Yale Bulletin and Calendar

November 17, 2000Volume 29, Number 11













Lawyer takes hellish journey to
'Heaven' in next Yale Rep show

"Heaven," a social comedy that explores race, religion and cultural identity, will be the next offering in the Yale Repertory Theatre's 35th anniversary season.

The play, by Canadian playwright George F. Walker, will open on Friday, Nov. 24, at the University Theatre, 222 York St. Evan Yionoulis, resident director at the Rep, will direct the production, which will run through Dec. 16.

"It is a great pleasure to reintroduce Yale Rep audiences to George Walker's work," says Stan Wojewodski Jr., dean of the School of Drama and artistic director of the Yale Rep. "'Heaven' has all the urgency, passion and raw humor that always drives a Walker play, but 'Heaven' is also remarkable because it is a piece about and for our cultural climate -- unstinting in both its frankness and compassion."

The play follows Jimmy, a successful human rights lawyer, who launches a one-man crusade against the hypocrisies of racists, religious leaders and the politically correct. The cosmic events unleashed by his actions make his life crumble around him, leaving him confronting an afterlife that further defies his expectations.

The play made its world premiere earlier this year at The Canadian Stage Company in Toronto, where a high demand for tickets prompted the company to extend the production's run for another four weeks. Canada's The Globe and Mail described it as "classic Walker -- loud, fast, violent, smart and very, very funny," while the Toronto Star reported, "Walker takes us through hell on his journey to Heaven. But it is a trip you won't want to miss."

Walker, whose "Escape from Happiness" was produced during the Yale Rep's 1992-93 season, is one of Canada's most prolific and widely produced playwrights, with over 25 plays to his credit. He has received eight Floyd S. Chalmers Awards, five Dora Mavor Moore Awards and two Governor-General Literary Awards. His other works include "Suburban Motel Plays," "Love and Anger," "Nothing Sacred," "Better Living," "Criminals in Love," "Theatre of the Film Noir" and "Zastrozzi." For television, he wrote and edited for the series "Due South" and was a consultant for the Canadian Broadcast Company's "Newsroom." He is currently adapting his six-play cycle "Suburban Motel Plays" as a four-hour miniseries.

Yionoulis, an alumnus of Yale College and the School of Drama, has been a resident director and chair of the acting program at the School of Drama since 1998. She directed "Galileo" and the world premiere of "Petersburg" at the Rep. Her directing work in New York and in regional theater has garnered an Obie Award, a DramaLogue Award and the 1995 Oppenheimer Award.

The cast includes Michael O'Keefe as Jimmy; Kate Levy as his wife, Judy; Robert Clohessey as Karl; Joseph Urla as David; Leslie Elliard as Derek; and Jane Cho as Sissy.

O'Keefe is perhaps best known as a regular on the television series "Roseanne." He has also appeared on Broadway in "Side Man," "Fifth of July" and "Mass Appeal," as well as in numerous off-Broadway productions. His film credits include "Ghosts of Mississippi," "Edie & Pen," "Ironweed," "Fear," "Caddyshack," "Kangaroo Court" and the Academy Award-winning "The Great Santini." He received a Cable ACE best actor nomination for his work on "The Hitchhiker." He also produced and directed "Raising the Ashes," an award-winning documentary of The Peacemaker Community retreat at Auschwitz, Poland.

Levy's New York credits include "Halfway Home," "An Empty Place at the Café de Grand Boeuf," "The Normal Heart" and "Five Women Waiting." She also has appeared in numerous other productions, in the film "The Origins of War" and on television in "All My Children," "Loving" and "One Life to Live."

Clohessy recently played Mitch in "A Streetcar Named Desire" at Hartford Stage Company and has appeared in plays at Manhattan Theatre Club, Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Ensemble Studio Theatre. He currently appears in the HBO series "Oz" and was a series regular on "One of the Boys," "O'Hara" and "Hill Street Blues." He was featured in the films "The Score" with Marlon Brando and "Angels in the Outfield."

Urla, a School of Drama graduate, appeared previously at the Yale Rep as Prince Hal in "Henry IV, Part I" and in the 1990 production of "Search and Destroy." His Broadway credits include "The Boys Next Door." He has also appeared in several films and had a regular recurring television role on "Seinfeld" and on "Delta."

Elliard is in his second year at the School of Drama, and Cho is a third-year student there.

The production team for "Heaven" includes scenic designer Takeshi Kata, costume designer Junghyun Georgia Lee, lighting designer Robert Wierzel, sound designer David Budries, fight coordinator Rick Sordelet, special skills consultant Michael Kennard and production dramaturg Kate Bredeson.

Performances are Mondays at 7 p.m. and Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Wednesday, Dec. 13, and the following Saturdays: Dec. 2, 9 and 16. Tickets range from $20 to $36, with discounts for students, senior citizens and groups. Subscription packages for the Yale Rep are also available. For more information, call the Yale Rep box office at (203) 432-1234, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.


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