Stewart Headlines WYP's JB Priestley SeasonDate: 17 July 2001
The autumn schedule at Leeds' West Yorkshire Playhouse will feature not one but three major revivals of plays by JB Priestley as well as a season of related readings, discussions, films and even a puppet show written by the author. Headlining the Priestley season will be sci-fi film and television star Patrick Stewart, who conceived the event with WYP artistic director Jude Kelly.
Stewart stars in Johnson Over Jordan , Priestley's most experimental play, which launches the season on 28 August 2001 and continues to 29 September. Robert Johnson lived the most ordinary of lives - until he dies. Suddenly, he's catapulted into the strangeness of afterlife and begins a frightening, lurid and emotional journey. The WYP production is directed by Jude Kelly.
The season continues with Dangerous Corner, directed by Laurie Samson and starring Irish actress Dervla Kirwan (from TV's Ballykissangel and Hearts and Bones). At their stylish country retreat, Freda and Robert host a dinner party for their successful friends and colleagues at a publishing company. Then a cigarette box and ill-considered remark spark off a series of unwelcome revelations. Dangerous Corner runs from 7 September to 13 October 2001.
The final production in the Priestley season, Eden End, is directed by Ian Brown and plays from 26 October to 24 November 2001. Stella Kirby spent nine years running away, leaving home to find her freedom as an actress. Now she has decided that the only role left to play is the prodigal daughter returned.
A Yorkshire native, Priestley (1894-1984) is best known for his post-war drama, An Inspector Calls, revived to great acclaim in the multi award-winning 1991 National Theatre production which re-opens in the West End this September. While working together in Washington, DC, on the 1997 production of Othello, Stewart and Kelly became interested in looking at Priestley anew after reading Johnson Over Jordan.
In an introduction to the WYP season, the actor and director say that they "were amazed at how adventurous and challenging it (Johnson Over Jordan) was. We then started exploring his vast range of plays, novels and essays and realised this Bradford-born writer was one of the great artistic figures of the 20th century." By staging his works, they say, "we hope to bring you the breadth of Priestley's imagination and interests."
While now best known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the new Star Trek as well as, more recently, Professor Xavier in the film X Men, Stewart is a classically trained actor. His stage credits include The Tempest and a one-man adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Last year, he became notorious for his Broadway role in Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt Morgan, during which he used the curtain calls as an opportunity to publicly criticise the producers for their lack of marketing support.
- by Terri Paddock