From Feb. 12 to Feb. 28, Durham, NC-based Manbites Dog Theater will stage the world premiere of Silver River, a new one-woman show written by Romulus Linney, directed by Jeff Storer, and produced in association with the Profile Theatre Project of Portland, Oregon. Silver River stars award-winning Triangle actress Christine Morris (Blue Roses) and features scenic design and costumes by Jan Chambers and original music by Sam Piperato.
Manbites Dog's publicist describes Silver River as "a stirring solo drama about a woman's search for her own voice at the turn of the last century" and a "surprising journey through an unforgettable life."
After this show's world premiere in Durham, the current Manbites Dog production will travel to Portland, where Silver River will make its West Coast debut April 23-May 23 as part of the Profile Theatre Project's 2003-04 season, which is devoted to four works of Romulus Linney. (The other three shows are 2, Klonsky and Schwartz, and Gint.)
Romulus Linney is one of America's greatest living playwrights. Born in Philadelphia in 1931, he grew up in Madison, Tennessee, in the heart of Appalachia. After earning a BA degree at Oberlin College and an MFA degree from the Yale School of Drama, Romulus Linney moved to New York City in 1958. He is the author of 25 plays, including the Tony Award®-nominated Broadway play The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks (1972) — previously produced by Manbites Dog. He also is the father of actress Laura Linney.
Linney is the winner of two OBIE Awards, two National Critics Awards, and three Hollywood DramaLogue Awards. He won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations. He also received both the Award in Literature and the Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Romulus Linney has taught at Columbia and Princeton and the universities of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and he received Honorary Doctorates from two N.C. institutions of higher education: Appalachian State University in Boone and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.
Jeff Storer is artistic director of Manbites Dog Theater. He earned critical kudos for his skillful stage adaptations and dynamic direction of A Tune for Tommy (co-written with Jesse Thompson Eustice and Manbites Dog managing director Edward Hunt based on writings by Eustice, Tommy Thompson, and Bill Hicks) and Plays Well with Others (co-written with Coats Guiles based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Allan Gurganus).
Christine Morris is a faculty member of the Duke University Drama Program and a member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States. For Manbites Dog, she previously starred in Blue Roses, her poignant one-woman show about the tortured life of playwright Tennessee Williams' mentally ill sister Rose, the model for Laura in The Glass Menagerie. Blue Roses premiered at Manbites Dog Theater in November 1998, and played Portland in 1999. It was chosen as one of the top 10 shows of 1998 by both The News & Observer and Spectator Magazine.
In describing his art and craft for the Profile Theatre Project, Romulus Linney wrote, "My novels, stories and plays on the surface are based on history, Appalachian life, or from personal experiences in my childhood, with my family, in the Army, from friends, gossip, the art world of New York. But they really all come from a much deeper place I hope never to understand. I can always see, sometimes only years later, what this or that was more or less about, but in the doing, best efforts need a sort of ignorant arousal. It is dark work but it gives a pleasure keen as sex, vast as love. It is a release from basic human miseries. It is justification of existence. Sometimes it gives fellow creatures pleasure. It needs to remain unknown."
Manbites Dog Theater presents Silver River Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 12-14, at 8:15 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 15, at 3:15 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 18-21; Sunday, Feb. 22, at 3:15 p.m.; and Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 25-28, at 8:15 p.m. at 703 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina. $10 Wednesday-Thursday and $15 Friday-Sunday, except pay-what-you-like night ($5 minimum) Feb. 12 and $20 Feb. 13 opening-night gala with post-show reception. 919/682-3343. Note: There will be a conversation with playwright Romulus Linney and novelist and James B. Duke Professor of English Reynolds Price (Noble Norfleet) following the Feb. 15 matinee. Silver River: http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/74 and http://www.profiletheatre.org/silverriver.html [inactive 6/04].