ROUNDABOUT BLOG

From Todd Haimes

From the Artistic Director: The Last Match

Posted on: September 21st, 2017 by Todd Haimes

 

This New York premiere marks Roundabout’s first collaboration with Anna, though I have long admired her body of work. From her play Photograph 51, which played on the West End in 2015 and follows the story of renowned physicist Rosalind Franklin’s fight for scientific recognition, to A Delicate Ship, which ran at The Playwrights Realm in 2015 and explores the existential underpinnings of young love and lust, Anna’s work proves her willingness to confront all the complexities and contradictions within her characters. There are no easy answers in her plays; she faces the beauty and ugliness of her stories head-on, relentlessly mining the scenarios she renders for their deepest layers. Her plays investigate new perspectives in a way that always surprises and thrills me, and, like all great theatre, her work never fails to enrich and complicate my familiarity with subjects I thought I already understood.

And The Last Match is no exception. Set during the semifinals of the US Open, Anna’s electric play follows two professional tennis players who have put everything on the line for their game. Inspired by the real-life career paths of some of the sport’s biggest icons, The Last Match delves into the pressures and stresses placed on players who, due to the short-lived nature of a profession that demands retirement at an early age, must race against time to achieve their dreams. For sure, in every game there is a great deal of money, reputation, and glory at stake, but Anna’s play hones in more specifically on what her characters, after sacrificing so much in the name of perfecting their craft, owe to their families and to themselves. With so much riding on every serve and every return, tennis -- one of the most solitary of sports -- can become an internal maelstrom of doubt, euphoria, and nostalgia. By tracing the inner tribulations of her characters, Anna meticulously unpacks how a tennis match can spiral into an all-out war.

By expertly unpacking the truth and humanity from within this fictional tennis match, Anna exposes so much about the nature of ambition and competition regardless of profession or field. American workaday culture is infamous for its glorification of stress, workaholism, and burnout; it’s not only athletes who risk the health of their family, their friendships, and themselves in the name of success. Anna’s play deftly explores what happens when the pressures of an incredibly driven lifestyle clash with the demands of familial relationships and personal care. With a play that is both characteristically nuanced and propulsively acrobatic, Anna asks us all to examine the reality behind our cultural obsession with competition, recognition, and victory.

I am thrilled for you to experience Anna’s wonderful play, mounted by this exceptionally talented creative team. This is such a captivating story, and I couldn’t be more excited to share with you Gaye Taylor Upchurch’s remarkable work in bringing it to a New York stage for the first time. As always, I am eager to hear your reactions to the show, so please continue to email me at ArtisticOffice@roundabouttheatre.org with your thoughts. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Sincerely,

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director/CEO


Related Categories:
2017-2018 Season, From Todd Haimes, The Last Match


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This will be the first-ever Broadway revival of Priestley’s masterful play, 80 years after its original Broadway production in 1937. Over the decades, Priestley has secured his rightful place in the theatrical canon with such international hits as his 1945 thriller An Inspector Calls, the 1992 production of which in London earned the title of longest-running revival of all time. Time and the Conways, though just as revolutionary in structure and gripping in story, hasn't been met with quite the same amount of attention as some of Priestley’s other works. Yet the act of “rediscovering” lesser-known but deserving classics by masters such as Priestley and bringing them back to Broadway stages is, I believe, a core component of Roundabout’s mission. I am thrilled to present Priestley’s story to an entirely new generation of audiences with this incredibly talented cast, director, and design team.

Priestley became famous during the 1930s and 1940s for the inspiration he drew from alternative theories of time, perhaps most famously the hypotheses of British engineer and philosopher John William Dunne. Dunne conjectured that a person’s dreams open their consciousness to higher dimensions of observation and thereby provide them glimpses of future events. From this philosophy Priestley developed his concept for Time and the Conways, which soon became known as one of his famous “Time Plays,” the ranks of which also included An Inspector Calls and his less famous dramas Dangerous Corner and I Have Been Here Before. While the validity of Dunne’s theory of time has since been largely discounted by the scientific community, the possibilities that it unlocked in the imaginations of a generation of readers and artists are monumental in scope.

In Time and the Conways, Priestley employs Dunne’s theory as a lens into the lives of one upper middle class family in post-World War I Britain. With trademark nuance and depth, Priestley delves into the Conways’ most personal aspirations, shortcomings, and fears, and as their story unravels, he examines those life-altering moments that put dreams at odds with destiny. What begins as a theatrical exploration into a theory of perception and the subconscious becomes a piercing look at the consequences of greed and the worship of status. At a time when issues of economic disparity and upward mobility in our country are wrenchingly urgent, Priestley’s drama is a more prescient piece of writing than ever.

I am so excited for you to experience this revitalized classic, presented by such a superb creative team. This is such a meaningful and vital play, and I am thrilled by the work of Rebecca and her fantastic cast in bringing it back to a Broadway stage. As always, I am eager to hear your reactions to the show, so please continue to email me at ArtisticOffice@roundabouttheatre.org with your thoughts. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Sincerely,
Todd Haimes
Artistic Director/CEO


Related Categories:
2017-2018 Season, From Todd Haimes, Time and the Conways


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This world premiere marks Roundabout’s second collaboration with Meghan Kennedy. Like so many of the playwrights whose work has come to the Pels in recent years, Meghan started with us in the Roundabout Underground program, where her play Too Much, Too Much, Too Many debuted in 2013. That piece announced the arrival of a stunning new voice – one filled with poeticism, emotional depth, and utter fearlessness. We knew that Meghan was an artist with boundless potential, and I think it’s clear that she’s taken an exciting leap into new territory with this latest play.

With Napoli, Brooklyn, Meghan has chosen to explore a story inspired by her own family history, set in 1960, well before this young talent was born. But that distance from the world her play explores has allowed her to view it through a theatrical lens that elevates the events beyond the tropes of family drama. It has also given her room for deep empathy, imbuing every character on her canvas with a full life and perspective of their own, often in ways that shake us out of our assumptions.

This is a play placed at the cusp of a changing America. In so many ways, 1960 is a wildly different time from what would become “The Sixties” as we think about that decade today, but Meghan allows us to look at that moment through the eyes of young women desperately searching towards a future they didn’t yet know could be theirs. And with a major historic event at its center that quite literally rocks a quiet neighborhood into a new phase, Napoli, Brooklyn throws us into a moment in which possibilities were opening up in newly thrilling and terrifying ways.

It’s a story of immigrants finding their identities and coming to a new understanding of what “home” truly means. It’s a story of unlikely alliances forming in the face of pain and loneliness. And it’s a story of women taking risks that will come to define a generation.

Napoli, Brooklyn is a deeply sensitive, emotionally raw play that will leave you talking (and very likely craving some good Italian food!). I am so thrilled by Meghan’s work, and I can’t wait to share it with you. As you have all season, please continue to email me at artisticoffice@roundabouttheatre.org. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Sincerely,
Todd Haimes
Artistic Director/CEO


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, From Todd Haimes, Napoli Brooklyn


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