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Old Times by Harold Pinter
City Lit Theater
Chicago, IL
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Old Times by Harold Pinter

Harold Pinters Old Times will open later this month and play in rotating repertory with Noel Cowards Private Lives through Sunday, May 3, artistic director Terry McCabe announced today.  Old Times will begin previews on Friday, March 27, and open for the press on Tuesday, March 31, at 7:00 pm.  Private Lives will begin previews on Friday, March 20, and open for the press on Tuesday, March 24, at 7:00 pm.  Both productions feature Don Bender and associate artistic director Cameron Feagin in the lead roles, and are directed by McCabe.

Coward and Pinter are the greatest British playwrights of their different generations.  Small talk, a lot of small talk, with other thoughts going on behind'' is a line from Cowards Shadow Play, but the critic Kenneth Tynan has pointed out that it could serve as an apt description of any play by either.  

The other thoughts going on behind, McCabe said, are frequently the same for both as well:  time, loss, romantic treachery.  The title of each play would work perfectly well for the other.  In both plays, the present gives way to the past.  Pinters characters carry their wounds from the carnage wrought by this giving way, while Cowards are able to wear their style as armor, but the two plays speak to each other.  I believe audiences will find that seeing the two produced together, with the same lead actors, will illuminate both plays in a way not possible otherwise.

Private Lives, called an intimate comedy by its playwright, tells the tale of a divorced couple who run intoand off witheach other while honeymooning with their new spouses.  Old Times, considered one of Pinters memory plays for its depiction of the past as a shifting sand of ambiguity, concerns the visit to a married couple by the wifes only friend of twenty years earlier, a woman who seems to have an unspoken claim on the woman.

Noel Coward, born in 1899, worked in the theatre from 1911 to 1967.  He wrote Hay Fever, Blithe Spirit, and Design for Living, among over 50 plays.  Private Lives, which he wrote in four days in 1930 while bedridden with the flu, is considered by many to be the finest English comedy since The Importance of Being Earnest.  He also wrote over 300 songs, dozens of short stories, a novel and three volumes of autobiography.  During World War Two, he worked as a spy for MI5, the British Secret Service, gathering information while protected by what he called my own reputation as a bit of an idiot . . . a merry playboy.  His name was among the 2,820 included on the Gestapos Special Search List, along with those of Winston Churchill and Bertrand Russell, of people to be rounded up and killed in the event of a successful Nazi invasion of Britain.  He was knighted in 1969 and died in 1973.  

In 1965, after seeing the London production of Pinters The Homecoming, Coward read the script twice and wrote Pinter:  Your writing absolutely fascinates me.  You cheerfully break every rule of the theatre that I was brought up to believe in, except the cardinal one of never boring for a split-second.        

Harold Pinter, born in London during the West End premiere run of Private Lives, is the playwright of The Birthday Party and The Caretaker, among a total of 29 plays, along with 26 screenplays, many dramatic sketches, a novel, much short fiction, poetry and essays.  He received Academy Award nominations for his screenplay adaptations of John Fowless novel The French Lieutenants Woman and of his own play Betrayal.  He wrote Old Times in 1971.  He was politically active since the 1950s, being an early member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and participated during the 1960s in an organized refusal by British playwrights to allow their work to be performed in South Africa during apartheid.  In recent years he was a harsh critic of the United States and Great Britains roles in the Iraq War.  He declined a knighthood in 1996, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, and died in 2008.

Also an actor and director, Pinter once directed an acclaimed revival of Cowards Blithe Spirit for the National Theatre of Great Britain.  I thought it'd be fun to do, he told an interviewer about the experience. And it wasn't fun to do.  It was very hard to do.

The cast for Private Lives is Don Bender, Cameron Feagin, Maggie Kettering, George Seegebrecht and Shawna Tucker.  The design team is Matthew Cummings (props), Tamar Geist (lighting), Thomas Kieffer (costumes), Christopher Kriz, (sound), and Grant Sabin (set).  The fight choreography is by David Yondorf.

The cast for Old Times is Don Bender, Gianine DeFrancesco, and Cameron Feagin.  The design team is Matthew Cummings (props), Tamar Geist (lighting), Thomas Kieffer (costumes), and Grant Sabin (set).  

Old Times and Private Lives will run in rotating repertory.  Their schedule includes double features of both plays (with a dinner break in between) on Saturdays and Sundays.

Ticket prices for each show are $18 for previews and $25 after opening.  Discounts are available for seniors, students and groups of ten or more.  Tickets can be reserved by going to or by calling (773) 293-3682.

City Lits productions of Private Lives and Old Times are the final two production of its twenty-ninth season.  City Lit receives funding from the Alphawood Foundation, the Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs CityArts program, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.  Its outreach program is funded in part by A.R.T. League.

City Lit specializes in literate theatre, including stage adaptations of literary material.

City Lit Theater is located in the historic Edgewater Presbyterian Church building at 1020 West Bryn Mawr Avenue, one block west of Sheridan Road and a block and a half east of the Bryn Mawr Red Line L stop.  The 84 Peterson bus, the 147 Lake Shore Express bus and the 151 Sheridan bus all stop within a few steps of City Lit.  Valet parking is available for theatre customers for all performances.  Discounted self-parking is available for theatre customers with validation from the Edgewater Beach Caf, located in the Edgewater Beach Apartments building one block east of the theatre.



City Lit Theater
1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago, IL 60660
United States

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Arts > Theatre

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