a triumphant run in NYC at St Ann's warehouse of Julius Caesar in which she played the title role. STEVEN BERKOFF (GOLDBERG) Steven Berkoff was born in Stepney, London. After studying drama and mime in London and Paris, he entered a series of repertory companies and in 1968 formed the London Theatre Group. His plays and adaptations have been performed in many countries and in many languages. Among the many adaptations Berkoff has created for the stage, directed and toured, are Kafka's Metamorphosis and The Trial, Agamemnon (after Aeschylus) and Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. He has directed and toured productions of Shakespeare's Coriolanus (also playing the title role), Richard II, Hamlet and Macbeth, as well as Oscar Wilde's Salome. Berkoff's original stage plays include East, West, Messiah: Scenes from a Crucifixion, The Secret Love Life of Ophelia, Decadence, Harry's Christmas, Massage, Acapulco, Brighton Beach Scumbags and 6 Actors in Search of a Director. He has performed his trilogy of solo shows: One Man, Shakespeare's Villains and Requiem for Ground Zero in venues all over the world. He directed and co-starred with Joan Collins in the film version of his play Decadence. He recently appeared in The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie and David Fincher’s The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. Steven has had published a variety of books on the theatre such as the production journals: I am Hamlet, Meditations on Metamorphosis and Coriolanus in Deutschland. Faber has published Berkoff’s collected plays in three volumes, as well as The Secret Love Life of Ophelia. His most recent books include My Life in Food, a collection of paeans to food and comfort, You Remind Me of Marilyn Monroe charting personal thoughts, pains and passions in verse, his memoir Diary of a Juvenile Delinquent and Tales from an Actor’s Life, semi-fictional stories detailing this profession. His collection of One-Act Plays has recently been published by Methuen.
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TIM ROTH (STANLEY) After being discovered in British indie films such as Made In Britain, The Hit and Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, Tim Roth gained worldwide recognition for his roles in two Quentin Tarantino films: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. His other credits include Vincent and Theo in which he portrayed Vincent Van Gogh, The Incredible Hulk, Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth, Funny Games, Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes, Dark Water, Lucky Numbers, Four Rooms, Little Odessa, Gridlock’d, Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You and Arbitrage. He made his studio feature debut in Rob Roy, a role that has been touted as one of the best villains in screen history, earning him both Golden Globe and Academy Award Nominations. Roth starred for 3 seasons in Brian Grazer’s Fox drama, Lie To Me, as a cutting-edge researcher who pioneered the field of deception detection. He made his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed film The War Zone which premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and also at the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals. Roth made his return to the stage in Sam Shepard’s off Broadway production of The God Of Hell, for the first time since early in his career in London where he received great notices in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Roth most recently starred in Broken, for which he earned a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor. The film also won Best British Independent Film of the year. Roth will next co-star in Klondike, Discovery Channel’s first scripted mini-series from Executive Producer Ridley Scott and in the Grace Kelly biopic Grace Of Monaco, opposite Nicole Kidman. NICK ULLETT (PETEY) Nick Ullett has done everything from The Ed Sullivan Show and improvisational theatre in LA, to Joe Orton’s Loot and creating the role of Gerald in the musical Me and My Girl on Broadway. On TV he has run the gamut from Thornton Wilder’s Infancy on PBS to The Big Bang Theory, Yes, Dear, The Practice and Home Improvement among others. Recent theatre appearances include: Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Gulfshore Playhouse, Bakersfield Mist at the Fountain Theatre, Saturn Returns and Noises Off at SCR, NY premiere of Tooth and Claw at EST (of which he is a member), School For Scandal at the Mark Taper Forum, Zhivago, The Musical at La Jolla, End Game and The Tempest at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. His one-man show Dying Is Easy. Comedy Is Hard garnered rave reviews at the Matrix Theatre. On film you can see him in Smooch, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Hook and the new indie Geezas. HAROLD PINTER (Playwright) Harold Pinter was a Nobel Prize-winning English playwright, screenwriter, director and actor. One of the most influential modern British dramatists, his writing career spanned more than 50 years. His best-known plays include The Birthday Party, The Homecoming (Tony Award Best Play) and Betrayal each of which he adapted for the screen. He wrote more than 30 plays in all, including The Room, The Caretaker, No Man’s Land, One for the Road and Ashes to Ashes. His screenplay adaptations of others' works include The Servant, The Go-Between, The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Trial and Sleuth. He also directed or acted in radio, stage, television, and film productions of his own and others' works.
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WILLIAM FRIEDKIN (Director) Director William Friedkin is a veteran of live television in the 1950s and documentary filmmaking in the mid-1960s, which led to the unnerving realism of The French Connection and the terrible beauty of The Exorcist and Sorcerer. In 1971, The French Connection was released to wide critical acclaim and won 5 Academy Awards, including Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director. 1973's The Exorcist was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won the Best Screenplay Award. To Live And Die In L.A. (1985) won the Audience Award at the Cognac Film Festival. Friedkin started directing operas in 1998 with a widely-acclaimed production of Berg’s Wozzeck at Maggio Musicale in Florence. He followed that in 2002 with Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi at Los Angeles Opera. In 2004 at Los Angeles Opera, he directed Ariadne auf Naxos. Other operas include: 2005, Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah at the New Israeli Opera, Tel Aviv and Verdi’s Aida at the Teatro Regio Torino in Italy, 2006/07, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle/Gianni Schicchi Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center and Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, Germany, new productions of Strauss’ Salome and the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Das Gehege, 2008 and Suor Angelica/Il Tabarro at Los Angeles Opera. 2011 marked Mr. Friedkin’s return to Maggio Musicale, Florence with The Makropulos Case. In 2012 he directed The Tales Of Hoffmann at Theater An der Wien, Vienna, Austria. More recently Friedkin has returned to his early roots in television drama with the highly acclaimed 12 Angry Men and has directed episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. He’s also directed action films as Rules Of Engagement and The Hunted, Bug and Killer which was released in 2012. ABOUT THE GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE The Geffen Playhouse has been a hub of the Los Angeles theater scene since opening its doors in 1995. Noted for its intimacy and celebrated for its world-renowned mix of classic and contemporary plays, provocative new works and second productions, the Geffen Playhouse continues to present a body of work that has garnered national recognition. Named in honor of entertainment mogul and philanthropist David Geffen, who made the initial donation to the theater, the company was founded by Gilbert Cates, and is currently helmed by Artistic Director Randall Arney, Managing Director Ken Novice, General Manager Behnaz Ataee, Chief Development Officer Regina Miller and Chairman of the Board Frank Mancuso. Proudly associated with UCLA, the Geffen Playhouse welcomes an audience of more than 130,000 each year, and maintains an extensive education and outreach program, designed to engage young people and the community at large in the arts. For more information, please visit www.geffenplayhouse.com.