Mrs. Farnsworth

John Lithgow and Sigourney Weaver star in the critically acclaimed production of
Mrs. Farnsworth
by A.R. Gurney
directed by Flea Theater Artistic Director Jim Simpson

The comedy by Mr. Gurney will be produced in The Flea’s 88-seat venue in TriBeCa. Performances in the extended run begin September 29, 2004 and will play for a limited engagement through the presidential election in November. Mrs. Farnsworth sold out its initial run at The Flea Theater in April 2004 and played over the summer between both the Democratic and Republican conventions. Danny Burstein continues in the role of Gordon Bell, Mrs. Farnsworth’s writing instructor, and Gerry Bamman replaces Mr. Lithgow as Mr. Farnsworth.

The very proper, well educated Connecticut wife and mother Margery Farnsworth, signs up for a writing course with the intent of penning a tell-all book about our current President, with whom she has shared a shady past. Instructor Gordon Bell is all too happy to help Mrs. Farnsworth get the truth out. In swoops her husband, Forrest Farnsworth, who with beguiling charm and tender passion for his wife presents quite a different view of their collected history and politics. A.R. Gurney exquisitely captures Mr. and Mrs. Farnsworth, and once again presents the fading WASP way of life with humor and compassion.

Ms. Weaver’s last role at The Flea was in Anne Nelson’s 9/11 drama, The Guys. She recently appeared in M. Night Shyamalan’s film, The Village.

Also returning to the cast will be Kate Benson, Fernando Gambaroni and Tarajia Morell. All three are members of the Bat Theater Company, the resident acting company at The Flea, comprised of some of the city’s most talented emerging artists. Each year, more than 1,000 young people audition for a place in the 30-person company.

Mrs. Farnsworth features sets by Kyle Chepulis, lights by Brian Aldous and costumes by Claudia Brown, all frequent Flea collaborators.

Mrs. Farnsworth will play Wednesday through Saturday at 7pm, with 3pm matinees on Wednesday and Saturday from September 29 to November 6, 2004, with added performances Tuesday, October 19 and Tuesday, October 26 at 7pm. There will be no performances on October 21, 22 and 23.


A.R. Gurney (Playwright): Plays: Scenes from American Life, Children, The Dining Room, The Middle Ages, Richard Cory, The Golden Age, What I Did Last Summer, The Wayside Motor Inn, Sweet Sue, The Perfect Party, Another Antigone, The Cocktail Hour, Love Letters, The Snow Ball (adapted from his novel), The Old Boy, The Fourth Wall, Later Life, A Cheever Evening, Sylvia, Overtime, Let’s Do It (a Cole Porter musical), Labor Day, Far East, Darlene and the Guest Lecturer, Ancestral Voices, Buffalo Gal, O Jerusalem, Big Bill. Opera: Wrote libretto for Strawberry Fields with music by Michael Torke, part of the Central Park Opera trilogy presented by the New York City Opera in the Fall of 1999. Novels: The Gospel According to Joe, Entertaining Strangers and The Snow Ball. Awards: Drama Desk, N.E.A., Rockefeller Foundation, New England Theatre Conference, Lucille Lortel, American Association of Community Theatres, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Honorary degrees: Williams College and Buffalo State University. Gurney was on the faculty of M.I.T. until 1996.

Jim Simpson (Director) is the Artistic Director of the Flea. Jim’s directing at the Flea includes Benten Kozo (Obie Award for Direction), A.R. Gurney’s O Jerusalem, Kate Robin’s The Light Outside, Karen Finley’s The Return of the Chocolate Smeared Woman, Alice Tuan’s Ajax (por nobody), Mac Wellman’s Cellophane, Billy The Kid, No Mother To Guide Her, Brecht’s Baal, and others. Jim also directed the premiere of Anne Nelson’s The Guys and the subsequent film, which received a National Board of Review commendation and premiered at Lincoln Center/MOMA New Directors New Films festival. He recently directed MCC Theater’s Intrigue With Faye, with Benjamin Bratt and Julianna Margulies at the Acorn Theater. Jim’s work has also been seen outside the Flea at Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, Classic Stage Company, Ensemble Studio Theater, Kozo, Circle Rep, En Garde Arts, Soho Rep, BACA, Primary Stages, Ark Theater, Central Park, Piano Store, MCC and others. Regionally his work has been presented at the Actor’s Theater of Louisville, La Jolla Playhouse, Hartford Stage, Harvard University, Yale Repertory, Williamstown Theater Festival, Alley Theater, Philadelphia Theater Company, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Rhode Island School of Design, and others. Jim was born and raised in Honolulu, has degrees from Boston University School For The Arts and the Yale Drama School .

Sigourney Weaver (Mrs. Farnsworth) made her first New York stage appearance in an Off-Off-Broadway production of Christopher Durang’s The Nature and Purpose of the Universe, followed by another Off-Broadway double bill, Durang’s Titanic and Das Lusitania Songspiel, which she co-wrote with Durang. She has appeared in many Off-Broadway productions, working with such writers as John Guare, Albert Innaurato, Richard Nelson, Len Jenkin and Mr. Durang. Weaver received a Tony Award nomination for her role in Hurlyburly on Broadway, directed by Mike Nichols. In 1996, Weaver returned to Broadway in the Lincoln Center production of Sex and Longing, written by Christopher Durang. Recent stage credits include The Guys, by Anne Nelson, directed by Jim Simpson at the Flea Theater in which she played opposite Bill Murray and The Mercy Seat by Neil LaBute opposite Liev Schreiber at MCC. Weaver made her motion picture debut in 1979 in Ridley Scott’s blockbuster Alien and has since created a host of memorable characters in films from Ghostbusters to The Year of Living Dangerously to Gorillas in the Mist to Working Girl to Death and the Maiden to The Ice Storm. Ms. Weaver was born and educated in New York City and is an enthusiastic supporter of The Flea Theater.

Gerry Bamman (Mr. Farnsworth) received Obie and Drama League awards and a Drama Desk Nomination for best featured actor for his performance as Richard Nixon in Nixon’s Nixon. He was a founding member of the Manhattan Project, one of the foremost experimental theater companies of the 1970s, directed by Andre Gregory. Their production of Alice In Wonderland received an Obie award and was performed over 500 times in New York and around the world. He has appeared in many regional and New York theaters, on Broadway and off. His most recent work was in the title role of the world premiere of Ward Just’s Lowell Limpet, Robert Moses in Shakespeare, Moses, and Joe Papp—which won the Helen Hayes award for best new play—and Lee Blessing’s Black Sheep at Barrington Stage. Films: Runaway Jury, Two Family House, Passion of Mind, Home Alone 1 and 2, Lorenzo’s Oil, Secret of My Success, Bodyguard, True Believer, Pink Cadillac, and—coming in September and October—The Cookout and Around The Bend. Many appearances on Law and Order. A 1999 Fox Foundation grant recipient.

Danny Burstein (Gordon) Broadway credits include Saint Joan; The Seagull; Three Men on a Horse; A Little Hotel on the Side; The Flowering Peach; A Class Act; Titanic and Company. Off-Broadway: Psych; All in the Timing; I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; The Boys from Syracuse; Li’l Abner; Merrily We Roll Along; Weird Romance; The Rothchilds; etc. Regional: Harmony at the La Jolla Playhouse (Drama-Logue Award); Time and Again at the Old Globe, etc. Film/TV: Martin on the BBC’s “Absolutely Fabulous”; “Ed”; “Law & Order” (6 Episodes); “Third Watch”; the animated film, Santa Baby; Duane Incarnate (due summer 2004); soaps, commercials, etc. Mr. Burstein received his training at New York’s famed High School of the Performing Arts, the Moscow Art Theatre, Queens College (BA) and the University of California, San Diego (MFA). He is married to actress Rebecca Luker.

Brian Aldous (Lights) has been lighting downtown theaters for twenty years. Companies he has worked for include Soho Rep (Mac Wellman’s Dracula), the late lamented Circle Rep (Regina Taylor’s Escape from Paradise), Jean Cocteau Rep (many classic plays over 11 years as resident designer), Cucaracha Theatre (everything they ever did) and even the Blue Man Group. He is Lighting Director for Dance at Symphony Space as well as Lighting Designer for Kick/Stand Dance, a five choreographer collective based in Williamsburg. He has lit dance and taught for the Dance Department at Bard College for ten years, and recently helped them move into the new Frank Geary designed Fisher Performing Arts Center. He is especially proud of his long collaboration with set designer Kyle Chepulis, which began in 1989 with the EnGarde Arts production of Mac Wellman’s Crowbar, a project which helped save the then-ruinous Victory Theatre from destruction and was nominated for an American Theatre Wing design award.

Claudia Brown (Costumes) has designed costumes for theater, dance and film. Her credits include designs for Playwrights Horizon, En Garde Arts, NY Theater Workshop, Soho Rep, Hartford Stage, Williamstown Theater Festival, Hartford Ballet, Ballet Arizona and the movies “Copycat”, “Smoke”, “Trust” and “River’s Edge”. For the Flea Theater, Claudia designed costumes for The Guys.