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360° SERIES V I E W F I N D E R : FA C T S A N D P E R S P E C T I V E S O N T H E P L AY, P L AY W R I G H T, A N D P R O D U C T I O N

W W W . T FA N A . O R G


TA B L E O F CO N T E N T S The Play 3

A Note from the Author

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Dialogues: "Ripeness is All" by Ayanna Thompson

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Biography: Alice Stewart Trillin

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Dialogues: Holding on, Holding Up by Derek McCracken

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"Of Dragons and Garden Peas" by Alice Stewart Trillin

The Playwright 15

"I Hope She'd Think it Rang True"

Calvin Trillin in Conversation with Gail Kern Paster

The Production 22

Creative Team

About Theatre For a New Audience 25

Leadership

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Mission and Programs

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Major Supporters

Notes Front Cover: Front cover art by Milton Glaser, Inc. Photo: Calvin and Alice Trillin leaving the London registry office where they were married on August 13, 1965. Photo courtesy of Calvin Trillin. This Viewfinder will be periodically updated with additional information. Last updated January 16, 2019

Credits Biography of Alice Stewart Trillin by Peter James Cook. About Alice 360° | Edited by Soriya K. Chum | Copy-edit and Layout by Peter James Cook Literary Advisor: Jonathan Kalb | Council of Scholars Chair: Ayanna Thompson | Designed by: Milton Glaser, Inc. Copyright 2019 by Theatre for a New Audience. All rights reserved. With the exception of classroom use by teachers and individual personal use, no part of this Viewfinder may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Some materials herein are written especially for our guide. Others are reprinted with permission of their authors or publishers.

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360° VIEWFINDER A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

Calvin Trillin, author of ABOUT ALICE. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

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he origins of this play can be traced to two phone calls. The first was from David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, where I have been a staff writer for many years. He asked, rather tentatively, if I’d ever thought of writing about my wife, Alice, who had died several years before. I’d written thousands of words about Alice in her role as the sensible wife and mother in some of my lighter pieces about eating and travel and family life. I had published books titled Alice, Let’s Eat and Travels With Alice. But I took David to mean writing about Alice beyond the role she had in my tales—as what the title of the eventual New Yorker piece expressed as “Alice Off the Page.” A day or so after that New Yorker piece was published—before it was expanded into the memoir About Alice—I had a phone call from Jeffrey Horowitz, the artistic director of Theatre for a New Audience. Jeffrey had met Alice through a PBS series she’d originated—a series on the arts for children that in one episode featured a TFANA production of The Tempest directed by Julie Taymor. Jeffrey said that we had to find a way to bring Alice to the stage. I was not excited by the prospect of having an actor do the memoir as a monologue—an approach that presumably would require no more writing than I had already done—but Jeffrey thought it would be helpful to find out what that would sound like. It proved to be helpful in a way we hadn’t anticipated: The actor who did the reading, Michael Tucker, said that what he saw in the memoir was the germ of a two-character play. That did intrigue me. It seemed like an opportunity to show what Alice was like rather than simply to describe what she was like. I was attracted by the prospect of showing Alice at times in conversation and at times speaking directly to the audience. The words she speaks to the audience, by the way, are almost entirely drawn from her essays and letters. In that sense, Alice is the coauthor of this play. - Calvin Trillin ABOUT ALICE 3


DIALOGUES

"RIPENESS IS ALL"

AYANNA THOMPSON

Jeffrey Bean and Carrie Paff in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Henry Grossman.

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here is so much love in Calvin Trillin’s play About Alice. While everyone who has read any of Trillin’s essays or books knows that Alice Stewart Trillin was his muse, his conscience, his partner, and his favorite reader, this play allows Alice’s voice to ring through clearly, potently, and uniquely. For, as Alice jokes in the play, while she often came across as a “dietician in sensible shoes” in Trillin’s essays, she was his equal in every way in their lives as artists, thinkers, parents, and lovers. About Alice shows exactly how she “looked more alive than anyone,” how “she seemed to glow.” It is one of 4

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the most beautiful tributes both to Alice and to love that I have experienced. Part of the beauty of About Alice is the vivid quality of Alice’s voice, which Trillin partially accomplishes by quoting directly from Alice’s published works and letters. Her timing, phrasing, and relentless optimism is real; they are her words. Yet it is not merely the direct quotation that makes the play work remarkably well. Rather, it is the awareness between the characters of their images in other people’s imaginations. While Trillin’s readers might expect an Alice who is the straight man to his


"RIPENESS IS ALL" zany comic, About Alice reveals a couple who routinely swap roles—they are both “like Burns and Allen” at different points in their lives. While Trillin claims that narratives about marriages are “on a spectrum that goes roughly from sitcoms to Lifetime movies,” there are not a lot of great theatrical examples of plays about marital love. In fact, marital disasters and/or dissolutions are usually the stuff of great theatre. Think, for example, of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Or, if one tends toward comedies, there are lots of examples from the Restoration to the present moment of marriages that have to endure or survive risqué romps, escapades, and/or infidelities. About Alice, however, eschews these old, familiar tropes. There are no real marital tensions present in the play, unless you count Alice’s propensity to tell people how to remodel their houses. Instead, the tensions are presented as being entirely external to the marriage—a lack of time and the “dragon” cancer. The Trillins’ relationship demonstrates that the usual suspects in plays about marriage—the stuff that in its absence in About Alice ends up looking incredibly shallow and trite—ignores the real challenges of life. It is revelatory when Alice talks about facing the “worst nightmares” in life by quoting both Ernest Becker and William Shakespeare. She says, “You don’t get to choose, and it is not possible at least to understand what Ernest Becker meant when he said ‘To live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything,’ or to begin to understand the line in King Lear—‘Ripeness is all.’ I suppose that becoming ripe means finding out that none of the really important questions have answers. You might have chosen to become ripe less dramatically or dangerously, but you can still savor ripeness.” About Alice invites the audience to ponder what ripening in life and love actually entails. It is profound to think that one might choose to ripen less “dramatically or dangerously,” but

AYANNA THOMPSON ripen we all must. How exactly can we ripen with grace? While Trillin would probably say that he is inviting the audience to see, hear, and potentially use Alice as an example, About Alice reveals that the Trillins’ relationship is the true example. There must have been more marital challenges than Trillin reveals. Of course, there were, but as Alice says, Trillin’s preferred marital narrative was the sitcom; but so was hers! About Alice shows a couple who ripen together through truly challenging life events, but who ripen similarly—with a shared sense of wit, humor, dedication, and optimism. And what Trillin prized most about Alice, that she looked more alive than anyone else in the room, is actually the perfect description of their life together—they lived a life in which they allowed each other to glow unabashedly and equally. That is not the stuff of the typical marital play, but we should ask ourselves why not. Why do we gravitate towards narratives built on strife? Yes, those stories have a built-in narrative arc—stasis, slow burn, surprise revelation, excruciating pain, and final conflagration. In the end, though, those narratives of marital pain might be more comforting than a one about love and equality. How are we ripening? How are we allowing our partner to glow? How will we face the inevitable “rumble of terror”? • AYANNA THOMPSON is Director of the Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) at Arizona State University. She is the author of Shakespeare in the Theatre: Peter Sellars (Arden Bloomsbury, 2018), Teaching Shakespeare with Purpose: A StudentCentred Approach (Arden Bloomsbury, 2016), Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (Oxford University Press, 2011), and Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (Routledge, 2008). She wrote the new introduction for the revised Arden3 Othello (Arden, 2016), and is the editor of Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance (Palgrave, 2010) and Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance (Routledge, 2006). She is currently working on a collection of essays for Cambridge University Press on Shakespeare and race, and is collaborating with Curtis Perry on the Arden4 edition of Titus Andronicus. Professor Thompson is the 2018-19 President of the Shakespeare Association of America, and has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Marshall Scholars. She was one of Phi Beta Kappa’s Visiting Scholars for 2017-2018.

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BIOGRAPHY

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ALICE STE WAR T TRILLIN

lice Stewart Trillin (1938 – 2001) was a remarkable educator, author, film producer, activist and long-time muse of her husband, Calvin Trillin, whom she married in 1965.

She attended public schools, then earned a B.A. from Wellesley College and an M. A. from Yale in English Literature. She taught at Hofstra, the City University of New York, and New York Medical College. Her work on curriculum design led to consultations for the Corporate Commission on Educational Technology, a Presidential task force, and WNET-Thirteen. In 1981, she co-founded Learning Designs, a production company of award-winning children’s television. In 1976, a diagnosis of lung cancer led to another career: writing about being a cancer patient in what she called The Land of the Sick. In 1981, she published an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, ''Of Dragons and Garden Peas: A Cancer Patient Talks to Doctors.” Her pieces were also published in The Nation and Confrontation. A letter she wrote to a friend’s child who was battling cancer became an illustrated book, Dear Bruno. Her 1987 testimony before the New York City Council became a New York Times Op-Ed piece supporting a ban on smoking in public places. In 2001, eight months before her death due to complications from lung cancer, The New Yorker published “Betting Your Life,” her essay exploring the choices facing cancer patients. Alice Stewart Trillin. Above right: Photo by Doug Kirkland. Below: Photo courtesy of Calvin Trillin.

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DIALOGUES

HOLDING ON, HOLDING UP

DEREK McCRACKEN

Carrie Paff in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Henry Grossman.

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mong the obituaries published in the New York Times on September 13th, 2001, one headline says simply, “Alice Trillin, 63, Educator, Author and Muse, Is Dead.” Although accurate, this information belies Trillin’s multifaceted influence; she was also a curriculum pioneer, consultant, faculty and board member, alumnae, film producer, activist, mother and wife. Her husband, writer Calvin Trillin, often included Alice in his essays, articles and books, a tradition that continues posthumously in the two-character play About Alice. As they did in life and literature, the Trillins as characters reunite onstage so audiences can bear witness to scenes from their lifelong marriage, one in which love prevails even as cancer intrudes. Tabloid trash, be gone! The Trillins’ tale is not a sordid one. In the play, tension and conflict emerge from a proverbial card dealer’s

perspective: all hands are shown and known—but now what? ALICE: For me, the measure of how you hold up in the face of a life-threatening illness is not how well you change but how much you stay the same. The worst thing cancer can do is rob you of your identity. Energy, hair, sleep, personhood—cancer can be the thief of all of these. The crisis then becomes more than criminal; it’s existential. ALICE: Who I am has always had a lot to do with how I look, and I need to be who I am now more than at any other time. Even if I’m dying, I have to hold on to this recognizable identity. In About Alice, Trillin the widower creates space for his wife to step center stage with a narrative that glows with both humility and humor. That’s a relief, and typical Trillin. ABOUT ALICE 7


HOLDING ON, HOLDING UP Like most of us, I grew to “know” Mr. Trillin vis-à-vis his writing. And as a Kansas City, Missouri, native, I even consider myself a fellow member of the “brotherhood of barbecue” rallying behind his assertion that our midwestern cowtown has the best burnt ends and slabs of ribs anywhere. I was less familiar with Alice the author, Alice the muse, and Alice the oft-quoted spouse and subject of her husband/humorist’s writing. And then life took a turn. In a five-year span, lung cancer cut short the lives of both of my parents. Amidst all of the travel and treatments, our big, blended IrishItalian family struggled to make sense of what was happening, what wasn’t happening, what needed to happen. Parent-child roles were reversed, compounding what medical sociologist Arthur Frank calls the chaos narrative, one in which the diagnosis and prognosis come too fast, befuddling both patient and caregivers. Time becomes elastic, stretching out endlessly when we’re waiting for new information, yet shrinking when we long for more days together. Even without knowing Alice, I was caught up in a similar, familiar narrative. Every day we asked the same question: “What did the doctors say?” ALICE: We agreed that the best course was to act quickly, because for me not knowing what is going on in my body is far worse than any awful certainty that might be discovered. Serious medical decisions are not philosophical discussions; X-rays and scans and biopsies are the key; science will tell you what to do. In this passage from Trillin’s essay “Bettering Your Life” published in The New Yorker, she adopts a traditional Western medicalized perspective, one popularized by generations of cultural assumptions that precision medicine will ultimately prevail: white-coat doctors will step in, step up, and eventually reveal the truth—or at least their latest interpretation of the truth. Sounds good, but what do we do in the meantime? 8

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DEREK McCRACKEN

Like the Trillins, what my family lacked in certainty we made up for in connectivity, drawing on our reserve of stories to keep us occupied during long chemotherapy treatments, while gathered at the kitchen table, and while holding space at bedside hospice. When medical facts were scarce, slow or insufficient, this delving into and documenting of stories provided amusement, distraction, and catharsis. ALICE: For a long time after I found out that I had cancer, I loved hearing stories. In the absence of stories, the risk associated with secretive silence is dire. Author and selfproclaimed cripple Nancy Mairs, who lived with Carrie Paff in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


HOLDING ON, HOLDING UP and died from multiple sclerosis, warns us in Carnal Acts, a biographical essay, that “What we aren’t permitted to utter holds us, each isolated from every other, in a kind of solipsistic thrall. Without any way to check our reality against anyone else’s, we assume that our fears and shortcomings are ours alone.” These reality checks create a conundrum for us listeners, the audience. Frank asks, “What sense shall we make of the stories we hear, and how shall we represent these stories to others?” As I read About Alice, I came to see the playwright as both artist and apothecar y, where, in the words of playwright Suzan-Lori Jeffrey Bean and Carrie Paff in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

DEREK McCRACKEN

Parks, the “words are the medicine.” Mr. Trillin (as the playwright and character) pays homage to his wife in a manner he calls corrective, reclaiming and reframing the “sitcom”-like treatment he says he has given her in his other writing. This play is indeed about Alice, and frequent excerpts from her own published writings infuse the script with an energy and authenticity of memoir. Alice’s onstage appearance doesn’t haunt her husband; it represents something in his mind that is more muse than metaphysical. Phenomenologically, Mr. Trillin is a body at work drawing on his wife’s body of work. This poses a dilemma: Whose story is it? Who should be telling it? What role does memory play, and is it reliable? Does it need to be? While revisiting and reshuffling their poignant interactions, Calvin and Alice (like so many long-term couples) co-create episodes of revisionist history: CALVIN: When I saw Alice at that party, she was wearing a hat. ALICE: I wasn’t wearing a hat. Along the way, familiar and folkloric metaphors provide a sense of comfort: Alice personifies her cancer as a dragon in waiting; she and her peers become a tiny Amazon army, and “ Then, three days after the bone scan, I was offered a fragile rope with which I could begin to pull myself out of the tunnel I felt I’d been living in.” We, too, pull for Alice—even as she begins to let go. • DEREK McCRACKEN, MS, MA is interested in the field of medical humanities, particularly how illness and disability are represented in contemporary theater. He teaches narrative medicine pedagogy at Columbia University and facilitates narrative medicine workshops for faculty and staff at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He has published articles in Critical Stages, American Theatre, and Emerging Science and Technolog y, and recently joined the board of Say Ah!, a community-based health literacy organization.

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DIALOGUES OF DRAGONS AND GARDEN PEAS ALICE STEWART TRILLIN

Carrie Paff and Jeffrey Bean in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

This essay was originally published in The New England Journal of Medicine on March 19, 1981. It is re-published here with the permission of the Journal.

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hen I first realized that I might have cancer, I felt immediately that I had entered a special place, a place I came to call "The Land of the Sick People." The most disconcerting thing, however, was not that I found that place terrifying and unfamiliar, but that I found it so ordinary, so banal. I didn't feel different, didn't feel that my life had radically changed at the moment the word cancer became attached to it. The same rules still held. What had changed, however, was other people's perceptions of me. Unconsciously, even with a certain amount of kindness, everyone—with the single rather extraordinary exception of my husband—regarded me as someone who had been altered irrevocably. I don't want to exaggerate my feeling of alienation or to give the impression that it was in any way dramatic. I have no horror stories of the kind I read a few years ago in the New York Times; people didn't move their desks away from me at the office or refuse to let their children play 10

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with my children at school because they thought that cancer was catching. My friends are all too sophisticated and too sensitive for that kind of behavior. Their distance from me was marked most of all by their inability to understand the ordinariness, the banality of what was happening to me. They marveled at how well I was "coping with cancer." I had become special, no longer like them. Their genuine concern for what had happened to me, and their complete separateness from it, expressed exactly what I had felt all my life about anyone I had ever known who had experienced tragedy. When asked to speak to a group of doctors and medical students about what it was like to be a cancer patient, I worried for a long time about what I should say. It was a perfect opportunity— every patient's fantasy—to complain about doctors' insensitivity, nurses who couldn't draw blood properly, and perhaps even the awful food in hospitals. Or, instead, I could present myself as the good patient, full of uplifting thoughts about how much I had learned from having cancer. But, unlike many people, I had had very good


OF DRAGONS AND GARDEN PEAS ALICE STEWART TRILLIN experiences with doctors and hospitals. And the role of the brave patient troubled me, because I was afraid that all the brave things I said might no longer hold if I got sick again. I had to think about this a great deal during the first two years after my operation as I watched my best friend live out my own worst nightmares. She discovered that she had cancer several months after I did. Several months after that, she discovered that it had metastasized; she underwent eight operations during the next year and a half before she died. All my brave talk was tested by her illness as it has not yet been tested by mine. And so I decided not to talk about the things that separate those of us who have cancer from those who do not. I decided that the only relevant thing for me to talk about was the one thing that we all have most in common. We are all afraid of dying. Our fear of death makes it essential to maintain a distance between ourselves and anyone who is threatened by death. Denying our connection to the precariousness of others' lives is a way of pretending that we are immortal. We need this deception—it is one of the ways we stay sane— but we also need to be prepared for the times when it doesn't work. For doctors, who confront death when they go to work in the morning as routinely as other people deal with balance sheets and computer printouts, and for me, to whom a chest x-ray or a blood test will never again be a simple, routine procedure, it is particularly important to face the fact of death squarely, to talk about it with one another. Cancer connects us to one another because having cancer is an embodiment of the existential paradox that we all experience: we feel that we are immortal, yet we know that we will die. To Tolstoy's Ivan Ilyich, the syllogism he had learned as a child, "'Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal,' had always seemed... correct as applied to Caius but certainly not as applied to himself." Like Ivan Ilyich, we all construct an elaborate set of defense mechanisms to separate ourselves from Caius. To anyone who

has had cancer, these defense mechanisms become talismans that we invest with a kind of magic. These talismans are essential to our sanity, and yet they need to be examined. First of all, we believe in the magic of doctors and medicine. The purpose of a talisman is to give us control over the things we are afraid of. Doctors and patients are accomplices in staging a kind of drama in which we pretend that doctors have the power to keep us well. The very best doctors—and I have had the very best—share their power with their patients and try to give us the information that we need to control our own treatment. Whenever I am threatened by panic, my doctor sits me down and tells me something concrete. He draws a picture of my lung, or my lymph nodes; he explains as well as he can how cancer cells work and what might be happening in my body. Together, we approach my disease intelligently and rationally, as a problem to be solved, an exercise in logic to be worked out. Of course, through knowledge, through medicine, through intelligence, we do have some control. But at best this control is limited, and there is always the danger that the disease I have won't behave rationally and respond to the intelligent argument we have constructed. Cancer cells, more than anything else in nature, are likely to behave irrationally. If we think that doctors and medicine can always protect us, we are in danger of losing faith in doctors and medicine when their magic doesn't work. The physician who fails to keep us well is like an unsuccessful witch doctor; we have to drive him out of the tribe and look for a more powerful kind of magic. The reverse of this, of course, is that the patient becomes a kind of talisman for the doctor. Doctors defy death by keeping people alive. To a patient, it becomes immediately clear that the best way to please a doctor is to be healthy. If you can't manage that, the next best thing is to be well-behaved. (Sometimes the difference between being healthy and being well-behaved becomes blurred in a hospital, so that it almost seems as if being sick were being badly behaved.) A B O U T A L I C E 11


OF DRAGONS AND GARDEN PEAS ALICE STEWART TRILLIN If we get well, we help our doctors succeed; if we are sick, we have failed. Patients often say that their doctors seem angry with them when they don't respond to treatment. I think that this phenomenon is more than patients' paranoia or the result of overdeveloped medical egos. It is the fear of death again. It is necessary for doctors to become a bit angry with patients who are dying, if only as a way of separating themselves from someone in whom they have invested a good bit of time and probably a good bit of caring. We all do this to people who are sick. I can remember being terribly angry with my mother, who was prematurely senile, for a long time. Somehow I needed to think that it was her fault that she was sick, because her illness frightened me so much. I was also angry with my friend who died of cancer. I felt that she had let me down, that perhaps she hadn't fought hard enough. It was important for me to find reasons for her death, to find things that she might have done to cause it, as a way of separating myself from her and as a way of thinking that I would somehow have behaved differently, that I would somehow have been able to stay alive. So, once we have recognized the limitations of the magic of doctors and medicine, where are we? We have to turn to our own magic, to our ability to "control" our bodies. For people who don't have cancer, this often takes the form of jogging and exotic diets and transcendental meditation. For people who have cancer, it takes the form of conscious development of the will to live. For a long time after I found out that I had cancer, I loved hearing stories about people who had simply decided that they would not be sick. I remember one story about a man who had a lung tumor and a wife with breast cancer and several children to support; he said,"I simply can't afford to be sick." Somehow the tumor went away. I think I suspected that there was a missing part to this story when I heard it, but there was also something that sounded right to me. I knew what he meant. I also found the fact that I had cancer unacceptable; the thought that my children might 12

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grow up without me was as ridiculous as the thought that I might forget to make appointments for their dental checkups and polio shots. I simply had to be there. Of course, doctors give a lot of credence to the power of the will over illness, but I have always suspected that the stories in medical books about this power might also have missing parts. My friend who died wanted to live more than anyone I have ever known. The talisman of will didn't work for her. The need to exert some kind of control over the irrational forces that we imagine are loose in our bodies also results in what I have come to recognize as the "brave act" put on by people who have cancer. We all do it. The blood-count line at Memorial Hospital can be one of the cheeriest places in New York on certain mornings. It was on this line, during my first visit to Memorial, that a young leukemia patient in remission told me, "They treat lung cancer like the common cold around here." (Believe me, that was the cheeriest thing anyone had said to me in months.) While waiting for blood counts, I have heard stories from people with lymphoma who were given up for dead in other hospitals and who are feeling terrific. The atmosphere in that line suggests a gathering of knights who have just slain a bunch of dragons. But there are always people in the line who don't say anything at all, and I always wonder if they have at other times felt the exhilaration felt by those of us who are well. We all know, at least, that the dragons are never quite dead and might at any time be aroused, ready for another fight. But our brave act is important. It is one of the ways we stay alive, and it is the way that we convince those who live in "The Land of the Well People" that we aren't all that different from them. As much as I rely on the talisman of the will, I know that believing in it too much can lead to another kind of deception. There has been a great deal written (mostly by psychiatrists) about why people get cancer and which personality types are most likely to get it. Susan Sontag has pointed out that this explanation of cancer parallels the explanations for tuberculosis that were popular


OF DRAGONS AND GARDEN PEAS ALICE STEWART TRILLIN before the discovery of the tubercle bacillus. But it is reassuring to think that people get cancer because of their personalities, because that implies that we have some control over whether we get it. (On the other hand, if people won't give up smoking to avoid cancer, I don't see how they can be expected to change their personalities on the basis of far less compelling evidence.) The trouble with this explanation of cancer is the trouble with any talisman: it is only useful when its charms are working. If I get sick, does that mean that my will to live isn't strong enough? Is being sick a moral and psychological failure? If I feel successful, as if I had slain a dragon, because I am well, should I feel guilty, as if I have failed, if I get sick? One of the ways that all of us avoid thinking about death is by concentrating on the details of our daily lives. The work that we do every day and the people we love—the fabric of our lives—convince us that we are alive and that we will stay alive. William Saroyan said in a recent Carrie Paff in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Henry Grossman.

book, "Why am I writing this book? To save my life, to keep from dying, of course. That is why we get up in the morning." Getting up in the morning seems particularly miraculous after having seriously considered the possibility that these mornings might be limited. A year after I had my lung removed, my doctors asked me what I cared about most. I was about to go to Nova Scotia, where we have a summer home, and where I had not been able to go the previous summer because I was having radiation treatments, and I told him that what was most important to me was garden peas. Not the peas themselves, of course, though they were particularly good that year. What was extraordinary to me after that year was that I could again think that peas were important, that I could concentrate on the details of when to plant them and how much mulch they would need instead of thinking about platelets and white cells. I cherished the privilege of thinking about trivia. Thinking about death can make the details of our lives seem unimportant, and so, paradoxically, they become a burden—too much trouble to think about. This is the real meaning of depression: feeling weighed down by the concrete, unable to make the effort to move objects around, overcome by ennui. It is the fear of death that causes that ennui, because the fear of death ties us too much to the physical. We think too much about our bodies, and our bodies become too concrete—machines not functioning properly. The other difficulty with the talisman of the moment is that it is often the very preciousness of these moments that makes the thought of death so painful. As my friend got closer to death she became rather removed from those she loved the most. She seemed to have gone to some place where we couldn't reach her—to have died what doctors sometimes call a "premature death." I much preferred to think of her enjoying precious moments. I remembered the almost ritualistic way she had her hair cut and tied in satin ribbons before brain surgery, the funny, somehow joyful afternoon that we spent trying wigs on her newly shaved head. Those moments made it seem as if it A B O U T A L I C E 13


OF DRAGONS AND GARDEN PEAS ALICE STEWART TRILLIN wasn't so bad to have cancer. But of course it was bad. It was unspeakably bad, and toward the end she couldn't bear to speak about it or to be too close to the people she didn't want to leave. The strength of my love for my children, my husband, my life, even my garden peas has probably been more important than anything else in keeping me alive. The intensity of this love is also what makes me so terrified of dying. For many, of course, a response to the existential paradox is religion—Kierkegaard's irrational leap toward faith. It is no coincidence that such a high number of conversions take place in cancer hospitals; there is even a group of Catholic nurses in New York who are referred to by other members of their hospital staff as "the death squad." I don't mean to belittle such conversions or any help that religion can give to anyone. I am at this point in my life simply unqualified to talk about the power of this particular talisman. In considering some of the talismans we all use to deny death, I don't mean to suggest that these talismans should be abandoned. However, their limits must be acknowledged. Carrie Paff and Jeffrey Bean in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Henry Grossman.

Ernest Becker, in The Denial of Death, says that "skepticism is a more radical experience, a more manly confrontation of potential meaninglessness than mysticism." The most important thing I know now that I didn't know four years ago is that this "potential meaninglessness" can in fact be confronted. As much as I rely on my talismans—my doctors, my will, my husband, my children, and my garden peas—I know that from time to time I will have to confront what Conrad described as "the horror." I know that we can—all of us—confront that horror and not be destroyed by it, even, to some extent, be enhanced by it. To quote Becker again: "I think that taking life seriously means something such as this: that whatever man does on this planet has to be done in the lived truth of the terror of creation, of the grotesque, of the rumble of panic underneath everything. Otherwise it is false." It astonishes me that having faced the terror, we continue to live, even to live with a great deal of joy. It is commonplace for people who have cancer—particularly those who feel as well as I do—to talk about how much richer their lives are because they have confronted death. Yes, my life is very rich. I have even begun to understand that wonderful line in King Lear, "Ripeness is all." I suppose that becoming ripe means finding out that none of the really important questions have answers. I wish that life had devised a less terrifying, less risky way of making me ripe. But I wasn't given any choice about this. William Saroyan said recently, "I'm growing old! I'm falling apart! And it's VERY INTERESTING!" I'd be willing to bet that Mr. Saroyan, like me, would much rather be young and all in one piece. But some-how his longing for youth and wholeness doesn't destroy him or stop him from getting up in the morning and writing, as he says, to save his life. We will never kill the dragon. But each morning we confront him. Then we give our children breakfast, perhaps put a bit more mulch on the peas, and hope that we can convince the dragon to stay away for a while longer. •

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INTERVIEW "I HOPE SHE'D THINK IT RANG TRUE" CALVIN TRILLIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GAIL KERN PASTER

Rehearsals for Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Left: Carrie Paff and Calvin Trillin. Above: Calvin Trillin and Jeffrey Bean. Photos by Gerry Goodstein.

As rehearsals began for About Alice, Gail Kern Paster, of Theatre for a New Audience's Council of Scholars, spoke with author Calvin Trillin. GAIL KERN PASTER Let me begin by saying that

GAIL KERN PASTER I remember my daughter

telling me that she had read The New Yorker piece and ended up in tears. It was very moving, and the book is wonderful.

for a fan and a long-time reader of Calvin Trillin like me, this play about Alice is suffused with love, and sadness, and humor. And I am curious why you decided so many years after her death in 2001 to write the play. Did it take you this long to get distance from her death? Or is there some other reason?

We usually think of drama as being built around conflict. Obviously, it isn't conflict with Alice that animates this play. I'm wondering whether the conflict is with the struggle not to forget— with the whole question of memory and loss— and whether the conflict is with death and oblivion? Does that sound right to you?

CALVIN TRILLIN There's another reason, really—

CALVIN TRILLIN That is not something I thought

that it came in stages. I really hadn't thought about writing about Alice and then David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, asked me in a very gingerly way if I had ever considered it. After “Alice, Off the Page” came out in The New Yorker in 2006, that piece was later expanded into a book called About Alice. When "Alice, Off the Page" came out in The New Yorker, Jeffrey Horowitz called and said, "That should be some sort of theatrical work." And so, it really started there. So, it was step by step. It wasn’t a sudden decision.

of as I wrote. I actually thought of the piece, originally, as a corrective to Alice's portrayal as a figure in some of my lighter pieces, which were sitcom-like. GAIL KERN PASTER That's what she says in the play. CALVIN TRILLIN The book was still that way, which

was what I had written about Alice in some of those lighter pieces. But then I wanted to present Alice as a substantial person and not somebody in a sitcom. So I started out with the idea of this being a corrective. That's the easiest way to put it. I hadn't realized until I started getting letters that a A B O U T A L I C E 15


INTERVIEW: CALVIN TRILLIN lot of people thought the piece was about marriage and love. I thought it was about Alice. GAIL KERN PASTER But anyone who read

anything you wrote about your lives together understood that the love of Alice was really central, that everything flowed from that. And I think it’s pretty clear in the play, too. CALVIN TRILLIN I guess so—where she says that it

wasn’t hard to tell from the sitcoms the way I felt about her. GAIL KERN PASTER No, I think that's right. How

did you decide what to leave in and what to leave out, considering how much material you had? CALVIN TRILLIN To begin with, it was an

unconventional two-character play. There's a limit to the length. The director Leonard Foglia thought an hour and 20 minutes was about right, so it was a matter of getting to that. And, of course, there are certain things that

GAIL KERN PASTER

may work in a book that don’t work in theater. And in a play with two characters, you can't have a conversation with somebody else. So I didn’t have as much trouble with structure as I expected to have. GAIL KERN PASTER You've written screenplays,

but am I correct in thinking that this is the first play that you've written? CALVIN TRILLIN I had written a book of short

stories that were more like fictional essays for The New Yorker called Barnett Frummer Is an Unbloomed Flower about trendiness in the '60s. And I wrote a play based on that. Everybody said, "Don’t. A play is gonna be difficult. So, you'd have to find a producer and everything." A friend of mine was having a play produced, and he said, "Send it to this producer," which I did. The guy said, "Oh yeah, I'll produce that." And that was the highpoint. It all went downhill after that—the play was never produced.

Carrie Paff and Jeffrey Bean in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Henry Grossman.

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INTERVIEW: CALVIN TRILLIN

GAIL KERN PASTER

GAIL KERN PASTER So, anyone who wants to see

GAIL KERN PASTER Do you ever want to leap up

it will have to look in the Calvin Trillin archive?

and say to Jeffrey Bean, "No, no, no! That’s not me at all"?

CALVIN TRILLIN Archives is a nice word for my

basement. There might be alligators down there. It would be a brave archivist who tried to find it. GAIL KERN PASTER You've just issued a challenge

to somebody, don’t be surprised! When you were writing the play, did you ever think that Alice might not be dead at the beginning? You begin the play with the condolence letters that you've received, so no one is in doubt that the Alice we see on the stage is a ghost. CALVIN TRILLIN I think of her as less of a ghost

than just something in my mind.

CALVIN TRILLIN If I did that, the director might

say, "Maybe you could tell that to me quietly between times that we're here." Sometimes when you hear something out loud, you realize that it doesn’t come across the way that you expected it to. But I never had the feeling, "No, that's not what I would say." GAIL KERN PASTER The idea of watching

someone play oneself strikes me as being a little disconcerting. CALVIN TRILLIN I guess it is. But I never had

the feeling, "Oh, they should've given George Clooney the role.”

I didn’t want the play to be about her dying, I wanted it to be about her life. I wanted in the first place to plant what people were gonna see— that she was in my mind, rather than real—and do what amount to flashbacks. The first line was in my mind right from the start—the one condolence letter that made me laugh.

GAIL KERN PASTER Well, clearly that's true.

GAIL KERN PASTER The one from Roger Wilkins.

movies, and I would put my dialogue down as several words, for a several-word total. And the only other theatrical experience I've had was a couple of what my daughters call "the one-ham

What were you looking for when you, Jeffrey Horowitz, and Leonard Foglia were casting the play? CALVIN TRILLIN We had a great advantage in that

the people who ended up in the play in Brooklyn were in a workshop production in Nantucket. Jeffrey Bean really impressed us because he seemed to have the rhythm of the language down. He understood the humorous parts—or attempts at humor—because he said when I met him, "You slipped the jokes under the door."

When I was thinking about this conversation, I went to the International Movie Database where they describe you as an actor first and a writer second. I thought that was just hilarious. CALVIN TRILLIN My entire acting career was two

Jeffrey Bean in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Henry Grossman.

And before I even saw him act, I realized that he understood the rhythm of the language. Carrie as Alice is just great. Last week I heard something on the radio or television and thought, "God, that's Alice." And then I realized that it reminded me of Carrie playing Alice.

A B O U T A L I C E 17


INTERVIEW: CALVIN TRILLIN

GAIL KERN PASTER

shows." At the American Place Theatre in '88 and in '90 when Wynn Handman, who directed the American Place Theatre, had to tell me for sure what stage right and stage left meant.

GAIL KERN PASTER What do you think the

GAIL KERN PASTER Upstage, downstage, right.

she really was, as opposed to "Sitcom Alice." From the response to the play in Nantucket, and the book, and the article, people think it’s about love and marriage.

CALVIN TRILLIN Upstage really fooled me.

I thought I would have been closer to the audience, but I went along with them. So, the whole thing is new to me and sometimes I don’t quite understand the language. GAIL KERN PASTER You’ve always said that Alice

was your first reader, you were writing for Alice. I'm wondering who you're writing this play for if not Alice. Is it the people who know and love Alice from reading you? CALVIN TRILLIN If I wrote it for anybody it was

for my grandchildren, so they would know who she was.

audience who doesn’t know you will take away from seeing the play? CALVIN TRILLIN I wanted people to know who

GAIL KERN PASTER It's so much easier to write

a play about a failing marriage, or a difficult marriage, or marriage on the rocks. You're writing a play about a long marriage that was successful and loving until the end. That’s a challenge, isn't it? CALVIN TRILLIN I think it is if you think, "Oh

my god, how am I gonna do this when this is contrary to what is supposed to be a conflict and then a resolution," et cetera, et cetera.

Jeffrey Bean and Carrie Paff in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Henry Grossman.

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INTERVIEW: CALVIN TRILLIN But this is an unconventional play. Sometimes they talk to each other, sometimes they talk to the audience, and sometimes one of them talks to the audience and the other one adds something in the same speech. I meant it as a portrait of her, so I didn’t feel the need to put in the obligatory conflict and resolution that’s standard in plays. I don’t know whether that's going to be proven a mistake, but I never thought of it as a conventional play. GAIL KERN PASTER There's a wonderful line of

Oscar Wilde’s—which I'm not going get right— in which he talks about the scandal of people airing their clean laundry in public. That's what I think you're doing. There's a wonderful moment in the play where you hand something to her, and she doesn’t laugh. You're distressed, and then it's her "Gotcha" moment, right? It's her practical joke on you. What do you think she would say about this play?

GAIL KERN PASTER

me, and I wanted this to be about her. GAIL KERN PASTER Anyone who sees or reads this

play will take away her extraordinary courage because this is a play about a life lived in the shadow of death from an early age. CALVIN TRILLIN Yes, that's true. She approached

that like she approached everything else—as an optimist. But she was very practical. She said, you always fear that the beast is going to come back, but what she wanted to do was her normal life, and it was important not to change that because she didn’t want to be a sick person while she was alive, and that had to do a lot with how she faced things. GAIL KERN PASTER The irony that is really clear

in the play is that the very treatment that kept her alive after her diagnosis for lung cancer was the thing that finally brought about her death in the end. Carrie Paff in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

CALVIN TRILLIN I think that she'd be pleased that

I wrote it. I don’t think there's anybody who is not pleased about having something written about them as long as it's not a Mommy Dearest tell-all. And I hope she’d think that it rang true. I'm sure she would have some suggestions. But I have to do without those now. And there is a lot in the play that is her writing—literally word for word, what she'd written down somewhere. GAIL KERN PASTER Everyone will say that she is

lovingly represented with love and humor and sadness. She died on 9/11, which is a fact you don’t introduce into the play. Did you think it would be a distraction? Or an irrelevancy? Or another shadow? CALVIN TRILLIN There have been some wonderful

books and plays written about people who died, but I wanted to write a play about her life. And the idea of attaching yourself to a disaster, I found repugnant. If I introduced the fact that she died on 9/11, it would have been more about A B O U T A L I C E 19


INTERVIEW: CALVIN TRILLIN CALVIN TRILLIN Yes. That is what the doctors

seem to think. Twenty-five years is a long time for somebody to survive lung cancer, and I think it was a bargain she would have been willing to make. GAIL KERN PASTER You call it "the dragon."

Did it ever really recede, or was it always, somehow, lurking in the background? For her and for you? CALVIN TRILLIN It did recede. At some point I

GAIL KERN PASTER

just thought they were just living a regular life like everybody else. GAIL KERN PASTER One gets the impression not

only that Alice was courageous, but also that she was pretty formidable, even a little bossy? CALVIN TRILLIN Bossy is definitely a word that has

been applied. I hope the girls have inherited some of that. She said what she thought, and she seemed to have an attraction for forbidden subjects.

quit thinking about it all the time. We did go back to our lives, and she was after remaining who you are. It was important to her to worry about her garden, her kids, and the everyday things of life. I guess it was always lurking back there somewhere, but we didn’t feel we were living under a sword all that time.

We had dinner with a friend who brought along somebody from out of town who was described as a "sugar baron." And before dessert, at least three times, Alice had brought up the effect of sugar on people's teeth.

My girls were four and seven when Alice got sick, so it took a while to sort all that out, they

clear in this play is that she had pretty strong opinions about other people's houses.

Carrie Paff in Theatre for a New Audience's production of ABOUT ALICE by Calvin Trillin, directed by Leonard Foglia. Photo by Henry Grossman.

GAIL KERN PASTER The other thing that's really

CALVIN TRILLIN Mainly there were too many

walls. She was always knocking down walls. GAIL KERN PASTER So, what saved the day in

the end? Was it the force of her charm? Nobody ever seems to have gotten mad at her for her forceful opinions. CALVIN TRILLIN Maybe they were mad and didn’t

tell me about it. But she didn’t tell somebody that she hated their dress or anything like that. GAIL KERN PASTER Just open up the wall. CALVIN TRILLIN Right, open up the wall. Even if it's

a bearing wall; bearing walls did not impress her. It’s pretty clear in everything you’ve ever written why you married her, but you are modest about why she married you, because you call it "dumb luck." GAIL KERN PASTER

CALVIN TRILLIN I used to say "Well everybody

knows pretty girls often have bad taste in men, and so that's how she found me." GAIL KERN PASTER And stuck with you. Maybe she

just thought you were the never-ending project? 20

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INTERVIEW: CALVIN TRILLIN CALVIN TRILLIN That could be. Although she

would tell the girls that this idea of having a boyfriend or a husband that you're going to make better is a fool's errand. She said her father used to tell her that, "Let somebody else make him better, and then you can talk about him." GAIL KERN PASTER I think your readers know

exactly why she stuck with you. I wonder if you're ever been asked whether you have a theory of comedy? CALVIN TRILLIN Comedy is so subjective. I think

GAIL KERN PASTER

like saying when people ask you what you do, I'm a great third baseman." GAIL KERN PASTER It's self-praise? CALVIN TRILLIN You're deciding that people

think it's funny, which is really not your decision to make. I always say, "Attempts at humor." That is a feature of what I wrote, the first time I started writing. GAIL KERN PASTER And so, if Alice didn’t think

something was funny, you believed her?

that's one of the reasons that you can't write attempts at humor with the expectation of who's reading it and asking whether they will laugh. Because you never know. I found when I did the "one-ham shows" that what I thought was a leadin line to something else, got a laugh, and lines that I thought were very funny didn’t necessarily get a laugh.

CALVIN TRILLIN I would tend to look at it pretty

If there's a theory, the theory is that there isn't any theory. I think some people just have a weird turn of mind. I've written sad pieces for The New Yorker, but there's always some attempt at irony in them because that’s just the way my mind works.

I loved the play, and I deeply appreciated this conversation. In some ways, this play seems to be a very New York play, and in some ways, it's a universal play about memory, and loss, and living life.

I think that Alice, who taught writing, believed that it was nonsense that you couldn’t teach people to write. I agree with [that] because writing is just expressing your thoughts. But it would be hard to teach someone to be funny. There's just some gene somewhere that makes things come out in kind of a slant, and it's certainly not correlated with intelligence. It's obvious that a lot of really intelligent people aren't funny even when they try to be. GAIL KERN PASTER Would you say that the aspect

of humor in your writing has been present from the beginning? In Kansas City or when you were at Yale? CALVIN TRILLIN There's a great quote from Ring

Lardner when his sons ask him why he doesn’t describe himself as a humorist, and he said, "It's

carefully if she didn’t think it was funny, although not everybody has the same sense of humor even if they're married to each other. I've had the occasion when people haven't laughed. I can't say I really enjoy it, but they don’t take your house away or freeze your bank account. GAIL KERN PASTER I want to say, in closing, that

I think our audiences will love it. • This interview has been edited and condensed. GAIL KERN PASTER is consulting editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, the leading scholarly journal devoted to Shakespeare. She retired in July 2011 as Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. She came to the directorship from George Washington University, where she was a Professor of English. She earned a B.A., magna cum laude, at Smith College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and a Ph.D. at Yale University. She has won many national fellowships and awards, including fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. She was named to the Queen’s Honours List as a Commander of the British Empire in May 2011. She has published widely—including three books (The Idea of the City in the Age of Shakespeare [1986]; The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England [1993]; and Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage [2004]). She continues to pursue her scholarly interests in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

A B O U T A L I C E 21


THE PRODUCTION CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM CARRIE PAFF (Actor). TFANA debut. Off-Broadway:

Ideation (59E59). Regional: King Charles III (ACT), Stage Kiss, Stupid Fucking Bird (San Francisco Playhouse), Double Indemnity (ACT Seattle), The Real Thing, Betrayal (Aurora Theatre), Holmes & Watson (Arizona Theatre Company), The Other Place (Magic Theatre), The Big Meal (San Jose Rep), A Streetcar Named Desire (Marin Theatre Company), and Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress (Leicester Square, London). Film: Finding Dory, The Good Dinosaur, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. carriepaff.com JEFFREY BEAN (Actor). Broadway: Bells Are Ringing

(Francis), Amadeus (Kapellmeister Bono). Off-Broadway: The Thanksgiving Play, Playwrights Horizons. Regional: Alley Theatre (Resident Company, 28 seasons), Actors Theatre of Louisville, Ahmanson Theatre, Hartford Stage, Bay Street Theatre, White Heron Theatre. Film: Clinger. TV: Law & Order, Law & Order:SVU, The Blacklist, The Good Cop. Awards: Princess Grace Award, Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship. jeffreybean.com CALVIN TRILLIN (Author) is an American journalist,

humorist, food writer, poet, memoirist, and novelist. He began his career as a journalist in the fall of 1960, spending a year in the Atlanta bureau of Time covering the civil rights struggle in the South and then moving to Time in New York. In 1963, he joined The New Yorker as a staff writer. His New Yorker article on the desegregation of the University Rehearsals for Theatre for a New Audience's of Georgia was published as his first book, An Education production of ABOUT ALICE. in Georgia. From 1967 to 1982, he wrote a series called Top and middle: Carrie Paff and Jeffrey Bean. U.S. Journal in The New Yorker—a 3,000-word reporting Bottom: Calvin Trillin and director Leonard Foglia. Photos by Gerry Goodstein. piece from somewhere in America every three weeks. He has published thirty-one books, ranging from comic novels (Tepper Isn’t Going Out) to political verse (Obliviously On He Sails) to true crime (Killings). Alice Trillin appears in some of Trillin’s lighter books, such as Family Man, and so do their daughters, Abigail and Sarah. An anthology of his humorous pieces, Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff, was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2012. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The American Place Theatre, as part of its American Humorists Series, presented one-man shows by Mr. Trillin twice – Calvin Trillin’s Uncle Sam in 1988 and Words, No Music in 1990. About Alice is his first full length play. LEONARD FOGLIA (Director). Broadway:

, Wait Until Dark, On Golden Pond, Thurgood, The People in the Picture, The Gin Game. Off-Broadway: Anna Deavere Smith’s Let Me Down Easy and Notes From the Field, One Touch of Venus. Opera world premieres: Moby Dick, It’s a Wonderful Life, Everest, Cold Mountain, The End of the Affair, and Three Decembers. His production of Dead Man Walking has played across the country and internationally. As a librettist, he wrote Cruzar la Cara de la Luna and El Pasado Nunca Se Termina, with composer José “Pepe” Martínez; A Coffin in Eg ypt with composer Ricky Ian Gordon. 22

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THE PRODUCTION

CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM

(Scenic Designer). Broadway: The Gin Game, The Gershwins’ Porg y and Bess (Tony 2012 Best Musical Revival), The People in the Picture (Studio 54), Caroline, or Change, Topdog/Underdog, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, Noise/Funk (also National Tour and Japan), Parade (Tony/ Drama Desk Noms), The Tempest, Bells are Ringing. Recent: La Mouette, Jan Karski, Mon Nom Est Une Fiction (both for Avignon Festival: Cour d’Honneur, Opera Theatre, France), The Dead (Abbey Theater, Dublin) Il Postino (L.A. Opera, PBS Great Performances), Philip Glass’ Appomattox (SFO), Lost Highway (London’s ENO/Young Vic) Over 200 Productions US/Internationally. RICCARDO HERNANDEZ

DAVID C. WOOLARD (Costume Designer) received Tony Award nominations for The Rocky Horror

Show and The Who’s Tommy. He has designed over 20 shows on Broadway and over 200 shows around the world including West Side Story, Damn Yankees, the operas It’s a Wonderful Life, Cold Mountain, Everest and L’Italiana in Algeri. In addition to his Tony nominations, Mr. Woolard has won a Drama Desk Award, the Henry Hewes Design Awards and was nominated for an Olivier Award. For additional credits please visit http://davidcwoolard.com. RUSSELL H. CHAMPA (Lighting Designer). Current and recent projects include Log Cabin

(Playwrights Horizons), Transfers (MCC), Everest (Kansas City Opera) and Thresh|Hold (Pilobolus). Broadway credits include China Doll (Gerald Schoenfeld Theater), In The Next Room, or the vibrator play (Lyceum Theatre/Lincoln Center Theater), and Julia Sweeney’s God Said “Ha!” (Lyceum Theatre). New York work includes Lincoln Center Theater, The Public, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, NYSAF and Julliard. Regional work includes Steppenwolf, ACT, The Wilma, Trinity Rep, CalShakes, Mark Taper Forum, and The Kennedy Center. Thanks J + J. PEACE. JOSHUA SCHMIDT (Sound Designer). TFANA: Debut. As Composer/Co-Author— Off Broadway:

A Minister’s Wife (Lincoln Center), ADD1NG MACH1N3 (Minetta Lane), Whida Peru (59E59), Midwestern Gothic (Signature, VA), Gift of the Magi (American Players Theatre, WI). As Composer/ Sound Designer—New York: Therese Raquin (Roundabout/Studio 54), House of Blue Leaves (Walter Kerr), many others. Chicago: Steppenwolf, Goodman, Writers’ Theatre, many others. Regional: Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Alley Theatre; Idaho Shakes, Great Lakes, American Players Theatre, many others. COMMISSIONS: Metropolitan Opera, RKO, Groundswell, others. TEACHING: UNLV, Harvard, Suffolk, many others. MEMBER: ASCAP, TSDCA. AWARDS/RECOGNITION: Lortel, Outer Critics, Jeff, ASCAP, NEA/TCG. ELAINE J. MCCARTHY (Projection Designer). Elaine’s background in photography, film and

architecture has led to a 24-year, world-wide career as an award-winning projection designer for live performance. Career highlights include: Wicked, Spamalot, Assassins, and Thurgood (Broadway); and Notes From the Field, Frequency Hopping (set and projections), Distracted (set and projections), Embedded (Off-Broadway.) Her extensive opera work includes Iolanta, Everest, Tristan und Isolde, Moby Dick, Cold Mountain, Mazeppa, Dead Man Walking and War and Peace. JON KNUST (Properties Super vision) is a NYC-based prop master and artisan. Recent prop master

credits include A Doll’s House, The Father, Skin of Our Teeth and Winters Tale ( TFANA); The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, Big Love, and Appropriate (Signature); Peter and the Starcatcher (1st National Tour); Too Much Sun ( The Vineyard); Marie Antoinette, …The Death of Walt Disney, and We Are Proud to Present a Presentation… (Soho Rep). Jon frequently does overhire prop work for The Signature, Playwrights Horizons, The Atlantic, Propstar, The Mint and MCC. Jon got his start in props at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University.

A B O U T A L I C E 23


THE PRODUCTION

CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM

ALEXANDRA HALL (Production Stage Manager). Broadway: Sweat, She Loves Me. Tours: Anna

Deavere Smith's Notes From The Field (London), Sweat (The Public, National), blank page (SITI Company), First Wives Club (Chicago). Off-Broadway: Sweat, Manahatta (The Public), Cardinal (2nd Stage), What I Did Last Summer, The Wayside Motor Inn, The Open House (Signature). Around the World in 80 Days, The Brightness of Heaven, and more. Regional: Chester Theatre Company. Juilliard Guest Artist. MFA: Columbia University. EGYPT DIXON (Assistant Stage Manager). TFANA: The Winter's Tale, He Brought Her Heart Back

In A Box, Marcel and The Art of Laughter, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Servant of Two Masters, The Father and A Doll's House. Clubbed Thumb: The World My Mama Rasied. Queen's Theatre in the Park: To Kill a Mockingbird. Weathervane Theatre: Always... Patsy Cline, The Little Mermaid, Our Town, Spamalot and Chicago. BLAKE ZIDELL & ASSOCIATES (Press Representative) is a Brooklyn-based public relations firm

representing artists, companies and institutions spanning a variety of disciplines. Clients include St. Ann’s Warehouse, Soho Rep, The Kitchen, Ars Nova, BRIC, P.S.122, Abrons Arts Center, Taylor Mac, LAByrinth Theater Company, StoryCorps, Irish Arts Center, Café Carlyle, Peak Performances, Batsheva Dance Company, The Playwrights Realm, Stephen Petronio Company, The Play Company, and FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival. Calvin Trillin and Founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Horowitz. Photo by Henry Grossman.

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T H E AT R E F O R A N E W AU D I E N C E 36 0 ° S E R I E S


THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE

LEADERSHIP

JEFFREY HOROWITZ (Founding Artistic Director)began his career in theatre as an actor and appeared

on Broadway, Off Broadway, and in regional theatre. In 1979, he founded Theatre for a New Audience. Horowitz has served on the Panel of the New York State Council on the Arts, on the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group, the Advisory Board of the Shakespeare Society, and the Artistic Directorate of London’s Globe Theatre. He received the John Houseman Award in 2003 and The Breukelein Institute’s 2004 Gaudium Award. (Managing Director) joined Theatre for a New Audience in 2003. She spent the previous ten years devoted to fundraising for the 92nd Street Y and the Brooklyn Museum. Ryan began her career in classical music artist management and has also served as company manager for Chautauqua Opera, managing director for the Opera Ensemble of New York, and general manager of Eugene Opera. She is a 2014 Brooklyn Women of Distinction honoree from Community Newspaper Group. DOROTHY RYAN

MICHAEL PAGE (General Manager) joined TFANA in 2013, where he has managed over 20 productions

at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Prior to TFANA Michael was the general manager of the Tony Award-winning Vineyard Theatre and the managing director of Off-Broadway’s Barrow Street Theatre where he managed the U.S. premiere of Nina Raine’s Tribes and David Cromer’s landmark production of Our Town, among many others. Michael sits on the Board of Directors for the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), is active with the Off-Broadway League, and is on the adjunct faculty at CUNY/ Brooklyn College’s Department of Theater.

Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Photo by David Sundberg/Esto.

Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage. Photo by Francis Dzikowski/OTTO.

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ABOUT THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE About Theatre for a New Audience Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, the mission of Theatre for a New Audience is to develop and vitalize the performance and study of Shakespeare and classic drama. Theatre for a New Audience produces for audiences Off-Broadway and has also toured nationally, internationally and to Broadway. We are guided in our work by five core values: a reverence for language, a spirit of adventure, a commitment to diversity, a dedication to learning, and a spirit of service. These values inform what we do with artists, how we interact with audiences, and how we manage our organization. Theatre for a New Audience Education Programs

S TA F F

Founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Horowitz Managing Director Dorothy Ryan General Manager Michael Page Director of Institutional Advancement James J. Lynes Finance Director Mary Sormeley Education Director Kathleen Dorman Director of Marketing & Communications Jennifer Lam Associate Producer / Director of the Studio Nidia Medina Associate General Manager Kiana Carrington Theatre Manager Steven Gaultney Production Manager Joshua Kohler Box Office & Subscriptions Manager Allison Byrum Facilities Manager Jordan Asinofsky Development Manager Jena Yarley Marketing Manager Torrence Browne Literary & Humanities Manager / Assistant to the Artistic Director Soriya Chum General Managerment Assistant Molly Burdick Development Associate Richard Brighi Finance Associate Michelle Esposito Education Associate Philip Calabro Facilities Associate Rashawn Caldwell House Manager Coral Cohen Press Representative Blake Zidell & Associates Resident Literary Advisor Jonathan Kalb Resident Casting Director Jack Doulin Resident Director of Voice Andrew Wade

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Theatre for a New Audience is an award-winning company recognized for artistic excellence. Our education programs introduce students to Shakespeare and other classics with the same artistic integrity that we apply to our productions. Through our unique and exciting methodology, students engage in hands-on learning that involves all aspects of literacy set in the context of theatre education. Our residencies are structured to address City and State Learning Standards both in English language Arts and the Arts, the New York City DOE’s Curriculum Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Theater, and the Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts. Begun in 1984, our programs have served more than 130,000 students, ages 9 through 18, in New York City Public Schools city-wide. A Home in Brooklyn: Polonsky Shakespeare Center Theatre for a New Audience’s home, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, is a centerpiece of the Brooklyn Cultural District. Designed by celebrated architect Hugh Hardy, Polonsky Shakespeare Center is the first theatre in New York designed and built expressly for classic drama since Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont in the 1960s. The 27,500 square-foot facility is a unique performance space in New York. The 299-seat Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage, inspired by the Cottesloe at London’s National Theatre, combines an Elizabethan courtyard theatre with modern theatre technology that allows the stage and seating to be arranged in seven configurations. The new facility also includes the Theodore C. Rogers Studio (a 50-seat rehearsal/ performance studio), and theatrical support spaces. The City of New York-developed Arts Plaza, designed by landscape architect Ken Smith, creates a natural gathering place around the building. In addition, Polonsky Shakespeare Center is also one of the few sustainable (green) theatres in the country, with an LEED-NC Silver rating from the United States Green Building Council. Now with a home of its own, Theatre for a New Audience is contributing to the continued renaissance of Downtown Brooklyn. In addition to its season of plays, the Theatre has expanded its Humanities offerings to include lectures, seminars, workshops, and other activities for artists, scholars, and the general public. When not in use by the Theatre, its new facility is available for rental, bringing much needed affordable performing and rehearsal space to the community.

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BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Chairman: Robert E. Buckholz Vice Chairman Kathleen C. Walsh President Jeffrey Horowitz Founding Artistic Director Vice President and Secretary Dorothy Ryan Managing Director Executive Committee Robert E. Buckholz Jeffrey Horowitz John J. Kerr, Jr. Seymour H. Lesser Larry M. Loeb Audrey Heffernan Meyer Kathleen C. Walsh Monica Gerard-Sharp Wambold Members John Berendt* Sally Brody William H. Burgess, III Zoë Caldwell* Ben Campbell Robert Caro* Connie Christensen Dr. Sharon Dunn* Dana Ivey* Catherine Maciariello* Caroline Niemczyk Rachel Polonsky Barbara Rifkind Theodore C. Rogers Philip R. Rotner Dorothy Ryan Mark Rylance* Daryl D. Smith Susan Stockel Michael Stranahan John Turturro* Josh Weisberg Frederick Wiseman* *Artistic Council

Emeritus Robert Arnow Francine Ballan Dr. Charlotte K. Frank Jane Wells


THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE

MA JOR SUPPORTERS

Even with capacity audiences, ticket sales account for a small portion of our operating costs. The Theatre expresses its deepest thanks to the following Foundations, Corporations Government Agencies and Individuals for their generous support of the Theatre’s Humanities, Education, and Outreach programs.

The 360° Series: Viewfinders has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Viewfinder do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. A Challenge Grant from the NEH established a Humanities endowment fund at Theatre for a New Audience to support these programs in perpetuity. Leading matching gifts to the NEH grant were provided by Joan and Robert Arnow, Norman and Elaine Brodsky, The Durst Organization, Perry and Marty Granoff, Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia, John J. Kerr & Nora Wren Kerr, Litowitz Foundation, Inc., Robert and Wendy MacDonald, Sandy and Stephen Perlbinder, The Prospect Hill Foundation, Inc., Theodore C. Rogers, and from purchasers in the Theatre’s Seat for Shakespeare Campaign, 2013 – 2015. Theatre for a New Audience’s Humanities, Education, and Outreach programs are supported, in part, by The Elayne P. Bernstein Education Fund. For more information on naming a seat or making a gift to the Humanities endowments, please contact James Lynes, Director of Institutional Advancement, at 212-229-2819 x29, or by email at jlynes@tfana.org. Theatre for a New Audience’s productions and education programs receive support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Additional funding is provided by the generosity of the following Foundations and Corporations through either general operating support or direct support of the Theatre’s arts in education programs: PRINCIPAL BENEFACTORS

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs National Endowment for the Humanities The SHS Foundation The Shubert Foundation, Inc. The Thompson Family Foundation The Winston Foundation LEADING BENEFACTORS

Bloomberg LP Deloitte The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust MAJOR BENEFACTORS

The Achelis and Bodman Foundation Sidney E. Frank Foundation Hearst Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP Latham & Watkins LLP National Endowment for the Arts New York State Council on the Arts The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation Troy Chemical Corporation SUSTAINING BENEFACTORS

A'lani Kailani Blue Lotus White Star Foundation The Howard Bayne Fund Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. Coydog Foundation

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP Jean and Louis Dreyfus Foundation, Inc. Geen Family Foundation Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP Joseph and Sally Handleman Foundation Trust A Irving Harris Foundation The DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund The J.M. Kaplan Fund King & Spalding LLP Kirkland & Ellis LLP The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Loeb & Loeb LLP Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison The Round Table of Cultural Seminars, Ltd. May and Samuel Rudin Foundation Inc. Select Equity Group, Inc. Sidley Austin LLP Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP PRODUCERS CIRCLE— THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR’S SOCIETY

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP Axe-Houghton Foundation The Ettinger Foundation Forest City Ratner Companies The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation McDermott Will & Emery Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti, LLP

Litowitz Foundation, Inc. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, NY City Council Discretionary Funding Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP Richenthal Foundation The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation The Starry Night Fund Michael Tuch Foundation, Inc. Wells Fargo Bank The White Cedar Fund PRODUCERS CIRCLE—EXECUTIVE

The Barbara Bell Cumming Charitable Trust The Norman D, and Judith H. Cohen Foundation DeWitt Stern Group, Inc. Marta Heflin Foundation Lucille Lortel Foundation PRODUCERS CIRCLE—ASSOCIATE

Actors’ Equity Association Bloomberg Philanthropies Bressler, Amery & Ross EMM Wealth Management Kinder Morgan Foundation Mannheim LLC The Grace R. and Alan D. Marcus Foundation The Randolph Foundation The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust

A B O U T A L I C E 27


W W W . T FA N A . O R G

Profile for Theatre for a New Audience

360° Viewfinder: ABOUT ALICE  

360° Viewfinder: ABOUT ALICE  

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