Playwright Gray to Take Up Residence
By SYLVIE DRAKE, Times Theater Writer
PURSUIT: Actors for Themselves at the Matrix is off on a new tangent.
It will do the "West Coast premiere of Simon Gray's "The Common
Pursuit" and, for the first time in its 10-year history, will have a
playwright in residence: author Gray, 49, better known here for "Butley,"
and "Otherwise Engaged." Kristoffer Siegel-Tabori will direct.
"I read 'Pursuit' in Vancouver while I was making a
movie and liked it a lot," said Actors For Themselves producer Joe
Stern. "I had heard very little about it and started my usual search."
The play, which the playwright has said he thinks
"is about friendship . . . English, middle-class, Cambridge-educated
friendship," was done in London in the spring of 1984, with Gray's
friend, Harold Pinter, directing. "It's an ensemble show, not
perceived as particularly commercial," Stern said, "and Gray was not
In a comedy of errors, Stern went through a series
of wrong agents for Gray. By the time he reached the right ones early
this year, New Haven's Long Wharf had mounted a successful production
of "Pursuit." Impressed by reviews of Stern's 1982 production of
Pinter's 'Betrayal,' Gray's agents (who also handle Pinter) struck a
dealóbut not until Gray and Siegel-Tabori had met and decided that
they liked each other.
Gray, who'd done some rewrites during the English
run and later for Long Wharf, came to Los Angeles Dec. 1 with a new
"Characters had changed, certain events had
changed," Stern said, "but it's one of the best rewrites of a play
I've ever seen. It's become more passionate."
Gray returns to Los Angeles in January and chances
are there's more refining ahead. Stern says it's become his most
ambitious production to date, with two turntables on stage and "a real
commitment to pulling this thing off."
Wayne Alexander, Clancy Brown, Judy Geeson, Jim
Piddock, Christopher Neame and John De-Lancie form the cast. Russell
Pyle will light the show, with Cliff Faulkner doing the set and
Barbara Cox the costumes. Previews start Jan. 16. Official opening is